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Geist: Balance of Shadows (Actual Play)

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  • It’s time to confront Russ Turner about Lauren’s death. Unfortunately, an unstable Sin-Eater makes things complicated.

    As before, Natalie recaps, Sara discusses, so it might be easier to read Natalie first. Maybe I should give up and switch their places for the foreseeable.

    Session CLXXVII

    Sara’s Stories

    “You like ‘em dangerous and in wooden shoes, huh?”

    Tommy watched Sara smirk in response to her strawberry scented wife’s concerned teasing. He agreed with the crux of Natalie’s worry, wooden shoes notwithstanding. Even Doc’s healing ritual couldn’t leave Emily completely stable, not after having lived so long with the damage. Not to mention the sheer power she had - he was new to this, but the Dark Mother’s touch laid heavy on his love and her friends, and they were wowed by Emily’s power as well. She had even been able to keep Natalie from setting up her Boneyard, somehow.

    Still, Tommy was sure that if anyone could help Emily remain stable, it would be Sara. He hadn’t been happy when Sara had gone off with her and Russ, ostensibly to direct them from the restaurant to the firehouse church - Natalie had been even less so - but he did have to admit she’d managed to talk the Dutch Sin-Eater down from a full-blown episode to a mostly centered state. And the mutual attraction might even have helped.

    That mutual attraction was not quite enough to get Sara new company for the evening, however, so it was just Tommy, Coffee and the krewe in the van driving home. Natalie’s relief was clear, and everyone was pleased with how things had worked out, so the mood was high.

    Back at the House, Karen and Chandra were quick to greet them. As they stood around catching them up, Sara moved to stand close to Tommy. He put an arm around her shoulders and she reached up to tug gently on his earlobe. A familiar and comfortable gesture, it had more meaning since the night before. He glanced down at her and she smiled.

    Once they’d gone over the broad strokes, before they got too sidetracked by whether ‘the mood’ would be killed by having sticky hair, Sara suggested hot drinks and comfortable seating. When everyone agreed, she volunteered to get the drinks and Tommy quickly followed after her. “Not hungry anymore then?” she asked when they got to the kitchen.

    He shook his head. When she seemed to be waiting, he gathered his thoughts and elaborated. “He knows what he did was wrong. He has seen, truly seen, the harm he’s caused. And he knows what it is to be alone and afraid.”

    “He does.” There was a note of regret in her voice, but Sara always was the most forgiving of them. “I’m glad it worked out. I was worried we might have to drag it from him, word by word, and him seeming like he was usually an outgoing guy.” Sara raised an eyebrow at him as she pointed out where the trays were kept. He rather thought his use of Nightmares had saved them a lot of unnecessary bluster, but he didn’t say that out loud.

    “Perhaps he had some realization his daughter was around. He seemed terrified of her.”

    Sara made a considering noise. “Don’t lose yourself in bitterness, mo chroi.”

    Tommy thought for a moment, the silence between them still comfortable. “He does care for her. Theresa as well.”

    Sara gave him a brilliant smile. “He does. I think that may have turned the tide for Lauren as well, after Natalie bled on her.” At Tommy’s confused look, she explained. “The blood of a Sin-Eater can help ghosts focus... well, really, it helps them focus without fixating, in the way the dead often do.”

    “I thought you already had...?” The ritual had been quick, but the ghost had seemed to form by flowing from Sara’s self inflicted wound.

    The Sin-Eater shook her head. “I provided the Plasm, the death-stuff, for her to manipulate into a form to wear.” She sighed, pouring out the various drinks. “It felt nice getting back to giving the dead a voice. I’m hopeful that Lauren will be content with a proper burial and return to the cycle.”

    Tommy kissed the top of her head. “Very few can hold onto vengeance with you as an advocate for forgiveness.”

    “You do.”

    Her gaze was piercing but he held it, which surprised her into a brief frown. “You’ve never asked me to go against my nature.” When she opened her mouth to object, he shook his head. “I know you aren’t now either. Which is why I’m harder to... what did you call it before? Resolve?” She nodded, considering him thoughtfully. As they left, tray of drinks in hand, he spoke up again. “I do listen.”

    “I know.” Sara smiled up at him. “I will too. I promise.”

    Natalie’s Diary

    April 24th 2011

    Six Days Till Walpurgis

    Broad strides on dealing with the Redcrow case, but it was not without setbacks.

    Doc arrived this morning as we were planning where to meet Russ and Emily Turner. Alexia put forth a “real” Italian restaurant, i.e. not Olive Garden or Carrabba’s, though it was originally due to the whole idea of putting a breadstick in Doc’s mouth if he got threatening. Karen and Chandra agreed not to go to stay out of danger, but Catherine insisted; I was unsure at first but I really think it was to help rather than any jealousy thing with Chandra. I texted Emily to make the arrangements.

    Unfortunately, that was a setback. Emily responded in Dutch. While Babelfish translated, it was very stilted, but clearly she did not know who I was or why I wanted to see Russ. It started getting very paranoid so I backed off. I called Russ directly and made the arrangements. He was, to put it mildly, very wary. Emily contacted me again, still in Dutch, seeking information later in the afternoon. And Theresa Redcrow called later in the day to let me know her uncle had tried to contact her about it, but she dodged his calls. By the time we left we were very concerned that an unstable Sin-Eater would be hounding us there. Anyway, Catherine came too, to watch from a safe distance nearby.

    This was sort of the case. Russ seemed muted compared to what I expected, probably concerned about Emily. He was somewhat evasive at first, but seemed to realize quickly we knew what was going on. Somewhere during this time I noticed we were in a Boneyard; Emily was observing us. I signaled Catherine, who slipped out. Sara and I tried our best to change the subject from Emily, talking of Theresa some. I quickly found Russ cared a great deal about Theresa and Emily, but he was terrified of Emily, and knew she was supernatural somehow. This meant he was quicker to accept the idea of talking to Lauren’s ghost than I expected.

    The whole incest thing we left alone, but it was implied.

    As we left, Sara said something to Emily, and sure enough the Boneyard dropped and a few minutes later she came strolling up, smiling and looking adorably boyish. She pretended to remember us, but it was clearly cloudy. She had not fully “woken up” yet. She rode with Russ and of course Sara volunteered to go. Tommy was going to but Alexia interposed herself. Which is good; Tommy does not come back.

    We traveled to the Firehouse church, where I did a Ceremony, Distant Voices, to get Lauren’s attention. Sara followed this up with a Ceremony to make her visible and audible, but unable to harm Russ. Emily had “woken up” by this time. Russ’s affection for his daughters may have turned the tide; that and agreeing to recover her remains. That and some Sin-Eater blood from me to clear her head. She wanted him arrested, initially, which was understandable. Fortunately she was moved by how he watched out for Theresa and Emily, especially the damaged Emily.

    Lauren parted, and Sara spoke to Emily about her head. Doc wanted to try to fix her, as he had with James and Miranda. Emily clearly suffered from severe mental problems. Doc examined her, and she acquiesced due in no small part to Sara’s charms, no doubt. Doc was able to help her, but the damage to her brain was extensive. While she will hopefully suffer from fewer fugues…Emily does not have a stable mind. Her road through life will still be difficult.

    Less difficult, perhaps, since Sara walked her out, had a private moment with her, and Emily looked rather like she had been struck by lightning thereafter. I know that look well. Sara’s charms were insufficient to work her way into Emily’s bed, but that was a very smitten, very unstable woman who left our company. Sara is good. Not as good as I am, but good. Though she, at least, is more honest about it.

    We came home for talk n’ tea. There was far, far too much talk about messy hair being appealing or unappealing…this was used by Emily to bow out I think? She got alcohol poured on her head for Doc’s ritual. We kept it going much longer and with far more innuendo than necessary, which is always fun with this crowd. Some gentle teasing of Coffee too. I am really going to miss her when she moves on. I am not entirely convinced she should.

    At the end of the day, that decision is hers though. But I wonder if I can get her Christian name out of her first, at least.

    Speaking of Coffee, the typing has finished from the room, meaning Karen is done with her paper for tonight. I should see what they are up to.

    End Session CLXXVII

    Okay, Natalie used Distant Voices to contact Lauren, and she had made Emily an Anchor so she came. Sara used Plasmic Manifestation to give her a body, after some discussion of which ritual to use (Natalie and Sara both have Speaker of the Dead, Natalie has Faces in the Smoke and Lifting the Scales). Natalie could not beat Emily’s Boneyard successes so failed to make one to push Emily out.

