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

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  • #61
    Well, this is going downhill fast, mood-wise.

    Which isn't to say it isn't a good or intriguing game. It just jumped from "disturbing" to "villain show, act 1?".


    Malkydel: "And the Machine dictated; let there be adequate illumination."
    Yossarian: "And lo, it was optimal."

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    • #62
      Yeah, Riley's player shouldn't miss sessions. They really are the only moral grounding the throng has

      I'm somewhat optimistic that this plunge towards the darkside is setting up a redemption arc somewhere down the line, but things will undoubtedly get quite dark between now and then.

      And to be honest, that vision of Sour Springs as a Pandoran-infested hellhole ruled by the throng is pretty cool.

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      • #63
        Session 21 - One Bites The Dust

        Riley had returned to the hovel and gathered together the throng's belongings when Elsie and Abram arrived on the doorstop, Vessel and Typhoeus in tow. They were carrying what looked like half the contents of the general store and talking excitedly about robbing a bank. Riley was appalled. Their first priority should be finding Terah, he was missing and must have run off in the storm. Elsie found the idea boring and refused to contribute, which angered Riley. They stormed off to search for their horse, giving Elsie the privacy she needed to tend to her chrysalis-form Pandorans. She could see faint shadows moving within their cocoons, floating in liquid. Satisfied, Elsie returned them to the pack, eager for them to be born.

        For two days, Riley mounted expeditions out into the storm, and Elsie resolutely refused to help. The Black Blizzard showed no sign of abating, and the Prometheans realised that it would likely stay until Typhoeus left town. Entreaties to Elsie to find some way to persuade the Sublimati to move on fell on deaf ears. At last, after another failed search for Terah, tensions came to a head. Riley and Elsie started to argue over Elsie being selfish, while she accused Riley of being an idiot for spending so much effort on a dumb animal. Riley called Elsie a monster, who didn't even care enough about her child to bury them after they had died. Elsie retorted, smugly, that her children would be better off than Riley.

        "At least they have a father."

        The reference to Malik was enough. Riley snapped. They swung at Elsie. Their fist struck her in the temple. There was a loud crack, Riley left something give way beneath their fist. Elsie crumpled to the ground.

        Shock turned to horror. Riley had forgotten, in the heat of the moment, that Elsie had come out of the fight with the alchemists with the worst injuries of any of the throng.

        Riley's survival instincts had them moving, running for the back of the building, while their mind still grappled with what had happened. Then Typhoeus's roar sounded out, drowning all other thoughts away. Claws tore open the front of the building, shattering wooden beams. Abram dove for his pack, reaching for his weapon, but Typhoeus smashed past him without paying him any attention. Riley vaulted the fence at the back of the building and started to race down the street. They could feel the Sublimati closing on them, the creature's long, loping strides closing the gap in seconds. They were reaching for their revolver when the breath was smashed from their body. They felt ribs splinter, their arm break, a cloud of ephemera bursting from the massive wounds opening all down their right side. They were sent flying down the street to lie gasping in the middle of the road.

        The storm swirled around them, slowly parting as Typhoeus advanced on them. The Sublimati's eyes blazed with hate and anger. Riley raised their revolver, defiant, and poured their Pyros into it. They pulled the trigger, calling a Firestorm into being. The burning, coursing energies exploded out the barrel of the gun with a light so brilliant it was as if a sun had been called into being. Riley felt their skin peel and burn in the light of its energies. A new wind roared into being, blasting the swirling dust away and revealing the length of the street. It was strong enough to lift Typhoeus from his feet and bowl him away from Riley, smashing a house into kindling. When the Sublimati staggered to his feet he was swinging wildly, roaring in pain as the winds hammered him again and again like fists. Riley realised that he'd been rendered blind by the light.

        They turned and ran, staggering through the streets. They could feel the dust clawing at their throat, and they walked with their remaining good hand to the massive wound in their side hoping to prevent the pulped mass within from falling out. At last, they heard something that gave them hope. The sound of hooves, racing towards them. Terah emerged from the dust. Without questioning how he had come to be there, Riley clambered into the saddle and set their horse racing out of town.

