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It Was Written In The Dust - A Promethean Dark Era Actual Play

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  • #16
    Our resident artist has also knocked out character portraits for each of the core cast:





    • #17
      Chapter 4 – Reunion under the best of circumstances

      Riley fled town on foot, trekking cross-country to the Lawson farm. They avoided the humans on the property, made their way to the building where Terah was stabled, and curled up in a corner of the horse’s stall.

      Elsie sat quietly in the room as she listened to the Reverend describe his assault at Riley’s hands. The sheriff, an older man with a mane of white hair, listened gravely. She perked up when she realised they were talking about Riley. “Hey, that’s my friend!”

      Abram returned to the house with Al, to find the place turned upside down by Elsie’s cleaning efforts. Al seemed more bemused than upset. When Abram asked permission to leave and track down “the wife”, Al waved him off.

      “Just be back here in the afternoon. We’re going to pay our friend a visit.”

      Abram eventually located Elsie. She was wandering around Main Street, gawping at the different shops. When he asked her where she’d been, the whole story of running into Riley, then meeting the priest, then meeting the sheriff, then the sheriff agreeing to hunt Riley, then her telling him how she was looking for Riley too, then him asking her to leave while he went about his business, then her coming to Main Street to look at the markets, then how she ran into Abram came tumbling out. Abram wasn’t given a chance to interrupt as the words burbled happily over him. When she finally stopped because she’d recounted everything up to the present, he took a deep breath and tried to get as much information as he could out of her. He worked out where she’d seen Riley from the clues Elsie had bothered to remember, and even roughly what direction Riley had been heading in. There didn’t seem to be any chance of finding Riley by searching on foot, but Abram hoped he could at least stop the Sheriff from intervening. He went back to Al’s home, got a pen and paper together, and he and Elsie wrote a letter to the Sheriff asking him to please not hurt their friend.

      On the Lawson farm, Riley’s miserable reverie was slowly intruded on by the sounds of a commotion emanating from the family home. They could hear voices coming from far off and near, all calling out a single name. “Mary! Mary!”

      They shook themselves free of their misery long enough to go outside. Jarred was standing there, looking shocked to see Riley emerge from the stables. He’d been in and out all day, but Riley had kept out of sight. But he was also distracted, and didn’t waste time asking what Riley was doing there. When Riley asked what the commotion was, Jarred explained that his niece, Mary, was missing. Riley joined the search, going off on their own, seeing what tracks they could find.

      It took them a few hours, but they found the young girl’s tracks leading towards town. Riley eventually found her sitting in the lee of a rock, some distance from the road. She was filthy and looked absolutely miserable. Not sure how to approach the situation, Riley stood somewhere where they were plainly visible and waved. When the girl made no effort to come closer, Riley tentatively advanced. The girl stood up, and Riley froze in place. At last, Riley spoke, telling the girl that her parents were worried and looking for her. She stared at her feet at that, and told them that she didn’t want to go back. Her family was cursed. They were poor, their animals and crops kept dying, her parents were never happy, she was never happy. But she was lost and tired and hungry and she wasn’t too hard to persuade to get onto Terah’s back and allow Riley to lead her back to the farm.

      Back in town, Al and Abram got into Al’s car, joined by two local boys who’d agreed to help. They drove north from the town, reaching a farm that looked like it had fallen upon hard times. There was no one in the farmhouse when they knocked, but they could see figures out in the fields. One of those figures came towards them, a lean young man with a worried expression.

      “Time’s up, Jack. Time to pay,” Al said, sounding almost bored.

      The man protested. His daughter was missing. Once he found her he’d be able to get the money together. If Al would just come back in a few days’ time…

      Al gave Abram a look, one Abram knew the meaning of. He stepped forward. Jack clearly recognised the danger. He threw a punch at Abram. Even though the Tammuz made no effort to dodge the blow, the wild swing still went wide. Then Abram slammed his fist into the base of Jack’s jaw. Something crunched. He staggered, slipped to one knee. Half a broken tooth fell from his lips, a thin trail of blood with it. Then Abram was on top of the farmer, bearing him down to the ground, pinning his arms easily.

