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Chronicle Report: Keepers of the Wyck

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  • #46
    11th Session

    I'm going to be away for a week after this, so there will be a short gap between now and the next write up.

    Cast List

    Aaron Gibson: Punk Hacker
    Lydia: Moon Witch
    Joe Hanson: Noir Detective
    Helen Walter: Hermetic Spy

    Notable Npcs:

    Boris: High Priest
    Mica: Technowitch

    Lance Armstrong: R&E Scientist
    Dennis Howard: NSC Cyborg

    Edwin Phillips: Our Marauder
    Violet Dubois: Euthanatos Assassin from afar


    It was 10 in the morning when Hanson woke up. He had fallen asleep watching over Helen. Someone had obviously come to tend to him during the night because all his wounds were gone. Helen too seemed to be in better shape. He decided to return to his room and prepare his morning coffee and smoke. While sitting by the window and watching the shadows cast behind the mid-morning sun, he started to think intently about the problem at hand. He managed to find Edwin, but now he wanted to know, how could he help him... As he thought, he slipped into dream, the smoke forming images as it mixed with the air. He saw a woman's face, he could make it out very clearly as Sarah's. But then it shifted into another's, Violets... As he stared at the smoke he became more confused, and could not tell exactly which woman he saw...

    Lydia wakes up at around noon. She's had a long night of confusion. She's concerned about Alfred as he seems to think he did something terrible, perhaps even killed or at least seriously harmed one of the progenitors last night. In need of something to clear her mind, she makes her way down to the node, Boris opening the door for her. She rests there for a moment, breathing in the air and letting her avatar be one with the potent spiritual forces of the node. She feels a presence trying yet again to enter her mind. Unsettled by this, she shrugs it off, and harmless quintessence with that familiar Alive resonance fills her system. She feels rejuvenated immediately. With this newfound state of calm, she begins to clear her head and focus on her avatar.

    Lydia: Luna?
    Luna: Hello?
    Lydia: Hey. I'm worried about Alfred.
    Luna: Yes?
    Lydia: I think he might have killed someone. Or at least thinks he has.
    Luna: and?
    Lydia: Well, we're Verbena, we should be about life! Killing isn't something we should be promoting, is it?
    Luna: Death and life are inherently linked.
    Lydia: Well, yes. But it's still not good to kill, is it?
    Luna: Do you think he is in danger of being Fallen?
    Lydia: No, I don't.
    Luna: Then what harm is there? Sometimes killing is part of the narrative of survival. Does the wolf not kill in order to avoid being hunted.
    Lydia: But we're the ones doing the hunting this time...
    Luna: The wolf too hunts to survive. Yes, killing is better to avoid, but not if the story then turns to self destruction.
    Lydia: Why does everyone seem to think killing is ok? Is there not a better way, a better solution?
    Luna: Perhaps there is...
    Lydia: What is it then?
    Luna: A very good question.
    Lydia: Aren't you going to help me!?

    Hanson left the room and found Boris downstairs and learned that he was having trouble finding the key to his office.

    Hanson: Where did you have it last?
    Boris: Before my injury. Vivian had it after this.
    Hanson: Perhaps I should go investigate...

    He took Hanson to the bedroom, he took a quick look and then asked for fingerprint powder. Boris had no idea what this was, but said he'd speak to Kael about it and see what they could do.

    Helen woke up and made his was down to the Node room as well. She was hoping she'd be able to sneak into Boris's study before anyone notices, but was a bit shocked to find Boris himself open the door for her. He let her know that Vivian was not in at the moment as she was repaying a debt to spirits on the other side of the umbra. She walked cautiously to the node and acted as though she was only going to meditate there. Just as Lydia had done before, she gained this very Alive energy within her and rejected the feel of this entity trying to search her mind. She noticed Lydia was quietly meditating by the node as well, and watched for a bit until she opened her eyes and shouted "Well screw you Luna!". They talked for a bit, with Lydia catching Helen up a bit on what had happened at the Heath, though unable to explain in detail what Alfred actually did. Helen made her way to Boris's room interested in sneaking in but with Lydia watching her, it was going to be impossible to do this secretly. Lydia started questioning her about what she had been up to the previous night, doing the Ring of Truth effect in order to assess her answers. Helen just told her about spirit attack and her paradox induced unconsciousness.

    Hanson arrived and started confirming a few things. Hanson was concerned for Helen and was glad to see she was ok. Hanson almost didn't recognise Lydia's Life changed hair and face. Boris entered and started to talk to them all, informing them about a few things.

    Boris: I'm grateful that you fended off the progenitors last night, though they may return soon enough. We should keep an eye of the Heath and be prepared for anything.
    Lydia: Yes. We should also keep contact with the Chorus.
    Boris: The Chorus?
    Lydia: There were some Choristors who were helping us defend the node, in their way...

    This was discussed a bit, Boris not exactly trusting of these Choristers, before moving on to what Hanson had been up to.

    Boris: You say you were at a hotel last night.
    Hanson: Yes, on a case. Ended up getting trapped in some strange world and then fighting a few spirits.
    Boris: That's quite concerning... We've been looking at the tears in the gauntlet from the other side and it looks as thought the gauntlet itself was pulled out of shape by something. It might be worth having a look.
    Hanson: Could be, yeah...
    Boris: Did you notice anything, or anyone, that might have caused these tears?
    Hanson: I have suspicions...
    Boris: I see. Well, the gauntlet seems to be getting weaker further south of where you were, closer to the river...

    Hanson decided to return to the hotel, taking Lydia and Helen with him in case there was some way to trace where Edwin had gone.

    Aaron awakens to the smell of rat droppings. This is getting problematic... Unwilling to remove the non-human mind ban, he got up and went to the store to get cleaning supplies and rat poison. He was going to deal with this properly and permanently. While waiting in the queue he got a text from Rubrix saying he had a job for him. After getting home and lacing some cheese with poison, he got to his computer and responded.

    Aaron: What is it?
    Rubrix: Place in Wandworth, there's a list of passwords on their mainframe, need you to get in there and retrieve them.
    Aaron: Sure, whats the address?

    Rubrix describes the place, an office tower in Wandsworth, the 8th floor. Aaron gets ready by putting on a high-vis jacket and a clipboard. The idea being he'd try to look like some kind of worker and just waltz right in. When he got to the place he started looking around but was approached by security.

    Guard: What are you here for?
    Aaron: Just checking things out is all, I've got a lot of things to check off here (gesturing to the clipboard)
    Guard: Can I have a look.
    Aaron: sure

    Aaron shows the clipboard. It's at this point that I should point out that Aaron botched the roll to disguise himself.

    ​Guard: This here's a petition...
    Aaron: ((oh no...))

    Thinking on his feet, he quickly came up with this.

    Aaron: Damn, must have the wrong forms. Listen, this was supposed to be a pretty quick job. They really aren't paying me enough to do this and they don't even give me the right forms to do it. If you could just let me in so I could get things done and finished, you know how it is, just want to get the job done with.

    [ST NOTE: I was planning for this to be a bit more challenging, but Aaron's player didn't seem to be in the mood to deal with this at the time, so I just let it go. Sometimes challenge for challenge sake isn't worth it if it annoys the player so much that they just stop caring.]

    His appeal seemed so genuine the guard was somewhat overcome by it, and let him in into the back entrance. Aaron was now in the stairwell climbing up to the 8th floor. On his way up he heard a man talking angrily about Hampstead Heath. Though he couldn't quite make out what was being said due to the echo in the stairwell, he could tell he was talking about unexpected setbacks, and that making him wait was not acceptable. Aaron quickly walked past him as he climbed, not wanting to get any attention.

    He got onto the floor, a room filled with large machines processing things throughout the building. a few computer modules sat in the middle, and Aaron got to work searching through the directories for the passwords. As he worked, he heard a hum coming from behind him. He looked back and saw an open console. Looking further he saw it was an email page with the title "Searching for the Esther File" as the subject. Trying to interact with the computer didn't seem to change anything. It became apparent that this was some kind of monitoring software giving a live stream of another computer's display.
    Aaron returned to searching through the directories and found a number of encrypted names and passwords. This looked like what Rubrix wanted. There were too many to printscreen, so copying them all to a flash drive seemed the best choice. It was going to take several minutes though.
    Again, he heard the hum, the other computer's screen started to change, someone was typing out an e-mail with the subject "RE: Searching for Esther". The door began to open, and Aaron quickly jumped back to the other machine, and moved the screen. A man came in and sat at the over module paying him no attention. The moment the files finished transferring he got of the page, and walked the hell out of there.
    On his way down, he heard that same hum coming on one of the floors on the way down. He checked the floor and peered into an office. An open computer sat with that same email, he saw the address as: [email protected]
    Not wanting to stay too long, he skimmed over the contents.

    The thug you hired wasn't able to complete the transfer, so no we don't currently know the whereabouts of the file. We're still looking.

    Not wanting to take any more chances, he left and tried headed north, crossing the river in an attempt to obscure his route from possible tails. While walking by an alleyway, he notices that twig symbol he's seen before. Edwin must have been here. He looks down the alleyway which seems to turn into some kind of cavern. Cautiously he made his way down, sneaking ever closer and closer to what he thought was the sound of reciting. A voice he only barely recognised.

    Hanson guided the others towards the hotel, then recalled that they never actually checked out and so brought up the chaotic winds of his perception filter around the three of them to avoid this awkward conversation. Lydia focused her senses through small chants, trying to feel out the strength of the gauntlet, letting the others know when and where it warped. As Hanson guides them closer to the hotel room, Lydia's sense of weakening gets larger, while Hanson's danger sense starts to lift. From beyond the door to the hotel room Lydia could hear some spirits speak. They sounded like Stormcrows. "I hear there's a big event going by the river" "Oh yeah? Right then!" "Better get to it, perhaps we can burst it!"
    Hanson and Helen could also hear voices, human voices.

    Voice1: It's here, the Dimensional Barrier is definetly weak.


    Voice1: The breach is in the bathroom. And it might be a recent one too.
    Voice2: Hmm... What about this?
    Voice1: Looks like some kind of... symbol... does it look like the others they found?
    Voice2: ....Yes.
    Voice1: Maybe this has the same cause!

    The start to move towards the door and Hanson backs the three of them against the wall, hoping his perception filter keeps them out of danger. Lance and Hector opened the door and walked right by them, towards a different corridor. Hanson lead the others down and out of the hotel as quickly as possible. The storm crows seemed to talk about another area of weak gauntlet, somewhere close to the river just as Boris had described. This was where they decided to head towards. After an hour or so of searching, Lydia brought her mind in sync with the spirit world and saw a large gathering of Stormcrows in the area. She lead Hanson and Helen to them.

    (note, it's not always the same crow speaking here)

    Lydia: Right everyone, hide your necklaces, these guys will take anything shiny...
    Lydia: (to the crows) hello?
    Crow: Yeah?
    Lydia: What are you all gathering here?
    Crow: What's it to you?
    Lydia: (digging in her pockets) I could give you a shiny coin if you tell me.
    Crow: Oh will you?
    Lydia: Yes, so what are you all doing here?
    Crow: We're going to...have a ball.
    Lydia: Oh, do crows normally have balls?
    Crow: Not normally. This is a special ball.
    Crow: We're going to be having one on the other side.
    Lydia: Oh, the other side, is it nicer?
    Crow: It's new. That's good enough.

    One of the crows gets a bit impatient and tries to grab the coin out of Lydia's hand, but she snatches it away. The other crows laugh at this.

    Lydia: Here. (throwing the coin at one of them, the rest scurry towards it) can you tell me anything else about this ball of yours?
    Crow: Yeah... it's gonna be fun.
    Lydia: What do you plan on doing then?
    Crow: Having fun. Yeah..
    Lydia: Can you not say anything more than that?
    Crow: Nah!
    Lydia: I do have better things to do, you know!
    Crow: Then go do 'em.

    While Lydia was having her crow conversation, Hanson and Helen drew their eyes towards the symbol on the side of the alleyway. Hanson peered inside, his danger sense rising, along with Helen's bracelet's temperature. Hanson listens out as he slowly creeps in. There is something coming from around the corner. Hanson is hit, a great beast with lots of eyes and mouths, countless formless limbs and tentacles, it lashes and and smacks Hanson down. Helen recognises it as the same sort of thing Lydia had turned into and immediately tries to calm it with mind magic. Lydia tears herself away from the crows and looks in. Hanson gets up and tries to brush himself off. With the creature subdued, at least for the moment, he tries to create a mental link with it but only hears a rally of confusion and desperation partially tamed by an artificial sense of calm.

    Lydia: Oh, it's a monster like I was! Maybe it's human.
    Hanson: Not sure about that... It's not thinking like a human.
    Helen: Maybe it's an animal?

    Lydia tries to sense its life pattern, it seems like that she'd expect from a dog, but it's horribly perverted by something.

    Aaron gets his phone out and quickly tries to draw up some night vision as he crawls deeper into the cavern. He can see the man with the open book. Afraid of alerting him and scaring him off, he tries to form a mental link with him. But something's gone wrong, the effect botches and a heavy amount of paradox rains down on him (total = 15). He does everything he can to try and hold on to it and suppress it. "Who's there!?" the man calls out. Aaron hesitates, staying perfectly still.

    Hanson, Helen, and Lydia make their way further down the alleyway-turned-cave cavern getting close and closer to the end.

    Aaron decides to try his luck.

    Aaron: Hello?
    Edwin: Who's there!?
    Aaron: Do you recognise me?
    Edwin: I... maybe.... Who...
    Aaron: Calm down.

    A strange creature shambles forward, another mass of tentacles an teeth. Edwin stared at it and started chanting something out of his book. A rip in space opened up and thrust the monster through it, banishing it from this realm.

    Aaron: what was that?
    Edwin: Did you see that creature ten?
    Aaron: yes... You know what it is?
    Edwin: That thing, that horrible thing. It was a Shoggoth!
    Aaron: A shoggoth... Right... I think you might need to-

    Aaron stops, a look of terror stretched across Edwin's face. A strong smell of fish fills the air. Aaron turns behind him to see a great monster with bulging eyes, swollen lips, and inhuman skin. Edwin grab's Aaron's hand and runs.

    Hanson watches them run and stops himself from calling out. Helen tries to explain to Lydia the transformation and quickly sends a text to Aaron explaining the same.

    Aaron in the mean time is in no mood for texting.

    Aaron: What just happened!
    Edwin: It's one of the creatures from Innsmouth. They've been chasing me ever since I escaped that wretched town. It is not a place for tourists.
    Aaron: Innsmouth? You mean like the story? Shadow Over Innsmouth?
    Edwin: You've been there to?
    Aaron: No, it doesn't exist. It's just a story. H.P. Lovecraft, you know the guy?
    Edwin: We cannot stay here, these caverns hold great evils.
    Aaron: Listen to me! It's ok. I can get you to someone who can help.
    Edwin: Who?
    Aaron: I know a number of mages, they can give you help. Here, take this. (taking of his necklace)
    Edwin: What trinket is this?
    Aaron: It's a key, go to the Keepers of the Wyck. They can help you.
    Edwin: I will not deal with cultists!
    Aaron: They aren't cultists.

    Aaron suddenly feels a rift open in space, something has just entered the area, the two of them look around and they see a great monster, a strange biped with a large tentacle like limb in place of its hear, without a face. It holds a knife and moves with uncertainty, eventually writhing on the floor as it approaches. Edwin makes to run and Aaron follows. There is no way he wants to be near this thing.

    Hanson's feels his body shift. Though he hasn't fully reverted, he is now able to speak at least. He recognises both the rending resonance and the knife in the creature just ahead and stops the others from doing anything. As Edwin runs further away, the thing starts to shift back, it's face forming into that of Violet's.

    Violet: What the...
    Hanson: Violet, don't be alarmed.
    Violet: Hanson? What happened to you?
    Hanson: Same thing that happened to you it seems.
    Violet: That man, he the one you were searching for? This is Edwin?
    Hanson: The one that ran off? Yeah.
    Violet: Right... He seems to be able to transform the world around him...
    Hanson: I don't think he's doing it on purpose.
    Violet: And he transformed you when you got near him?
    Hanson: Yes.
    Violet: Then I think I know what we're dealing with... This Edwin, your missing person. He's a Marauder.
    Hanson: ...((God Dammit!))

    [ST NOTE: At this point in the game most of them had pretty much already figured this out, so it didn't really come off as a surprise reveal, but more of a confirmation of theories. I'd always imagined there were three sides to this particular chronicle. Searching for, the Mystery of , and Dealing with Edwin. While the Searching is an ongoing thing, I thought 11 sessions was plenty enough Mystery, so why not kick start the third and arguably the most interesting side of it all]

    Violet: Who are you?
    Lydia: Me? Lydia.
    Violet: Another one of your associates?
    Hanson: Sort of...
    Lydia: You're a mage then?
    Violet: I am.
    Lydia: Which tradition?
    Violet: Euthanatos,
    Hanson: Death cults.
    Violet: Hardly, though I'm sure there are no guesses about what I was here to do.
    Lydia: Why do you follow Hanson around?
    Violet: Simply put, he killed one of my colleagues.
    Hanson: I'd like to point out that this colleague of yours had murdered a bunch of people.
    Lydia: If you think he's a dangerous killer, isn't it dangerous for you to keep so close to him?
    Violet: Oh, he knows exactly what would happen if he tried anything ...rash.

    Aaron and Edwin managed to run back out of the cavern and on to the streets.

    Aaron: Ok... I think... I think we got away from that.
    Edwin: Yes... But we can't stay here... there might be more...
    Aaron: You've been chased for a while?
    Edwin: Yes... I've been looking for a way home long now...
    Aaron: Listen, you need help. I know who can help you. Trust me. Speak to the keepers.
    Edwin: What are you talking about.
    Aaron: They're mages, they can help you.
    Edwin: You mean cultists? I wouldn't deal with them! They might-
    Aaron: Shut up! You have stumbled on to something, and have awoken to a truth much greater than you know. You need to understand it.
    Edwin: What are you?
    Aaron; I'm a Mage!!
    Edwin: You... You're one of them....

    Aaron feels his clothes start to change form, turning into long black robes. Without meaning to he started to speak in a bizarre language with impossible syllables. Edwin backed away as Aaron's voice lifted to a crescendo, causing him to run away yet again. Aaron's clothes began to shift back to what they were as we left.

    Aaron: No! Wait! Come back!

    Suddenly, the wait of all this paradox started to weight heavily on Aaron, but little came of it. A single point backlashed, and with it a lone thought entered his mind: "You blew it".

    A flurry of noise was heard from the alleyway, and suddenly a great murder of Stormcrows erupted from further down, all of whom began flying out towards the street.

    Lydia: Well, I guess they're going to have their ball now.

    The commotion brought the attention of two men in suits, one with a bowler hat. Lance and Hector were walking towards the alley. Spying this Aaron took the petition he had and quickly walked in front of them.

    Aaron: Excuse me! Would you be able to sign this petition? We're trying to stop any and all construction being done on Hampstead Heath.
    Hector: Out of the way!
    Aaron: It's a very important cause! Keep the Heath Green!

    Violet noticed the pair of them being held off, and started swirling her dagger in the air concentrating hard on getting them out. Hanson, Helen, and Lydia stayed close while she performed her magic, cut a whole through space and brought them away from the alley. Hanson had just enough time to smirk at Hector as Hector's face changed to loathing.

    Hector: You seem quite far from the Heath for this...
    Aaron: Well yes, you have to spread the word somehow
    Lance: Did you just arrive here?
    Aaron: Oh no, I've been drumming up interest for a while. If you don't wish to add your names, then I won't take up too much of your time.
    Hector: Hold on a moment... What was your name?
    Aaron: Rusty.... [This guy makes up so many alias, I keep forgetting which one was for what.]

    Both Lance and Hector were trying to look this guy up on V-DAS. Lance wasn't having much luck though Hector managed to get his real name.

    Lance: Come on Hector, I don't think this guy is connected with this.
    Aaron: Right, well I'll be on my way then.
    Hector: See you around. Aaron....

    Aaron froze for a bit though pretended not to notice. They knew his name, they'd probably know his address too. Looks like he's going to have to stay with the Keepers for a bit just in case.

    Helen, Lydia, and Hanson looked around. They stood in a room adorned with paintings of various things. Hanson noticed in particular one which looked like himself holding a gun to a man he hadn't seen for years.

    Helen: Wow, that's a lot of paintings.
    Hanson: This is how she does her magic... Of course.
    Violet: Creation is on the same coin as destruction, both may influence the wheel in turn, so of course both acts hold a great deal of power.

    Helen and Lydia start looking around for other paintings to see if they are in them, though they only find two. One depicts Hanson and Helen being attacked by the Kalus, the other depicts a scene not unlike that which they had seen just a moment ago, with all three of them watching Edwin.

    Lydia: Can you predict the future?
    Violet: Not quite. I can see events sometimes, fragments of fate and possibility. However, I did not bring you here to admire the gallery. This Marauder...
    Hanson: He doesn't seem to be aware of what he's doing.
    Violet: Aware or not, he is dangerous, and so he must be dealt with.
    Lydia: How do you mean, dealt with?
    Violet: I mean dealt with... problem is that I can't get near him without changing... I'm going to need some help. If you have anything that belongs to him, something or someone who he holds dear, I might be able to reach him through that. Do you know of anything?

    Helen remembers the page from the book he held, she keeps quiet about it, unwilling to draw anyone's attention to this.

    Hanson: Perhaps he can be helped. Maybe we can get someone to see to him.
    Violet: Help a marauder? You obviously have no idea what you're dealing with.
    Hanson: There may be a chance, please.
    Violet: I'll give you until the end of the week. But the moment more trouble starts...

    The group leave to return to the Keepers, all of them are more or less in agreement that killing or allowing Edwin to be killed doesn't sit right with them.
    Despite what everyone else keeps telling her, she cannot accept that killing is the correct course of action for anything. She doesn't see this man as a threat, but as someone in need of help, unable to properly help himself.
    Hanson seems to be in agreement with these sentiments. He hasn't done anything wrong except lose his mind. In a world like this, that's a pretty easy thing to do.
    Helen is in two minds on the subject. While she agrees that he's not at fault, she also is aware of the danger he poses. Though unable to definitively chose a side, she leans more towards what the others have said.

    When they return, Aaron speaks with them and everyone gets caught up. Aaron's opinion is basically "She's a Euthanatos, killing's their answer to everything. So screw 'em!" He got very close to being able to speak with him until he started getting scared, so there's obviously some way to get through to him...

    Aaron sat in his room, his high level of paradox had a strange effect on the computer screen, discolouring it as though they were magnetic. Brushing this aside, he sent the encrypted files of to Rubrix.