    Russ had You are all alone Nightmare used on him by Tommy which is why is was somewhat quiescent at the dinner.

    Okay I want to talk just a moment about themes and decisions made at the table. Fixing Miranda, or James, or Emily with Mending the Mortal Coil was not something I planned in any case. James and Miranda were powerful (ish) dangerous damaged people. When MtMC came up, I thought about it. While it seemed an easy (ish) out, there was another side to it.

    Geist is a game of second chances. This is true thematically broadly and with Balance of Shadows. Sure, Doc, Gwen, Sara, Jasmine, Natalie, Alice, Alexia and Simon all got a second chance at life. But there was more. For Gwen it was a second chance to be a good person. For Jasmine, it was a second chance at love. For Alice, a second chance at redemption. And for Natalie, it was a second chance at taking her drug fueled Z list celebrity life and make it something to be proud of.

    So I said yes. Let that be an option. Letting them off easy? Sort of. James and Miranda are no longer so deeply damaged. But they are still strong psychics with difficult pasts; we have not heard the last of them. And Emily? That times ten. I was a little more prepared when they asked about healing Emily Turner. For that, there was a “yes, but…” and it was a big one. It did not make her fully stable or functional. It just made her…comparatively…stable and functional. Still, she has more of a shot at a normal (for a Sin-Eater) life than she had. Less fear of flipping out and drowning or incinerating a friend. But she is still damaged. I have not handwaved it. And they will likely have to deal with her issues again. But they helped her. The storm in her head is quieter than she remembers it being before. She has a second chance.

    Half my group are sick tonight, so no game. In two weeks I will be putting up current stats for anyone in the game whose current stats I can get a hold of. Alexia and Natalie at least. And hopefully in two weeks game. Regardless, see you then. Comments and Questions welcome.
    Last edited by Baroness Nerak; 03-19-2017, 03:00 PM.

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


    • Thank you for sharing your decision-making process here. That insight is most appreciated. By chance can you post (or direct me to a previous post of) the Krewe and all the regular cast we see mentioned in these posts? I get most of them but a few I'm unsure on.

      Once again, my thanks to your players for very enjoyable write-ups.


      • The Krewe is entirely in the front page. Pictures and descriptions, though Sara and Alice are behind the spoiler box. I will try to put a little info on some of the regulars (Tavia, Karen, Tatum, Christina, Chandra, Coffee, Noriko) up next week when I do the filler for the missed session. Anyone else you want to see? Just like a name, maybe virtue/vice and a little info.

        Onyx Path Moderator
        Forum Rules
        This is my mod voice. This is my goth voice.
        [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]


        • There was no game last week as half the group was sick. I promised character stats (have them for Natalie and Alexia) and was asked for a brief description of some of their very close allies. Here we go.

          Tavia Fishborn: Simon Fishborn’s wife and first cousin, 19-20. Tavia started off as a Brute Slasher (if a subtle one), and wound up a Brineborn. The Fishborn family is complicated. She began transforming after she got pregnant, awakening her blood. Around the time of her periods she is compelled to paint horrific paintings that mess with vices and sometimes horrors come out of, though given the slow pace of the campaign this has not been a problem for some time with her pregnant. It is unknown if this will continue as a Brineborn. She is the high priestess of the fish god who lives under the house, the secret of Fishborn manor. Image is creepy chan. Tavia is straight.

          Karen Knight (nee Smith): Natalie Knight’s Domme and legal wife, and soon to be married to Natalie Knight and Sara Rowan on May 22nd . 20. Karen is a Ceremonial Magician trained by Doc, who she considers a close friend. She is a Goth, hard on the Traditional Goth side, and fanatically loyal to Natalie. Natalie has been involved with Karen since her 17th birthday. Her lesbianism was never accepted by her parents, and she moved out to be with Natalie. Her parents are still trying to get Natalie arrested. Karen controls the Knight’s finances and legal matters. She sometimes feels like something in the house is watching her. She was a little slow with the Polyamory thing but Sara helped her get over that.She is a student at AMU. Karen is a lesbian.

          Chandra Maharajapuram: Chandra is Alexia’s wife, and a Penanggalan. Her age is unknown (likely 40s chronologically) and as of recently she began associating with the Carthians. She runs “World of Wicker” an “all night Wicker shop” in the same parking area as Alexia’s shop. Chandra is cunning and powerful, often putting up a “clueless foreigner” demeanor she learned to be passed over and underestimated. She is in fact a very dangerous vampire. Alexia fell for her early on, and Jasmine initially encouraged her, leading to a friendship with Chandra, though that fell apart as Jasmine became suspicious of her. Often the driving force in her marriage, Chandra nonetheless seems benign though she has repeatedly stated her intent to find a way to turn Alexia into a vampire. Chandra has only shown romantic or sexual interest in women, but feeds on both sexes, so probably homoflexible.

          Noriko Oyamada: Noriko is a Leafeyes Colony. Age uncertain, in later 20s. She hunts by appearing as a sweet, vulnerable Japanese girl and murdering the living fuck out of people who try to hurt her. She has long been an ally of the Krewe, and also had something of a friendship with Jasmine, though while it grew distant she never had the falling out Chandra did. Chandra recently began a romance with Doc after his breakup with Natalie. Noriko has also slept with Natalie, Sara, Alice, and Alice’s girlfriend Eris while under the influence of the Bale Hound. Noriko is not what you call stable, but with Tavia around she seems a picture of mental health. She is very loyal to Doc. Noriko is bisexual. Noriko is often at the house but has a separate apartment.

          Elphaba: Elphaba is Natalie’s cat and familiar as per the rules in Second Sight. She is a jet black cat with green eyes and black fur. Essentially a Spirit in cat form, Elphaba is loyal to Natalie, if fairly lazy. She generally likes the group. Despite being Natalie’s cat she is most often found in Karen’s lap. Probably a power thing, you shouldn’t ask. Her favorite TV character is Doom Kitty, and she has not exhibited a sexual preference.

          Catherine Callahan: Catherine is a strong Psychic, with powers along the lines of Aura Reading, Telepathy, and Object Reading. She is Alexia and Chandra’s girlfriend and is in her mid 30s. Catherine is a caring soul, who makes less than she should helping people the police can’t seem to help. She is on the autism spectrum and leans heavily on her powers to understand people; this lead to Chandra eventually relenting and agreeing not to turn her into a vampire because she would be unable to cope without her powers. Originally living in Colorado and passing through, Catherine moved to New Haven to be with Alexia and Chandra, though she has an apartment also. Catherine wants to help but gets in over her head. It may cost her life someday. Catherine is bisexual, in the sense gender is mostly irrelevant to her in terms of who she is attracted to.

          Tatum Gillis: Natalie and Karen’s pet, Tatum is 21-22. She is not supernatural in any way. Tatum hoped to become a third with Natalie and Karen, and felt slighted by Sara’s rapid inclusion in their relationship. Tatum has been getting included more and more recently, as Natalie decided she had real feelings for her and Karen could always use another chew toy. A student at AMU like Karen, she manages Natalie’s club. Natalie and Sara try to keep her out of their adventures as much as possible. Tatum lives with her parents, and only occasionally sleeps in the manor. Tatum is bisexual, but particularly appealing to women, who constitute most of the people to have tried to pick her up in her life (to her mild frustration).

          Coffee: Coffee is a Sin-Eater, a Forgotten Pilgrim. Early 30s. Coffee travels from Krewe to Krewe working with them awhile to learn how to be the best Sin-Eater she can. Her time with the Middle Shadows has been enlightening. Coffee is from Georgia but talks very rapidly in a high voice. She is almost always drinking coffee and/or eating chocolate covered coffee beans. That and her copious amounts of energy and rapid speech have become trademarks that made her beloved by the Middle Shadows. Natalie and Sara seduced her soon after arrival, and she is frequently in their bedroom, which means Tatum only cares for her so much. Coffee is bisexual, her entire dating history before coming to the Manor being men. She is not the only person like that.

          Troy Donovan: Troy is a big, friendly Ghost. Appears to be in his 40s. Image is John Goodman’s character from Barton Fink. Troy helps the Krewe to make up for murders while under the control of a sinister Spirit at a hotel he often stopped at. He wields a mean axe. Still, he is easygoing, protective of women and children, with a strong sense of justice. He feels he must make up for his crimes before moving on. Troy is straight.