        Back in the hovel, Vessel and Abram raced for the exits, trying to escape the firestorm. Elsie's body was left where she lay, but Abram made sure to grab Elsie's pack before he left. The building they'd taken shelter in for the length of their stay in Sour Springs was now a ruin, the few homely touches Elsie had made were now covered in dust as the storm poured in.

        The storm ended, abruptly, on the outskirts of town. Riley didn't let Terah slow until they were miles south, and the storm had receded to a dark smudge befouling the horizon. The horse's flanks were heaving, covered in sweat, and Riley realised that they had no supplies, no food, and no water. They rose in the saddle, scanning the horizon as the sun slowly set. A pale sliver of smoke was just barely visible ahead. They pressed forward, hoping against hope for sanctuary.

        And Elsie, when she opened her eyes, found herself in a vast underground cavern. People thronged around her. She rose to her feet, looking around suspiciously, as an urge came to her from the well of her Azothic Memory.

        Drink from the river.

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        • #64
          Hoo boy. So that was another very short session (we started late again), but boy did it make up for that fact by going in a completely different direction to what I was expecting.

          Neither Riley nor their player realised how badly injured Elsie was when they threw that punch, which was just... just amazing to watch. All the horror and guilt Riley felt afterwards was basically perfectly mirrored by their player, which was really entertaining to the rest of us

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          • #65
            Session 22 - Enter the Thunderdome

            Abram tried to rouse Elsie, without success. The storm surged into their shattered household, and soon he couldn't make out the closest walls. He rose and tried to find Vessel and spotted her fleeing, heading away from the direction Riley and Typhoeus had gone in. He stood there a moment, unable to decide what to do, and then moved to go after Riley.

            He stumbled through the storm and heard the roar as the Firestorm was unleashed. The winds blasted the dust away, creating a strange bubble, an eye within the black blizzard. He couldn't see Riley anywhere, but he could see Typhoeus as the enormous Sublimati was battered from building to building, blinded by the strange, pulsing lights that flared within the eye. Typhoeus was swinging blindly, and gave no response to Abram's efforts to get him to calm down. Abram grit his teeth and poured his Pyros into his Electrification Alembics. Lightning crackled and crawled across his skin, burning in his eyes and pooling in his wounds.

            He stepped into the Firestorm.

            Typhoeus didn't notice his approach, didn't realise he was under attack until the pickaxe smashed into his chest. His thick, chitinous hide turned the blow, for all its inhuman strength, into little more than a flesh wound. He lashed out, claws raking across Abram's own torso. Bile spilled across the street. Abram pulled back and raised his hands over his head. A sheet of lightning struck his hands and poured from his chest, the energies burning into Typhoeus. The clap of thunder was deafeningly loud. When Abram could see again, Typhoeus was hunched and shaking, his muscles spasming. An enormous burn dominated the Sublimati's forearms, where he'd raised them to ward off the blow.

            A small cheeping sound distracted Abram for a second, and he looked down to see a small feathered head poking out from the ruin of his chest. The canary's feathers were on end, small bolts of electricity bouncing between them. Its eyes were fixed firmly on Typhoeus. It cried out a warning, and Abram threw himself back just in time. A wave of corrosive acid spilled across the ground where he'd been standing, vomited up by the Sublimati. Abram called up another Arc, and this time watched as it seemed to channel itself through the head of his canary. The bird's body was bristling and its eyes filled with rage.

            The blind Sublimati flailed, its wild blows filling the space around it with thrashing limbs. Abram was battered and thrown, feeling ribs break and muscles tear. Thunder sounded again and again as he responded by pouring lightning into Typhoeus. A single almighty blast hurled the creature clear, but it was back on its feet and charging before Abram could get to safety. All around them the Firestorm raged, Abram keeping himself grounded only through his prodigious strength, his vision swimming from the blinding lights.