    Rubrix: This is going to take some work.
    Aaron: Yeah. By the way, ran into some Technocrats on the way here, they seemed to know my name.
    Rubrix: Ah. You got hit up by their V-DAS then...
    Aaron: Seems like it. Well, I am pretty heavily Doxed and they know my name, so I'm going to try and lay low for a while.
    Rubrix: Staying with your Witch Girlfriend/
    Aaron: She's not my girlfriend.
    Rubrix: Whatever, I'm not going to judge your relationship status.
    Aaron: Seriously?
    Rubrix: Send pix tho.
    Aaron: You disgust me...
    Rubrix: good.

    Aaron: Also, there was this file I found. The Esther File, know anything about that?
    Rubrix: Esther File...
    Aaron: Yeah, there was this guy, Jason Stavero
    ::Rubrix has signed off::

    Aaron: oh...

    Mica sees Hanson and hands him a pot of recently transformed print powder (or its nearest equivalent). He started dusting and collecting the prints in Vivian's room to help determine what happened to the key, finding a lot of prints under the bed which matched the cabinet, the last known whereabouts of the key. Helen noticed this and decided she needed to explain something to Hanson.

    Helen: You're helping Boris, aren't you?
    Hanson: Yeah...
    Helen: I need to tell you something.
    Hanson: What?
    Helen: When I was younger, something terrible happened... my parents were killed, their killers left me running away for my life.
    Hanson: Oh... I'm sorry.
    Helen: I don't know yet, but I think Boris might be involved with my parents death.

    She shows him the letter she found in the study, the one signed by Beranabus.

    Hanson: I see... Don't worry, I'll keep your secret.
    Helen: Thank you...

    Most people went to sleep at this point, and another day was ended.


    Aaron's Avatar is Dynamic and has noticed how often he has been relying on his Mentor for guidance and instruction. His Avatar isn't too happy with this as he think this constant crutch is holding him back from achieving his true potential.

    The Seeking is constructed as follows.

    Aaron wakes up and finds himself in a dark room, the walls are black but the corners are a bright glowing green. A single laptop sits in front of him with a clear line of communication to Rubrix. Each room ahead is some kind of puzzle, either it's simply knowing which direction to go, having a combination of buttons to press, shapes that need fitting into slots, or colour matching puzzles. Any solution or decision made by Aaron and Aaron alone will be the correct one. But any time he consults Rubrix and follows his advise, the floor beneath him will start to open up.

    Aaron carries the laptop with him, walking around this strange neon maze. Some rooms have blue corners, others have red, some have yellow. Sometimes they were just long endless corridors. Either way, when presented with the puzzle ahead, he would face it with confusion until the ever present "Need Help?" message came from the laptop. After several escapes from opening floors, Aaron began to cotton on, concluding that he needed to do the opposite of what Rubrix told him to do in order to progress. This was a step in the right direction, but it still had him relying on his Mentor for assistance, so the Avatar started throwing less binary situations. He now had a row of doors to try and navigate, or a branching path with three different directions. He would sometimes ignore his Mentors instructions outright, but never let go of the laptop or stopped detailing the layout of the room to him.

    After a bit more of this, Aaron's Avatar decided to present him with the final task. Rubrix told him that he had a job for him. There was a golden egg somewhere in the maze and he had to find it for him. Aaron entered a room with a map in it. He could see the pathway to the egg clearly, but in the complete opposite direction was a path out of the maze, he had to choose which way to go. Aaron agonised over this decision. It was quite obvious that this was a seeking of some kind, and he really didn't want to fail it. He was aware that virtually everything Rubrix had told him was causing him problems, but he just couldn't leave empty handed. He chose to go for the egg, which sat at the end of a long corridor. On picking it up the floor started to open up. He tried to make a run for it but the corridor was too long, in desperation he threw the egg down into the void, falling along with it.

    Around Aaron was nothing but darkness, nothing but void. He looked at the screen of the laptop and saw Rubrix's final message: "oops"

    The seeking had been failed.

    This was a rather laboured session. Not a bad one by any means, but there was something in the air that day which made things a bit trying. Aaron's player might have just been having a rough few days, but he was just not in the mood. He seemed to perk up by the time he found Edwin though. But failing his seeking certainly didn't improve things. Lydia's player was also having somewhat of an off day too. She had a hard time staying focused on the game and would often drift off mid conversation and need everyone repeat what they were telling her, adding a few levels of frustration around the table. That and she seemed to have forgotten a few key details about the mechanics of sphere magic, but this game is complex so that's forgivable. Helen's character too was not doing to great. From the start she wanted to have a chance to use the key and enter Boris's study, hoping to find more evidence or information, but she never got a good chance. This frustrated her a great deal, and by the end of the night this had almost reached a critical point.
    Hanson's character was mostly getting frustrated by the above.

    It's difficult to cope with players who just aren't in the mood one day, it can be quite tempting also to just say "nah, we're obviously not feeling it today, let's go home". But I don't like doing that. It was a really slow start but once the Edwin stuff started happening, everyone seemed engaged with the story again. I even had a number of interesting conversations with the players about how they viewed the whole Edwin situation now they knew more about him.

    To make this clear, I don't make my players spend another Arete worth of Exp just to do another seeking. That is monstrously cruel. There will be another Seeking for Aaron in the future. Since it's a Dynamic Avatar, it will probably be very different from this one. I'm thinking this time the laptop will be chained to the wall and the advice will much more like a walkthrough, but he'll have to keep coming back to the laptop in order to escape better. This might change if I get a better idea later down the line.
    Otherwise, let me know what you think of these Seekings.

    Just in case you were wondering, Violet was transformed into the Faceless form of Nyarlathotep. It's a pretty terrifying form which no doubt inspired a couple of Silent Hill monsters.

    Oh, and Lydia has become the first player to level up a Sphere. She now has Life 3. Welcome to your new life as Team Healer.

    See you all in a few weeks!
    Last edited by Saikou; 11-08-2016, 11:11 AM.

    Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running FINALE: Chapter 39: Green Fairy


    • #47
      11.1 catch-up session

      Hello everyone, so nice to be back after a few weeks away. Ready to continue?

      Cast List

      Alfred Camlann: Excalibur Mage
      Sean "Sam" Heath: Templar Knight

      Notable NPCs include:

      Vivian: High Priestess
      Boris: High Priest

      Joseph Kent: Preceptor of the Knights
      Lance: Void Engineer R&E Scientist


      It was 9am. Most days this wouldn't be a problem, but it certainly was today. Alfred hadn't slept more than a few hours before his nightmares forced him into the ranks of the early risers. He lay there in silent terror, thinking not only of his wretched dream, but of the night that came before it, the decision he made, and the terror he inflicted. He tried to tell himself "It was just a progenitor, she would have done worse", but such thoughts gave little solace, the image of the limp body caught in the thorns, the blood trickling from her arms and neck, how easily she could have suffered worse, and how a slightly firmer grip may have ended it all the faster...

      Trying to clear his head, Alfred decided to see who else was up, his head throbbed with exhaustion as he got himself properly dressed. There was no chance he was going in to work today. He knocked on the door of the lower Chantry and found Boris there.

      Boris: Ah, you're up.
      Alfred: Yes...
      Boris: Sleep well?
      Boris: You don't look it. Come with me, I might have something for that.

      Boris leads Alfred down the stairs and towards the apothecary which attached from the node room. Though Alfred had been in here before, this was the first time he saw Boris make use of the many tools which lay within.
      Boris: Vivian has been asking after you.
      Alfred: Oh?
      Boris: She made a deal with a group of spirits and says she may need some assistance in fulfilling her end.
      Alfred: I see...

      Alfred: I received a letter from my Grandfather.
      Boris: It's good to keep up family relations.
      Alfred: Yes, and he sends his regards. He said he knew you, back at the Glastonbery Circle.
      Boris: I did, yes. Interesting man.
      Alfred: Then you know of the family quest. Our search for Avalon.
      Boris: Yes, I even took part in it. but as time went on things changed, and I found a stronger cause here...
      Alfred: He too left to form his own coven, he believes he can find the King near Tintagel.
      Boris: Oh really? What has he been up to these days?
      Alfred: Chasing of tourists.
      Boris: Ah yes... that sounds like him. It's been a while since I've contacted him myself...

      Boris finishes the potion and hands it to Alfred, though still tired, it seems to aliviate a lot of the eye itching and head acheing that had been bothering him for the past few hours.

      Boris: Vivian tells me you were dealing with Progenitors.
      Alfred: Yes, we were trying to stop them breaking the node.
      Boris: Very good. We cannot allow these people to further corrupt such natural spaces.
      Alfred: That's something I've been thinking about. The ponds in the heath, they're man made-
      Boris: Man made or not, spirits reside in them now, and the Heath depends on this energy to thrive.
      Alfred: quite, though the ponds are not in good shape, they seem tainted, poisoned some how, and the spirits said they could feel the "push of the Wyrm"? I think it might have something to do with the brambles we planted. Well not us, two people we met, Zandros and malady, or Melanie I think, they told us to plant them.
      Boris: oh...

      Boris seemed strangely unperturbed by this news

      Alfred: Forgive me for saying so, but you don't seem too surprised by this.
      Boris: Vivian was looking for you, perhaps it's best you speak with her.
      Alfred: There's something, some outside force corrupting the ponds of the heath.
      Boris: What do you know of the Wyrm?
      Alfred: I... I understand that it is a great spirit of corruption.
      Boris: It is much more than that. The Wyrm is the very force of corruption the lies dormant in all humans who betray their land made manifest. It is a force which feeds off of those who ruin the landscape and pervert the natural.
      Alfred: Ah, that does make more sense.
      Boris: Perhaps it is these progenitors you faced who polluted the ponds of the Heath. The sooner we chase them off for good the better.
      Alfred: Perhaps yes.

      Alfred walks up the stairs to speak with Vivian, who sits in the communal area, before he gets there, however, his phone rings with a withheld number. For a while he deliberates on whether or not he should answer it. While waiting he sees his phone quickly flash the a number before returning to the "withheld" sign, but does not recognise the number. He answers the call.

      Lance: Alfred?
      Alfred: Speaking...
      Lance: It's Lance.
      Alfred: Ah...
      Lance: We've been getting a number of strange fluctuations from the area of South Hampstead, you know anything about this?
      Alfred: No...
      Lance: Well, we're preparing to investigate the area as we speak, so if there's anything you know that can help, we'd really like to hear it.
      Alfred: I do know one thing. The many you're looking for is a Marauder.
      Lance: A Marauder? Seriously?
      Alfred: Yes, you familiar?
      Lance: Only from reports, those guys are meant to be highly dangerous.
      Alfred: Yeah, well this one seems to transform everything he sees into something...Lovecraftian.
      Lance: Well, we received some footage from the area we may investigate, and it seems your friend Hanson was in the area.
      Alfred: Hanson...
      Lance: Do you think he might be a Marauder then?
      Alfred: No, or at least I highly doubt it. The man you're looking for carries a book, and I think the book he holds may be the source of most of his power.
      Lance: I see... That's actually quite helpful to know. Right, let us know if you learn anything else.

      Lance hangs up. Alfred puts his phone away, preparing to speak with Vivian.

      Alfred: High Priestess?
      Vivian: Alfred, hello.
      Alfred: Good morning. You sent for me?
      Vivian: Indeed I did. I must thank you for your part in defending the Heath.
      Alfred: That is most kind of you, though I fear they may be back in stronger numbers.
      Vivian: I would expect as much. Though if it's one thing I know about the Technocracy, it's that they tend to act on calculated measures. They will take their time to regroup.
      Alfred: So defending the Heath from them is not urgent.
      Vivian: Not for now, though if we can find a way to slow them down or stop them before they try again, it would be best. Also, it would be a good idea to keep an eye on what the Choristers are planning in the interim.
      Alfred: Yes, certainly.
      Vivian: You recall the spirits that assisted us last night?
      Alfred: Where they the ones who caused the storm?
      Vivian: They called forth the wind and cloud while I directed its power. And yes. These are the Talons of Horus, a great array of avian spirits who agreed to assist in return for a favour.
      Alfred: And this favour is?
      Vivian: Tell me, have you ever been into the Umbra?
      Alfred: Not yet no, I lack the knowledge to do so.
      Vivian: Are you interested in exploring the Umbra?
      Alfred: Yes, very much so. I also understand that it's one of the rites for membership into the Keepers.
      Vivian: Then perhaps you may be able to assist. This favour requires I enter the umbra, but it is dangerous to venture out alone. Would you be willing to join.
      Alfred: ... Yes!
      Vivian: Good. Of the other initiates, For Helen, I reserve my trust as I found her wondering in Boris's study not long ago. While the last time Lydia dealt with spirits, she told me she lost her necklace.
      Alfred: To be fair, I think she was dealing with some particularly rough Stormcrows.
      Vivian: Such carelessness can be catastrophic in the Spirit Wilds, it's not something which can be dismissed.
      Alfred: I see...
      Vivian: However, Camellia told me of another who helped save her from the Pattern Spider, and thought against the H'ruggling.
      Alfred: Sam
      Vivian: Perhaps it would be safer to have him along with us.
      Alfred: I'll go find him.

      Sean woke up at about 11, all things told he had a pretty good night's sleep. After getting ready, he was going to go to the Chapter house to restock on ammunition, when he was stopped by Alfred informing him of Vivian's Quest. Sean was reluctant to accept until he heard more details, which Vivian gave when they returned.

      The Talons of Horus spoke of an egg which contains a new spirit, for a while it has been kept under the watchful eye of a Surtur, a great fire giant spirit. Now the time has come for this egg to hatch, but still the Surtur guards over it without relent. The Talons of Horus are forbidden from harming another worrier of Gaia, yet the Surtur refuse to deal in anything but confrontation, and thus they require an intermediary to take the egg from the Surtur and return it to the Talons of Horus where it may be hatched properly.

      Though a bit unsettled by the idea of walking into what sounded like some kind of nether world and dealing with demonic creatures, he reluctantly agreed to assist once he returned.
      Sean left for the chapter house, approached the munitions department, and was able to sign out for two magazines without drawing much suspicion. He considered requesting the Machine gun, but the paperwork that would be required put him off the idea. Sean then left to pray at the alter and draw up some divine energy into his soul. As he prayed, a voice spoke loud and clear in his ears.

      Voice: How do you judge them?
      Sean: Judge who?
      Voice: The Pagans, and the rest.
      Sean: The Pagans are...misguided, but I don't think they have done harm.
      Voice: Are they worthy of your help?
      Sean: They have done no ill to me.
      Voice: That does not mean they have done no ill.
      Sean: Of course, my lord.
      Voice: You must watch their actions, and bring judgement down upon the deserving when necessary.
      Sean: I understand, my lord.

      Before leaving to return to the Keepers, Sean was stopped by Preceptor Joseph Kent.

      Kent: Heath!
      Sean: Yes Preceptor!
      Kent: At ease. I hear that you were involved with a skirmish at the Heath last night.
      Sean: Yes, Progenitors trying to take the ponds.
      Kent: Assisting the Choristers then?
      Sean: Yes.
      Kent: Very good. The Choristers are planning a ritual to drain the node within the next few days. When this happens you will be called upon to ensure there is no interruption. You are still with these Pagans?
      Sean: I am, yes.
      Kent: When the time comes, keep them busy, keep them away from the Heath. Is this understood.
      Sean: Understood!
      Kent: Good. Oh, and next time you sign out on your ammunition. Make sure you pass it by me first next time.
      Sean: Yes Preceptor.

      Meanwhile, Vivian and Alfred return to the Node room to meditate and draw up the spiritual energy from the node. Alfred takes this opportunity to ask the tree spirit some more questions. He wishes to know more about Queen Boudicca, so he may prepare his plan to call on her assistance in defending the node. But the spirit seemed unable. Years were short to the Spirit, and a single separate human life was a difficult concept for the spirit to fully understand. Getting nowhere, he switched his questions to that of Avalon, but was only able to hear that Avalon lay beneath "Hidden Waters", and little more.

      He spoke with Vivian for a while, and explained to her his plan, that he had managed to obtain an iron age bracelet that he hoped he could use to summon Queen Boudicca from, as the rumours were that she had been buried at Hampstead Heath. Lydia frowned at this and spoke with concern.

      Vivian: Necromancy is a difficult and dangerous variety of magic, Alfred.
      Alfred: Necromancy? I'm not trying to create an army of the dead, I just want to receive council from her.
      Vivian: If you wish to commune with the dead, there are many things you need to consider. What is her soul has already moved on and has already reincarnated over a hundred times. How do you even know this bracelet you've found is hers?
      Alfred: I don't, but I still might be able to use it as a way to connect with her time, especially if I use it at Boudicca's mound.
      Vivian: Gwynn would be able to tell you much better than I the risks involved in what you wish to do. But as it is, I cannot advise you attempt it.
      Alfred: ...I never thought this would count as necromancy... When does Gwynn return?
      Vivian: We still do not expect him until the end of the month.

      Sean arrived and was brought down into the Node room. Vivian handed the pair of them robes and left to change as she intended to travel skyclad. Alfred was not unfamiliar with the concept having done many skyclad rituals in the past, and prepared to get changed. Sean, however, was much more sceptical about the idea, and instead took some time to pray, consecrating his clothes and gun.

      Alfred: You're going in like that?
      Sean: And you like that?
      Alfred: Carrying more than your own life pattern is going to be harder to cross.
      Sean: That shouldn't be a problem anymore.
      Alfred: But won't you miss out on the experience of being one with nature?
      Sean: ...I think I'll manage.

      Vivian returned in a robe and started drawing a circle on the ground with a number of symbols ordained within it. She noticed Sean was stilled clothed and made a comment along the lines of "typical Choristers...". She removed her robe and the three of them stood within the circle. Vivian had only her necklace from which a number of other things hung. Alfred wore nothing, and only took with him his own wooden runes. After several minutes of ritual chanting, Vivian stepped through the gauntlet and took the two of them with her.

      Alfred and Sean's senses were assaulted with a barrage of sound and touch. A great number of screaming voices pierced their minds as they both felt clawing and scratching at their very souls. Alfred tried to pull his thoughts away from the obvious suffering tone in their voice, but could not screen out their cries, falling through the other side with a siring headache. Sean was not so lucky. His avatar shown like a flame to the storm and attracted a great deal of attention, he could feel it scratching at his bones, clawing at his soul, biting into the very essence of his being. He felt a small amount of Divine Influence fall away from him as he fell out the other end, bleeding and in great pain.

      [ST Note: I'm using a custom system for crossing the Avatar storm where it's possible to get anything from 1 point of bashing to Full Arete worth of Agg damage depending on how you roll, if you want details then check the very first post I ever made on this forum. In this case (strangely enough) Alfred got 1 Bashing, and Sean got 3 Agg and had to roll Avatar to prevent Gilgul.]

      Sean: Is this what always happens when you leap into the pits of hell!?

      Sean spoke as he tried to stop himself vomiting.

      Vivian and Alfred helped him up to this feet, then looked around at the eerie scenery. No longer were they in the node room, but on the peak of a hill next to a great tree, beyond they could see shadows of the city of London, Alfred could see a face within the tree, looking at once ancient and steadfast, an expression of contemplation. To Sean, however, the scene was distinctly dull, as though lacking true enlightenment. When looking at each other, they noticed differences in how they looked back in the mundane world.

      Vivian's skin had darkened, and great swirling patterns flowed over her, every changing, as though a subtle tattoo of a tempest flowed continuously over the ocean that was her body.
      Sean's clothing seemed resplendent and intricate. He shown like a beacon of power, the quintessence in his system filling him with an aura of cleansing spirituality.
      Alfred at first appeared to be unchanged, though his movement was more rhythmic, and his skin seemed to pulsate slightly, as though his whole body beat in time with his heart.

      Vivian started moving, walking down the hill while the others followed. As they drew closer to the buildings Alfred could see the great number of spider webs which covered them and could even make out a few Pattern Spiders which crawled on its surface. Sean on the other hand only saw a more vivid world where areas of light and shadow, indicating places under the influence of righteousness and sin. While he could not immediately see the spiders, if one were to present itself to him, he would be unable to ignore it.

      Sean: Is this the demonic vision we saw when passing through those halls?
      Alfred: halls? You mean the Pathways?
      Sean: Yes, the world of the demons.
      Alfred: This isn't the world of the demons. The spirit world is split up into three parts. There's the Astral world, which I suppose is sort of like heaven, then there's the middle world which is a sort of purgatory, then there's the dark world which I'd guess is close to hell.
      Vivian: That's not entirely true...

      Vivian informed them that they were currently in the penumbra, a shadow cast of the mundane world on to the spiritual. She then proceeded to give her somewhat limited account of the Umbra. While she had very little experience with either the Astral Realm or the Dark Umbra, she knew enough to know which one had Wraiths in it. The Spirit Wilds, however, she was able to explain in a bit more detail, describing it as a world that humanity has slowly been pulling itself away from, where spirits live and fight to preserve the natural. She also informed them of the balance of the Triat, and the presence of the Wyld, the Weaver, and the Wyrm. Lastly she mentioned some of the dangers of the spirit wilds, including the Garou, beasts known in some circles as Werewolves, beings of exceptional power. She knew of some Verbena covens who were able to work with them for a time, but such alliances would never last. She herself had no contacts with any tribes and considered the best course of action was to stay out of their way and avoid becoming their target. A lot of this information was lost on Sean, who just considered a demon a demon and left it at that.

      The streets of penumbral London were strangely empty, except for the occasional shadow and a number of darting around spirits, not a single person could be seen. Vivian explained that very few human cast a shadow on the penumbra, there were exceptions, and mages tended to be one of them. She told him that they were looking for a way into the spirit wilds. It's possible they'd find it if they just kept walking long enough, but she knew it would be quicker if a spirit could assist them.

      Alfred decided to try his luck with one of the Pattern Spiders, he quickly cast a spirit effect on both him and Sean so they may speak and understand the spirit's language, and spoke.

      Alfred: Hello?
      Spider: Who are you?
      Alfred: We are mages.
      Spider: What are you here for?
      Alfred: We're trying to find an Surtur who guards an egg.

      The Spider moved on, obviously disinterested in what Alfred had told it. Alfred looked up and noticed a large number of stormcrows flying off in the same direction.

      Alfred: Hey! Where are you going?
      Crow: We're going to have a ball!
      Alfred: What does that mean?

      The crow laughed and flew on. He asked another.

      Alfred: Is there something happening over the there?
      Crow: Is there?
      Crow: Is there indeed!
      Alfred: Could you tell me what it is?

      Again, the crows laughed and flew off. Alfred was beginning to understand why Lydia despised them so.

      Sean stared in the direction of a hospital surrounded in thickly woven pattern webs.

      Sean: Can you see it?
      Alfred: See what?
      Sean: There! Hanging in the sky over the Hospital
      Vivian: I... no....
      Sean: A pair of angels.

      Sean started walking up to two spirits that hung in the air, two genderless humanoids with great wings on their shoulder and a pure light softly glowing from their skin. As Vivian and Alfred followed, the angels became more apparent.

      Sean lowered to his knees and spoke to these celestial beings gently and with respect.