          Natalie Lousler: Natalie’s daughter. Natalie is a minor psychic. A precocious 17 year old, she wants more than anything else to run away to the big city and be with her real mom. Unfortunately, the moody teen is primed and ready to make every mistake her mother did, something Natalie sees very clearly but feels helpless to deal with. This is exacerbated by the younger Natalie trying to be as much like her mom as possible. Currently in New Haven, but soon to arrive ahead of the wedding. Natalie, like her mother at her age, is bisexual.

          Natalie Knight (Natalie Caroline Knight, Born Chastity Allison Lousler)
          Concept: Mistress of the Dead
          Aspirations: Make peace with my past (long term), Record enough music to release an album (short term), Integrate Tatum into my family (short term)
          Virtue: Hope
          Vice: Attention-Seeking
          Geist: The Laughing Lady
          Krewe: The Middle Shadows
          Threshold: The Silent, Death by Deprivation
          Archetype: Necromancer
          Magic Style: Hedge Witch
          Place of Birth: Ocracoke Island, North Carolina, USA

          Intelligence 3
          Wits 4
          Resolve 6

          Strength 2
          Dexterity 3
          Stamina 3

          Presence 6
          Manipulation 7
          Composure 4

          Academics 3 (Music)
          Computer 4 (Social Networking)
          Crafts 1
          Investigation 3 (Computer)
          Medicine: 1
          Occult 5
          Politics: 2 (Entertainment Industry) [Asset]
          Science: 2

          Athletics 3
          Brawl 0
          Drive 0
          Firearms 1
          Larceny 1
          Stealth 1
          Survival 0
          Weaponry 0

          Animal Ken 0
          Empathy 4
          Expression 4 (Piano) [Asset]
          Intimidation 1
          Persuasion 5 (Seduction)
          Socialize 4 (Parties) [Asset]
          Streetwise 3
          Subterfuge 4

          Cold-Wind Key
          Grave-Dirt Key
          Passion Key
          Stigmata Key
          Stillness Key
          Tear-Stained Key

          Boneyard 5
          Caul 5
          Marionette 5
          Oracle 5

          1: Cigarette Dawn
          Krewe Binding
          Speaker of the Dead
          2: Distant Voices
          Faces in the Smoke
          Lifting the Scales
          3: Dead Voices on Air
          Lemure’s Lure
          Warding Circle
          4: Bind Anchor
          Ghost Drinker
          Warding the Household
          5: Crash the Gates
          Fetter’s Binding
          Sepulchral Gateway
          Spectral Captivity

          Psyche 7
          Synergy 6
          Willpower 10
          Health 8
          Plasm 50
          Size 5
          Defense: 6
          Initiative: 7
          Speed: 10

          Contacts (Socialite) 2
          Fame 2
          Fighting Style: Social Maneuvers 4
          Inspiring 3
          Krewe Fate 5
          Language: English 3
          Language: German 2
          Language: Latin 2
          Mythologist 3
          Professional: Personality (Socialite) 5
          Pusher 1
          Resources 3
          Striking Looks 4
          Sympathetic 2
          Taste 1
          Vanitas 2

          See Spirits
          Visionary Trances
          Weather Control

          Keystone: Silent, Stigmata/Stillness, Socialize
          Deathmask: Stricken, Phantasm, Persuasion
          Charm: Music Box: Cold Wind
          Quote: “I knew things would get better if I died. And I was right.”

          Alexia Merryweather
          Geist: The Cracked Cook
          Threshold: The Stricken
          Archetype: Celebrant
          Concept: Pastry Chef on a Mission From Death

          Virtue: Hope
          Vice: Gluttony

          POB: New Haven, Connecticut, United States
          Height: 5’6”
          Bust: 34B
          Eyes: Brown
          Hair: Brown

          Intelligence 4
          Wits 4
          Resolve 4

          Strength 6
          Dexterity 6
          Stamina 6

          Presence 4
          Manipulation 4
          Composure 3

          Academics 1
          Crafts 5 (Cooking, Food Decorating)
          Investigation 5
          Medicine 1
          Occult 2
          Science 1 (Food Prep)

          Athletics 1
          Brawl 5
          Drive 1
          Firearms 1
          Larceny 3
          Stealth 2
          Survival 5 (Gardening)
          Weaponry 5 (Knives, Meat Cleavers)

          Empathy 4
          Expression 5 (Food Presentation)
          Intimidation 1
          Persuasion 5
          Socialize 3
          Subterfuge 1

          Professional: Chef 5
          Resources 3
          Taste 1

          Keystone (0) Meat Cleaver: Forgotten Threshold, Industrial, Phantasmal Keys, Intimidation Skill
          Deathmask (4) White Mask: Torn Threshold, Pyre-Flame Key, Firestarter Numina
          Charm (1) Nutcracker: Phantasmal Key

          Psyche 7
          Synergy 7
          Willpower 7
          Health 11

          Keys: Industrial Key, Phantasmal Key, Pyre-Flame Key

          Manifestations: Caul 5 Marionette 5 Oracle 5 Shroud 5

          Ceremonies: (1) Finding;

          Weapon of Choice: Bowie Knife
          Armor: None
          Defense: 3 Initiative: 6 Size: 5 Speed: 12

          Derangements: Phobia, Skeletons (Minor)

          Languages Spoken: English (3), French (2)

          Real journals next time. See you then. Comments and Questions welcome

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


          • It’s time to check back in on the Middle Shadows. They are back and working on wrapping up the case. Doc’s player had to miss, still in the new baby times so spotty.

            Session CLXXVIII

            Sara’s Stories

            Tommy looked up from the front flowerbeds as a car drove up and Sara, Natalie, Karen and Coffee got out. He straightened up and nodded at Sara when she looked over at him. The dark haired girl kissed the others on the cheek, still laughing about something and let them walk on inside before going over to where Tommy was.

            “Don’t tell me you’ve been waiting up?” Sara put her hands on her hips, and looked up at him with a teasing expression.

            “No. Just doing a few things for Alexia. It feels good to do some work with my hands.” He gave her a quick smile. “Besides, it’s not like you spent the night in another predator’s lair.”

            Sara cocked her head at him. “You say that, but with much more approval than any of my other lovers have.”

            “Natalie recognizes a predator because she was prey once. Not Emily’s kind of prey, but still.” Tommy looked down at the bed, and raked a little bit of stray mulch back into place.

            “Whereas you feel a more direct kinship.” Tommy nodded. Sara looked at him closely. “It’s hard to imagine you burning down houses, and dragging your pare... dragging you mother into the Pit.”

            Tommy chuckled. “Only for you, mo chroi.” He shook his head. “If my Horror had found me when I was six, lost in the swamp where my father had left me to die, and not the troupe, I think I would have dealt with it much worse than Emily has. Not everyone had you and Grainne to help them.”

            Sara wrapped her arms around herself, her face sad. “I could wish for Grainne’s touch here. The poor darling’s been so hurt and so alone, locked away from human companionship by her own choice since she was ten and all. She’s terrified of speaking to her sister alone, for fear she’ll hurt her. I only hope Doc’s healing will make her stable enough to take the next step...”

            Tommy gave her a wry smile before looking back down at the flower bed. “I also know what it is like to have the greatest kindness be pity.”

            Sara frowned, biting the side of her lip and sighed. “She mentioned that, how humiliating it felt to know that we had to deem her ‘too crazy to deal with’ yesterday and work around her. I wish it were otherwise, love.” She looked over at him. “For both of you.”

            Tommy set the rake gently on the wall and stepped closer to Sara, putting an arm around her. “I know you do. And it is kindness, mo chroi, coming from you.” He held her for a moment before changing the subject. “Your Natalie, was she ever part of a touring group? She takes care of the performers better than most club owners...”

            “Not really.” Sara leaned into him a little more casually, relaxing somewhat. “She’s very much been in the scene, but I don’t think she ever did any touring.”

            “Ah.” They stood quietly for a moment. “It is a nice place. I...” He paused, and started over. “Speaking of places... there is a room, in the house, that resonated in the Primordial Dream. I... I made it part of my Lair.” Sara leaned back to look up at him and raised an eyebrow. “It will make it much easier to get to the Dream. Or for me to get here. From anywhere.”

            Sara smiled. “I like that. What did that involve, making it part of your Lair?”