            A claw came swinging out of nowhere. Abram raised his arm to stop it, and felt each of its bones shatter under the blow. He twisted and sent a bolt of lightning up through the offending limb, heard Typhoeus's unearthly howl of pain in response. Lightning was crawling and creeping through the Sublimati's skin, frying it from the inside. The eye of the storm smelled of burning meat mixed with the sharply chemical sent of the duelling monsters' acidic blood. Typhoeus's umbilical cord whipped up, curling around Abram's leg, but before it could snatch him from his feet he grasped it with his hands and burned it from Typhoeus's body.

            Abram saw the rage in Typhoeus's eyes. The creature pulled itself up to its full height, towering over the broken buildings around them. It took a step forward, claws raised above its head. And there it froze. Abram watched as the massive beast teetered and toppled, collapsing at his feet. He leapt back, waiting for an attack, but none came.

            Typhoeus was dead.

            ------

            The crowds of the dead parted around Elsie as she walked. Every now and again she heard whispered voices, some sounding afraid, others accusing. Words like "Murderer" floated by on the edge of hearing. She didn't pay them any attention, after determining that they were all just dead humans. Her Azothic Memory told her what she needed to do to get back to life. Who cared about the opinions of dead humans? It wasn't like they were going to get a second chance.

            Then a figure stepped from the crowd. She vaguely recognised his face. Or rather, what was left of it. It was a teenage boy, his features smashed and bloodied, blood and bone and shattered cartilage breaking through his skin. She tried to place him as he grabbed her hands and started to pull her along, too lost in thought to resist. At last, she worked it out. He was the son of the manager of Sour Springs' general store. She remembered doing this to him.

            As they reached the edge of the cavern together, a great howl went up across the crowd. Elsie turned to look. It was dark in the cavern, but she could see a swirling mass bearing down on the crowd. It looked not dissimilar to the front of a black blizzard, human faces and limbs forming and collapsing within the storm's mass. She saw it envelop the closest of the dead humans, and then the boy pulled her through an opening and into a much smaller tunnel.

            After a while the boy slowed from a run to a walk. He didn't look at her. When she tried to talk to him, his replies were hard to understand, his broken jaw making it difficult for him to pronounce any words at all. He led her deeper and deeper underground, until the tunnel they were walking down ended abruptly. In front of them was a deep, deep chasm.

            Elsie eyed the boy, wondering if he was going to push her in, when a long, multi-jointed limb raised itself above the edge of the chasm. A creature pulled itself up. It was a pallid, thing, clearly human but pulled and stretched until it was impossibly tall and thin. Its face lacked a nose or ears, and its eyes were just dark pits in its skull-like head. It circled its arms around the boy. "Ah, good boy Ciaran," it said, stroking the teenager's face, caressing his wounds. "You have done well."

            The creature introduced itself as a guide. It would bring Elsie to the River of Dust, the closest of the Underworld Rivers. It only had one request. When she drank from it, she would return to life. It only asked that it be there when she drank, so that it might come back with her.

            And Elsie smiled and agreed, of course.

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            • #66
              So... A Geist? Prometheans can't become Sin-Eaters, and I don't think you like Crossover, so this is going to turn out well for the Throng.


              Malkydel: "And the Machine dictated; let there be adequate illumination."
              Yossarian: "And lo, it was optimal."

              Comment


              • #67
                Time and time again I remember why I love Divine Fire. It lets you make dramatically appropriate weather without making it contrived!


                Find my Homebrew Fangs of Mara 2ed update Here

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                • #68
                  Originally posted by Vent0 View Post
                  So... A Geist? Prometheans can't become Sin-Eaters, and I don't think you like Crossover, so this is going to turn out well for the Throng.
                  Yeah, not a Geist. Probably just an old, old ghost distorted by its time in the Dead Dominions. Probably. I'm sure everything will be fine.

                  Abram's player's reaction was something like, "I just finished killing Typhoeus and now you go and get yourself a new one?!"

                  Still after watching an already injured Abram down a Rank 5 Sublimati in single combat, even if it was a blind one, I'm not sure they have anything to worry about. At least, not in terms of threats to them personally.