      Sean: I pray to you

      One of the angels floated gently down to meet with Sean and spoke softly.

      Angel: What do you seek?
      Sean: We wish to find a way towards the spirit wilds

      The Angel smiled and bent down to kiss Sean on the forehead.

      Angel: Have faith, you will find it.

      The kiss felt purifying, all of Sean's wounds had closed up and healed, leaving a sense of calm and reassurance. The angel flew back to the sky and almost seemed to dissipate from view.
      Alfred and Vivian discussed what they had just seen, and concluded that this must have been some kind of Spirit of the Wind who were often known for playing games.

      A rat gaffling scurried towards Alfred shoe.

      Rat: Hey buddy? You know how to get to Camden from here?
      Alfred: ....yes?
      Rat: Right, where's the way?
      Alfred: I think you might be going to my house...
      Rat: Great, so how to get there?
      Alfred: I'll tell you if you help me first. We need to get to the Spirit Wilds
      Rat: Is that all? No prob! I'll get a friend of mine to show you the way.
      Alfred: Ok...

      Alfred explains how to get to Camden and the rat runs off. Moments later another Rat appears.

      Rat: You want to find the spirit place?
      Alfred: Yes.
      Rat: You let me stay at yours?
      Alfred: ...this is getting out of hand...
      Rat: Yes or no?
      Alfred: Fine. Go ahead. But only until I get back.
      Rat: You mind I bring a few friends?
      Alfred: ....Fine, sure, go head.
      Rat: Right, follow me.

      The spirit races down the street and Alfred chases after, calling to the others "Follow that rat!".
      They three of them sped down the streets and through an alleyway which became longer and longer as they ran through it. Eventually the passage began to rotate like a corkscrew making it difficult to run. When the wall gradually became the floor, it started to curve up. Vivian and Sean began climbing though Alfred couldn't find a way to grip on. Noticing his trouble, Vivian called out a quick chant which crew out the nails in Alfred fingers into sharp claws, making climbing very easy. Vivian dispelled the effect as Alfred climbs up and over the top where they saw the most amazing natural landscape either Sean or Alfred could recall.

      The stood on top a great mound, the sky was bright and vivid with the suns fantastic light shining upon all. Beneath them a great forest spread, to the right a rocky mountain range cut over the horizon, and to the left an expansive dessert. The forest was anything but consistent, and a patch of darkness held in the centre of it, despite how intense the sun's light shone.
      Vivian explained that the first thing they needed to do was to find the giant. She pulled a rune from her necklace and handed it to Alfred.

      Vivian: When you find the Surtur, cast this rune to the ground, it will help me find you. But be careful, it will only work if we stay within the same realm. Do not step over into others if you can help it. Other than that, trust your instincts and keep each other safe.

      She then transformed into a great bird with jet black wings and flew off into the sky, they gathered she left to search for the Surtur in the air.
      With little other indicator of the correct path to take, Alfred and Sean ventured into the forest to investigate that patch of darkness.
      They made their way down the mound and traversed into ever thickening bush. The sky had almost completely vanished, and the stench of rot and decay filled the air. Sean sneaked into the bush, he had a bad feeling about this place and wanted to keep hidden until he figured out what was going on. Alfred remained and tried to sense the presence of spirits. Although everything was spiritual here, he was able to determine between mobile and inanimate spiritual beings, and could see something was hidden in the bush not far from Sean's hiding place.

      Alfred: Sam! Watch out.
      Sean: What?
      Alfred: There's something right beside you.
      Sean: How can you even tell where I am?
      Alfred: You're still glowing with your prime stuff.

      It's true, The quintessence Sean held in his pattern made him glow like a light. Alfred peeked through the bush and saw the unfortunately familiar sight of a H'ruggling. This wasn't a battle either of them wished to have, so they slowly crept away. Sean tried to find their way back to the mound, but the path they took seemed to twist in a different direction, nothing stayed consistent. They ended up walking down into more open woodland which was vibrant and full of life, eventually finding themselves by an unnaturally blue river, as though seen through an over-saturated photo. Alfred was so distracted by the odd colour that he walked straight into a tree, knocking an Owl spirit of its branches and on to his head.

      Owl: Who are you?
      Alfred: What... oh, I'm Alfred.
      Owl: Are you searching?
      Alfred: Yes, actually, we're looking for a Surtur guarding an egg, could you help us?
      Owl: Perhaps yes, if you help him, you will get to where you need to be.

      The Owl gestured over at a strange white mouse which looked timidly at the water. Sean had been watching this mouse and wasn't so much an animal as a skeleton. A skittering skeleton that didn't seem comfortable with that deep blue water. When Alfred tried to approach it with his ever friendly "hello", the mouse quickly scuttled into the bush.

      Alfred: No, it's ok, it's ok. I'm not going to hurt you.
      Mouse: No?
      Alfred: Do you want to cross the river?
      Mouse: ...y-...yes.
      Alfred: We can help with that, but we need help too. We're looking for a Surtur guarding an egg.
      Mouse: Oh... I've seen before. That's in the great plains.
      Alfred: Could you take us there if we help you cross the river?
      Mouse: ....Ok...

      The Twice-Dead clambered up Alfred's leg and up to his shoulder, his bones felt light and delicate. Sean and Alfred discussed what the best way of crossing the river would be. They both vetoed simply wading or swimming across, in the spirit world who knows what that might lead to. Alfred though about forcing plants to grow across but Sean wanted to check what this water actually was first. He did a short prayer for insight and could sense the river was certainly made of water, though not entirely, perhaps it was both water and water's spiritual equivalent mixed as one. Perhaps if it was a matter pattern, he'd be able to manipulate it.
      He called forth the power of the lord and asked if they may solidify themselves a path of ice across. Without his bible to focus on, he had to rely only on memory for a relevant passage, and though more difficult, sure enough a narrow bridge of ice began to form, linking the two banks. The two of them began to cross, and got half way before a strange burbling alerted them to another's presence. A water elemental emerged from the depths, taking a vaguely bipedal form.

      Spirit: Who here disturbs our waters!

      The mages did not respond, only quickened their pace.

      Spirit: I will not let you pollute our lands!

      The Spirit swung at Sean who blocked the mass of water.

      Alfred: Sam...
      Sean: We need to get across!

      The mouse jumped into Alfred's hair and held on for dear life. Running was far too difficult on the ice, and the bridge was not wide enough to doge anymore attacks. They would have to run across and risk the spirits wrath. Sean lept and managed to break through without too much trouble. Alfred, however, passed by got hit hard by an torrent of water with the ferocity of a flailing fist, knocking down to the bank.

      Spirit: Now you will learn what happens to those who tamper with others domains.
      Alfred: Get rid of the bridge, Get rid of the Bridge! Get rid of the bridge!!

      Sean tried to melt the ice, but found it too difficult to concentrate on everything at once, and the effect botched. He grabbed Alfred and picked him up over his shoulder and ran as far as he could away from the angry water spirit.

      Alfred: What are you doing?
      Sean: Running!
      Alfred: What about the bridge?
      Sean: God wills it!

      As he carried him and ran, the forest opened up into a great expanse of sand. Like a beach in low tide, but spreading out beyond the horizon, the sun was begining to set and the moon could be seen great and large. Sean dropped the naked man he carried, sensing the danger was over. The mouse crawled up onto of Alfred, sensing he had been hurt, and healed him a little with it's own charms.

      Alfred: Thank you.
      Mouse: Can... Can I ask, what just happened?
      Alfred: Well, we ran away from a spirit that wasn't happy with the magic we just did.
      Mouse: Magic?
      Alfred: Yes, we're mages.
      Mouse: Ohh!! Mages! I've met mages before, there was this one time that this made I met in the forest asked for help, and he made me really really big, like really big, so big I could see over all the trees, I've never been able to see so much before. Anyway, that was just the one mage, another mage-
      Alfred: Little friend. I'm sure it's very exciting for you, but we still need help. You said you knew where the Surtur was?
      Mouse: The Great Plains, yes, follow!

      The mouse darted off down the sand, and Alfred and Sean had no choice but to keep up. He run through an Airt which took them across the sand which started to form bridges over a dark void, soon the bridge became patchy, until only small platforms of sand floated solidly over the void. While both the mouse and Sean were happy to jump across, Alfred manipulated the spiritual matter within the soil to bridge the gaps as he stood upon them.

      They found themselves in a jungle, still on the airt when the mouse stopped and sniffed the air.

      Alfred: What's going on?
      Mouse: I semll the Garou.
      Alfred: ...oh no.

      Alfred quickly grabbed Sean aside.

      Sean: More demons?
      Alfred: Shut up! Now listen. Werewolfs are real and they are here right now, we do not want to be seen by them, so keep quiet!

      Alfred started squeezing the runes in his hand and tried to encourage growth in all the plants around him to obscure them from the Garou. His ritual we growing long and they could hear movement in the bush ahead of them. He quickly rushed it and fixed the plants to cover them.

      Alfred: Don't...make...a sound...

      A fire bird emerged from the path ahead and flew quickly across and away, behind it two figures with a great deal of hair and strangely misshapen heads drew near. They were speaking in gruff voices as though they both had something caught in their throat, and they wore tattered clothing. One of them stopped, and sniffed the air.

      Garou1: What's got into you?
      Garou2: I can smell something...
      Garou1: We're going to a Wyrm infested hellhole, you're going to smell a lot! Not come on!

      The first Garou walked ahead while the second lingered, Alfred did everything he could to keep silent while the beast approached their hiding place. He could feel its breath on his face as its mouth grew inches away. He held his breath and he forced himself not to look into its eyes, seeing the creature bare its teeth and growl in growing rage.

      Garou1: HURRY UP!!

      The second Garou stopped, howled after him and transformed into a more wolfen shape, running far down the road. Alfred and Sean stood in silence, waiting to be sure they were long gone. Alfred's plant effect began to wither. They decided to move on quickly.

      The jungle turned into more of a swamp environment, where Alfred and Sean were stopped by a group of Norns, three spirits taking the form of old crones cackling and chanting. The refused to allow passage until they told them of their quest to find the Surtur, and then only let them pass when they agree to give them something in return. The Surturs Flaming Sword. They cackled and warned that if they did not present the blade before they left the umbra, they would know where to find them. Shaken by this, but seeing no other options, the agreed and walked on, The Twice-Dead mouse thanked them for keeping it hidden during the past transaction, and lead them out into the great plains where the grass was an unusual blueish yellow, the sky was covered in ever changing clouds, and large rock formations spread littered around. Not far from them a grand mountain pierced through to the sky above. The sun was starting to set and the moon shone through a haze of light, and though blurred, its shape was still clear to see. Up ahead Sean spied an orange glow from a figure in the distance.

      Sean: I think this is the place.
      Alfred: Ah, Vivian said this wouldn't work if we entered a new realm...
      Mouse: This isn't a new realm.
      Alfred: It isn't?
      Mouse: No, just the great plains, still in the spirit wilds. Who's Vivian?
      Alfred: She's another mage.
      Mouse: Wow, three mages in one day!

      Alfred threw the rune to the ground, they had no idea what to expect, but it seemed as though nothing had happened. Alfred began to grow very weary after all this walking, and though he had no idea what time it was, he felt as if he'd been walking for over half a day. Alfred lay down on the grass and started to drift off. "I guess I'll take first watch then" Sam said.

      Alfred awoke in his bed, fully clothed in pyjamas. He looked around and recognised the room from his home in the village. He used to live in this cottage with his parents and siblings. He called out to see if anyone was around, but couldn't hear anything. He got dressed and made his way downstairs. The kitchen was just as he remembered, but everything felt still, as though it were left behind. He opened the door and looked outside, the dirt road the winded between the houses was still there, just as the crops fields beyond it. But not a soul could be seen. The wind was strangely still, and very little was moving. "Where is everyone" he thought to himself as he made his way to his Grandather's home at the end of the road. "Grandfather?" He called as he knocked "Are you there?". The door opened, but no response was heard. Alfred crept inside the room and saw all the things he knew so well, the books, the shelves, the collection of tools and farm gear that lay strewn around, but not a sign of where anyone could be. He cautiously walked to his Grandfathers desk and decided to have a look through them. In the top drawer all he could find was a picture of his Grandfather's face with a stern expression on it. He folded it up and placed it in his pocket. A thought occurred to him, perhaps they had all gone in town. He ran out to where he knew his bicycle would be and peddled down the dirt road. To either side of him great crops of grain could be seen. As he progressed further down the path, each new crop of grain seemed to be taller than the last, until they seemed ripe for harvest. A few fields after and the crops had already been harvested and lay bear and empty. Frost began to form on the track and the path grew a fin layer of snow. Alfred had been peddling for what felt like hours, he should have been in town by now. Alfred stopped peddling and tried look around, the scenery was slowly disparaging under a layer of pure white snow.

      Sam kept an eye of the orange glow, it moved around within a single spot from which it did not leave, he had been keeping a close eye on it just in case. Above him he noticed a great black bird sore above him, gradually lowering closer and closer until it fell into a swoop and transformed into a woman upon touching down. Vivian had arrived. Sean gave Alfred a quick kick to try and wake him up.

      Alfred's bike fell, and soon disappeared under the intensifying snow. He called out but couldn't see a thing, the sky and the ground bled together into one continuous scene. Alfred's vision began to cloud and soon he couldn't tell if he was standing or lying down. "Alfred?" He heard the voice of his father call out "Alfred? Are you there?" The voice of this Grandfather joined in. He wished so desperately to call out but all his words seemed to be swallowed by the sky. His vision had fallen to pure white. "Such a shame" he heard his Grandfather utter as the world grew more and more distant, "such a shame."

      Alfred opened his eyes, standing above him were both Sean and Vivian, the Twice-Born mouse was looking very excited.

      Mouse: She flew in! She was a bird, and then, then she wasn't! Are you sure she isn't a spirit?
      Vivian: This your spirit?
      Sean: It was just guiding us.
      Vivian: How very cute...

      Alfred got up, somewhat troubled by the vividness of the dream he just had, never before had a dream felt quite so real. He could still feel the crisp falling cold of the snow that touched his face. He got up, and bid the mouse farewell, and then followed Sean and Vivian as they got closer to the Surtur.

      They kept a distance way, but could see well enough. The Fire Giant stood with its sword in hand over a large bush. Through magic, the three of them determined that the Egg was in there and about twice the size and weight of an Ostrich Egg. Alfred had peered into the mind of the Surtur and could see it was very alter and quite focused on ensuring the egg remained where it was.

      Sean and Alfred talked tactics. Vivian told them that a Surtur will never back down from a challenge. This gave them three possible methods of approach.

      The first was Sport. They may be able to challenge it to something and win. Vivian advised against any kind of fight to the death as the Surtur would not stop until it sees them killed. But perhaps another kind of challenge such as breaking rocks, a race, or something they'd be able to win with magic in exchange for both the egg and the sword. The problem with this was what may happen if they lose, and whether it was even possible to win against a sentry of this size.

      The second, then, was Trickery, perhaps they could challenge it to something that would bring it away from its post, or at least be able to distract it long enough for either of them to sneak in and take the egg. Perhaps Vivian could take the egg and fly off with it. But this still left the problem of how to get the sword.

      The third was illusion. Perhaps it would be possible to create some kind of mental or physical illusion to distract it. Maybe have it think there was a threat approaching the egg, maybe make it think a pile of rocks was an Ice giant (which they assumed would be the fire giant's enemy). Something to keep it busy while they took the egg. But again, how to take the sword was still a problem.

      This left then a fourth option, and one they didn't feel quite ready for. Direct combat.

      In the time they took to consider their options, the sun had set and night had set in properly. The only light came from the flames of the surtur and the light of the moon. The wind started to pick up and Vivian began to look worried. A storm began to set in, and Umbral Storm carrying a great amount of chaotic energy. Without warning dust and dirt got kicked up into the air, wind started raging, and all about them was thrown into dissaray. Sean managed to run to a nearby formation of rocks for shelter, but Alfred tripped and fell. Vivian stayed back and created a barrier, trying to protect him from the storm. Sean saw this and tried to run to help Alfred up and drag him to the rocks, all while Vivian stood there and maintained the barrier. The dust grew and soon neither Alfred nor Sean could see Vivian within it. Alfred tried to sense out her life pattern but was only able to for a brief moment before she the storm intensified.

      They waited a good 5 minutes for the storm to settle, and when it did, Vivian was nowhere to be seen. The Surtur was still at his post, as was the egg. This is where the session ended, with both mages wondering what exactly to do, the night had only just begun.

      The basic idea behind this session was to introduce these two players to the Umbra. None of my players have been in such a bizarre setting before. Alfred's player has been saving up to get the third rank in Spirit, so I thought he might as well have a crash course in Spirit Wilds. Just having two people wondering the Umbra makes things a lot easier to keep track of, and the hope is that they may then serve as guides to the spirit world for the other players later down the line. As ever, my players are proving to be the most peaceful mages ever, and have either ignored or run away from any chance at combat. (though to be fair, I was expecting they wouldn't try to fight a Werewolf given how deadly they are.)

      One of the things I make sure is that I'm being fair. Since I was forcing the players to jump through the Umbra with this task, I wanted to allow every opportunity to heal after the damage done by the storm. After all, if their first time through was so traumatising that they'd never want to chance a second trip, what good does this do to the scope of the world? Such opportunities for healing may not be so forthcoming if they later chose to cross the Gauntlet for their own purposes, however. They know the risks now, so its up to them to make precautions.

      This was also the first chance I've had to do a session in the Umbra. I wanted to focus on the otherworldly aspect of it, on the way that it's environments seem to be constantly shifting, and only the spirits themselves seem to understand its layout. I wanted to make a Spirit Wilds which felt open and imposing in equal measure without having to rely on the great number of realms within it. Alfred's player told me he felt as though his character was way in over his head, so I think I might have managed that quite well.
      I must admit I did not expect the brief trip into the Maya that took place (the dream world), so a lot of that dream stuff I was making up as I went along.
      If you have any comments on how I did the Umbra, by all means let me know. Although I've read a lot of WTA books, I've never actually played a game of Werewolf, so I have almost no game experience to draw from when describing these places.

      Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running FINALE: Chapter 39: Green Fairy


      • #48
        It was nice of you to give the Templar a chance to not be totally wrong for once.


        • #49
          Originally posted by Michael View Post
          It was nice of you to give the Templar a chance to not be totally wrong for once.
          Yeah, the whole point of this game is that, on some level, everyone is correct about how they think reality functions. Since two of players are Verbena, and another is pretending to be Verbena, the whole Verbena paradigm of nature spirits has been getting the most limelight so far.

          Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running FINALE: Chapter 39: Green Fairy


          • #50
            It was just a funny contrast to the repeated attempts to explain that nature spirits aren't demons.


            • #51
              12th Session

              I’m starting to have a little fun with the party being split up. Since no one person has a complete map of events, a lot of them are making quite interesting assumptions based on incomplete tales.

              Also, we have another Granny Elm card segment part way through. So look forward to that.

              Cast List
              Joe Hanson: Noir Detective
              Helen Walter: Hermetic Spy

              Notable NPCs:

              Boris: High Priest
              Camellia: Coven Maiden
              Granny Elm: Seer Witch and Barabbus

              ---CHAPTER 12a: SNEAKING BY MOONLIGHT---

              Helen waited until midnight before she left her room. She made her way down to the door to the lower Chantry, but of course it did not open. She tried knocking but no one seemed to be around this late. The key to Boris’s Study weighed heavily in her pocket. She knew there had to be something in there she needed to see, all she needed was a chance to get there. Helen turned back, intending to find someone to let her down, under the guise of needing to meditate, but not a single person could be found. Suddenly she heard the front door open. Silently, she peered around the corner and saw Boris come inside, and make his way to the lower Chantry. She followed behind him as quietly as she could. She watched as he opened the door and descended down the steps. Helen quickly drew out her wand and traced shapes of speed into the air, slowing the door down as it closed. Helen ran to catch it, made her way through, and gently closed the door behind her.

              She couldn’t see Boris from where she stood, but could hear movement further ahead. She made her way down to the antechamber and listened out. She could hear a murmuring, faint whispers that sounded strangely familiar, all calling out to her, calling her name. She crept along the corridor and towards the Node room; it’s magnificent tree standing as tall and proud as ever. Boris, however, was nowhere to be seen. The calling became subtly stronger as the approached the Study, the more she listened, the more familiar they sounded. A voice she hadn’t heard for years. She slipped the key our, unlocked the door, and stepped inside.

              The room was pitch black, so Helen took out her wand and moved the darkness around, concentrating as much of it to the doorframe. What was left was an eerie lack of darkness. While the room wasn’t bright by any means, the contours and shapes of the objects within were easily contrasted, like a darker black placed upon a lighter shade of grey. She listened out and followed the voices to the desk, and then the drawers. Their whispering was now unmistakable, she knew these voices too well… “mum?”

              She opened the first drawer and found a letter.

              I’ve yet to hear of a single widderslainte that could be brought back as it were. Their fate was sealed at birth. I know it’s tempting to think they can be saved, but such thinking endangers yourself and all those around you. Sometimes it’s necessary to prune the diseased branches to keep the tree alive. Until your High Priestess is certain about the true spirit of your coven’s Maiden, I suggest you do what you can to support her efforts.

              Berenabus… That name again. And now talking about a Widderslainte? This was definitely something the Order needed to know about. She pocketed the letter and looked through the drawers. While the second was empty, the third caused the whispering to grow louder and louder. She started rooting around, digging in as far as she could until she found a long, sleek, dagger, the look of which she had seen numerous times in her dreams, the voices stopped all at once. Helen stood in stunned silence. She had been waiting for this day almost all her life, the day she found the man who chased her out of the woods, the man who killed her parents and now it felt far too close for comfort. She carefully picked up the dagger. Footsteps, coming towards the Study. Helen quickly jumped into a corner of the room and directed the darkness to surround her with her wand, and waited. She heard the Study door open, then silence. She daren’t make a move or a single sound. Within her patch of darkness she could see nothing, and hoped beyond hope that she was just as obscured. The door closed and Helen waited still as she listened to footsteps walking away.

              After waiting for what felt like hours, Helen crept her way to the darkness that covered the doorway and peered beyond, the door was closed. She heard another door open from somewhere beyond the Study, footsteps walking across the way beyond. Helen waited to hear the footsteps die down before carefully opening the door and stepping out, dismissing her Darkness effect behind her. Boris was in the corridor ahead of her, walking towards the stairs. Helen started to get a bit distressed, if she was seen now, all of this would be for nothing. She tried to creep away but tripped, the dagger slipped from her hand and clanged on the ground.

              Quickly she grabbed the tool and ran behind the tree, crouching as she heard Boris approach.

              Boris: Who’s there!

              Helen did not respond, wishing beyond all will that Boris would just turn around and leave. She heard him walk ever closer to the tree.

              Boris: I know you’re here, show yourself!

              Helen quickly tried to hide the dagger somewhere in the tree and tried to pretend she had been asleep just as Boris wondered over to her.