            Tommy shrugged. “Raw use of power, mostly. Anyone could, just by being there, so long as they know what happened to make it resonate. And any Beast could read that, with enough... it helped that I had met Simon. And you. Oh, and something about the place has to mesh with the Lair - the mirages, in this case.”

            Sara looked questioningly at him. “That you’d met Simon? I don’t understand.”

            “Places resonate with the Dream when either a Beast calls upon it in a strong enough way, or when a human’s mental integrity is damaged by encountering the supernatural. Simon... killed two adults? His parents, I think, from the look of them. The vision was easier to find because I knew him.” Tommy ran his fingers over a smooth spot on his shoulder.

            “Oh. Right, I knew about that. It was awhile before I got here, a bit before any of the others got here either.” Sara gave him a tentative look, but there was no question in his face. “I’m glad you were able to make it part of your Lair. It sounds convenient.” She smiled up at him and took his arm and they started walking back to the house.

            Tommy nodded. When they had almost reached the door, he glanced down at her. “Oh, I meant to ask... what did Natalie mean when she said that Emily had given your geist an orgasm before she gave you one?”

            Sara gave him a brief, confused look then chuckled. “Ah, yes. My Geist, the spirit who brought me back, chose me because I had sacrificed my life to save my father. It’s kinda her thing, that sacrifices are how we get the gods’ attention and blessing. In fact, her name is the Virgin Sacrifice.” Tommy held back a snort. “Exactly. We had some disagreements about that, at first.”

            “How did that get resolved?” Tommy asked.

            “Now she just considers all of my partners to be potential sacrifices.” Sara smiled wryly. “Same as all my other relationships. She figures I need to do something to make up for not having many things to sacrifice.” She leaned against Tommy. “She applauded Emily calling her death a good thing, since it gave her the power to be Nemesis’ instrument, and how much Emily had sacrificed over the course of her life.”

            “And how does she feel about the fact that you are trying to make it so that she doesn’t keep making those sacrifices?”

            Sara sighed. “I’ll be trying to make it so she doesn’t have to make those sacrifices constantly. She knows that Emily will make the necessary sacrifices, at the appropriate times, and that I won’t stop her. Whatever hope I give her back will just be another fatted calf to call upon her goddess.” She looked up at Tommy. “It’s a lot easier when I’m the one making the sacrifices.”

            “Only for you, mo chroi.” Tommy kissed her forehead. “Only for you.”

            Natalie’s Diaries

            April 26th, 2011

            Yesterday was satisfactory.

            It was a Friday, and I decided to show Coffee and Tommy the 27 Club. Earlier, though, the plan was to meet Theresa. I arranged dinner, and we spent much of the afternoon planning a getaway to Sleeping Giant to train the Story Weavers with Alexia. Tommy explored the house. She had a long talk with Deirdre, and they managed a plan.

            Ah, I told the whole thing backwards. Post coke orgy head I guess.

            So Deirdre and Alexia had a long, slightly flirtatious conversation, then we gathered around the table to work out how to train them. Specifically, working on what to do to train their individual talents. Above all, Ildefanso will be talking to them about Spirits, and they may drag one or two out. Hopefully it will be a good experience. Yours truly will be there of course.

            Dinner was good. Bit awkward. We filled Theresa in, leaving out, well, too much. Her Dad, her Uncle. Emily. We confirmed the nightmares had stopped. She asked us if what happened to her parents was an accident. I lied and said yes. She believed me. That was the hardest part. She saw Emily outside her house, but she never came to the door. We confirmed whom she was, and that she may approach soon.

            Lying was hard. I hated it. Hated every moment of it. I hate lying to clients. She deserves the option on the truth, but she might be happier not knowing. Can’t take it back once said. And the ugly truth is I don’t know if Emily will hurt her. Sara talked to her later, while we were in the club. Calls herself Nemesis. I hope Theresa has not done anything to account for.

            We made arrangements; I gave her a list of LGBTQ charities. She gave me a donation quote. It was generous. I felt worse about lying.

            But then the 27 Club. Sara met Emily for a drink, and Karen, Tommy, Coffee, Alexia, Catherine, Chandra, and I were happy, Tatum took good care of us. Once again I tried to keep Karen from sexually harassing Tatum in front of her underlings. I forget she is twenty sometimes. Saw Multidimensional Murder Box with Occasional Quaaludes opening. Sara rejoined us, reported Emily was…sane. Hopefully so. Still has issues but getting through. Might want to join the Krewe. We will see.

            Afterwards, Coffee, Karen, Tatum, Sara and I retired to the Champaign room. God I love the Champaign Room. Comfy furniture, sex, drugs, and wine. Letting a whirlwind of sensation go round. Forget, for awhile, which of us I was, which bit of pretty pale flesh. Which hand, which arm, which leg, which fingers.. These times, five hearts beating as one heart. Then peace, silence, darkness.

            Back today, the five of us returned. Happy and hopeful. Ready for a new day.

            End Session CLXXVIII

            I don’t know firsthand, but I would guess post coke orgy head is a thing.

            Small side story: Simon’s player pretty much keeps a list of hilarious potential band names, so Sara’s player texed him in game to call some up for us. Wish he still lived around here.

            Tommy did add to his Lair in the house, as his story implied. Makes it easier for the character to come and go.

            I know we all miss Doc’s Log, but having a couple kids eats into the writing time, and work is not conducive to it anymore. We will see what the future holds. Doc will be back. Just Toddler + Baby time still.

            Okay well there we are. Comments and Questions welcome.

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            • It’s time to check in on the Middle Shadows. Only one journal this time, but that should not become the norm. Sara does a good job of covering things. Training in the park with the Underwater Story Weavers and laying Lauren to rest.

              Session CLXXIX

              Sara’s Stories

              Sasha -

              Well, that was certainly a nice weekend to lead up to the week before Walpurgis. The folks here have a tradition on that night and it feels good to have everything come to a close before we enter into that time, especially with it being such a satisfying conclusion.

              We did have to give Russ time to retrieve Lauren’s bones, so Alexia’s grand scheme went off as planned. Everyone showed up, bright eyed and bushy tailed. The lovely Ildefonso gave them a talk about how to stay safe in the rangers’ spheres of influence. It was very informative, and even those of us without the ‘student’ status managed to learn a thing or two.

              The group did very well at the scavenger hunt Alexia set up, only needing a small hint to finish things up at the very end. The team dynamic really made itself clear - Deanna gave them heart, Marie kept them on track, and the others had strong connections to their various idioms. They continued to work well together on their more mental second task, to reassemble three nearly identical pictures. The differences took a sharp eye - or the Sight - to see, but they got it done quickly.

              After that we split them up into their ‘usual’ pairs to give feedback. Tracey and Timothy went off with Coffee to discuss working in concert better. Alexia took Clarissa and Deanna off to discuss some rescue maneuvers - Clarissa is very cautious (when she’s not angry), a counter to Deanna’s recklessness, so being able to juggle and compromised between the two extremes is going to be important for them. It was easier to give Sarah and Marie more general advice (given they are Death Touched and a witch respectively, their milieu is right up Natalie’s alley) so she handled that conversation.

              Lastly, Alexia had the idea for a Test of Courage, to have them go through a dark cave to the end of the path and back, while we did what we could to spook them... and we’re really good at that. We split them up into different pairs, Tracey and Clarissa, Deanna and Sarah, and Tommy and Marie. The first two pairs were rather spooked, but kept it together. Tommy and Marie were entirely unphased. Now, Natalie was in charge of the spooking, and was pulling her punches a little, but still, she’s very good at it.

              It was a fun time - even Tommy enjoyed himself. He spent most of the time chatting with the rangers. Ildefonso is pretty good at drawing people out without prying and they were all curious. It’s been good having him here, particularly with this whole deal with Emily. They are their own people, and they have followed their fate differently, but their stories are yet very similar. I have some hope that they could be good for each other to know. For that and else besides, I hope Old Tommy isn’t too bad off without him - I think (and hope!) he’s here until the wedding at least.

              Speaking of out newest Touched foundling, Emily spent much of the evening at our house today. Nothing untoward happened, I assure you , largely because she has never felt comfortable in her own skin, and she needs to be able to take ownership of her body before she can share it. She’s a darling, and it’s been awhile since a sweet courtship was part of my relationships. It’s a different sort of nice.