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                  • #69
                    Sessions 23 & 24 - Travels far and wide

                    Riley and Terah rode into a small camp set up by the side of the road. There was a family of four seated there, boiling a kettle of water. They rushed to help the visibly battered, injured stranger and their exhausted horse, ushering them into camp, binding their wounds, and feeding them soup. When Riley had recovered the better part of their senses, they thanked the family for their kindness. Their hosts were farmers, a husband and wife who had lost their land, their teenage daughter, and their young son. Riley noted that the daughter always kept her parents between her and Riley, but the son wasn't anywhere near that timid. He offered Riley more and more helpings of soup, and solemnly accepted the jerky Riley gave in return.

                    As the night grew dark, the family asked Riley what had happened to them. Riley edged around the question, asking if the family had experienced any problems with their travels. Their faces instantly darkened, and though they tiptoed around their own responses, it was clear to Riley that something traumatic had happened between their daughter and a gang of itinerant workers.

                    Riley curled themselves up in their blanket and went to sleep that night. As they rested, their humours aligned with the spiritual essence of the place, regenerating their Pyros in a way that usually only happened when there were spirits nearby.

                    Back in Sour Springs, Abram had taken up residence in Boris's home. The largest, most opulent residence in town was seemingly deserted, while their own hovel was ruined, so he and Vessel transported the group's belongings into the building. Abram carried Elsie into the garden behind the house and dug a shallow grave. He placed her body in it, and then searched through her pack for Baby's body. Instead he found two cocoons. He recognised them as Pandorans in their chrysalis form. He threw them to the ground and raised his pickaxe to smash them, when they began to hatch.

                    The first cocoon broke open with a single long, pale limb. It scrabbled for purchase on the floor, hauling the rest of the Pandoran's slim body free. He emerged from his shell with a rush of embryonic fluid. He wasn't much larger than an eight year old child, but his limbs were too long for his size and he had a large, domed head that gave him an unearthly, alien appearance. His features were delicate, even beautiful, marred only by a cleft palate and rows of tiny, sharp teeth ringing the inside of its mouth.

                    The second cocoon shattered apart as a hulking brute of a creature emerged. She had none of her brother's beauty, only bearing the slightest resemblance to humanity. Her mouth and nose pushed forward out of the ruin of her face to form a snout, and she moved with a loping, rolling motion. The left side of her body was withered and vestigial with many weak, withered legs, her left eye clouded and unseeing, while her right-hand side was overbuilt and heavily muscled with three large, powerful limbs. She roared a challenge and charge at Abram.

                    The two Prometheans knew they were in no condition for a fight. They left their belongings behind and fled from Boris's home, outpacing the newborn Pandorans. With the dust storm slowly dying down, they went instead towards Mikael's house across town, to shelter there while they healed.

                    -----

                    In the depths of the Underworld, Elsie followed Ciaran and her Guide. The Guide avoided the larger tunnels, winding her deeper and deeper into the Earth. She lost track of time, and eased her boredom by keeping up a constant stream of chatter at Ciaran. The boy never even looked at her.

                    Eventually she heard the sounds of music echoing through the tunnels toward her. The sound was a mixture of drums and horns and stranger instruments she had never heard before, accompanied by singing that didn't sound like it was being produced by any human voices. It took hours before they reached the source of the sound, but her Guide led her inexorably towards it. At last her motley group came upon the facade of a grand mansion, emerging seamlessly from the uneven rock wall on either side of it. A line of flickering torches led up to the front door, which appeared to have been knocked from its hinges some time ago. Her Guide told her that the River of Dust lay on the other side of the Bacchanalia, and led her in.

                    The dead did know how to party. Elsie saw a man with a cut throat guzzling wine, red liquid pouring down his front and staining his clothes. She saw a woman with burnt red skin and a dress of swirling ash, dancing in the company of two farmers with greyed, swollen faces. She couldn't help herself, she had to join in with the fun. She danced with a group of emaciated men who moved and talked almost in unison, who begged her to stay and be the life of their party. But her Guide intervened, stating that they had a contract, and led her through the crowds of the dead until she reached the rear of the building. She paused only to steal the dress of ash from the body of the burnt woman, found passed out unconscious near the door, before leaving.