      Al whistled, and his two helpers came out of the car. He sent them towards one of the barns, and they soon emerged carrying bits and pieces that Abram recognised from a still. Once they had removed everything the car would carry, they went back inside one last time. Abram could hear glass breaking, loud bangs, as whatever else was in there was systematically destroyed. Jack mumbled pleas through his bloody lips. The bank would repossess the farm if they didn’t make the next repayment. His family would be homeless. Al didn’t seem to be listening.

      At last, the men emerged. Al looked down at Jack and sighed. “Sorry about this, Jack,” he said, and kicked the man in the head. Jack went limp. Al walked back towards the car, and Abram dutifully followed. They drove away.

      A horrified Riley slumped against the wall of the main farmhouse. They’d been watching everything, keeping Mary out of sight where she couldn’t see. At last they stepped out, carrying Mary, in time to see Jarred and the woman they assumed was Jarred’s sister, Jack’s wife, come rushing up. The woman, Maureen, was too distracted by her husband’s injury to pay much attention to their return. She made sure Jack was still breathing, then tried to help him up.

      Then Jarred spotted the open barn door. He rushed to it, swung it open. When he saw the destruction inside he threw his head back and howled.

      Riley let Mary run to her mother. They stared at the tableau.

      “Be better,” they said quietly to the stunned family. And then they left.

      Although Riley felt the temptation to seek out the source of their vision from the Athanor, the place of pale leaves and still water, they couldn’t let things with Abram stand like this. They stuck to the outskirts of Joseph’s Cross, wandering until they found the car they’d seen up at the Lawson farm. They saw Al saying goodbye to Abram, and then driving off. Abram went back inside the house.

      Riley approached the building. They checked the windows, spotting Elsie inside as well, but no humans. They went to the front door and knocked.

      The following hour was long, almost excruciatingly so. The throng was wounded, Abram and Riley each felt aggrieved by the other’s actions. Abram felt Riley had no right to criticise the recent violence, when it had been committed so that the throng would have somewhere to stay and look for Riley. He was able to explain, finally, that the pain Riley had suffered was unintended. And when it was clear that Riley was still hurt, he offered to go out and look for someone to care for them. He wanted to help. He had always just wanted to help.

      Riley, for their part, was struggling with guilt at having behaved so much like Malik. They recounted what had happened to them since they had left the group, and described the visions they’d had of the pale leaves. They told Abram to go and look for Iris, since she had been the one who had cared for them originally, and she had mentioned she was a gardener. She might know something.

      Abram went to look, since it wasn’t safe for Riley to be wandering the streets with the Sheriff looking for them. They ask around and are able to find Iris’s house. They pass Sarah Lawson’s dress shop, and see the Sheriff inside speaking to her.

      Iris, for her part, is happy to come. All Abram tells her is that he is from out of town, and that his child is hurt. When they arrive at the house and step inside, she is surprised to see Riley. She starts to care for them, and tells them that they need to stay put for the next few days in order to completely heal.

      As she works, Riley asks her about the plant. As they describe it, Iris begins to look worried. She asks them where they heard of it, and Riley lies and says that the priest spoke of it. This seems to concern Iris even more. She looks at the other two Prometheans, and tells Riley that, although she likes them, she isn’t sure if she can trust their family. Riley persuades her otherwise, telling her how far out of their way their family had come to look for them.

      At last, Iris agrees. “When you are healed, I will take you to the plant you described,” she says.


      • #18
        A few quick notes I didn't really find a good way to weave into the story:

        Mary Lawson is at Disquiet Level 1, because Riley's player is just so darn good at rolling Disquiet checks.

        Riley completed the Watcher Role when they decided not to get involved in the Abram/Al vs Jack Lawson dispute. They haven't yet settled on a new role or the new Alembics they've unlocked, but I'll make some note of it when they do.

        I glossed over a loooot of the conversation between Riley and Abram, but this was basically the heart of the session. One of the things I most regret about this way of recapping the game is that I can't quite capture that kind of back-and-forth roleplay very well So much drama.