              But I’m getting a little ahead of myself here. I invited her over, with Natalie’s blessing, after we helped Lauren move on. Emily had the excellent idea to have Lauren’s body found by the police, with its evidence of foul play (knowing someone with the Sight who regularly works with the police is handy!) so that people in general, and especially her family, will know what happened and get some closure. Russ’ promises, along with an eloquent speech from Natalie, helped Lauren let go of that which was holding her back from returning to the cycle.

              So, everything is going well. Lauren has found her rest, the Underwater Storyweavers are becoming a coherent team, Tommy is making friends, and Emily is much more stable. It is time for Witches’ Day indeed.


              End Session CLXXIX

              Not a great deal to add. The PCs carefully chose the obstacles for the Storyweavers, and they had to overcome them, which had the unique effect of the players giving the GM’s characters tasks to perform, a little role reversal.

              The Lauren scene was slightly tense but not bad, the PCs did a good job of talking to her, and Natalie rolled all the successes as she does on Social rolls, so it went well.

              We are skipping ahead to Walpurgis Night, when the group first did questing beginning of the game. And we are doing Walpurgis Night on Walpurgis Night; it is Walpurgis Night 2017 at this writing. So enjoy your Walpurgis Night reading about this and anticipating in game Walpurgis Night, and we will enjoy playing Walpurgis Night on Walpurgis Night (and possibly have Pimp My Ride flashbacks)

              Comments and Questions Welcome

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              • It is Walpurgis Night. In game, the one year anniversary of the Krewe’s first mission. We celebrated by running Walpurgis Night game on Walpurgis Night. Natalie will handle the recap this time, make up for missing last. Enjoy

                Session CLXXX

                Natalie’s Diary

                April 30th, 2011

                Walpurgis Night went well. Confirmed a theory.

                This is the second Walpurgis Night for the Middle Shadows. A year ago six Sin-Eaters; Doc Thorns, Gwen Cooper, Jasmine Sung, myself Natalie Knight, Alexia Merriweather, and Simon Fishborn all went across the city making sure the people were safe. This year myself, Doc, and Alexia (now Maharajapuram) were there, and Sara Rowan, Emily Turner, and Coffee. The last two not Middle Shadows, but that could change.

                We had a Walpurgis themed day of cuisine. Goat sausages and goat cheese was our breakfast, and we had a long, lively discussion of cheese, one of my favorite subjects. This faded into the origins of cheese (Coffee was horrified by where Mozzarella comes from) which lead to a lot of conversation about veganism and vegetarianism, which are not two of my favorite subjects. Alexia’s either, it seemed. Of course, being our group a comparison of the consistency and jiggliness of tofu compared to breasts came up, which was the final nail on my appetite. Things were ended with finality, however, when Alexia asked if Coffee’s appetite for coffee was due to her Geist, which had her kill the topic and go upstairs. Emily had not yet arrived, and breakfast lasted late enough with all the chatter it was almost lunchtime before we broke from the table. I felt like a hobbit.

                We also planned dishes for later. Planning lunch, it came up we would need mead, which lead to Coffee wanting a Viking helmet, which lead to her being horrified real Viking helmets did not have horns. It was explained why, but she acted like she learned Santa was not real. It was apparently a day of sanity shattering revelations for my poor little Coffee.

                Emily arrived. Coffee eventually came down (Sara did check on her be sure she was okay). I went with Karen to grab some Mead and came back and prepared the ritual room for the evening, then joined the group for a traditional Finnish Walpurgis meal. Apparently. Mead and funnel cake. And strawberry goat cheese salad because it came up at breakfast. It was good lighter fare.

                Goddess, now I am hungry again.

                So I had a ritual to bless the Krewe before leaving, which lead to Emily being curious about my deities venerated (She knew Persephone, but not the others). Coffee claimed to venerate Ishtar/Inanna as the first goddess of coffee. I am somewhat skeptical of her piety. The dreadful movie also came up. The less said about that the better.

                We went out with Tommy, Catherine, Karen, Chandra and Noriko, just for the company. And they liked the idea of grilling out. We eventually made our way to Evergreen Cemetery, where we grilled hot dogs, potatoes, popcorn, s’mores, coffee beans, and muffins cooked in orange rinds. We were there for

                Damn it I need a cookie.


                So, we were there a bit and Eve and Crystal showed up at the Cemetery, looking for somewhere for some Walpurgis Night canoodling. I think they had their eye on Midnight Mary’s grave, which I, ahem, would never have desecrated myself, of course. But they were spotted, and knew they were spotted, so came over. Eve did most of the talking, and by talking, I mean a lot of flirting with Coffee. I know she has shared a bed with myself, Sara, Tatum and Cindy, so she is doing all right for herself as a ladykiller. It’s those big, sad eyes, I think. Melts the heart and weakens the legs. Ahem.

                Still, her initial meeting could have gone better. She seemed at a loss for what to ask the motley group of people hanging around a small fire, so she asked if we were “partying.” Karen immediately shot back “What are we in an after school special or something?” and it blew the wind out of Eve’s sails. And I am like “Oh right, she HASN’T slept with Karen because those two start posturing at each other,” only in my head because I am not a bitch.

                Or maybe it was because Karen was Domming Crystal recently.

                We had a good chat. Doc was standoffish but not rude (to be fair to him, he was concerned about them being close to the grave), Karen was snarky, but Sara and I were very friendly and Coffee seemed into her. So it went well.

                Then Tommy stepped away from the group and a bit after he came back Dulcinea, who we were rather surprised to see, came from a similar direction. So they have met now. The addition of (another) Beast to the group lead Eve and Crystal to withdraw to canoodle elsewhere. Dulcinea spoke to Tommy a bit, exchanging Beast gossip and such, and spoke to the rest of us a little as well.

                Eventually midnight came and we saw a shimmer at the grave. All six Sin-Eaters saw it; Catherine “felt something” but did not see it. Karen, Chandra, Tommy or Noriko perceived nothing. So it may well open certain times of the year. No one was harmed this time, however.

                It faded after a minute, and Dulcinea moved on to stalk elsewhere, curiosity satisfied and presumably not interested in doing her Beast punishing thing on such a powerful group. Doc suggested herb hunting. Tommy was enthusiastic in offering help, and the boys had fun poking around.

                It was a good night, and we enthusiastically returned. This year so different I was much angrier, moodier, more depressed then. This year I am so much happier, stronger, more content.

                I wonder what next year will look like? I certainly like how things are going.

                End Session CLXXX

                Lots of IC banter, little mechanics. This was their third meeting with Dulcinea, but Tommy’s first. Eve and Crystal have come up a great deal.

                There was a lot of IC (slipping into OOC) banter discussing what foods are good Walpurgis foods. Can make you hungry.

                I think that covers it. No game tonight, as it is Mother’s Day as the bulk of the group has plans, and Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children, after all. We will game again in two weeks and move on to Beltane.

                Comments and Questions Welcome

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                • Last session was Beltane, one of the more fun holidays to celebrate. A time of new beginnings, spring’s coming, and something about a Jonathan Coulton song….

                  Session CLXXXI

                  Sara’s Letters

                  Sasha -

                  Well, after a wonderful Walpurgisnacht, we had an amazing Beltane. Not that anyone is surprised that I enjoyed Beltane. It has been a good, nice and relaxing weekend all together and I have enjoyed the peace of it all. Hopefully we can keep up this pace until the wedding - I’m sure Natalie doesn’t need anymore stress.

                  There was lots of talk today about the wedding. Our bachelorette party is going to be a little low-key - to be fair, the traditional reason for a bachelor/bachelorette party don’t really apply in this case, and Natalie’s going to be hosting a big to-do at Murder Ballads the night before. We are planning to go out on the yacht though, and that’s always fun... well, it’s always been fun since I got more comfortable with the whole swimming thing. We still haven’t taken Tommy out on the water, so that’ll be good.

                  Natalie the Younger will be joining us sometime soon, whenever she gets done with school, I think. Karen had something of a teasing/heart to heart talk with Natalie about how her daughter would likely be flirting with some of the girls Natalie had slept with and even *gasp* boys, and Natalie needs to be able to be at peace with that. Poor Lil’ Natalie. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep that from exploding into too much drama.

                  Speaking of the wedding, and Natalie my love, it’s really important to her that someone sings Apple Blossom Time at the wedding - she’s wanted it since she was 7, I think I’ve mentioned how much it means to her. You guys are planning on coming, right? Can you ask around if anyone would feel comfortable with that? I doubt Katie or Emily know it - it’s not their usual repertoire, but it’s in their range.