              Boris: What are you doing?
              Helen: huh? Wha? Trying to sleep…
              Boris: Why are you down here?
              Helen: I just wanted… to sleep under the node, it’s so nice down here.
              Boris: Who else knows you’re here?
              Helen: Hanson does.
              Boris: …You can’t just wonder around down here without permission. If you want to rest down here, you need to speak to either me or Vivian first. Understand?
              Helen: Ok, I promise there won’t be a next time.

              Helen grit her teeth into a smile, hoping that would be good enough.

              Boris: Have a good night.

              Boris turned and left. Helen relaxed, finally feeling able to breath normally. She decided to stay in the node room for the rest of the night to keep up the story of wanting to sleep down there, and resolved to leave for her Student Accommodation, find a better place to hide the dagger, and contact her mentor Eve.

              Early morning, Hanson sat awake, thinking about the case. Edwin was a marauder, and a dangerous one at that. He seemed to think himself trapped in a Lovecraft story, and the world shifted itself to suit. But from what little contact he had with him, he could tell it wasn’t his fault, Edwin didn’t want the world he was trapped in any more than the one Hanson himself was stuck with. There was a lot to empathise with there.
              Hanson remembered what Violet had said, that there was no hope for him and the only way to end this was with his death. Was that really the only way? Or was there some way to cure him of his insanity? If there was, he’d better figure it out quick. Violet only gave him until the end of the week before she’d try giving him the Good Death, and it was already Friday.
              Hanson sat and stared out the window at the slowly dawning sky, smoking. If they were going to have another chance of helping Edwin, they’d need to do it in a way that didn’t trigger his transformation power, but how? Aaron didn’t transform until he told him he was a Mage, so maybe it was just anything that didn’t seem to fit his world view would change… Hanson thought on this, on what they could do to try and reach Edwin and slipped into a dream, somewhat enchanted by the shapes his smoke made, shapes of a book, and open book with pages riffling in the wind.
              Edwin had a book, the Choristor’s Book of the Ages, the source of his power perhaps? Or maybe he just believed it held power. What other books could help though… The Keeper’s Book of Shadows? With a head full of questions, Hanson made his way downstairs, and saw Helen walking out from downstairs.

              He stops her, and talks to her for a bit, explaining to her what he’s been thinking about regarding Edwin.

              Hanson: I think we need to get someone who’s never been in contact with him before to try and talk to him. Perhaps there’s a way to guard against his transformations though…
              Helen: Maybe we could ask Granny Elm.
              Hanson: Maybe yeah… Perhaps we could even ask for the Keeper’s Book of Shadows?
              Helen: We don’t need to ask…
              Hanson: What do you mean?

              Helen quickly shows Hanson the key she used to get into the Study, Hanson stares for a moment, then decides to take Helen out of the Chantry so they can speak more covertly, putting up his perception filter. Helen explains that the key should let them into other parts of the chantry if they needed to look around. As she talks, Hanson notices something sticking out of her boot.

              Hanson: Hey Helen… What you got there?
              Helen: This?

              Helen pulls out the Dagger from her boot.

              Hanson: You’re carrying a knife!?
              Helen: I can explain. This is the knife that killed my parents?
              Hanson: Uhm…
              Helen: I found it in Boris’s Study. You remember I told you I think he killed them? Remember the letter? Well, this is the evidence! He used this knife to try and kill me too!
              Hanson: Well… The knife being found in the office, if you think it’s the same one… It’s all a bit circumstantial but it’s certainly compelling. Might want to talk to Vivian about this, though we better keep an eye on Boris…

              Helen says she has to go to class soon and heads off, Hanson walks back into the Chantry and finds Camellia sitting down with a small cup of tea.

              Hanson: Hey, Camellia. What can you tell me about your Book of Shadows?
              Camellia: Our book? Oh, it’s just where we record all our rituals.
              Hanson: Is it quite powerful then?
              Camellia: Maybe. Every coven has one. Though they should be unique to each one.
              Hanson: I see. Do you ever take it out?
              Camellia: Only for rituals, like the time we helped you when you got hurt.
              Hanson: Thanks, you know where Vivian is by the way?
              Camellia: She’s probably taken Alfred and Sam to the spirit world.
              Hanson: Oh… Wait what?
              Camellia: Yeah, some sort of quest. I’ll let her know you wanted to talk.
              Hanson: I see… Well, I’m thinking of speaking with Granny Elm. Any idea how I set that up?
              Camellia: Don’t worry, you can just go down and see her. She’s probably expecting you.

              Camellia opens the door for him and Hanson ventures down to have his meeting with Granny Elm.
              She sits across the table from him and almost looks through him. Hanson can feel a strange sense of loss in the air as he approaches the table.

              GE: Ahh, welcome. Please, take a seat.
              Hanson: Thank you.
              GE: Tell me, how have you been finding our coven?
              Hanson: It’s been pleasant for the most part. Most of you have been very accommodating.
              GE: Yes, I’ve heard you have some issues with trust.
              Hanson: Perhaps…

              Granny Elm starts to lay her cards out in the same pattern as she does everyone else.

              [1] [2] [3] [4]


              .....[8] [7] [6]

              GE: What do you think of fate?
              Hanson: I’m not really one for fate myself. I prefer to think of such things more along the lines of random chance.
              GE: Ah… Well, chance can play a big role in one’s fate. But even still, we are all capable of pushing the odds in our favour when made aware of what factors affect this chance. And this is what I offer for you today, a glimpse into these forces which affect your fate, the odds. Whether you consider them as likely or not is up to you.

              As with the others, she turns the cards over one at a time, discussing the meaning and implications as she does.

              1: The self. It is THE HERMIT.
              GE: A lonely figure, one who carefully and cautiously makes their way along an uncertain path. They only keep their eyes ahead of them, never straying from what they can see. This may show your single minded approach to the world around you, or depict you as a careful traveller along an uncertain path.

              2: What you were. It is FOUR OF PATTERN (Coins).
              A man, relatively content, he sits at the centre of their universe. The world that they have inherited is easy to understand if requiring a bit of reasoning doing so, and for the moment they do not have need to question their surroundings. This may show a simpler time for you, back when things were not as difficult to take in as they have become.

              3: How you developed. It is SEVEN OF PATTERN (Coins).
              This card represents a moment of dismantling, or revaluation of previously accepted things. The man stands over a pile of dust which was once an important part of their thinking. Perhaps it shows a violent jolt into re-examining previously accepted truths. While this may represent your awakening, it may instead demonstrate the beginnings of a greater understanding of the cruelty present in our world.

              4: Your avatar's will. It is DEATH REVERSED.
              Hanson: Hm!
              GE: Death, though the more symbolic meaning for the card is that of change. You see the man here, pulling back the veil to reveal the harsher landscape behind. It may indicate a removal of the kinder illusions and force attention to the crueller realities, the great storm of harsh potential. In the reversed position, the change it demonstrates may me more of dismantling than of gentle metamorphosis. Perhaps your avatar seeks for you to take apart such false illusions when it sees them.

              5: Your Future. It is WHEEL OF FORTUNE REVERSED.
              GE: Chance itself. I take it from your expression you are no stranger to the barrel of a gun. This card, however holds many meanings. At once it represents the wheel of fate, the nature of chance, and even holds the symbol of the Euthanatos.
              Hanson: …Violet.
              GE: In the reverse position, it indicates an event of misfortune. Perhaps your future holds a difficult moment of bad luck, or simply a conspiracy of events culminating in a point of failure, destruction, loss, or regret.

              6: What you desire. It is SEVEN OF DYNAMISM REVERSED (Swords).
              GE: This figure has come up before in previous readings… It shows a man who walks along a tightrope, to continue on is a fool’s errand, but to turn back is even more perilous.
              Hanson: As I walk across the water, I go too far to turn around…
              GE: However, their face is covered, preventing them from sight. They may be unable to see the position they are in, making their precarious position all the more perilous. Curiously, this man bares the sign of the Marauder.
              Hanson: A Marauder…
              GE: This could indicate some sort of desire for a change of mindset, or even a wish to pull away from this difficult path. Though it could also literally mean you desire to find such a lost person.
              Hanson: I’m working a case, actually, where I’m looking for this woman’s brother, and he might be a Marauder. Do you have any idea how you’d go about that?
              GE: Marauders can be difficult to approach. Their avatars have become demented and beyond their immediate control. In order to approach one, you will have to act in accordance with what they expect.
              Hanson: Do you have any idea if you’d be able to cure a Marauder?
              GE: No such magic has yet been found, though if there was a way, then it would be individual to each marauder.
              Hanson: I see…

              7: What can help you. It is NINE OF DYNAMISM (Swords).
              GE: Tell me, what do you see here?
              Hanson: A woman, she’s crying, sitting in a crypt, skulls under her… She’s surrounded by knives… and there’s that mark again, the mark of the marauder you called it?
              Hanson: This card represents despair, the woman here is, as you rightly point out, surrounded by knives, all which may cause pain and grief at the slightest touch. She sits perhaps in mourning. Though this card could indicate that despair itself may offer some kind of help for you, it feel this card may again refer to an individual.

              Hanson picks up the card, and looks at it intently.

              Hanson: Sarah…

              He dropped the card. It fell, snapping back into place as it touched the table.

              GE: Perhaps this is someone who might be of help in your search for the marauder.
              Hanson: I’ve been meaning to call her anyway…

              8: What you dread. It is THE DEVIL.
              GE: This card depicts a tyrannical force, a being of pure malevolence, and symbolises the spirit of corruption itself. In a more evocative sense, the spiral seen here can demonstrate a spiral out of control, a slip away from this thin tightrope you walk between breaking down the veil and falling through it. Perhaps you fear the spiral turning your man to monster, or maybe from monster to man. Perhaps this misfortune may be the tipping force one way or the other.

              9: What can harm you. It is TEN OF PRIMORDIALISM (Cups).
              GE: This card represents contentment.
              Hanson: This is contentment?
              GE: The gruesome scene you see before you has more than just its literal meaning. It shows a family of sorts, a group who are comfortable with one another’s stranger points. However, perhaps you dread that this illusion of ease obscures you to something deeper and much more grim. The father figure manifests as a demon while the mother some kind of sultry acolyte. The children too, while they play by candlelight, there is a sense of the otherworldly and the sinister about them. Perhaps this represents the trust you feel for members of your group and the ultimate undoing such trust can cause.
              Hanson: Just when I was starting to trust people again…
              GE: It’s possible you even see yourself as one of these characters shown, but which one…

              10: The Unexpected. It is THE TOWER.
              GE: This card has a great many meanings, at once it evokes the story of the tower of babel, the collapse of one’s convictions, and more literally the collapse of a chantry. We see also a figure escaping through a portal, whether it is to seek refuge, are being magically transported, or are escaping the destruction brought by their own hand, it’s difficult to say. As this position represents what is, rather than what will be, has happened, or is happening, perhaps it demonstrates that a close groups dismantling is at hand.

              GE: One thing which is clear to see in these cards is a running theme of pulling things apart. Where once you were headstrong and sturdy, your previous ideas of realty were torn apart, transforming you into the careful hermit who tries to assume nothing. You have an inner desire to tear away at the illusions surrounding reality to expose their harsh truths, though you fear you too will suffer becoming all too harsh in truth. The trust you build around you is not immune to this desire to tear down…

              Hanson stared at the cards for a moment, and one by one Granny Elm collected them back together. Hanson gave a bit more details about his Case, telling her of Edwin’s name, and the experience he’s had so far trying to find him and transforming. Though the information she gave was little more than restating what she had already told him. He thanked her for her time and as ever she assured him she was always available for consultation. Hanson left and returned upstairs.

              [ST NOTE: Hanson was a little easier for Granny Elm to read from. His natural state of dismissing reality as nothing more than an illusion made it very easy for her to give him a reading he’d accept. She had three different agendas with this meeting. The first was to genuinely assist him with finding Edwin and brining him to Sarah, so Sarah may bring him to their group and they can begin a ritual to break open the gauntlet and let the Wyrm’s influence spread. The second was an attempt to get into Hanson’s head and make him question the allegiances he managed to forge. If he starts to question everyone around him, perhaps he’ll start to distance himself, making him easier to turn. The Third is a simple matter of pushing his attention towards a more nephandic point of view. His view point is already part of the way there, it’s only his strong code of self-made morals which seems to prevent him from taking the plunge. In time, she may be able to test these morals to breaking point, but not just yet. Such a code cannot be underestimated.]

              Hanson left the chantry and made a few phone calls. The first was to his Library informant. Hanson knew that Edwin saw himself as the protagonist in a Lovecraft novel, and those guys tend to end up in only one of two ways; dead or insane. He knew that there were other novelists who expanded on the mythos and perhaps they introduced more benevolent beings with more positive endings, this could be something he’d be able to use to calm and help Edwin. He asked his informant if he knew of any such stories.

              The second phone call was to Miss Sarah Phillips.

              Sarah: Hello?
              Hanson: Miss Phillips? It’s Joe Hanson.
              Sarah: Oh! Did you find him!
              Hanson: Almost, got really close but he slipped away. Listen, I need to ask, is there a good time to meet up?
              Sarah: What is this about?
              Hanson: I want to talk about Edwin, about his…condition, and if there might be a way to cure it.
              Sarah: There is! I met some people who told me they could help!
              Hanson: You did? How?
              Sarah: Well… they didn’t tell me too much, they said their methods aren’t easy to accept for most mages.
              Hanson: I see… When would you be able to meet?
              Sarah: I can meet tonight.
              Hanson: Good, call me when you’re free.

              Hanson put his phone away. He wondered for a moment who these people she mentioned could be. Maybe it was a group of choristers from the chantry that got looted. Hanson decided to make a quick stop to a little known arms dealer and purchase a few rounds of revolver ammunition.

              Helen had arrived back at her Student Flat. It was worse than how she remembered it. A tower of beer cans blocked out the light of one of the windows, and there was a horrible smell of rotting coming from the kitchen. A small white maggot wiggled out of the trash, Helen didn’t dare look inside. She just made her way to her bedroom, the only clean, if dusty, part of the flat. She found a place to stash the dagger, took pictures of the letter, and sent them on to Eve before rushing off to a lecture.

              It wasn’t until part way through a lecture in operant conditioning that Eve responded.

              Eve: Helen, if the Keepers are talking about a potential Widderslainte in their ranks, you have to report this.
              Helen: What about the dagger?
              Eve: We’ve talked about this. Try to put it behind you and focus on the task at hand.

              Helen sent a quick message to Hanson to meet up with him later. She decided that she may need his help with figuring out what this letter might be talking about, and what they should do about it.

              They met at a not too far away bar, Hanson still had his perception filter up, so they were at least ensured a discreet meeting.

              Helen: Hanson… Have you heard of the widderslainte?
              Hanson: One of the nephandi right? Screwed up avatars, born with them. Why do you ask?
              Helen: Well… I think you should look at this.

              [ST NOTE: Getting Helen’s Player to show the letter to Hanson’s was actually a lot more arduous than I’m presenting it here. For whatever reason, she really wanted to keep this information to herself, even going so far as to make Hanson’s player suspect that Helen was secretly a widderslainte (saying things like “Well, there are secrets about me which I don’t think I can reveal”. What an amazing spy…). It was hilarious, but ultimately not all that relevant to the actual game story.]

              Hanson takes the letter and reads through it.

              Hanson: So they think the Maiden is a widderslainte… Do they mean Camellia?
              Helen: Oh Camellia! I didn’t think of that!
              Hanson: That might explain why they’ve always got her drugged up on that tea of hers.
              Helen: Maybe they’re trying to help her.
              Hanson: Maybe, though this Beranabus guy seems pretty certain that there’s no helping a Widderslainte… Sounds a lot like a certain Euthanatos girl I know…
              Helen: Dubois?
              Hanson: Yes… Dubois.
              Helen: She asked that we tell her the moment she found anyone who was potentially nephandi.
              Hanson: She would, wouldn’t she. The moment she tracks them down, she’d just kill them. We’ll have to be careful who we tell about what we found.
              Helen: Should we talk to the keepers?
              Hanson: Maybe, not all of them though. Mica maybe, Vivian certainly. Not Boris though… I don’t quite know what to make of him.

              They start to head back to the Keeper’s Chantry, Talking for a while longer, going fairly unnoticed thanks to Hanson’s mind effect. Helen starts to let Hanson know of the various types of Nephandi she has learned about. The Infernalists and their demon gods; The Malfeans and their devotion to spirits of corruption; and the K’llashaa and their Monsters from beyond comprehension.

              Hanson: Hold on a moment… Those K’llashaa sound like something out of Lovecraft… I though Edwin was on his own, but maybe he isn’t, maybe he’s being manipulated by some external force, by these K’llashaa guys… Sarah’s friends, the one who said they could cure him. She did say they had “strange techniques” that other mages wouldn’t approve of… Perhaps they are the K’llashaa and they’re going to try and use him in something… Their leader will be flung across space…

              They had just arrived at Churchil Gardens, when they both noticed Boris walking quite hurriedly away from the chantry. He did not notice them. Helen and Hanson decided to tail him. They followed him down a series of streets, and then round a corner. Helen tried to peak around and suddenly a flock of pigeons flow out. There was nothing else but a dead end. Helen could sense that some kind of Life effect had just taken place, and they deduced that Boris must have transformed himself for a more difficult to trace method of transport.

              Hanson watched the pigeons fly, took his notepad out, and tried to make sense of their flight pattern and direction to get a good idea of where they were likely to be traveling to. Just as they started to fly out of sight he had managed to determine a place. Wimbledon Common. The two of them made their way there immediately.

              They stand at the edge of the woodland. It’s about 4pm and they were beginning to lose daylight. Hanson spied what he thought was a flock of pigeons fly overhead, and this felt good enough. The two of them rushed into the forest in warm pursuit.
              Hanson and Helen crept through the woodlands for a while. Helen took out her wand and gave herself darkvision, while Hanson relied on the light of the full moon. It isn’t long until they notice someone standing in the darkness, a figure in a black cloak. Feeling safe with Hanson’s perception filter at full blast, the two crept as close as they dared. They could not make out this figure’s features. He walked off into the woods, and they followed at an equal pace, making sure neither one accidentally veered away into the darkness.
              Hanson prepares his Focused Hearing effect to zero in on any form of speaking while, but the effect botches, and instead concentrates his energy on not exploding. Helen puts her own effect on the two of them, cancelling any noise either of them may make. They follow on. Communication becomes difficult between the two of them, but they are able to work out some combination of pushes, grabs, and nods to generally agree on the right direction.
              Then, the cloaked figure just stops and stands. They look around to try and figure out why, but the only thing Helen can see is a Fox. The fox looks back at her. Hanson can only hear a light muttering, but cannot make out the words. Without warning, Hanson starts to feel his perception filter break around him, somehow someone has managed to dispel his effect. Getting paranoid, Helen suspects the fox and looks into its life pattern. What she sees confuses her. It’s certainly the pattern of a fox, but it seems distorted in some way completely unfamiliar to her.
              Hanson pulls her attention away and points towards a tree, the cloaked figure has moved to it and now seems to be waiting there. Wordlessly, they agree to make their way slowly towards the tree. There was something very suspicious going on, and neither one of them wanted to leave without finding out what.
              As they drew near the tree, the figure took off. Helen and Hanson both broke into a silent sprint chasing after in what they thought was the right direction. They flew past trees and plants until they found themselves running into a clearing covered in moonlight. The space looked clear and untouched to Hanson, though Helen’s dark vision made it seem much darker than the woods she had just left behind.
              As the pair of them walked across the clearing, Helen felt her bracelet sharply warm up, just as Hanson’s danger sense kicked in. Helen concentrated hard on her surroundings and could almost see the subtle shapes that change when Life magic is in the air. She grabbed on the Hanson to warn him, but before they could move the ground beneath them opened up, giving way to a large pit. Hanson managed to grab a hold of something solid, while Helen dangled from his arm. Bellow was nothing more than pitch black, but Helen could see something moving beneath them, something large with a great number of teeth. Terrified she pulled her way out, clambering over Hanson without hesitation. Once up she turned to help Hanson up and saw the cloaked figure standing not so far away, watching them.
              Hanson can hear him saying something, a definite male voice, in a language he can’t understand, and they watch as he cuts his hand and throws his palm to the ground. Helen can feel a change in the life patterns of the grass beneath them, and takes out her want to try and counter act all these changing shapes. For the next several minutes, these two are locked in a battle of opposing Arete rolls. Hanson tries to call out to the guy, wanting to say something along the lines of “Who are you and what are you trying to do?” But not sound leaves his lips. The figure continues his struggle against Helen’s will. While he’s preoccupied, Hanson starts to peer into his mind to read his surface thoughts. Unable to defend himself, Hanson easily sees his intention, to stimulate the grass to grow and entangle the two of them. This is more than enough provocation for Hanson, he pulls out his gun and takes aim, shoots, and misses.
              Helen’s countermagic is slowing his effect down considerably, and upon seeing he’s now being fired at, the man abandons his effect and moves on to immobilise Hanson as quickly as possible. Calling on his muscles to seize up, preventing any kind of movement for as long as he can hold the effect. This magic is far beyond Helen’s studies, leaving her unable to prevent or dispel it. She instead decides to speak with him, and dispels her sound reducing effect to this end.

              Helen: What are you doing?

              The man does not respond, and only walks slowly toward the immobilised Hanson.

              Helen: Please, we mean you no harm!
              Man: Will you leave this place?
              Helen: Yes, just let us go.
              Man: Hmm…

              He looks at Hanson and puts his bloodied hand to his head. Hanson can sense he’s trying to access his mind. Hanson attempts to allow him in as he is currently unable to talk, and the two of them have a mental link style communication.

              Man: What are you doing here?
              Hanson: We could ask you the same thing, Beranabus.
              Man: How did you learn that name?
              Hanson: I’m a detective!

              The man pushes further. Hanson can feel him probing into his memories. Starting to regret letting him in, Hanson pushes to eject him from his mind with all his will. He succeeds, but not before he had the chance to do some damage. Hanson can no longer remember why there are here.

              Helen is watching and can feel power mind magic taking place. Worried, she takes out a pen and scrawls “Wimbledon Common” on her arm, hoping she may trigger memories if they too are removed from her. Helen considered using the pistol she concealed on her person. She hesitated though, not wanting to harm anyone until she was sure it was necessary. Before she can react though, he turns to her and forces his mind on to hers. She does everything she can to fight him off, and the cloaked man is only able to remove a single recent memory. Helen cannot recall the thing she saw in the pit.
              Though still obscured by his cloak, he seemed satisfied with the effect, and turned his attention to Hanson’s gun, still held out in Hanson’s firm unmovable grip. He placed his finger into the barrel and said something in another language, putting an “always miss” effect upon it. He then walked away, dismissing his effect on Hanson only after walking out of sight.