                    The River of Dust poured almost up to the very steps of the Bacchanalia. There was a thick haze in the air, like the horizon of the Dust Bowl on a windy day. Elsie looked to her Guide for advice, and the tall spectre bade her drink. She grimaced and made a face at the prospect of swallowing dirt, but she took a goblet she had seized during the party still with some wine inside, and filled it with dust from the river. She drank.

                    -----

                    Elsie opened her eyes to find herself lying in a shallow grave, at the back of Boris's home. She got up to look for the others, and found their possessions abandoned inside. She was about to look for her children, when they found her. She recognised them on sight, in spite of their new forms, and held out her hands to beckon them in for a hug. When they didn't respond, instead sizing her up as prey from a distance, she pouted and exerted her Lordship over them. Her daughter positively rushed to greet her, while her son seemed to try and resist the impulse. Eventually though, he had to give in. He came to her for a hug.

                    Maisie, she decided would be a good name for a her son. And Algernon for her daughter. She went through the house's cupboards until she had material to make them outfits, and set to work making them fit to take out in public.

                    Riley woke up and found the camp abandoned. They looked for the family who had hosted them the night before, but there was no sign of them, nor any sign of where they had gone. The camp itself remained, but the tent had partially collapsed. Riley tried to right it, but found that it was caught on something just beneath the surface of the dust. They pulled it away, and found the first body.

                    The family were all there. They had died in each others' arms. They couldn't tell what had killed them, but there were no obvious wounds. It was clear, however, that they had been dead for some time.

                    Riley buried the bodies, in proper graves this time, digging with their hands. They considered going south, towards Wakesfield, to pursue the gang that had caused the family so much grief, but they couldn't take any more heartbreak on their own. They needed to find Malik. The last information they'd had said he was going West, so they mounted Terah and struck off into the Wasteland.

                    Three days passed, with Riley travelling, Abram healing, and Elsie caring for her new children. Keeping them under control was a constant drain on her Pyros. At last, Abram decided he was strong enough to return for his belongings. He could sense Elsie's Azoth from several blocks away, as he closed in on the building, and knew that she must have returned from death. He reached the front door and knocked.

                    The door swung open. Elsie was standing there, wearing a new dress, positively beaming at him. She cradled her daughter in her arms, the animalistic horror halfway hidden in something that approximated a white christening dress. It snapped at him, but quietened when Elsie shushed it. Beside her, wearing a dark suit cut to meet his size, was the pale firstborn Abram had almost destroyed in its cocoon. Abram and Vessel stood there, frozen, as Elsie invited them inside.

                    Riley had struck a new road, this one leading north-west. They followed it until they reached Fort Bastion. The decommissioned military base was a squat brick of a building, surrounded by an exterior wall made of a wooden palisade and dried mud. As they were riding up to the gates, a voice with a thick German accent asked them to please stop immediately. There were explosives sewn through the area, and he didn't want them to set anything off. Riley followed the instructions that followed, leading Terah through a careful zig-zag up to the front gates, where she was greeted by an aging man who gave his name as Friedrich who took her to see the others.

                    There were four old men manning the fort. They didn't tell Riley what they were doing, but they were able to strike up a conversation and found out that the men had come from Sour Springs. They were all veterans, and they seemed to think that they were protecting their hometown from something by being out here. The day was growing late, and they told Riley that they would need to spend the night. For safety, of course. Riley readily agreed.

                    The sun set, and Riley sat by the fire and listened to the men talk. None of them were under sixty, all of them had fought in the Great War, and they had been experienced soldiers before then. But they appeared to be kind, and treated Riley and their injuries with kindness and gentle hands, and found a new bed for them to sleep in. All the men slept in the Fort's Armoury, long-since cleared out, now home only to a small collection of firearms that appeared to be the personal possessions of the assembled men. As it grew late, Michael, the only black man among the group, took up a scoped rifle and walked out into the night to keep watch. Riley followed him.

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                    • #70
                      Session 25 - A knock on the door

                      Abram and Elsie had a chat, which basically ended in Abram saying he had no problem with the Pandorans so long as Elsie kept them under control, and Elsie saying she really wanted a car. And hey, they knew who had a car too, so the two of them set off across town to Mike's Roadhouse. When they reached Main Street they spotted the sheriff and his men investigating the remains of their old lodging, and presumably Typhoeus's body as well, but the two Prometheans slipped past in the gathering dusk without incident.