                  After wedding stuff, it was all Beltane things. Beforehand too, actually, Tommy kept up the tradition of bringing the ladies flowers. He recruited Doc, seeing as there are far too many ladies in the house for one man to carry enough flowers back for. The afternoon was spent in mystic pursuits - Natalie arranged for good weather for our bonfire, Doc put together some ghostly fireworks (the rest of us gathered some reagents for him), and Natalie and I arranged for the non-Touched of us to be able to see them.

                  Doc set up a brilliant display of them too, some of the best fireworks I’ve ever seen. Best of all, no long winded permit applications. Natalie also led a nice Beltane service, for those of us who practiced and to the curious interest of those who don’t. There was even fire jumping, once things had burned down some, of course.

                  Also of note, Coffee opened up to the trio a little more. When we become Death-Touched is usually a time of trauma - I wasn’t an unusual case - and she had been very mum about it. She let us see some of her scars tonight, and there was something of a ritual to the reveal, the trust she placed in us. I think it will be good for her, to open up - scars are nothing to be ashamed of and she’s among loved ones.

                  Emily also came to the celebration. I spent most of the evening with her actually, holding hands and sitting close on the logs around the fire. She popped the big g-word, asking if standing around a Beltane bonfire holding hands meant we were girlfriends. I said, with caveats. I think I’m mellowing on the whole ‘no official relationships’ thing - I blame Natalie and Karen - and also, I knew what she meant and agreed with it. She’s fragile, and I didn’t want to lead with ‘no, but...’, so I went with ‘yes, but...’ Lovers is a much less ambiguous terms anyway, less gender obsessed and not used in other contexts.

                  The poor duck very worried about missing elements of human interactions that other people take for granted, and self conscious about asking. I reassured her that I was always happy to answer questions and we worked out a system so that she can let me know if there’s anything she’d like clarification on, without having to go so far as to put herself out there. I wish I could ask Gran about this, she was always good at coaxing the quiet ones out. Emily’s been alone in a head full of storms for a long time. I think she’s peeking her head out, though I worry a little about her becoming dependent, but best not to borrow trouble, I know. For now, faigheann foighne fortacht, as Gran would say; with time she will find her peace. Hopefully she be able to stay around for the time she needs.

                  A pleasant weekend for sure, and a pleasant month to come. Barring family drama and wedding stress, of course. I’m sure we’ll be fine...


                  Dear Natalie,

                  Hello. I am sorry to email you out of the blue, but I believe you know of me - Sasha, from your Sara’s old troupe. I imagine she has told you by now, but I would be honored to sing Apple Blossom Time at the wedding of you three young ladies. I was writing to ask a favor - if I know my dear one, she’s not made many requests for the details of the wedding. For all that she is a spectacular performer, designing stage shows have never been an interest of hers, and I’m sure that if I mention that weddings have mostly been a sore subject for her until quite recently, it will not be the first you are hearing of that.

                  But I am rambling - my husband is wearing off on me after all this time. Or perhaps I am simply making up for never having spoken to our Sara’s love before. Regardless, my point is this: while Sara may not have mentioned it, I believe she would enjoy having the song “The Star of County Down” played at your wedding. She never heard her father sing it for her mother, but she has heard the story often enough and enjoys the song on its own merits (you should get her to sing it for you sometime). Unless I am wrong, and she has requested it, I was thinking I might surprise her with it, if that is alright with you girls.

                  Now that I have finally come to my point - thank you for the care you’ve taken of Sara. She has found a good place with you and your fellows and come much more into her own there. I look forward to meeting you at the wedding.


                  Natalie’s Diary

                  May 1st, 2011

                  Beltane has gone well. A nice, feel good follow up to Walpurgis.

                  It is time to start working on wedding planning in earnest. Sara is going to see if someone from the troupe can sing “Apple Blossom Time” for me at the wedding. Some general talk about food with Alexia. Nothing unusual. We talked about when Natalie Lousler could come down, and everyone is okay with whenever. Karen was rather pointed about reminding me that at 17 she may be talking to, flirting with, even sleeping with some of the girls I hang out with. I can deal with that. And that she may be flirting with boys. I am…less prepared for that, if I am being honest. Karen reminded that I am jumpy about guy’s intentions. Sometimes she knows me better than I know myself. I had to explain a little to Tommy, but it is not too awkward.

                  We will see, some legitimate concerns were brought up.

                  Also, bachelorette parties came up. We may do a yacht party again. There was a lot of discussion of fireworks, and googling legalities. We did a run to Louisiana using Underworld shortcuts, and got some fireworks there. Doc decided to experiment with making them ghostly fireworks tonight.

                  Tonight was Beltane, and we wanted it to be lovely. Doc and Tommy brought in flowers for us this morning. I used my Weather Magic to ensure a warm, pretty night, and we built a bonfire in the back yard. The Krewe, Coffee, Emily, Tavia, Chandra, Noriko and Catherine were there. Doc set off the fireworks, and they were lovely. He did a good job with the arrangement. He always does, with that sort of thing.

                  Sara and I did some fire jumping, as did Chandra and Alexia when the fire was low. I think Sara talked them into it. Sara and Emily had a lot of long talks, arm in arm, at the fire. Emily seemed…vulnerable. But she smiled, let a few tears fall. They kissed a few times, not like heavily sexual, but caring, maybe even loving. I’d say I hope Sara is being careful with her heart, but I know she is. Still, was nice to see. I don’t think Emily has ever had someone like that.

                  Oh, of course I lead a ceremony to start. Sara, Coffee, Karen, Tavia and Doc participated, others watched.

                  It was not without more moments. Coffee finally decided to let us take her collar off. We had never been allowed to touch it. As we guessed, signs she had been decapitated were visible. She stiffened when Sara touched it, but allowed it. I don’t think she ever let someone touch her choker. I don’t think she ever let anyone see what was under it, or touch her neck. Her vulnerability was delightful. Sara, Karen and I replaced the choker and kissed her. It was beautiful. It wasn’t a Collaring, or anything similar, just an expression of trust.

                  Something else, much earlier, came up with Coffee. We mentioned the dangerous fire Geist, and she said offhandedly that we could bind it in someone with a strong enough will to control it. Matter of factly, but with a far off look. I think Coffee has something awful trapped in her mind. Something awful enough to never let people close. I think under that cheery exterior is a lot more trauma than I thought, and a struggle to be what she seems to be.

                  Maybe Coffee and Emily have more in common than I thought.

                  The four of us retired later, to spend our first night with Coffee and her bare neck. I reveled in it honestly. Sara saw Tommy and Emily to their rooms…Emily was crashing here. I think the trio and pair each found rooms too. We celebrated Beltane as one should.

                  First of May, or so they say…

                  End Session CLXXXI

                  Not much mechanic wise. Natalie is a Hedge Witch (as opposed to Doc and Simon being Ceremonial Magicians) and used Weather Magic, as she sometimes does. There were some Athletics rolls for fire jumping.

                  More of Coffee’s backstory was hinted at, which was good.

                  Okay, I think that is all, but Comments and Questions are welcome

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                  • It’s tough to be a new Vampire when your Sire disappears. It helps when some of the weirdoes you used to go clubbing with are some sort of supernatural creature…

                    Session CLXXXII

                    Sara’s Stories

                    “Yeah, but... real life Care Bears? Who shoot beams of happiness to kill bad things?” Tommy slid into the booth across from Sara, setting the second drink in his hands in front of her. He was looking out on the dance floor at Alexia who was swaying with Chandra.

                    “Like I said, ‘there are more things in heaven and earth’.” Sara smiled at him. “Now, I don’t know of anything like that, no matter how metaphorical the bear part is, but I don’t know of everything.”

                    Tommy just raised an eyebrow and took a sip, muttering into his drink, “My philosophy and Alexia’s are certainly far distant aspects of the Dream.”

                    “Did you spend all afternoon pondering Care Bears?” At Tommy’s wry grimace, Sara laughed and patted his arm. “I’m sorry love. I wouldn’t have left you alone with such horrible thoughts without good reason. Adding people to the krewe is a serious discussion.”

                    “I had thought that was what the discussions were about.”