              The two of them start to head back, Hanson can’t recall clearly what they were trying to do, but isn’t able to ruminate on it. Paradox has started to backlash, and there’s nothing he can do about it. 8 points go off at once. He gets a severe headache and a brief moment of tinnitus. After recovering from this, however, something more concerning occurred. He heard as clear as day the voice of Lydia as though she were stranding right next to him, saying “Hanson… You idiot!”

              A lot of assumptions have been made this week, though to be fair all the information available has been spread out across multiple sessions between players with conflicting schedules. It probably won’t be until after Christmas where we can finally have everyone on the same session once again, and a bunch of revelations can start to take place (if they actually talk about things, otherwise it’s going to be fun watching them accidentally working across purposes). Just to clear things up for everyone watching, here are a couple of the assumptions made.
              1. Camellia is a Widderslainte. The letters were purposefully vague, though if you recall Camellia was not the only Coven Maiden, as Alfred learned while speaking with Mica.
              2. The man in the Cloak was Beranabus. Beranabus is actually the name of Alfred’s Grandfather and Mentor. He tends not to deal in direct names if he can avoid it, excluding his own. The man in the cloak was actually someone else.
              3. The Fox was some kind of spy. Nope, the Fox is just really important.

              I’m looking forward to seeing how both Helen and Hanson react around Camellia when the other players are around. Especially if she asks for their help in something.

              Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running FINALE: Chapter 39: Green Fairy


              • #52
                Session 12.1

                And thus we continue Alfred and Sean's adventures in the Umbra. Also, we have our first visit to one of the many realms within the Spirit Wilds.

                By the way, between these sessions, Alfred gained the third point of Spirit.

                Cast List
                Alfred Camlann: Excalibur Mage
                Sean "Sam" Heath: Templar Knight

                Notable NPCs Include:

                Vivian Porter: High Priestess.

                ---CHAPTER 12b: FIGHT FIRE WITH SPIRIT---

                Alfred and Sean looked out over the midnight view of Great Plains moonlight flooding the area. Vivian was no where to be seen, and save from their immediate surroundings, the landscape had subtly changed, with certain rock formations looking morphed and in different places. The egg was still within a large bush at the centre of a declining plain, not unlike a bowl, and the Surtur still stood, sword in hand, ready to guard. Sean and Alfred discussed their options for a while. With Vivian gone, their primary strategy of "distract the giant while Vivian swoops in" was not going to work. They devised a new plan. Sean would keep the surtur busy, distracting it in any way that he could while Alfred would prepare an effect to force the giant into slumber. Sean transferred some quintessence from his own body into Alfred, and crept around the perimeter of the field and lay low behind a short knoll.
                Alfred picked up the grass near by and started to squeeze and stress, feeling the rhythm of their pattern and used this to encourage the grass around him to grow, giving him a short amount of concealment by the rim of the field. He watched the Surtur stand alert, but not moving.

                Sean watched, the giant did not acknowledge him. Sean stood up and drew his gun, the giant turned his head. Sean began to aim at the egg and the giant responded, standing in the path. Alfred began to prepair his spell, constantly picking up and throwing down his wooden runes, using their formed words in his chants. Sean ran down the field and prepared to shoot, but before a single shot was fired the Surtur blasted him with fire. Vivian's effect managed to shield him from most of the blast, but Sean wasn't willing to learn how long this would hold out for and ran back.

                The Surtur turned its attention towards the sudden bulge of grass, where Alfred desperately continued to build his effect. The spirit drew his sword and caused a blaze of fire to burst forth, a straight line right into Alfred's space. While the Forces effect absorbed the bulk of the damage, Alfred still sustained severe burns, though miraculously managed to keep his focus on his spell and avoid being set on fire. Sean looked back at this and started firing his gun at the beast, first aiming at its shoulder, and then at its head, but neither had any effect, his bullets were simply absorbed. The Giant drew his flaming sword, called out the words "Face me!" and forced it down onto Alfred, wounding him, but not breaking his concentration. The Giant drew his sword to take another wing and Sean responded in kind. This time he wasted no ammunition, firing three bolts of pure prime energy straight at it. A bright flash of light and the creature was finally hurt, taking a moment to keep its balance.

                Alfred was really struggling now. The number of distractions and the pressure of having to keep going under literal fire was starting to mount, and for a while he was unable to progress his attempts at building the effect. The difficulty had climbed to 8. He had already accumulated 7 successes, but wasn't certain if this would be enough to lull the giant into slumber, he tried once again to build his spell. But it all proved too much. He botched the effect. Alfred received 10 points of paradox (3 plus the 7 for each round he'd been building the effect). A grand total of 20. 7 points back lashed upon him, and for the moment, nothing seemed to happen.

                The Surtur turned his attention to Sean, now the bigger threat, and swiped at him with his sword. Sean again absorbed most of the fire, but the blow landed, pushing him to Lethal levels of wounded. To keep the giant busy, he resolved to make a run for the egg. The Surtur placed a heavy foot down in his path. It blasted fire at Sean, who managed to doge the impact entirely, but still made slow progress getting near the egg. Meanwhile, Alfred had retreated back to behind the rocks, tried to centre himself, and try casting the effect again from the start. While Sean kept him busy, he had accumulated enough power to force his narrative on to the spirit's story.

                Suddenly, the Surtur began to look ragged, it's clothing slightly torn, its beard frayed. Sean kept trying to run for the egg, but each time a swing of the sword would force him to make evasive action, dipping, jumping, and diving out of the way. The Surtur became infuriated, and in desperation, hit the ground, forcing the entire field to erupt into flames, all except for a circle around the bush. Sean stood in the inferno relying heavily on Vivian's effect to keep him from burning, Sean tried to run to the bush, to get out of the fire more than anything else, but the Surtur would not let him, blocking every attempt, Sean made to rush around him, but the giant lowered his arm and sword down as a barrier, making a wall about 30-40 feet across. With his other hand the spirit swung a punch, knocking him down into the flames. Alfred launched another attempt to force the spirit into slumber, staying behind the rocks as he cast. The Surtur trembled, tried to stand, dropped to his knees, and fell forwards, Sean managing to roll out of the way to avoid getting crushed. The giant lay amongst the flames, all energy lost from its great eyes, the grip of its hand loosening, the swords falling to the ground.

                [ST NOTE: In game turns, Vivian's effect gave both players 3 dice of soak against all things fire. When the inferno started with Sean in it, I made him roll to soak the flames every turn, and amazing he managed to consistently get 8s and 9s each time. I guess God really was on his side.]

                Sean had been in the fire far too long and was starting to get badly burned, he rushed over to the clearing and dove into the bush in search for the egg. Alfred took some time to heal himself of all but the burns, emerged from the rocks, and saw the fire had spread considerably. Fire elemental were dancing in the flames. He tried to speak to them but they ignored his attempt at niceties, instead the began to scream and swarmed over him, engulf him in a storm of fire, all around him felt of piercing heat, his senses assaulted by a harsh yellow light, the world around looked to burn out of existence.

                Sean had managed to retrieve the egg, and held it with both arms. He was exhausted, down to crippled with burns, cuts, and a massive gash in the side of his chest. He looked to see if Alfred was near by to offer help, but could see no sign of him. Sean looked around, the fire seemed ceaseless. Looks like he would have to get himself out of this. He took his crucifix and prayed for safety in the flames, using Matter to make his clothing more flame retardant, and made a dash with the egg away from the bush and out of the fire. He was far too injured to try and take the sword. He would have to return for it after he found the others.

                Sean felt a tugging in his pocket and a vague correspondence effect, and found the stone rune Vivian had given him, one of the pair given to him and Alfred, it seemed to tug towards the mountain. Thinking this might might lead him to either Vivian or Alfred, he took the egg in are and proceeded to climb. Due to his injuries he elected to climb as shallow a path as he could find, disregarding the pull of the rune. He was part way up the mountain before he misjudged his step and slipped, falling to the ground where he lay incapacitated.

                Alfred looked around. He was surrounded by a scared landscape. The ground was scorched and blackened, with jagged cliffs marking a cruel outline against a dark sky. Clouds of black smoke formed above him, and all around was the scent of burning flesh. Alfred had no idea where he was. Had he been ejected from the Umbra into some kind of volcanic mountain? He wondered around, looking for any kind of landmark. From a distance, he could hear screaming, bloodcurdling screams of fear and terror. Before him a pair of children ran out of a cavern, bleeding and limping. Tears of dread in their eyes. There was an almighty sound, and one of the children fell, lying in a pooling puddle of their own bed. Shot by a man. Alfred could not bare the event he had witnessed, and could only close his eyes and collapse to his knees to cope. The look of terror in their eyes etched into his withdrawing memories.
                When he opened his eyes again, the children, along with the blood, had vanished. Had the spirits brought him to some kind of underworld? Alfred walked on, and the parched ground soon turned to bloodstained grass, men in armour were massacring each other without relent. The smell of the blood was almost too much to take. He looked up and saw two familiar characters staring at each other for what felt like an eternity. "I'm at the battle of Camlann..." he thought, and certainly this battle did feel so familiar to him, so much of the scene reminded him of his recurring nightmare. The two men lunged at each other with great ferocity, and struck each other in one identical motion. Locked in each others weapon. Alfred rushed to help, and tried to conjure the grass to grow and separate them, but the effect immediately backfired, the plants rose up and struck him, cutting into his skin, while paradox began to accumulate around him. The men collapsed with a look of confusion on each other's face, slowly loosening their grip on their arms.
                Alfred looked down at the fallen sword and hesitantly walked up to take it, but the sword was absorbed into the dirt.

                The entire scene faded into darkness and Alfred was left wondering yet again what was happening. "Is this a dream? No, it is far too vivid? Am I in a paradox realm!? Is a vicious spirit playing with me?"


                A voice calls out his name. He recognises it as his Fathers. Another calls out, this time of his Grandfathers.

                Alfred: Hello? Grandfather? Father? What are you doing here?
                Grandfather: Alfred... You have been consorting with Technocrats. Have you not?
                Alfred: ...I have.
                Grandfather: How could you!? They mean us nothing but harm!
                Alfred: Given the circumstances, it was the best possible thing to do.
                Grandfather: They have contaminated you Alfred. You put us all at risk!

                As they talk, other members of Alfred's family gather behind his Grandfather. They all start talking, accusing Alfred of betrayal. The ground beneath him starts to shake and a giant wooden stake rises from just behind him. Alfred tries to defend himself, denying the accusations as best he could while his sisters tied him to the stake.

                Alfred: This was the best course of action! I had to talk to them!
                Grandfather: Them!? They will only destroy whatever they touch! Just trusting them is enough to let them win!
                Alfred: Grandfather Please!
                Grandfather: This is for your own good Alfred.

                The ground around him starts to get very hot. When he looks down, he can see a huge fire building around him, slowly engulfing his entire body into flames. All around him are members of the Verbena.

                Grandfather: What do you have to say for yourself?
                Alfred: I had no choice!
                Grandfather: Neither do we.

                Every member of the Verbena he has ever met are standing in front of his burning naked body. His entire family, and their network of covens. Every member of the Keepers including Vivian and Boris, as well as Helen and Lydia. They all stand there and chant. "Cleanse the body! Free the spirit!" The fire builds and the pain is intense. Alfred screams intensely, their chants drowned out by the raging fire that surrounds him. Until he can do nothing but give in.
                The peoples faces begin to fade and their chanting feels more and more distant. The orange glow of the flames starts to pale, as does the sound of the embers. Alfred cannot tell if he is lying down or standing up. He tries to move but the pain of his death is still fresh. Slowly, he manages to regain a sense of himself and feeling returns to his body. The world around him starts of a dull white, but in time he starts to make out shapes, jagged rocks within the mist. Alfred shakes off part of the damage, some wounds that seemed aggravated turned out to be lethal. He looks around and realises he stands upon a cliff face on the side of a great mountain. He looks around for some kind of herb, finds it, and proceeds to heal himself as best he can. Reducing his damage back to a single bruised level of aggravated. He is shaken. These events were unlike any dream. They were real, as real as everything that had happened to him so far, almost more real than mundane reality. He could still remember how it felt to slowly burn to death. Something in his hand began to tug, the stone rune was pulling. Alfred made a consorted effort to try and set aside his shaken thoughts and reunite with Vivian and Sean.

                [ST NOTE: One of the things I love to do in Mage is use Health Levels as a way of making the players feel their character's pain. When Alfred was put on the stake, I made him take a level of agg damage slowly until he was down to incapacitated. This gave his player a sense of urgency, and a feeling that perhaps there was something he could do before it was too late. Each level closer to the bottom brought home just how bad this situation was for his character, and how authentic his time in the Wasteland felt.]

                Sean slowly opened his eyes. Vivian was standing over him.

                Sean: What happened?
                Vivian: I took flight and tried to divert the umbral storm, taking it as far away as I could. I reached the mountain and found you collapsed on the path.

                Sean looked around and saw the egg was safely balanced on the side of the path, not a crack to be seen.

                Sean: Thank you for healing me.
                Vivian: Well done for retrieving the egg. What has happened to Alfred?
                Sean: I don't know. I couldn't see him. We'll have to go back anyway to retrieve the sword.
                Vivian: The sword? Oh, yes, your promise with the spirits. We can't go back now.
                Sean: Why not?
                Vivian: The Spirit Wilds are ever changing. Turning back will only lead you somewhere new.

                Vivian could hear someone calling out to her, she and Sean looked up and saw Alfred standing further up the mountain waving his arms to get their attention. Vivian transformed herself into a bird, grabbed Sean, who held the egg, and flew up to meet with Alfred, transforming back to human upon stepping talon on ground.

                She could tell from Alfred's face that something was wrong, that he had been deeply disturbed.

                Vivian: Are you ok Alfred?
                Alfred: ...It's fine.
                Vivian: What happened? Where did you go?
                Alfred: I tried to lull the Surtur to sleep. It was the first time I'd ever tried such a spell, and I botched it. Soon after I fell into this horrible place filled with fire and suffering...
                Vivian: I know of this place. The Garaou call it the Atrocity Realm. Others have called it the Wasteland. though some simply call it Hell.
                Alfred: What is it?
                Vivian: It's been said that the umbra is a shadow of the mundane world. Here emotions and experiences are heightened reflections of what is felt on Earth. The Atrocity Realm is where the most horrible events and feelings are reflected. The worst parts of humanity conformed into one single place.
                Alfred: It felt so real...
                Vivian: I'm sorry you had to experience it. It's dreadful for all who do. I hope this will not take away your wish to visit the spirit wildes again, but understand if you'd prefer not to enter this world for a while after.
                Alfred: It's fine... I'll have to manage...
                Sean: This place has been a demon infested hell from the start... The sooner we finish this, the better. Where are we taking this egg?
                Vivian: To the Aetherian Reaches. A realm which lies above the clouds. Normally I would fly there, but I don't think I can carry both of you and the egg at once.
                Alfred: Then you two go, I'll go back to find the sword.
                Vivian: No. We will all reach the realm together.
                Alfred: What other ways are there of getting there? Taking an airt trail?
                Vivian: Certain spirits may be able to take us there through airts, though I don't know many who can. But look, the moon is full tonight, so perhaps we may be able to find a moon bridge, or a spirit willing to open one. They always arc towards the Aetherian Reaches. Failing that, we'll just have to climb this mountain until we're over the clouds.

                Alfred and Vivian discussed a quick ritual to allow the mountain to change shape whenever their body touches it, allowing them to grab into it and create handholds and footholds as they scale the side of the mountain. Vivian would lead the ascent, Sean would follow with the egg, stepping in each hole she made, and Alfred would bring up the rear. They climbed for what felt like an hour during the seemingly endless night. While the others kept their pace, Alfred began to falter, growing far too tired to continue. He called up to the others to continue while he caught his breath, shaped an alcove in the side of the mountain, and sat looking over the misty night.

                As he sat, he noticed a small spider appear, it was about the size of a tarantula, but was hairless, a smooth body of patterned deep brown on obsidian black. Alfred tried to speak with it as it began to build it's web.

                Alfred: Hello?
                Spider: Who speaks?
                Alfred: I am Alfred.
                Spider: Alfred.

                The spider speaks slowly and deliberately, as though no syllable is left unconsidered. It resumes its web building leaving Alfred unsure how to continue.

                Alfred: Could you help me?
                Spider: Help? With what?
                Alfred: I want to find a moon bridge, do you know where I can find this?
                Spider: Patience.
                Alfred: Do you know anyone that might be able to open one up?
                Spider: Patience.
                Alfred: I see...

                Alfred waited for a while, watching the spider as it slowly built up its web. The side of the mountain was not a very stable position for it, and so had to restart several times as the wind would disrupt its construction. Alfred began to worry that the others were no longer in sight.

                Alfred: Uh... how long exactly do I need to be patient for?
                Spider: Patience...
                Alfred: Why?
                Spider: It is important.

                Alfred returned to his self-made ledge but began to hear a mysterious clicking. He turned to look and saw a small hole, and opening just about large enough to crawl through. The clicking seemed to come from within. It reminded him of the Pattern Spiders, but could not be certain. Alfred decided to investigate the hole.

                Yes, the session ended on a bit of a cliffhanger. The majority of it was taken up with combat which I'm sure you all know can take a very long time to get through.
                One sad little irony is that Surtur are capable of opening moon bridges, and I did imagine a scenario by which they may win a challenge against the Surtur for both the egg, the sword, and perhaps even passage to the aetherian realm. But that's not what happened, instead he went down in a blaze of glory. Shadow of the Colossus music on standby.
                I was kinda hoping that this would be the last session in the Spirit Wilds, that they would get the egg, climb the mountain/take a moon bridge, deliver it and then head home, but then things got a bit complicated. Everything to do with the Atrocity Realm as improvised just as it was happening, I honestly did not expect this to happen, but it seemed the most appropriate response to a 7-8 point spirit sphere botch in the umbra.
                Hopefully the next umbra session will be the final one. If I keep Alfred and Sean separate from the main group for too much longer, then certain scenarios just can't come to pass, like Alfred's relationship with Beranabus becoming known, the conversation between him and Lydia regarding his near murder experience, a fight between the Choristers and the Verbena over the node's protection which Sean will have to temper, and actually having Sean and Alfred in the same room as Edwin for once.

                Also, I've got something big planned once everyone's schedules finally start to sync up and we can once again have everyone in one session.

                Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running FINALE: Chapter 39: Green Fairy


                • #53
                  Session 12.2

                  Lydia's player wanted to have a discussion with one of her contacts, an uncle who was a member of the Celestial Chorus. Her player wanted to have a more discussion based session between them, so this is what that is, a small session between Lydia and her Uncle.

                  The conversation was a lot longer and a bit more repetitive at times than what I've written below. Part of this is simply because I couldn't remember every intricate detail of the conversation. But hopefully this should give you a good impression of what was discussed.

                  ---INTERLUDE: MEETING UNCLE MICHAEL---

                  Lydia left London in the morning, it had been a chilly autumn morning and she awoke to a strange headache and pain around her face, a small amount of pattern bleed from her disguise, though luckily not a severe amount. She was on her way to Salisbury to meet with her uncle, a man she hadn’t seen for years. Whenever she thought back to him, it was always with a mixture of joy and concern. He was a catholic man as most people were on her island, but when she came to study the ways of the Verbena with her aunt, he had long since left, joining the Celestial Chorus after years of growing distant. Lydia remembered fondly when he was still in the village, when they talked about theology and he taught her more about Catholicism, but her aunt was always sceptical of what Lydia had told her of his views on magic. Eventually he left the village, becoming more and more involved with a group of Choristers based in Salisbury, and they hadn’t spoken since.

                  As she stepped out the train, already she could sense a difference from the stuffy and often claustrophobic feel of London. The air was clearer and the ground piled high with autumnal hues. Even the gauntlet felt looser here, as though a great heavy curtain had been drawn back and the bright of day was finally able to shine freely over the land before her. It had only been a week, but a week away was enough to miss this. She started scribbling runes in her notebook, scrawling a message asking Luna to assist her in finding where her Uncle lived. In her mind’s eye, a silver path glowed gently before her, leading her straight to a door of a small cottage. Lydia knocked with only a little hesitation.

                  Her Uncle opens the door and looks down at her.
                  Uncle: Hello?
                  Lydia: Uncle Michael?
                  Uncle: Who is this?
                  Lydia: Don’t you recognise me? It’s Lydia.

                  Uncle Michael took a moment, but soon came to realise that this was indeed her.

                  Uncle: Lydia! You’ve changed quite a bit!
                  Lydia: I have.
                  Uncle: What have you been up to?
                  Lydia: I’ve been teaching, recently went to London and met with some Verbena, and then I got locked up and am on the run from the police.
                  Uncle: oh…. Are you in trouble?
                  Lydia: Not really, can I come in?

                  Uncle Michael invited her in and offered to make her tea while she sat and the two of them continued to talk.

                  Uncle: So, you’re not in any trouble then?
                  Lydia: No
                  Uncle: Then what brings you here?
                  Lydia: I’ve got a class to teach here in the afternoon, and I thought I’d drop in to see you while I was here.
                  Uncle: I see… How’s your aunt?
                  Lydia: She’s been well…

                  They talk for a while about Lydia’s progress with the Sphere of Life which meanders into a Uncle Michael tying it into his catholic faith.

                  Uncle: When we work with life, it is through the will of God, the will of the One that we make such changes.
                  Lydia: But surely life is something inherent in all of us, something we all have the power to affect.
                  Uncle: But it isn’t just us. There is a greater power which guides our actions at work here.
                  Lydia: I’m not denying that.
                  Uncle: Many pagans would, they’d have us look towards the sun or the moon and call them both a different spirit, each one worthy of prayer. They look at the signs but ignore the message. Such a stubbornness can only hold them back from true understanding.
                  Lydia: Is that why you left my aunt?

                  This question takes Uncle Michael aback, he acts a bit flustered for a while, but quickly regains composure and tries to answer her question as calmly as possible.

                  Uncle: I left her? Is that how she tells it… It was her who pushed me out.
                  Lydia: She never told me that.
                  Uncle: She wouldn’t… She found my attraction to the faith difficult to accept. Said I was supressing her, dismissing her beliefs or something like that.
                  Lydia: Weren’t you?
                  Uncle: She denies God, denies the concept of the One. What can I say to her when this is what she tells me?
                  Lydia: So is that why you divorced? A difference in belief?
                  Uncle: It was much more complicated than that. Yes, our faiths were a factor in that, but there was a lot more going on. Your Aunt was a very…determined woman…
                  Lydia: Did you remarry?
                  Uncle: No…I live alone for now.
                  Lydia: Do you still love her?
                  Uncle: ……Lydia, was there a reason you came to see me today?
                  Lydia: Just to see you, tell you what’s been happening.
                  Uncle: So what have you been doing? You say you were captured by the police.
                  Lydia: Oh yeah, but that’s not unusual. I’m currently staying with a group of Verbena, I met two of them at one of my seminars. I also met a Chorister?
                  Uncle: Did you indeed?
                  Lydia: Yes, he’s nice, though he seems like some kind of army man. There’s also another guy in our group who drinks a lot, he’s more a liability to himself than anything, but I still feel I need to keep a close eye on him.
                  Uncle: I suggest you keep close with this Chorister you’ve met, you may learn quite a bit from talking with him.