                      Once inside, they went down to the speakeasy. There was a small, growing crowd within as the men of Sour Springs took advantage of the end of the Black Blizzard to get their first drinks in days. Elsie cornered Mike and persuaded him to come with her into a back room. A lot of hair twirling and battered eyelashes were involved. Abram followed them in, shut the door behind them, and proceeded to threaten Mike into giving him the car. Mike put up some bluster at first, telling Abram that he of all people should know who he was crossing, but when Abram summoned lightning between his fingers Mike's resistance collapsed.

                      When they returned to Boris's house in the car to collect Vessel and Else's children, they found Elsie gone. Instead, seated in the living room, was the man they recognised as John Shepherd. He told them that Riley was in great danger, that the dead did not rest easy at Fort Bastion, and that they needed to go there to help urgently. He had sent Vessel on to continue her Pilgrimage, and he was here to make sure that they did the same. With that said, he got up to leave, but he paused to grab Elsie as he made for the door. His face flickered into an expression of disgust as he looked at her, and he told her that he would strongly consider the knife when she found it. Then he left, leaving Else exasperated and more than a little annoyed at the cryptic comment and resolute refusal to explain what he was talking about.

                      Riley, meanwhile, was busy exploring Fort Bastion. They'd discovered that the main fort itself, a place the old men rarely entered, still held some records about its history during the last hundred years, including the several times it had changed hands during the Civil War. They found maps showing a lake to the west and a graveyard to the east. There was nothing obviously supernatural, no indication for why the men were so adamant that they not leave at night, until they reached the Gatehouse. Harrison, the leader of the garrison, seemed like he was going to say something when he saw Riley approach the Gatehouse, but he chose to stay silent. The small room was filled with dust, as if a dust storm had raged inside it, and as Riley sifted through the dust they found dozens of human teeth.

                      Something about their find spoke to Riley. They gathered up the teeth and wove them into a necklace as they got ready to sleep, and when they were finished they poured all of their guilt and horror from killing Elsie into the necklace to make a Jovian Athanor. And then they fell asleep.

                      Hours later, they woke to the sound of gunshots. One of the men sleeping in the Armoury with them, Mack, bounded upright and raced out of the room. Riley reacted more slowly, but they realised that the Fort was under attack. They grabbed their shotgun and ran out into the night.

                      They joined Mack and Michael on the walls. There were six figures down below, advancing down the path to the Fort in lockstep. They were dressed like cowboys in heavy dusters and wide-brimmed hats, firing revolvers and rifles up at the fort's defenders. The old men shot back. With the attackers out in the open, bereft of cover, and illuminated by the flashes of their guns they were easy marks, but bullet after bullet sank into their flesh without causing them to do more than stumble. Riley fired their own gun, winging a man with a rifle, and almost took a bullet between their eyes for their trouble.

                      Realising how badly wounded they were, Riley took the form of a Bargheist. The next salvo of shots from the defenders focussed on a single attacker, and Riley saw him crumple to the ground, and then through the ground, until the body had entirely disappeared.

                      Harrison was struck by a shot from below. A second later, the head of the attacker blew apart as Michael fired his rifle back. As the attackers drew ever closer, Riley was finally able to see them clearly. They had no eyes, or fingernails, or teeth, or tongues, just gaping holes in their head. Their wounds wept greyish fluid, and they continued to fight until their bodies were ruined beyond all hope of repair.

                      Moments later, Mack turned and spotted Riley. His gun swung towards them, and they threw their hands in the air. "I'm on your side!" Riley called out. Mack was frozen, his eyes wide with fear. From the corner of their eye, Riley saw a spark sailing towards the attackers. A moment later, there was an explosion. Mack's head snapped around. The attackers were blown apart. Riley took the distraction as an opportunity to return to their regular body, and slipped away before Mack could confront them. A few more shots sounded, and then the coast was clear.