                    Sara nodded. “I had a question about something before Emily gets back - not that it’s a secret from her, we just probably will be broaching it more delicately later.” Sara tucked her hair behind her ear. “Coffee’s geist is... dangerous.” She gave a small shudder, and Tommy tensed. “We’ve got some ways to deal with it, it’s bound within Coffee, and its easiest targets - our geists - are immune to its attacks,” she said quickly, trying to reassure both of them. “But the reason I mention it is that other than being an incredibly powerful geist, Coffee thinks it ate something that made it able to attack people’s souls through their dreams. And since dreams are your thing...”

                    Tommy frowned, looking over at Coffee flailing around on the dance floor. “Well, a starving Horror can go hunting through the Dream on its own, and I presume free ones do the same. But they don’t attack souls, just feed on their fear. I think.”

                    “OK.” Sara smiled over at him, then over at Emily approaching their table. “I was just letting Tommy know the good news - I mean, we were discussing the move over dinner, but I realized he hadn’t been told explicitly.”

                    Emily smiled shyly. “I really appreciate this. All of this.” She scooted over close to Sara and looked over at Tommy. “Are you going to be joining us with this case too?”

                    “This case?” Tommy raised an eyebrow at Sara.

                    “Yeah, that was the other thing I wanted to mention. A newly-vampired friend of Natalie is asking for us to help find her Sire, a vampire named Kestral.” Sara frowned worriedly. “She’s been missing for 3 weeks, so it’s a pretty cool trail. And our ace in the hole doesn’t work on vampires.” At Emily and Tommy’s confused looks, she elaborated. “Alexia’s finding ritual requires some link to the person being found - a lock of hair, nail clippings, that kind of thing - and vampires don’t leave those.”

                    Emily nodded. “That’s what Alexia meant.” Sara nodded along with her.

                    “Right now we’re in information gathering mode. We’ve talked to the person we knew who Kestral interacted with. She was fairly dismissive of her. Apparently Kestral was considered eccentric. I have to agree with Nicolette though - she sounds wonderfully romantic. Flowing dresses, violin concerts for the dead, that thrill of being from the edge of society...”

                    “She does sound right up your alley.” Tommy smiled at her over his drink.

                    She smirked at him. “Anyway, Rebecca did let us know that one, Kestral had been investigating something. Natalie’s going to check that out tonight. Two, it was really weird that she was given permission to make a fledgling vampire. It’s a privilege to, and rarely handed out, never to strange bohemian women. I’m going to check that out tonight as well, my friend Elizabeth might know at least the gossip about it.” Sara laid a hand on Emily’s. “Three, Hunters from the Long Night are in town. They are an organized group of Hunters who...”

                    “An organized group of murderers.” Emily’s tone was harsh.

                    “Love...” Sara squeezed her hand. “I am certain some Hunters are indiscriminate killers and probably even deserve to be punished,” she gave Tommy a knowing glance, “but they are a large organized group. If there is too much trouble here, they will send more. And more, and more, and more. We are going to try and send them on their way. But if we do it through direct intimidation, or through killing them, we will only be asking for more trouble. We are going to try and put something in place so we can follow them home, and determine whether or not they have anything to do with Kestral’s disappearance.” Sara sighed. “I hope not. Anyone else, and it is likely that she is in Torpor. If it was them... she’s almost certainly dead. And.” She fixed both of them with a serious look. “And vengeance will cause more harm.”

                    The two looked at each other, not convinced. Tommy nodded after a moment. “How long until we can find their hideout?”

                    Sara shrugged. “It depends on how often they try to get in. Apparently they are too cool for dress codes, and can’t pass the ‘can you have a conversation that doesn’t creep out the bouncer’ test, so they keep coming and being rebuffed. Natalie has an in here, we’re gonna try and use it to get notification next time they try.”

                    “Sara?” The dark haired girl turned to look at Emily. “The Sheriff, that Doc wanted to cause problems for... he’s another vampire?”

                    “Yeah, one of the ones in charge, so Sheriff’s a title, not his name. I think. I don’t actually know his name.” Sara chuckled, shaking her head. “Doc has had run ins with him, not great ones. To be fair, the last and only time I ever encountered the Sheriff, he was coming to kill one of my lovers, and probably wouldn’t have minded going through me to do it.” Sara looked sad. “We wound up having to help her get out of town. Hopefully she found some place safer. So, I don’t disagree with Doc, though I don’t necessarily look forward to opportunities to tweak the man’s nose with as much relish”

                    “Is there anything I could help with?” Tommy asked.

                    Sara thought for a moment. “It’s always good to have backup around when we do recon. And we may wind up needing to talk to Dulcinea. Kestral apparently warned Nicolette to steer clear of her, so there might be something there. Or Kestral could just be incredibly paranoid. She certainly didn’t trust any of her fellow Kindred.”

                    Emily frowned in concentration. “So, is it true that other vampires would consume her for power? Or is that what you mean by paranoid?”

                    Sara shrugged.

                    “You guys did seem to emphasize that other vampires were dangerous,” Emily pointed out tentatively.

                    Sara took a drink as someone walked close by their table, waiting until they’d moved past. “They are, but they’re more likely to kill her or use her than consume her. If we can rescue Kestral, I want her to come back to her loved one, not to someone else’s thrall. Even if they didn’t go that far, the stuff Doc was saying about boons - favors - that’s a big deal with vampires.” Sara’s attention was caught by Doc waving at the bar. “Ah. I think that’s the signal that it’s time to head home, by way of your place tonight.” Sara smirked at Emily. “Your old place, I should say.”

                    Emily looked shyly away. “I guess so.” She slid out of the booth and offered Sara a hand. She held tightly onto it even once the dark haired girl was standing up. “I guess so.”

                    Natalie’s Diary

                    May 2nd, 2011

                    Things have been interesting around the house.

                    We discussed adding Coffee and Emily to the Krewe. Emily was happy to; I would even say relieved. Coffee, who we asked first, was more complicated.

                    Coffee’s Geist, the Harvester of Souls, is a terribly powerful Geist. It can apparently attack the souls of the living if they are asleep or unconscious. Sara required effort to learn anything of it. A Krewe tricked it into making a Bargain with Coffee; It thought it would gain control of the resulting Sin-Eater due to something it did or acquired in the Underworld. It made many concessions to the scared dying girl, thus Coffee’s life is not too difficult, but she has a ranging, evil powerhouse of a spirit in her head that even a Krewe was unsure how to deal with. They tricked it into possessing a Sin-Eater, and poor Coffee wound up with it. Almost typical Forgotten luck, I suppose.

                    Coffee’s plan was to learn from various Krewes and disappear, extending her life best she could through means she had not elaborated on, and staving off death until all those the Harvester might lash out at were passed and hopefully not Ghosts. Hence her traveling around Krewe to Krewe. (Un)fortunately for her, she fell in love in this one.

                    She will probably join us, though we have a lot to hash out and research before then.

                    Other thing going on is Nicholette Beauregard turned back up. She was in the overall community and she and I had hooked up a few times a year or so ago. We went to Murder Ballads to celebrate the acceptance of our nominations to join, when I bumped into her. She is a vampire now, Daeva Clan, apparently. She needed help, so we met in a private room, and I fetched the Krewe.

                    Her Sire, Kestrel (she called her Gina) was also a violinist like Nicholette. Kestrel was a Carthian, but only almost by default, she distanced herself from vampire politics, playing in graveyards and ruins and generally following her muse. Long hair, long dresses, and bright colors, to hear Nicholette describing her. Sounds like someone Sara would like. She disappeared three weeks ago, not returning to the townhouse they shared. The automated payments seem to go through so Nicholette still has that and utilities for now.

                    It sounded like Kestrel and Nicholette were lovers, but I am uncertain. I should ask. Nicholette was bisexual even as a human, and vampirism tends to encourage such. It might impact her feelings. I also need to figure out if Nicholette is or was Blood Bound, and if she would have detected the breaking of the Bond if so.

                    Primary clues are she was out on a nightly walk when she vanished, and the violin has not turned up at a pawnshop or on the news. There are hunters of the fanatical organization The Long Night in the city, and trying to access Murder Ballads but having trouble with the dress code and weapons policy. We know of no connection to Kestrel, but she was out by herself; Normally Celerity helps one escape, but not if she was ambushed and surrounded.