                  They continue talking, and at some point Uncle Michael gets up and walks to a book case, taking out his copy of the Book of the Ages in order to teach Lydia about The One.
                  Uncle: In the beginning, there was the One, and the pure harmony that was sung. The One was then split into the Many, each one making up a part of the song. Each of these pure fractions of The One were scattered around the universe, and their presence can be felt in all manner of miracles.
                  So in order to perform amazing feats, we have to recognise this power for what it is, something greater and beyond ourselves, attune ourselves to it with prayer or song, and allow this power’s will to be done.
                  Lydia: What is pure about the One?
                  Uncle: It’s a force of good, ultimate unity.
                  Lydia: And everyone has to recognise it?
                  Uncle: But so many do not. If you look at the pagans for example, they would dismiss this idea and just pray to some kind of spirit, or some force of nature.
                  Lydia: And how is that any different?
                  Uncle: It’s different because these spirits are only aspects of the One’s being, there is something greater behind it which they deny. They try to impose their views of nature as the be all and end all of everything.
                  Lydia: So you wish to impose belief of the One on all of us?
                  Uncle: We don’t wish to impose at all. If you limit yourself to praising aspects of The One, then you only limit yourself. If we wish to achieve mass ascension, then Sleepers need to be aware of the nature of this heavenly force. It’s others like the Pagans who try to
                  Lydia: but if they’re all aspects of the same thing, why should it matter?
                  Uncle: Because by supporting these methods, they deny the presence of the One, they directly ignore his Will, and go against the message.
                  Lydia: It’s just a different point of view, it doesn’t mean they’re against you.
                  Uncle: Perhaps… Though look at the Technocrats, they wish to see all of our beliefs be relics of the past, they want to control the sleepers will and push them further away from ever awakening to the will of The One, and thus to their own destruction. Then there’s these Sons of Ether, how do they differ from the Technocracy in their way? They too deny The One and his Will.
                  Lydia: I can see what you mean a bit there, I’ve never really understood technology either.
                  Uncle: Then there’s the Hermetics, they are just as bad as the Technocracy in many respects, they wish to reduce his Will into little more than a series of languages, charts, and equations. They consider such power to be only possible under the way they teach it. They claim to speak with angles, but do they really listen? Do they acknowledge the message such peaceful beings bring?
                  Lydia: Who’s to say they are wrong? Just because they do not share your views on The One?
                  Uncle: I can see you’re just as stubborn as your Aunt…

                  The room grows quiet, Uncle Michael gets up to get Lydia some more tea. In order to break the tension, Lydia decides to grow a Shamrock out of her hand and show her uncle.

                  Uncle: My… You really have improved your practices… Now, how do you think you did that?
                  Lydia: I focused on my hand, made a prayer to Luna and it just happened.
                  Uncle: To Luna…
                  Lydia: Yes.
                  Uncle: Oh Lydia… When you make such prayers, it is not just to Luna, it is through your own Avatar, itself is part of The Many, a shard of The One.
                  Lydia: My Avatar appears as Luna.
                  Uncle: That it might, though this is only to make it easier to understand. See, The One is so grand and beyond our comprehension, that it appears as many things to many people. This is what I mean when I say that Verbena and the like stop short at the aspects. To truly commune with The One, you must go beyond these aspects.
                  Lydia: But if it’s all the same, it shouldn’t really matter.
                  Uncle: Again, I point towards the Technomancers and their wish to put everything into cold lifeless machines. Is this also the same? Can the greatness of the Will and the beauty of the world really be the same as an uncaring machine?
                  Lydia: I met one of those in London, a mage who does magic on computers.
                  Uncle: And what do you make of his techniques?
                  Lydia: I don’t understand them, but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong necessarily, just different.
                  Uncle: How can we even think of ascension if there are those who ignore the Will and instead bring about change by ignoring their potential and forcing it within machines?
                  Lydia: What is mass ascension Uncle?
                  Uncle: It’s the eventual reunification of The Many into The One, where we can once again become a single pure and perfect being.
                  Lydia: And what is perfect?
                  Uncle: How can we possibly know?
                  Lydia: Well, you must have some idea if you believe in it so.
                  Uncle: I can only imagine.
                  Lydia: So how would you say we achieve it?
                  Uncle: By mutual understanding, with tolerance, and with a shared wish to do well to us all.
                  Lydia: With empathy.
                  Uncle: Yes
                  Lydia: And how much empathy have you shown when you speak of other beliefs the way you do.
                  Uncle: It’s not simply a matter of empathy.
                  Lydia: But empathy is a very important part. It’s part of my big idea.
                  Uncle: Oh really
                  Lydia: I know you want to hear what I have to say Uncle Michael, because I’m sure I’ve been here longer than fifteen minutes.

                  Lydia points out the clock and, though subtle, it did seem to tick much slower than a normal second would. Her uncle was no stranger to Time, and this was an old trick he’d employ any time he wanted to make the most out of present company. Slightly humbled by her observation, he stopped and awaited what Lydia had to say.

                  She told him of what she believed, that too many mages spend their time guarding their traditions and pushing each other’s ideas away, when their methods and thoughts are actually a lot more similar than they would otherwise purport. That if they tried to look at things objectively rather than through the guise of being the one true way, then we would be able to recognise each other’s talents for what they are.

                  Uncle: But without tradition, what is there?
                  Lydia: Tradition helps us contextualise what we learn, but it isn’t the only way to view the world around us…
                  They debated this point for a while, and as their conversation meandered, it eventually came to the subject of the sanctity of life, something Lydia still has a strong belief in…

                  Lydia: I don’t understand those death mages who just think killing is the answer to everything.
                  Uncle: Some mages just don’t see the value of life if they can justify removing it.
                  Lydia: I sometimes worry about my own group. One of them I thought cared about the sanctity of life as I did…
                  Uncle: What happened to him?
                  Lydia: I’m not certain, I’ve seen his avatar, and it seems to drive him to do horrible things?
                  Uncle: Horrible things?
                  Lydia: It bullys him, calls him useless and worthless and torments him constantly. If his avatar is a part of The One, then why does it treat him so callously?
                  Uncle: The Avatar may be a part of The One, but how each mage interprets it is personal, and my display more of their own traits than that of a higher power.
                  Lydia: So he’s constantly fighting with himself? …I suppose I was just very lucky with the avatar I had.
                  Uncle: Are you worried about him?
                  Lydia: I don’t know. I see him as one of my students, but at the same time he’s a grown man who can take care of himself. But I think he may have done something…
                  Uncle: You don’t think he may have fallen? Become one of the nephandi.
                  Lydia: No… I don’t think pure evil like that really exists.
                  Uncle: Oh Lydia, how naive you can be. Evil is real and palpable in this world, there are those who choose this path and corrupt their avatars in the process, and such activity cannot be tolerated where it is found.
                  Lydia: But if the Avatar is a part of The One, how can it be corrupt?
                  Uncle: There are some in the Chorus who think similarly, that the Avatar is immune to such corruptions and it is just the Mage that refuses the Will. I don’t believe that however. Each avatar is a part of The One, yes, but it represents an incarnation of its will, and as such can be turned if willed to do so. Falling away from the way of the Will, and instead works to subvert it.
                  Lydia: Like Lucifer.
                  Uncle: Yes, just like Lucifer.
                  Lydia: And how would you deal with these people? Have them killed?
                  Uncle: This is difficult, for to kill them may not cease the avatar… It may live on to infect another…
                  Lydia: So what can be done…
                  Uncle: They must be found and stopped in some way… Some talk of destroying the avatar, but I… I cannot consider…

                  Lydia began to worry a lot more about Alfred now. Something was wrong with him, and she needed to be careful about how she handled the situation. She had never considered that he may be in danger of falling, but was now a lot less certain. Lydia talked with Uncle Michael for a while longer before saying goodbye. Before she left, he gave her a parting gift, a small vial of oil which he had told her was tass. She thanked him and promised to write more often now that she found his address and left.

                  In truth, Lydia did not have a real seminar to teach, though she was able to create a last minute opening with a few well-placed Entropy effects. The local history professor’s car suddenly got stuck in hour long traffic, and Lydia’s teaching expertise was just what was needed. She walked in and started teaching in the hopes of inspiring them to greater things, always eager to search out in case there were newly awakened or keen sorcerers in the audience. She returned to London the same day, pleased to have had the chance to finally speak to her uncle.

                  Again, a lot of details have escaped my memory when I wrote this up. Although nothing especially plot heavy happened during this one, it was a good opportunity to contextualise a few of themes of the game, and to discuss a few differences between paradigm.
                  Out of all the players, Lydia's is probably the least experienced with RPGs, but she's an enthusiastic writer, especially of characters, so I think she really enjoyed having a chance to not have to worry about game mechanics for a while, and just focus on her character and how she views the world. I do worry sometimes that her player might start to get a bit disinterested in the game when it becomes too much, especially if she's missed a few weeks and can't quite recall how this system works. Though when the focus is on character and ideology, she always perks back up and gets involved.

                  I have to admit, having at least two sessions per week is really starting to get difficult. Part of it is just keeping track of time and where everyone is and which NPCs are where. But most of the difficulty is in having to double my efforts in half the time to think up content for each session. Split sessions like this are a good way to ensure everyone stays involved and has something to do even with conflicting schedules, but I sometimes wonder if the lack of time to make worthwhile content and thought through encounters is really worth it...

                  The 13th session is finished, and I'll hope to have it written up before I conclude Alfred and Sean's umbra adventure. Let's hope I can get there in time.

                  Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running FINALE: Chapter 39: Green Fairy


                  • #54
                    13th Session

                    Doing two sessions a week and having players choose which of the two days they can do is starting to bite back at me, because certain groups get certain bits of information that they then fail to share with the rest of the group, either because they forgot not everyone was aware, or because they simply didn't realise it was important. Needless to say it's resulted in a lot of problems with trying to get players to do things and keep them all on the same page. Hopefully giving them a chance to sit down and talk about what's been going on will help.

                    Cast List:
                    Helen Walter: Hermetic Spy
                    Lydia: Moon Witch
                    Aaron Gibson: Punk Hacker
                    Joe Hanson: Noir Detective

                    Notable NPCs Include:

                    Camellia: Coven Maiden
                    Kael: Talisman Crafter
                    Mica: Techno Witch

                    Sarah Phillips: Edwin's Sister

                    ---CHAPTER 13a: SLOW DOWN---

                    Arron sat in his room in the Keeper’s sanctuary. He had been there all day in quiet contemplation. That dream he had, it ended in him falling into darkness. He knew it was something important, as though he was on the edge of discovering something great, and he had actively chosen against it. Perhaps this was some kind of message, as though something in his mind was punishing for being so subservient. It was still so clear in his head, he had a choice to make, he knew he had to do for himself, but instead he did for another… Perhaps he should start charging for his services or something. He then remembered the Esther file. There was something going on with it, perhaps he should go home and take another look at it.
                    There was a knock at the door, Camellia came inside.

                    Camellia: Hello?
                    Aaron: Oh…hi.
                    Camellia: You haven’t left your room all day, is everything alright?
                    Aaron: Yeah… mostly.
                    Camellia: I know what that’s like, would you like some tea?
                    Aaron: what kind?
                    Camellia: The kind I usually drink.
                    Aaron: …sure.

                    He follows her down into the communal kitchen, and starts to brew him her Mind effect tea. Upon drinking it, suddenly everything that Aaron was concerned about started to float away. It was as though all his worries had just faded into mist, and he was left floating in a sea of calm, nothing was all that important after all.

                    Helen and Hanson were quietly arguing. Hanson was certain that they had to get back to the Keepers, try to gather people up and tell them what they’ve found out so far, before whoever the black cloak guy was came back and made them forget all of it. Helen was not willing to do this though. She wanted to follow this guy, she wanted to know why Boris had come here, and she absolutely didn’t want to lose them. Hanson eventually won out, and Helen agreed to make a note of GPS coordinates on her phone and moved to a nearby tree to mark it with a spiral. Hanson turned, pulled up his sound focusing effect and tried to listen out. He could hear people talking.

                    Male: “Did they follow you?”
                    Male: “No, I made sure they left.”
                    Female: “Right, let’s get through then.”

                    Hanson looks as Helen who now has a strange spiral pattern over her skin. A mild bit of paradox perhaps. Helen was less happy about this, she had more paradox about her than she was comfortable with. She took out her wand and extended her dark vision to Hanson in order to assist with their escape.

                    Lydia arrived back at the keepers, and found Aaron down in the node room, lying under a tree and fiddling with stones.

                    Lydia: Aaron?
                    Aaron: Oh hi Lydia…
                    Lydia: Is everything ok?
                    Aaron: Oh yeah! Have you seen these rocks? They’re so…nice.
                    Lydia: I see…
                    Aaron: They’ve got ten flat sides, and they’re so good to hold, and if you squint you can even see numbers on them.
                    Lydia: Have you had any of Camellia’s tea?
                    Aaron: How did you know?

                    Hanson and Lydia arrived back at the Chantry around this time. On the way Hanson was hit with a barrage of Lydia’s voice telling him how stupid he was, and eventually just singing Irish songs in a overtly annoying tone. Hanson was doing all he could to tune it out.

                    [ST NOTE: I thought it to try an experiment and let Lydia’s player act as Hanson’s paradox, as an abusive voice inside his head. In theory it would be serving a dual purpose. First it would give some kind of strange psychological weirdness into the game, and hopefully take a look at this strange relationship the two characters seem to share, with Lydia disliking a lot of Hanson’s ways fitting bizarrely well with his already self-destructive tendencies. Second, it was a way to test the waters for a potential stab at a Wraith game in the future. I probably should have communicated this better to her. In practice it turned out to be a rather flawed plan. Lydia’s player was more interested in being annoying rather than psychological. It was funny for a while but soon became a bit trying. I could tell that Hanson’s player was becoming less and less amused as it continued. Eventually I just decided for the effect to end before it got too out of hand. Lesson learnt; never give the players an excuse to be obnoxious.]

                    Before entering the house, Hanson took a look at his phone and saw a missed call. Sarah must have tried to call him while Helen cancelled out all noise.

                    Hanson and Helen looked at the scene. They greeted Aaron, and asked Lydia how her trip was, and she told them a bit about her conversation with his uncle, saying that she felt she understood the Chorister a little better, though was now more uncertain than ever about Alfred.

                    Camellia came into the room

                    Camellia: Oh, everyone’s here. Well, except for the ones following Vivian in the umbra. Everyone ok?
                    Aaron: We’re just fine.
                    Camellia: Ok. Just letting you know that since Vivian is still away, and Boris hasn’t returned yet, I’m the one who’s supposed to make sure everything’s going fine.
                    Hanson: Hey, Camellia, what’s in that tea?
                    Camellia: Oh just a few things like Lavender and Ashwagandha. It’s just something to help calm people.
                    Hanson: There doesn’t happen to be any magic involved, does there?
                    Camellia: Just a little. Do you want any?
                    Hanson: Actually yes… I could have some.
                    Aaron: I could go for some more!
                    Lydia: No he won’t. You’ve had quite enough.

                    Camellia left the room. Hanson pulled Helen aside.

                    Hanson: Helen, the man in the cloak. His face was in darkness, right?
                    Helen: Yes.
                    Hanson: and you had this “dark is light sense” effect on while you looked at him, didn’t you.
                    Helen: I did.
                    Hanson: So you must have seen his face. Could you recognise him.

                    Helen concentrated hard on the face she saw. She knew she had seen him before somewhere, but couldn’t quite recall.

                    Helen: I’m… I don’t know.
                    Hanson: Maybe I’ll know. Helen, if you let me set up a mental link with you, you can pass that image along to me and I could take a look.

                    Helen was reluctant, but after assuring her he wouldn’t try to look any deeper, she agreed. Hanson took a swig and concentrated on chaos between their minds, shifting it slightly in order to create a temporary bridge. The image was clear and strange, though Hanson could recognise this man’s face very easily. Zandros.
                    Hanson smiled, he had a hunch it was him, same cold demeanour, same skills at reading and manipulating memories, they guy certainly had a keen mind for, well... minds. He whispered to Helen what he had found out.

                    Aaron: There was something I was going to do today… Oh yeah, The Esther File. Why was that important again? …eh. Nevermind.
                    Lydia: Esther?
                    Aaron: Hmmm?
                    Lydia: did you say something like Esther? That means star.
                    Aaron: Oh, does it? What language?
                    Lydia: Persian, that’s not important though. I had a prophecy in my mind: “Three men, Profit, Fear, and Charting stand in search of the star for control, utility, or understanding. The bearer may decide on whom the star shall sit. It’s secrets must be learnt within the astral realm, before the death spiral is complete.”
                    Aaron: Oh… ok then.

                    Aaron looked up at the tree and saw the fruit hanging from it. He thought perhaps if he ate the fruit he might absorb some of its power. He knew he’d been warned against it in the past, but that didn’t seem to worry him right now. He plucked an apple from the tree, and took a bite. A wave of disgust washed over him as the bitter taste hit his tongue, instinctively he spat out the apple. Aaron decided it didn’t matter too much, and just let it be. Lydia was somewhere between amused and appalled.

                    Camellia came down with a cup of tea which Lydia instantly took of her. She sniffed it and tried to work out what kind of effect was in there.

                    Aaron: Hey, that was mine.
                    Hanson: Actually, it was mine.

                    Lydia begrudgingly gives it back to Hanson, who tries to drink it and drown out the sounds of inner voice Lydia constantly singing “I know a song that will get on your nerves”. However, it did not work. Magic cannot cover up paradox effects it seems.

                    As the evening drew to a close, everyone decided to retire to bed, except for Aaron, who just fell asleep under the tree, and Lydia who had other ideas. She stayed in the node room. Her magic seemed to be quite coincidental while here, and she wanted to try something she had always wanted to do. She scribbled some runes on the ground and started chanting for assistance, and from her back, thin, delicate whips of blue and silver grew, forming into gentle wings. She gave them a flutter and tried to fly, though found it very difficult. She spent a few hours trying to train her new wings, and though no flying happened.

                    The next day. Hanson had his morning coffee followed by his first smoke of the day. He considered Zandros, he wanted to know what it was he was trying to do. An image appeared before him, a green landscape, rich wild woodlands, slowly succumbing to an all-consuming darkness. Hanson was a little concerned by what he had seen, thinking on it as he smoked.

                    In time, the four of them met in the kitchen area, first with Hanson and Helen. Aaron was not in the best of moods, he had woken up with a searing headache and a great deal stress. All the worries and concerns that had felt so far away the night before had suddenly flooded back into view. He suddenly felt an urgent need to go home and check the Esther file, but was stopped by Aaron, wanting to talk to him in the kitchen. Lydia joined them shortly after that, she had wanted to try again to tell Hanson about her prophecy.

                    Hanson started to tell everyone about what they had seen last night in the Common, and their suspicions about Camellia potentially being a Widderslainte kept under calm with her tea. He also talked a bit more about his suspicions that Edwin may be being manipulated by some kind of Nephandic force, and that this all may have something to do with whatever was happening at the Common last night, they all decided that this was the next thing they needed to check.

                    Kael entered the room.

                    Kael: Excuse me, Hanson. I’ve heard from Boris that you were investigating something for him.
                    Hanson: I was, yes, but now isn’t really the time to discuss this.
                    Kael: Someone has broken in to Boris’s study.
                    Hanson: I see, well I’ll try to look into it later, rather pressing matters are at hand.
                    Kael: I’ve had a look around, and whoever it was came in, rummaged around his files, and stole an important artefact from us.
                    Hanson: What sort of artefact?
                    Kael: Our ceremonial dagger.
                    Hanson: I see…
                    Kael: The door had been locked for the last few days, but I found it unlocked and open.
                    Lydia: But only members of the Keepers can come down here.
                    Kael: Yes, unless let in by someone with these necklace… Whoever did it seemed skilled in manipulated forces, the darkness had been disturbed within the room, and it left a subtle Constant resonance in the air.

                    Helen was starting to squirm a bit, as quietly as she could she started texting under the table.
                    I’m currently not free to go and see you, however I do have thing to ask you to keep for security reasons.
                    There is a dagger in my student accommodation, and it is Boris’s. Could you go to my room and keep it with you safely please? You have my spare key and you are the person I trust the most.
                    I’ll write a report and send it to you soon.
                    Please hide the dagger in a safe place. I’ll visit you once I’m free.
                    Thank you!

                    She waited for Kael to leave and quickly told everyone that she had a lecture to get to, making a hasty retreat.

                    Aaron: I have to get going too.
                    Lydia: You going to check out that Esther?
                    Aaron: Esther file? Yes.
                    Lydia: Can I join you.
                    Aaron: I guess so…

                    Hanson decided to make a call to Sarah.

                    Hanson: Ms Phillips?
                    Sarah: Hello? Who is this?
                    Hanson: It’s Hanson.
                    Sarah: Detective, what happened?
                    Hanson: Sorry, I got a bit caught up yesterday, would you be able to talk right now?
                    Sarah: I can, yes.

                    Hanson set up a time and place to meet her, took a swig of his hipflask and put up a haze around him, his perception filter, and left.

                    Aaron lead Lydia to his home in Shoreditch, and up into his room. He took a look at the poisoned cheese he left out for it, but it remained untouched.

                    Aaron: Sorry, I’ve got a bit of a rat problem.
                    Lydia: Oh really? What kind of problem?
                    Aaron: The problem is it won’t die!
                    Lydia: Where is your rat?
                    Aaron: Somewhere around, under the bed maybe?

                    Lydia called out to the spirits to see if any Rat Gafflings were about.

                    Rat: You call?
                    Lydia: Yes, I was wondering if there was a rat trapped in here?
                    Rat: I’ll check

                    The spirit jumps away, and then returns.

                    Rat: “Yeah, in the cupboard.”
                    Lydia: Thanks
                    Rat: Be nice to rats.

                    Aaron couldn’t see the rat spirit. All he could see was Lydia talking in a strange language to what she said was a rat, and then walk over to the cupboard. Lydia peered inside and saw a fairly large rat trying to run into a hole, and being stopped by some kind of barrier. Aaron marched over and started shouting at the rat.

                    Aaron: What are you trying to do? You want to leave now? Is that it?
                    Lydia: Why are you talking to that rat?
                    Aaron: You talk to it then!
                    Lydia: I can’t. They don’t speak English.
                    Aaron: Then speak in whatever weird language you just spoke.
                    Lydia: It won’t understand.
                    Aaron: You said you talked to that other rat!
                    Lydia: That was a rat spirit.
                    Aaron: WHA! ok… you’re a life mage right?
                    Lydia: I suppose so.
                    Aaron: Then use your life powers and kill it!
                    Lydia: No.
                    Aaron: Why not?
                    Lydia: I don’t use my powers that way.
                    Aaron: It’s a rat!
                    Lydia: I made a promise to keep rats safe.
                    Aaron: To who exactly?
                    Lydia: The rat spirits.