                      Riley confronted Harrison, finding Friedrich tending to his wound, and demanded to know what was happening. Harrison was sheepish, but protested that Riley wouldn't have believed it if they hadn't seen the attack with their own eyes. The attackers were the Madsen Gang, a collection of seven criminals, led by the Outlaw Wild Joseph. Mack, Michael, and Harrison had ambushed and killed the gang back when they served in the army, but when they returned from the Great War they had seen signs that the gang was, impossibly, still at large. They had tracked the outlaws down, finding them without their leader just a few months back, and killed them, only to find that doing so hadn't changed anything. Every couple of nights the outlaws would return, and come hunting for them. The old men, with their friend Friedrich, had retreated to Fort Bastion to keep the gang away from Sour Springs and the innocent civilians there. Now they were just seeing how long they could hold out against the undead outlaws. They didn't stop, and Harrison knew well that eventually they would all be overrun.

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                      • #71
                        Session 26 - Family Reunion

                        Hours after the gun battle finished, Mack, Michael, and Riley were still on the walls. Friedrich had taken Harrison to lie down and tend to his bullet wound. Mack didn't broach the subject of Riley's shapeshifting during the fight, and Riley assumed that he was waiting until they were alone to bring it up. They didn't get the chance. During the twilight before dawn, Riley heard the sound of an approaching car. When the vehicle drew closer, they were able to make out the features of Abram and Elsie in front seats.

                        Riley immediately assumed that the rest of their throng was here to get revenge upon them for Elsie's death. They grabbed Mack and gabbled, "They're here to kill me! You can't let them inside. Don't hurt them." Mack was bewildered, but Riley's evident desperation made him agree to keep the other Prometheans away. Riley raced for the fort and lurked where they could hear if there was a commotion.

                        They didn't have long to wait. The screaming started several minutes later, followed by several gunshots. Riley dashed out in time to see Mack racing for the fort, pushing past them without a word. Michael had thrown himself flat. And still Riley could hear gunshots. They summoned their courage and ran for the walls. There, on the road below, Abram was standing at the edge of the booby trapped stretch in front of the fortress and firing a revolver into the ground seemingly at random. Elsie stood beside him, cradling an abomination in a dress in her arms, a second creature at her feet. Riley recognised them as Pandorans, and realised that Mack and Michael must have been overwhelmed by Pandoran Disquiet.

                        Somewhere behind them, Friedrich and Harrison were emerging from the armoury and hurrying to help. Riley screamed at them to stay back. At the sound of their voice, Abram called out. To Riley's surprise, he sounded happy to see them. He said he'd come to help, that they'd heard that Riley was in danger and they were here to make sure they were safe.

                        Riley's incredulity only built as the conversation continued. Elsie claimed that she wasn't holding a grudge for being killed, and Abram said that he didn't blame Riley for what had happened. They were a family, they needed to stick together no matter what. As far as Riley could tell, they were both telling the truth. Abram asked if they could enter the fort, but Riley told them that they couldn't bring the Pandorans inside. This seemed to surprise both Abram and Elsie, but they followed Riley's instructions and left Elsie's children in the car.

                        They entered the fort to be greeted by rifles pointed at their faces by Harrison and Friedrich, but Riley managed to calm the situation. The three Prometheans withdrew from the humans to talk among themselves. Riley infused their humours with their own memories, and shared their Essence with the other two to try and convey what they were feeling. The throng watched Riley's memories of travelling with Malik and the persecution the two of them had suffered everywhere they went. Riley tried to explain how important Malik was to them. In the course of activating these Alembics, they delved into their Azothic Memory and discovered that there were Pilgrim Marks in the area, out near the dried-up lake to the west. After some discussion though, the group decided to use their daylight hours to head east and explore an old military graveyard there, to see if there were any spirits or ghosts about.

                        Riley told Harrison that they would all be back before nightfall. They decided to travel by car as far as the road would take them. Riley sought to sit as far from the Pandorans as possible, concerned that Abram didn't seem to mind their presence.

                        The car didn't take them far, in the end. They'd been driving for a little over an hour when the road grew too rough to drive, and something struck the bottom of the vehicle hard enough to kill it in its tracks.

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