                    Finally Kestrel embraced Nicholette with permission, which seems unusual for her to have had, a relative outsider. How did she get it? Blackmail seems a possibility, we don’t know. She was acquainted with the Ventrue Rebecca, but based on Doc’s conversation it was superficial. Rebecca did not seem to know why her Sire granted permission, but she did not seem overly concerned. Also Kestrel was investigating something with her Mother, but we have no idea what. We also don’t know who Kestrel’s Sire is, or if they are in the area.

                    Emily moves into the house tonight. I give her virginity about a week, absolute tops. Probably a lot less. Not that I would say it is bad, Sara would be a kind first lover. If nothing else, she is visiting her vampiric friend Elizabeth tonight, see what she knows. I went back to her townhouse with Nicholette. I am going to let her feed, and do the Distant Voices to try to contract Kestrel in a bit. With any luck that will have answers.

                    End Session CLXXXII

                    Mainly chatter this time. Was waiting for this story, but the last one seemed more ghost oriented and had a good link for Tommy so did it first. Was not originally expecting Emily to hang around, so she will be an interesting wrinkle.

                    Been saving up the big reveal on Coffee, hinted at it a few times.

                    Okay, I think that covers things, but comments and questions are welcome.

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                    • The Krewe’s investigation into the Vampires continue.

                      Session CLXXXIII

                      Sara’s Stories

                      Hello Sasha

                      There was a strange thing today. The lady of the house (Tavia) said I, her husband and Doc should go do man things. Strip clubs. Sporting events. Fixing stuff. I wasn’t sure how to take it. Maybe I was underfoot. Or maybe it was subtle disapproval of the man thing I took Doc on last time (flowers for Beltane). Or subtle approval? I wasn’t sure. But I went to find Doc anyway.

                      I found him in the library (the house one). He was researching a problem Coffee has from her past. It is a cause of much distress. And potential danger. I offered to help him with it. I even managed to find something useful in one of the books he had pulled out. I was not much help otherwise, though Doc is a good teacher. He managed to show me how the library was organized and how to make the best use of it, even while he learned a lot about his goal.

                      I have been learning a lot (not just about how to use a library). Also, this is the most at home I’ve felt among anyone not in the troupe. Sara has found good people here in New Haven.


                      Sasha -

                      As it turns out, Emily will be staying with us for an extended duration. Coffee as well. Our little troupe has grown quite a bit these past couple of days. Plus, we’ve got a new case!

                      The case is quite romantic, with all the potential for tragedy that implies. For now, hope remains ascendant - our Sight has confirmed our client’s love is alive. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Our client, Nicholette, has lost her mentor and love all in one, and is desperate to have her back. The feelings there are very strong; they were even considering marriage, despite it being frowned upon for various social and spiritual reasons where they are from.

                      The missing woman, Kestrel, is quite the striking character. Her acquaintances, which seems to be all she has, outside of Nicholette, used words like eccentric and space cadet, while Nicholette waxed rhapsodic about the beauty of her soul and the purity of her spirit. Kestrel is fond of visiting graveyards at night and playing her moonlit violin for the dead, wearing flowing skirts and flowers in her hair. I witnessed a vision of her being threatened by an as-yet unidentified man - she responded in iambic pentameter, making grand declarations as if she were on stage. I think I’m in love.

                      Poor Nicholette is frantic with worry about her, and I’m sure it’s not helped by the fact they’d had a minor quarrel over the marriage thing, shortly before Kestrel went missing. I am glad we were able to give the woman the reassurance that she was alive, at least. The situation is complex, but I am confident we can reunite the lovers.

                      And speaking of lovers, Emily is downright adorable. She took me out on a sundae date today - apparently some of Emily’s fondest memories, with everything as muddled as it was, were of her father visiting her in the Netherlands and taking her out for sundaes. So she resolved to take a significant other on a date there, someday. And today was that day.

                      The dear had a store of questions saved up for me, and I hope I don’t sound patronizing when I say that - she needs an understanding partner, not an overbearing guardian - and while she continually apologized for asking questions that were none of her business, they were all reasonable. Having no experience with Dom/sub relationships, she was concerned about Natalie and Karen. She also had some concerns over the proselytizing methods of a particular group of Touched we’re dealing with which are entirely reasonable, and we had some good discussion about that. She did have one perhaps impertinent question about relationships between Death-touched and Nature-touched, but in some ways she’s newer to this world than me and our variety of it here in New Haven is stranger still.

                      Another serious conversation was had about the possibility of me having kids. I reassured her that was nowhere in my plans for the future at the moment, but it was clear that someone being the father of my children, especially when she couldn’t possibly be, would make her feel like a lesser partner. I don’t really understand it - the genetic material is the smallest part of a human life and any partner of mine would have an equal, as far as it was desired, part in raising my child. I didn’t bother pushing the issue too far at the moment, however, since motherhood is not on my radar at all and there’s no point in having a discussion whose entire context could change when Emily feels more secure.

                      So love is in the air - appropriate, as the wedding approaches. I looked forward to seeing everyone. Give them all my love.


                      Natalie’s Diary

                      May 3rd, 2011

                      Nineteen Days until the wedding. Less then three weeks. Oh Goddess!

                      After a lovely night with Nicholette, I investigated Kestrel’s room. Her violin was not there. I found a photograph of her mother, helpfully labeled “My Mother” but nothing on that search. A few notes on inspiring scenes in two cemeteries, which gave us a lead there. Before Nicholette and I had slept together, I had tried Distant Voices. No answer, but she still exists. So not passed on or consumed, but that was all we knew.

                      Sara had more luck with Elizabeth. She knew Kestrel, and knew Kestrel was put on trial for a masquerade breach while on a ferry, which was recorded on a phone. Vampires on phones are blurry, so it likely was difficult to tell. She was acquitted and got permission to Sire, so something happened. Our theory was either Blackmail or it was someone else and they influenced her to be found innocent before it could be proved. Either way, she upset someone. Kestrel was also on poor terms with the Lancea et Sanctum, having “followed the wind” into some private gatherings, as well. Elizabeth could not help us with that, but she could look into Invictus business. She also told us Kestrel’s Sire was in New York.

                      Kestrel also had some interesting Devotions, including the ability to open Cemetery Gates with her music, and put children in some sort of trance, during which they sang wordlessly, and fight as one if any of them, or Kestrel, were attacked. Not sure if Nicholette knows that one.

                      So we came home and compared notes over lunch. Grove Street Cemetery is a known haunt, so we decided to try that. Sarah used her Ceremony to look for major scenes…it is harder in a Cemetery, funerals are emotional occasions, and cemeteries see the conclusion to a goodly number of them. However, she got glimpses of Kestrel, with her moonlit violin, dancing through the graveyard. We saw her and Nicholette being flirty and adorable. There was also a vision of Kestrel fighting an unknown vampire, a man, though it never got beyond what to the Undead is a serious argument. Punches and people being thrown. Kestrel was apparently interfering with something, and he gave her an angry warning. It was not long before she vanished.

                      Also, Kestrel responds in iambic pentameter when sassed. Which is kind of amazing. I thought I was artsy.

                      Jamie Newsome, a girl we had seen at parties was sketching on the hill in the cemetery. She was part of Maria’s group of counter-Underwater Story Weavers, but has no powers we know of. She just watched us, and stayed out of the way, but probably had no idea what we were up to. Townie girl by herself in a quiet area that close to Yale always worries me. I hope she can take care of herself. I can’t be everywhere.

                      That evening, I tried Distant Voices again when I picked up Nicholette, and got a similar result. Also found out Nicholette and Kestrel fought over the fact that when Nicholette was interested in Blood Bonds, they discussed something called a “Hungarian Marriage” where they were Bound to each other. This is apparently taboo. Which is weird. But the fight was more understandable; Nicholette wanted one, and Kestrel felt Nicholette was rushing into it. That’s classic. Anyway, it lead to sleeping in different rooms. Still, I don’t suspect Nicholette of anything. Nicholette said Kestrel was from a whole troupe of vampires in New York City with unusual devotions who had something happen at “The Final Show” which lead to them fleeing. She implied Lady Anea the Sire would not be pleased to see Kestrel again.

                      Next step I believe is we are going to see the Crypt Ticks. Without Nicholette, for plausible deniability. This should be exciting.

                      End Session CLXXXIII

                      Natalie laid out in plain terms a lot of what Sara referenced, naming Ceremonies used, by and large. Sara used Reading the Echoes in the Cemetery.

                      Tavia was just trying to help Tommy fit in with the whole “Man Things” thing.

                      I think that covers it, but comments and questions are welcome

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