                    Aaron was at the end of his tether, he was already in a bad mood and this wasn’t helping. While he tried to calm himself, Lydia watched the rat more closely.

                    Lydia: I think it wants to leave.
                    Aaron: Well it can’t. I set up a barrier around this flat. Anything of lesser intelligence than a human can’t go in or out.

                    [ST NOTE: It transpired that Aaron’s character had recently read a bit of VTM stuff on the Nosferatu and found out that they can use animals like rats to gather information. However, considering Aaron has no points in Occult, even though he may have been briefly kidnapped by them, there was no way his character would be aware of this. Shame, because he was completely right.]

                    Lydia: Why won’t you just let the rat go?
                    Aaron: It took two hours to set this thing up ok. I’m not about to get rid of it for that.
                    Lydia: If the rat wants to leave, you need to let it leave.
                    Aaron: ….fine.

                    Aaron released the effect and the rat ran free.

                    Aaron: Right, now take a look at this file.
                    Lydia: file?
                    Aaron: Yeah, it’s the Esther file, that’s what you’re here to look at right?
                    Lydia: What’s a file?
                    Aaron: You cannot be serious…

                    Lydia was getting fed up with the way that Aaron was speaking to her, so she left. Aaron sat at his computer and tried to look at the Esther File himself, opening the seemingly random strings of numbers that seemed to go on for pages and pages, but after half a minute of staring, he realised he wasn’t getting anywhere.

                    Aaron: LYDIA!

                    Lydia had only reached the stairwell at this point. A little more calmly, Aaron asked Lydia about what she knew about the Esther file, and so she told him the prophecy once again.
                    “Three men, Profit, Fear, and Charting stand in search of the star for control, utility, or understanding. The bearer may decide on whom the star shall sit. It’s secrets must be learnt within the astral realm, before the death spiral is complete.”

                    Aaron: So if the Star is this, then that means someone is looking for it, and I get to choose who that is? I don’t understand this at all…

                    Aaron was stumped, none of his decryption software gave him anything, it just seemed like a garbled bunch of numbers. Lydia had a look as well and started to notice that there seemed to be a pattern. Confused, Aaron checked again and realised she was right. He had another look and realised that they seemed to be incredibly complicated and precise coordinates. He ran them through his Location Tracker software (Corr 1) and ran the numbers through them, but couldn’t seem to match it with a single place. He tried again but none of them coordinated with anywhere on earth.
                    Then realisation hit him… What if these weren’t geographical coordinates, what if they were astronomical ones, tracking planets or stars…
                    Aaron: Did you say we needed the Astral Realm?
                    Lydia: It’s secrets must be learnt within the astral realm.
                    Aaron: Where’s that?
                    Lydia: It’s somewhere in the spirit world.
                    Aaron: And we have to use this code to get there… or maybe take this code and use it there.
                    Lydia: I think I should go and as the Keepers if they know more about the Astral Realm.
                    Aaron: Sure.

                    Lydia left. Aaron looked around and remembered he was finally rat free. He spent the next 30 or 40 minutes cleaning up.

                    Hanson met with Sarah in the park. His perception filter was active, so when he spoke with her, it seemed to her as though he just appeared out of thin air.

                    Hanson: Ms Phillips, you said that a lot of people were chasing after Edwin, do you know what kind of people?
                    Sarah: I don’t. Maybe other mages? I saw men in suits, men in robes… A lot of people…
                    Hanson: Can you tell me more about the people who are trying to help him?
                    Sarah: I don’t know… They said they were like me, on the run. That people were after them too and would… if they were caught.
                    Hanson: I’m worried that Edwin might be in danger, that some dark mages may be looking for him. Are you aware of the nephandi?
                    Sarah: Not really.
                    Hanson: And you can’t tell me anything about the people who are searching for you.
                    Sarah: No…
                    Hanson: Ms Phillips. What I’m about to suggest may seem strange, but hear me out. It’s possible that I’ll be able to create a mental link. You can send any memories you like to me and I’ll be able to help you identify them.

                    Sarah was initially hesitant to the idea, but Hanson managed to convince her round to it after a while. He set up the link and prepared started asking her questions telepathically.

                    Hanson: Ms Philips, have you heard of someone by the name of Zandros?

                    There is no response

                    Hanson: What about the name Malady? Or perhaps Melonie?

                    For a while there is no response. But soon a flurry of images start heading towards Hanson, more than he is able to deal with. He tries to focus in on as many as he can, but only four stay in his own mind for any significant length of time.

                    1. A car filling up with water, viewed from the passenger seat.
                    2. Men in suits holding up a gun, looking down the barrel.
                    3. Othe left hand side is a city, while on the right is an alien landscape, in the middle a strange mixture as though one were turning into the other. Edwin stands off-centre, looking confused.
                    4. Someone in a long robe, the robe if clean, and yellowish grey.

                    Sarah starts to get distressed at the experience and pulls out of the link. She clutches her head and winces.

                    Hanson: Ms Phillips? Are you ok?
                    Sarah: Yeah… Sorry. That happens a lot… Sometimes I can hear what other people are thinking… and then my thoughts just go.
                    Hanson: Some mages call that effects in the Mind sphere, and it needs practice to control. Your brother, Edwin, I think he might have lost a lot of that control himself. When you’re around him, I’m sure you’ve noticed that things seem to change. He’s a marauder. The world changes to suit what he thinks of it, so if he sees an alien world in his head, the world becomes alien.
                    Sarah: Those stupid books…
                    Hanson: Yes, I think the book he has might be the source of some of his powers.
                    Sarah: He read them all the time, and they just become all he talks about sometimes…
                    Hanson: Oh… yes the Lovecraft ones.
                    Sarah: I hoped to get him help, but he just keeps getting lost.
                    Hanson: Ms Phillips, do you know a man by the name of Boris.

                    She pauses for a moment and looks down.

                    Sarah: No. I don’t.

                    Hanson can tell something’s strange about her answer.

                    Hanson: Please, Ms Phillips, I’m trying to help you. If there’s anything you can tell me, anything at all.
                    Sarah: I think you should focus on finding him.
                    Hanson: That’s what I’m doing.
                    Sarah: Then do it! Find where he is and either bring me to him or bring him to me. That’s your job.
                    Hanson: Of course. And I will.
                    Sarah: Thank you, detective. I’m sorry… There are so many people who want him locked up or killed, it’s just.
                    Hanson: It’s ok, we will find him.
                    Sarah: Thank you… Oh and please, don’t call him a marauder. That’s what they call him, they use it as a guard, a label, they ignore that he’s a person.

                    Hanson leaves with a final promise for reassurance.

                    Helen arrived at her university, and started writing out a report.

                    “To: Olivia Georgiana Raphanel, bani Jerbiton

                    From: Aillen Davina Freya, bani Jerbiton

                    After spending time with the Keepers of the Wyck, I discovered a few things that could have serious impact.
                    • The Keepers of the Wyck is hiding one of their coven’s maidens away from the public and her name is Camellia, who could be a widderslainte.
                    • Her widderslainte nature was suppressed by a special herbal tea which infuses with powerful calm mind magic.
                    • The high priest Boris and the high priestess Vivian are certain that they are doing the right thing to keep Camelia alive yet they don’t know how to save her soul.
                    • There is a marauder called Edwin who might be controlled by a group of Nephandi.
                    • Edwin has created a lot of twisted dimensions and in the real world. It could explain why pattern spiders and spirits appearing and other supernatural things happened.
                    • The spirit world is overlapped with parts of this world, causing harmful spirits entering our world.
                    In my opinion, Nephandi could be causing Edwin to be insane at the first place and let him create chaos in this world.

                    Two days ago in the evening, I followed Boris to Wimbledon Common but lost him. Then in the forest, I encountered a man in the black cloak who was a powerful life mage (Zandrus). Zandrus was trying to hide something and he forced me to leave the forest. Then I heard two people whispering not far away from me. It is likely that those two voices could belong to Boris and Zandrus.
                    From what I know, Zandrus is a mage from the Celestial Chorus. This tradition usually doesn’t interfere with Verbena. So I have the suspicion that Boris and Zandrus are also involved in this matter. At the moment, other people in my group are trying to find a way to help Edwin. I believe there is a temporary solution for this. if Edwin drinks this special herbal tea which would calm him down as he is the only clue we have to find out if Nephandi are behind all the chaos. He might tell us what really happened to him.

                    If the tradition were to take any actions, I suggest we should keep Edwin and the keepers of the Wyck alive for now, especially Boris. I do think the keepers of the Wyck are still useful for the tradition because they have the temporary method which can suppress the nature of widderslainte. Also they could be another link to look for Nephandi. As for Camellia, her widderslainte nature is not awakened yet so I shall keep an eye on her.
                    I will return to Wimbledon Common to investigate this further. I will inform you if more significant things happen.

                    Signed: Aillen Davina Freya, bani Jerbiton

                    [ST NOTE: Helen’s player explained to me that she was not certain of who Zandros was. She considered he might have been a Verbena, but none of the other Keepers seemed to recognise his name. So she assumed that he was from the only other tradition of mages they’ve had much involvement with.]

                    She made two copies of her report, sent one to her mentor, and then another to House Quaesitor, and went to a lecture.

                    Lydia arrived at the keepers and met with Mica. This was the first time these two have really spoken. She showed Lydia her little room on the side of the antechamber, though Lydia did not quite understand what it was she was doing in there. She started to ask Mica about the Astral Realm.
                    Mica: Oh yeah… that place is weird. It’s in the Umbra, but not like the spirit wylds which is kind of a piece of everything that’s felt. The Astral umbra is like everything that’s thought. You can get there with understanding of spirit alone, though I remember hearing that Mind magic works just as well. I dunno, spirit was never really my thing. I think Gwynn might be able to tell you more…
                    Lydia told her about the prophecy she spoke, and Mica typed it up, along with a brief description of the Astral Realm to send to Aaron upon Lydia’s request.

                    A few hours later, and everyone met back at the chantry to head out to Wimbledon Common together. On seeing everyone preparing to leave, Mica asked if she too could come along, getting a bit tired of being left out of things.

                    It didn’t take long for Helen to find where in the woods they were last night and locate her spiral marker. The group started too look around to see if they could find anything. As they explored the area Hanson recalled Zandros running towards, the environment became more decayed, the wildlife was partially wilted, and the ground was a sickly brownish grey. While a few of them remarked on a fox they found sleeping behind a bush, Helen managed to find a ground level well with a putrid black sludge in the centre. The mind mages of the group could feel the heavy rotting resonance emanating from the place.

                    Lydia: Aaron? You’re walking strange, you ok?
                    Aaron: It’s fine, It’s just a bit of Paradox burn.
                    Lydia: You should have said something, I could have healed that.
                    Aaron: Oh, could you?

                    Lydia healed him, and noticed that magic seemed to be easier here, perhaps they were at a node. Lydia took a look at this well and thought, perhaps if there was a node, there may also be a pathway. Mica then recognised this place, that she had been here before with the other keepers, and that a pathway did lead from here to two other nodes, one at Hampstead heath, and another at Greenwich. Thinking that Zandros and possible Boris and Malady may have used this path, they all decided to follow. Lydia managed to get everyone into the strange penumbral landscape, and the narrow path that snaked away.

                    They hadn’t gone far along the path before they encountered a strange black mist of a spirit.
                    Spirit: You shall not pass.
                    Lydia: Why not?
                    Spirit: I shall guard this from followers following those who have summoned me.
                    Lydia: Who are we following?
                    Spirit: Anyone who follows along this path is stopped, none may pass, and those who try shall die.
                    Lydia: Why though?
                    Spirit: Those who try shall die!

                    The spirit lashed out at Lydia, wrapping its mist around her, choking her.

                    Helen: This spirit is some kind of bane!
                    Hanson: Oh no, not another one.
                    Aaron: I’m going to try shooting at it!
                    Hanson: Don’t hit Lydia!

                    Lydia started hearing whispers of violence, but was able to shake off these notions without much trouble. Aaron aimed his gun while Hanson and Helen tried to throw opposite emotion at them. The bane tried its best to suffocate Lydia, but was hit, a bullet flying straight into it.

                    Aaron: Guys! Bullets work!

                    The bane jumped towards Aaron and did the same to him. Helen took out her gun and tried to aim and Lydia got back to her feet.
                    The bane managed to get into Aaron’s mind without difficulty, and started filing his thoughts with all the negative aspects of his life, that everything was crumbling around him, and he would never be able to climb his way out of it.

                    Aaron: I’m…Sad…
                    Hanson: Aaron, that things a spirit of corruption, it’s going to do everything it can to control you.

                    It started to whisper thoughts into his ear, all his problems, the situation he’s in right now, it’s all because of Hanson, him as his hunches throwing his life into danger. It’s all his fault!

                    Aaron: Fuck you Hanson!

                    Helen was taking pot shots at the spirit with limited success, while Lydia started chanting, asking Luna for some kind of help.

                    The bane told him that Hanson was trying to harm him, and he’d better shot him first. Aaron lifted his gun and aimed it at Hanson, but managed to fight the urge and instead tried to aim it at the bane itself, which floated all about his head.
                    This was a very bad roll to botch. The gun shot straight into his head with a deafening bang. Blood sprayed everywhere and Aaron fell to the ground.

                    Mica sprang into action, fiddling with her gem tech and rewound time to the moment just before the shot was made, and lept to Aaron pushing the gun out of his hand. The spirit jumped from Aaron to her as Aaron fell to the edge of the pathway. Mica did all she could to resist the influence of the bane.

                    From beyond view, a group of four Lunes arrived to Lydia, who directed them to get rid of the bane. They happily obeyed and swarmed the spirit, getting their energy from the full moon, and making short work of the spirit.

                    Mica did not move, the group around her tried to rouse her but she did not respond. The group feared the worst. A full minute passed before she moved, and was slow to get up. It suddenly became apparent that Mica may have suffered some kind of paradox backlash, and was now much slower than her surroundings.

                    The four of them stood around her, unable to communicate with her. They couldn’t leave her like this, but nor could they continue on with her. Two of them would have to go ahead, while the others would help her back to the chantry.

                    There were a number of minor paradox backlashes I didn't detail above. Lydia's skin went blue because she botched some healing magic, and Hanson had a lot of trouble creating a mental link with Sarah. Nothing which hung around, though almost every character has quite a large pool of unbacklashed paradox. So that's going to be fun.

                    As said about, doing two sessions a week has been getting rough. Sure, it's been great for making sure everyone gets a chance to play each week, regardless of schedule conflicts, but having half the time to do twice the work takes its toll. This week I had three sessions, Umbra Adventures, Lydia's visit with her Uncle, and then this one, and between doing real world things, researching, and writing things up, I basically left myself with little to no time to properly think this session through, and personally it feels like one of my weakest.
                    Everything that happened today was improvised, and I could tell that there were moments when things started to drag. At the last minute I decided to through in a bit of combat just to liven it up. It seemed to do the trick.
                    It's difficult to tell whether the shortcomings of tonight were just imagined, or if my players also felt a bit disappointed with the lack of action or plot revelations that occurred today.
                    Oh well, we all get bad days I guess.

                    Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running FINALE: Chapter 39: Green Fairy


                    • #55
                      Session 13.1

                      The final segment in the Umbral Quest for the Egg.

                      Cast list:
                      Alfred Camlann: Excalibur Mage
                      Sean Heath: Templar Knight

                      Notable NPCs include

                      Vivian: High Priestess
                      Kael: Talisman Crafter.

                      ---CHAPTER 13b: A TANGLED WEB---

                      The sky is a dark malaise of broken hues. A soft glow surrounds the mountains Alfred finds himself, and they slowly seem to be brightening. When a gap in the clouds slides into place, the rich beams of the full moon break through the darkness, piercing the haze and providing a brief moment of brilliant clarity. Alfred has been waiting for longer than he can tell, but the spider spirit showed no sign of changing. He needed a way to get up to the aetherian reaches, and since climbing was far too difficult for him, finding a spirit to open a moon bridge directly seemed the only other way. Getting restless waiting for the spider, he investigates the small cave behind him, from which a strange clicking sound can be heard. Soon a strange, blue and brown snake like creature slivers out of it. A serpentine, one of the nature spirits of the stones.

                      Alfred: Hello?
                      Serpentine: It speaks?
                      Alfred: Yes, I was wondering if I could have some help?
                      Serpentine: Help could be provided if the need was so.
                      Alfred: Do you know any spirits that can open a moon bridge?
                      Serpentine: I am aware of them…
                      Alfred: are there spirits that can make moon bridges in the cave?
                      Serpentine: There are certainly things round and silvery within.
                      Alfred: …ok. What about you? Can you open a moon bridge?
                      Serpentine: I may only assist to those who show their merit.
                      Alfred: Right, what do you need?
                      Serpentine: Tell me, what do you think lies within this cave?
                      Alfred: uh… I have no idea.
                      Serpentine: Answer this: What Fishermen use to make their day is weaved within the create all.
                      Alfred: Oh… a riddle.

                      Alfred mused on this one for a while. He thought about what fishermen us. Rope, lines, boats, hooks, nets… Nets are weaved…
                      He thought of all the stories he knew within the spirit world, of how reality is weaved and maintained by the pattern spiders…

                      Alfred: The web, the pattern spider’s web is there.
                      Serpentine: And then what may be there which is both round and silver?
                      Alfred: A pattern spider? Maybe?

                      The Serpentine swayed its head, enjoying the look of uncertainty on Alfred’s face. They had a short exchange of riddles, with Alfred getting less and less certain of his reasoning.

                      Further up the mountain, Sean took a moment to look down and noticed that Alfred was nowhere to be seen.

                      Sean: Vivian! We’ve lost Alfred.
                      Vivian: Wait here, I go see what’s happened.

                      Vivian calls out a chant and transforms into a bird, swooping down out of view. Sean gets himself to a ledge on the mountains face and waits holding the egg. He looks around at the dark atmosphere with uncertainty. Truly this was a godforsaken land, rife with all manner of demons. No sooner had he thought this that a noise was heard behind him. A pattern spider had climbed on to the ledge from a hole not far away. Sean jumped into action, readying his gun, the creature spat its web and started to bind Sean up. He struggled against it, pulling hard and snapping the thread as the spider swiped at him. Sean fired his gun and the spider recoiled, but did not relent. It shot its web and this time caught the egg. Sean stopped shooting, not wanting to hit the egg as it clambered along the rock. He tried to get his pistol as close to it as he could and fired straight into it.
                      The spider, seemingly hurt, retreated with the egg back towards the hole. Sean leapt over it and caught on to the side, almost falling over the precipice. Sean pulled himself away from peril and towards the whole, using his body as a way to block the spider’s retreat. Sean didn’t have much time, so he focused on the hole, taking out his crucifix and chanting a prayer to ask that the hole be sealed. It started closing up, but the spider drew too close for Sean to finish the effect. The spider dove into the whole, but could not take the egg which fell and began to roll down the mountain. Sean made another herculean leap and caught the egg while keeping balance.
                      He stopped, breathing heavily and he held his stance on the side of the mountain. Vivian was nowhere to be seen and it was far too dangerous to wait. He continued his ascent towards the cloud canopy above.

                      The serpent seemed happy with Alfred, and started making a corkscrew motion. Before his eyes, a narrow beam of light appeared from the Serpentine and shot straight up towards the sky, it grew into a sturdy thick path, a moon bridge had been opened.

                      Vivian arrived, guided by the light.

                      Vivian: I see you’ve found your own way up.
                      Alfred: Yes…
                      Vivian: Be careful, the moon bridges only last until the end of night. When you get up, head towards the mountain.
                      Alfred: Of course.

                      Vivian flew off and Alfred took his first tentative steps onto this beam of silver blue light.
                      It was much more stable than he imagined, and felt almost like stepping on tempered glass. The ascent as much less steep than the mountain, and felt a lot more confident as he climbed away from the mountain and towards the sky, the brilliant light of Luna acting as his guide.
                      Shimmering ribbons of light began to circle him. He looked and recognise them; the spirits that Lydia spoke with, the Lunes.
                      Alfred paused, and tried to bow his head in a show of respect. The Lunes circled him with deliberate pace, gradually getting faster and faster. One stops and floats inches away from Alfreds face, it’s ribbons rotating furiously. Alfred tries to speak with them, but they do not respond. A thought goes across his mind, “Where’s Lydia when you need her…” The Lune strikes Alfred, pushing right through him as it floats. Alfred gives up any pretence of respect and runs up the bridge; the Lunes follow in pursuit but lag behind, their erratic behaviour pushing them in odd directions.
                      Alfred runs up, but looks behind him just before passing through, only a single Lune is behind him. With nowhere else to turn, Alfred pushes through to the Aetherian Reaches.

                      The landscape is magnificent. As far as they can see the ground is littered with clouds, spirits fly all around and above them the wonders of the cosmos appear in vivid view. All planets are visible as are a cacophony of stars. There is no darkness up here, but a flurry of light. Every planet is so vivid and detailed it looks as though you could reach up and touch it, though they all remain out of reach, as distant as their mundane counterparts. The moon starts to disappear over the horizon, and with it the bridge Alfred stands on begins to fade away. Tentatively he steps on to the clouds and is surprised that, not only do they take his weight, they feel both sturdy and soft. As the sun rises, a shimmer of rainbow light is seen reflected over the entire sky, the dreamshell Alfred had heard so much about. The stars and planets remain totally visible no matter how bright the sun becomes.
                      Beyond the edge of this world, within a haze of mist and light, tall spires reach up into swirling clouds just out of view. From what little he knows, he can tell that this is a glimpse of the Astral Realm. The high umbra.

                      It does not take long for Alfred and Sean to find each other, the pull of their stone runes brings them to a point along the clouds. Once they meet, Vivian soars down, tells them that the two of them should head over to the tree and wait. She will meet with the Talons of Horus and lead them to where they are.

                      She flies off. Alfred and Sean notice a strange tree which seems to be growing out of the clouds and head in that direction. On the way, Sean notices what looks to him an Angel float nearby. He had wondered if he had been taken to some version of heaven after his trials in the hell bellow, and this may just confirm this idea.

                      Alfred: Sam, where are you going?
                      Sean: I must speak with the angel.
                      Alfred: …Is it necessary?
                      Sean: Of course!
                      Alfred: Fine, but give me the egg first.

                      Sean gives up the egg and makes his way to the Angel, bowing at it.

                      Sean: I am at your service.
                      Angel: What is it you seek?
                      Sean: To deliver an egg.
                      Angel: Then you shall do it.
                      Sean: Yes.

                      Sean walked away, not wishing to interrupt the spirit from its duties. Alfred was wondering whether or not this was actually a Valkyrie.

                      [ST NOTE: Yep, this exchange turned out to be as pointless as it seems. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but this sort of felt like a missed opportunity on Sean’s part. Here he was in what he thought was Heaven next to literal Capital A, Angels, and all he does is tell them he’s delivering an egg. There’s a Futurama episode in that somewhere…]

                      Alfred watched from a distance while this exchange ended and Sean walked back, keeping careful hold of the egg. But something was moving the egg, jostling it about, and pushing it out of Alfred’s hands. The egg rolled down to the edge of the clouds. Sean immediately ran ahead and dived over the egg and almost fell over the edge. He grasped out and managed to grab the edge, just in time to push the egg back before it rolled off.
                      Alfred picked up the egg and held it tight, but it wouldn’t stop moving. The egg lifted into the air with Alfred dangling off. Sean pulled himself back up just in time to witness the flung about Alfred. Alfred realised what they were dealing with, a Wind Sprite had come to play.

                      Alfred: Excuse me, I know you’re having fun but could you stop?
                      Wind: Stop?
                      Alfred: Yes, could you put me down please?
                      Wind: Oh, you want to go down.

                      The Sprite carried the egg and Alfred over the edge, and just hung him there. Sean prepared his gun as he watched the spirit try to whip Alfred off.
                      Through a series of Charisma rolls, Alfred was able to convince the spirit to just let him back on the clouds. He and Sean made their way to the tree just as a large storm cloud was drawing near. Except it wasn’t a storm cloud, but a cloud of about a hundred different kinds of birds, all flying rapidly towards them. Vivian was amongst them, and flew down to human form besides them. She took the egg and presented it to the flock.
                      The egg slowly rose in the air, cracks forming around it. Two magnificent black and blue wings burst through, followed by a head which completely shattered the shell. The Talons flew around the new bird who gently joined the flock. They spoke to Alfred and Sean with gratitude.
                      Two black and blue feathers fell from the new bird and landed in front of the two mages, and the Talons of Horus flew off into the sky and out of sight.

                      Vivian: This was why it was important you were both here. The spirits must recognise the deeds you do for them. These feathers may be a mark of this, and a way to ask for favours in the future.

                      Sean took a look at the feather with Prime sense, and realised it was Tass containing 4 points of quintessence. This could come in handy.

                      Vivian said it was time they returned home, and asked that they follow her. She then jumped off the edge of the clouds.

                      Sean: She wants us to jump?
                      Alfred: Well, she said to follow her, didn’t she.
                      Sean: If we jump, and she’s just turned into a bird half way down… I swear.

                      Alfred jumps, and with nowhere else to go, Sean follows.

                      The wind roars past them as they fall. Beneath them a forest hurtles ever closer. Starting to panic, the two of them work to cast effects to break their fall. Alfred focuses on the grass, trying to build a bed of daffodils to land on, while Sean prays for assistance, so that his shoes may become more elastic, bounce, and absorb the fall. Their effects set off, and they land, but neither receives any problems. They land without incident on the ground. The two of them are equally bewildered.

                      Vivian: The first time is always a bit confusing. Falling from the Aetherian reaches is almost never painful.
                      Alfred: I see… Good to know.
                      Sean: We’ll have to go back for the Surtur sword now.
                      Vivian: Oh yes, your promise… I’m not sure how we would return, the Spirit Wilds rarely stays consistent.
                      Alfred: Would it not be possible to take the Pattern Web there?
                      Vivian: The Pattern Web?
                      Alfred: It connects to everywhere, doesn’t it?
                      Vivian: It does, yes. But it is far too dangerous. Besides, I am worried we have been away from the Chantry too long already. We need to return.
                      Sean: We can’t leave without that sword.
                      Alfred: We’ll have to come back for it on our own.

                      Vivian looks in concern at the two of them.

                      Vivian: If you truly intend to travel the Pattern Web, then I think your first time doing so is best done with me. We can use the Pattern Web to return to the penumbra, but we’ll need a spirit guide or we’ll get lost.

                      Vivian leads them towards a large cave with a number of spider webs coiling out from it. The webs themselves seem much sturdier than what you’d expect; thick strands which mesh into the ground and the stone, as though seeing a wire frame from which the environment was built upon. Alfred notices upon one of these strands a small chrome cockroach crawling slowly along the surface of the web. The Kilakac’n. He remembered what Lydia had said of their helpfulness.

                      Alfred: Excuse me
                      Cockroach: Aah!!!

                      The roach ran along the web and behind a rock.

                      Alfred: It’s ok, I’m not here to hurt you. I need help.
                      Cockroach: Help? Help what?
                      Alfred: We want to get to the penumbra through the web. Do you know the way?
                      Cockroach: The way? Yes, can help.
                      Alfred: What would you like in exchange?
                      Cockroach: Got food?
                      Alfred: What kind?
                      Cockroach: sweet. Sweet is good.

                      Alfred looked around and saw a thorny bramble. He took it and caused it to explode with a great number of blackberries. He gathered them up and held them up to the kilakac’n to eat. He noticed that the spirit seemed unwilling to step off the web and so brought his bounty closer.

                      Cockroach: Ok, follow.

                      Vivian, Alfred, and Sean followed the cockroach as it walked along the web. Soon the cave began to fall away, any notion of ground or wall quickly fell. All that they could see is a massive web going in every direction imaginable. There seemed to rhyme nor reason to its construction, and yet it’s design was so intricate. It felt solid to traverse, but its terrain was inconsistent. Sometimes the web formed great tubes or cliff faces. Sometimes it would turn to a path, or a multitude of crossing paths all about them. Sometimes it turned to its side and required the group climb vertically. Around the web were fragments of other paths or structures, but beyond that only a dark black void. No one wished to consider what might lie beyond the abyss.

                      While passing through a more cavernous area of web, a muffled sound is heard, like someone crying through a gag. Sean stops for a moment.

                      Alfred: Sam, what are you doing?
                      Sean: Can’t you hear that? We have to help them.
                      Vivian: We can’t stay here long, it’s not safe.
                      Sean: I have to try. Give me a moment.
                      Alfred: I’ll keep a look out for him.

                      Vivian waited with the Kilakac’n as the two of them walked towards the cry.
                      Sean follows the sound and finds something wriggling, hanging of the wall, someone is trapped. Sean rushes over to the body.

                      Alfred: Don’t damage the web.

                      Disregarding his words, Sean gets to work pulling at the strands which bind the figure. Alfred looks around, and notices a slight bit of movement.

                      Alfred: Sam! Hurry up… Something’s about!

                      Sean continues to pull apart at the strands, cursing the fact he didn’t bring a knife. Before he can make any more progress, however, a great Guardian Spider slowly descends down the wall towards Sean and strikes him across the chest.

                      Alfred panics and calls for Sean to give up and leave. Sean hesitates, compelled to help any in need, yet aware of the imminent danger he and the others are in. As the spider draws nearer, he pulls himself away and runs. While avoiding the strike of the spider, the Kilakac’n runs down the side of one of the webs, and instructs that everyone hang off the edge. The three of them do so, and wait.
                      They hear the spider moving about above them, and the return to the web behind it. They wait, neither one daring to move. Alfred begins to lose his grip and slips, Sean makes a grab for him but in so doing falls. Vivian catches them, forming a human rope hanging perilously over the darkness. Alfred and Sean struggle trying to climb back up, with little progress made. But as they struggle, the entire web seems to shift orientation, curving around and forward. Vivian has cast an effect, shifting gravity ever so slightly to bring them back to solid ground. A terrible clicking is heard, and they suspect the magic has drawn the attention of the pattern spiders.
                      They start to run, but Alfred is struck and falls, a web is shot and slowly pulls Alfred away. Sean jumps back and pulls Alfred away, carrying his body and trying to leave. They run for a while longer down the snaking corridors and bridges of the Pattern Web, following the lead of the coackroach, the spider in hot pursuit. It strikes several times but misses, until it doesn’t hurtling Sean to the ground. The spider draws close, it’s mechanical legs stepping ever closer. The web around it begins to react, curling around the spider, Vivian stands between them and the spirit, calling an effect to ensnare the beast. She gestures at the two of them to run, and they do, following the cockroach down a long series of tubes and into what looks like a small cave.

                      Cockroach: We wait here.
                      Alfred: For how long?
                      Cockroach: Until safe.
                      Sean: Was Vivian following us?
                      Alfred: No, she stayed behind to fend it off. I can’t imagine they’d be too happy about someone messing around with their web.
                      Sean: Let’s hope she can take care of herself.
                      Alfred: She’s the high-priestess, probably the most powerful mage we’ve met so far.

                      Alfred tends to his wounds; using the berries he still carried in his hand to sooth his wounds.
                      And then they wait. Hours go by, how many is impossible to tell. The cave they lie in seems quite distinct from the web itself, as though they reached another piece of the umbra, but had been blocked off some time before. The cockroach still seemed adamant not to step off the web, and remained standing on the strands, occasionally moving as though listening out for something distant.

                      Cockroach: Ok, let’s go.

                      Neither one knew how much time had passed. Alfred unhooked the stone rune from his necklace and felt its pull, Vivian must be nearby. He tried to tell the Kilakac’n but the creature seemed adamant that they leave now.

                      Cockroach: We must go now. Before it is not safe.
                      Alfred: But we have to find Vivian first.
                      Cockroach: Cannot find and leave, the web is too big.
                      Alfred: We can use this to find her.

                      Vivian appeared from around a corner, somewhat surprised that they were all here. She herself had been running around trying to find them using the rune while evading the spiders. Relieved but not relaxed, the three of them continued to follow the cockroach as it lead them over yet more tangled web. After a time, the web began to become more systematic, pillars started forming around them, and large metallic structures starts to loom over them like some kind of cathedral frame. The web gradually lessened as they came closer and closer to a misty light, and before long its shape changed to that of buildings surrounded with web. They had arrived back in the penumbra of London. Alfred recognised that they had reached Camden. They thanked the cockroach and informed him of others that had been seen near Holloway Police Station, to which the cockroach seemed pleased to know, walking away.

                      Before they could return home and cross the gauntlet, Vivian knew it was important that they healed their wounds first to minimize the risk of the storm. They walked towards the node on Hampstead Heath. As they walked, Vivian and Alfred could not help but notice the ground had started to turn brown around the ponds. Corruption was spreading, and when Alfred looked on within the ponds, instead of Water Nymphs, he spied only one of the Wyrm’s poisoned elementals.

                      Vivian: What has happened hear…

                      Alfred explained to her the brambles that Malady had asked them to plant, and the effect he thinks they had.

                      Vivian: Melonie… I never thought she would… Quickly, let us gather our strength and return to the chantry.

                      Sean could not see any of this, the Heath seemed little more than vividly lit with vibrant autumnal hues. The three of them gathered quintessence, and Vivian healed them all of any damage. They then followed her back to the chantry. Alfred noted that there was no real corresponding penumbral place where the lower chantry sat, instead they would climb up a hill towards the grand tree who’s mundane counterpart stood within the chantry. The hill seemed only present if you knew where to look. Once climbed, Alfred was given the honour of pulling them back through.

                      The storm was calmer this time round, and all three managed to pass its wind unscathed. Their bodies returned to their physical form, without swirling patterns, or bright light. Vivian left to put on her clothes, and Alfred stood triumphant, feeling as though he had done something worthy of being called a Verbena. Sean was just happy to be back on the correct side of the gauntlet.

                      When Vivian emerged, there was a look of unmistakable concern on her face. She had decided that there was no other alternative; she would have to tell them about Melonie.

                      Vivian: Before we found Melonie, she had been part of a village community. But the village had ostracised her, they called her The Malady. We took her in and started training her, giving her avenues to learn and take command of her awakened powers, we even trained her as the Coven Maiden. But Granny Elm could see something in her, and told me she was a Widderlsainte. I didn’t want to believe it at first, but in time, as her confidence grew, it became much more apparent. I tried to teach her, to guide her away from that path, but then she did something terrible.
                      Alfred: What did she do?

                      Vivian paused, as though pained to recall the thought, and then continued.

                      Vivian: It’s not important. What is important is what happened afterwards. I took her aside and tried to talk to her, but things go heated, I lost my temper and she stormed out, angrily. Many other members lost their confidence in me, they didn’t agree with the way I handled it, and they left.
                      Alfred: How many people were there before now?
                      Vivian: Eleven. Over the course of the next few months, a total of four of them left including Alfred’s apprentice, Alex.
                      Alfred: Did you try speaking to them?
                      Vivian: What could I say? If they no longer saw me as a voice of authority, then what right do I have to tell them how to act?
                      Alfred: It’s ok Vivian, you’re human. And to be human is to make mistakes.
                      Vivian: Responsibilities don’t allow for such mistakes

                      Having heard this, Sean starts to question his view of the pagans. Perhaps there were more layers here than he first thought.

                      Kael appeared with a serious look on his face, though it softened somewhat when he saw Vivian had returned. He informed them of the break in that had happened a few days ago, and their missing artifact, a ceremonial dagger. He invited the three of them to examine the office. Sean used his Prime sense, and could feel a lingering magical pattern, of the kind that only recent vulgar effects create. It spanned the door frame and the corner of the room nearest the desk, though was not a sphere he had much experience with.
                      Alfred sensed out the Resonances of the room, and could feel a number of them. In the room a heavy Insightful and Seething resonance filled the area, with a small amount of Swirling resonance, which he recognised to be Vivian’s. In addition was a sedated Lost resonance, and a weak yet visible Constant one.

                      While investigating the drawers, Alfred came upon a letter which seemed somewhat reminiscent.

                      “Yes, it is difficult. The extent of the Nephandi’s reach can be confounding even for those with years of experience. I can recall a coven who’s High Priest had fallen years before his true nature was discovered. By that time, a lot of damage had already been done. Many innocent people suffered greatly, the land had been spoiled, and half the circle had fallen along with him. The damage was immeasurable. If your coven’s maiden is truly tainted, then you must deal with her as soon as possible. Such a corrupting force cannot be allowed the chance to grow and spread. You put the whole cabal at risk if you don’t. I understand your concern and hesitation, and no, it isn’t fair for anyone who is born corrupted. But-“

                      Alfred slipped the letter in his pocket while Vivian was distracted speaking with Sean. From his grandfather’s letter, he knew Boris used to be his apprentice, and Boris had been in contact with him until as recent as the previous year, and it wasn’t until earlier in the year Melonie left and the other Keepers followed suit. Zandros was still an unknown as no one in the Keepers had any knowledge about him, though his actions seemed incredibly nephandic. Perhaps Zandros had found her and converted her entirely towards the path of the nephandi…

                      Sean asked Vivian a few questions.

                      Sean: Is it possible that Melonie can still enter the Chantry?
                      Vivian: No, you’d need a necklace to enter.
                      Sean: We saw her with one.
                      Vivian: But its power has been removed, she would not be able to enter.
                      Sean: Not unless someone helped her in.
                      Vivian: But then anyone may enter if they are helped in, not just her…

                      Alfred excused himself, and started to talk with Sean about what he had suspected. They then retired to bed, having realised that neither of them had sleep, or even much need for sleep, while exploring the Umbra.

                      And thus concludes my first real attempt at roleplaying a spirit world quest. They did pretty well, though they did neglect the Surtur’s sword, so the Norns are probably going to come up again to screw things around. If you guys have any ideas on how the Norns would mess with these mages lives, by all means throw them at me.
                      Out of character, both Alfred and Sean’s players were almost certain that Helen had something to do with the robbery. The only hint they had in character that it could be her is when Kael told them that darkness had been moved around, and that her Constant Resonance was present near the effects, though it was still fairly circumstantial. In the words of Alfred’s Player “Oh Helen, please tell me you haven’t been this stupid”. If only Helen’s player was there to respond.
                      Next week will be the last two sessions before Holiday Break. Think of is as a Season Finale of sorts. Unless other people turn up, I’ll have one session with Hanson and Helen and may include a confrontation with Boris, and another with the other four and a long awaited Progenitor battle. Other things may happen though; it really does depend on what direction the players pull.

                      Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running FINALE: Chapter 39: Green Fairy


                      • #56
                        14th Session

                        Quite a bit of plot getting revealed today. Not a lot, but enough to begin some characters questioning what they thought the knew.

                        Cast List:
                        Joe Hanson: Noir Detective
                        Helen Walter: Hermetic Spy

                        Notable NPCs Include:

                        Boris: High Priest
                        Zandros: Barabbus
                        Edwin: Our Marauder
                        Eve Mackenzie: Helen's Mentor

                        Void Engineers:
                        Hector Howard: NSC Biomod
                        Lance Armstrong: R&E scientist

                        ---CHAPTER 14a: A THORN FOR A THORN---

                        The ground shuddered. Hanson and Helen looked around, no one else was around. They were still standing on the path, and the penumbra remained around them, but what happened to Aaron, Lydia, or Mica, they couldn’t say. Assuming they had gone back to help Mica, Hanson decided to march onwards and find out where Zandros was trying to go.
                        There was an eerie feeling around them, beyond the mist shadows stood just out of sight, if they stood still long enough they could feel these beings drawing closer, almost brushing against them. They kept a brisk pace, not wanting to stray from the path. The path, however, was starting to crumble behind them, the luminescent glow slowly fading away as the dark mist filled the space. They broke out from a brisk walk to a nervous jog as the path continued to degrade, and managed to get ahead of it.
                        They continued along the path, and recognised the penumbral shadow of where they were. They had stumbled upon Hampstead Heath, and were walking straight to the node. On the way Hanson noticed a house someone along the way. This house sat on the Heath and looked quite out of place. Hanson could see a great deal of disruption in the penumbral maelstrom around it, as it seemed neither decayed nor discarded, but at the same time looked unmaintained.
                        They continued until they reached the node, where the path came to an end, the two of them now stood in the wild field of the Heath. Hanson told Helen of the House he saw, and that he assumed it might be there because of some magical disturbance.
                        Helen was keen to follow, but something caught her attention; the sound of a bonfire somewhere in the distance. She listened out thought, amongst the crackling embers, she could hear someone’s voice calling for help.

                        Helen: Can you hear that?
                        Hanson: Hear what?
                        Helen: A… a fire.
                        Hanson: No… Helen, are you coming?
                        Helen: Yeah, I just want to…

                        Helen starts walking in what seems to Hanson a random direction.

                        Hanson: Helen, what are you doing?
                        Helen: There’s a fire over there. Can’t you see it?
                        Hanson: No.
                        Helen: It’s right there. Between the trees.

                        Helen sees a warm orange glow, and as she walked towards it, the sound of calling becomes louder and clearer, she recognises the voice all too well. Hanson becomes concerned that someone’s planting an illusion in her head, takes a swig from his hipflask and tries to concentrate on putting a mind block on both him and her. Helen stands just beyond the trees. Hanson sneaks up and peaks out, pulling down his shades for some Force powered heat vision. He sees a figure in a cloak performing some kind of ritual.

                        Hanson: Helen, do you still see the fire?
                        Helen: Yes.

                        Helen can only see a blinding orange and white light.

                        Hanson: Can you feel it?
                        Helen: No… I don’t. What’s happening?
                        Hanson: I don’t know, but there’s someone out there, I think it’s Zandros.

                        Helen can hear the crying and the raging blaze of the fire intensify as stares into the light. She hesitates and steps back, and both the light and the sound start to fade. Not willing to let this fall away, she steps forward, through the trees and into the space. The light swells to a blinding level and then all but dissolves, leaving her with the dark twilight scene.
                        Hanson swears and walks by the tree, hand on gun, as the figure turns around and stares at both of them. Hanson lifts his shades to get a better look at his features. Boris stands before them.

                        Boris: What are you doing here?

                        Hanson stays hidden, watching to see how Helen reacts.

                        Boris: You’ve been following me. Haven’t you.
                        Helen: Why are you here?
                        Boris: You’ve been sneaking about for a while. And now one of our artifacts is missing, right after I find you hiding in the chantry.
                        Helen: I was looking for the plant room and got lost
                        Boris: This wasn’t the first time. Vivian told me you “got lost” before. How does one get lost in the same place twice? No, I know where you were. You took it.
                        Helen: I didn’t take anything.
                        Boris: Didn’t you?

                        Boris can tell that she’s being dishonest.

                        Boris: You have it. You snuck in and took it. Now where is it? Where is our ceremonial dagger?
                        Helen: …
                        Boris: Where is it!

                        Boris puts his hand in his pocket and starts concentrating, his hand emerged bloody, and whips are spreading blood over the ground ahead of him. The grass starts to grow at a great speed, entangling Helen

                        Boris: Where did you take it!?
                        Hanson: Just tell him Helen.

                        Hanson bursts out, seeing the situation getting out of hand and trying his best to mediate.

                        Helen: It’s… It’s at my student accommodation.
                        Boris: Will you return it.
                        Helen: Yes. I will… It might take a few days.

                        Hanson looks confused by this.

                        Boris: Who are you? You weren’t trying to join our coven at all. Why did you come here?
                        Helen: I didn’t do anything.

                        Boris causes the grass to contort higher up her body, hurting her.

                        Boris: Tell me now. What are you doing here.
                        Hanson: She’s trying to find out more about what happened to her parents. She thinks you may have had something to do with it.
                        Helen: You killed them with that knife.
                        Boris: I’ve done no such thing.
                        Helen: Yes you have! I saw you, a man with a scar, up in North Whales.
                        Boris: Enough of this.

                        Boris causes thorns to grow out of the constricting grass vines, piercing Helen’s body, ripping her clothes, and causing a great deal of pain.

                        Helen: Tell me who you area!
                        Hanson: Stop this and talk to us.
                        Boris: She needs to tell us the truth.
                        Helen: I believe that she has, and she seems convinced that you had something to do with her parents deaths.
                        Boris: And you’re going to trust this thief? After all the lies she’s told?
                        Hanson: I want to get to the bottom of this.

                        Helen shakes her hand free of the grass vines and pulls out the letter she found in his bookcase, and showed it to Hanson, who took it to Helen.

                        Boris: Where did you get this.
                        Helen: From your bookcase.
                        Boris: …so… you were that little girl were you?
                        Helen: You…
                        Hanson: So you did kill them.
                        Boris: Those people, they would have killed us all given the chance, they were technocrats.
                        Helen: No. No they weren’t.
                        Boris: They were, and they caused a lot of pain.
                        Helen: You’re lying! My parents were good people!
                        Boris: They killed my family!
                        Helen: NO!

                        With her free arm, Helen pulled out her wand and casted spiral signs over the grass, causing thorned plants to ensnare Boris and rip against his flesh.
                        Seeing this, Hanson did his best to retrain her, but she did not stop. She started building another effect to ensnare, constrict, and stab Boris with any amount of greenery she could control. Seeing what she was doing, Boris prepared to counterspell, weakening the effect severely.

                        Hanson: Helen, stop. You’re going to escalate this to somewhere you don’t want to go. Stop this before you do something you regret.

                        Helen tried again while Hanson tried to calm her down with Mind, but had trouble getting past his own mental block. Helen unleashed another wave of thorns, and though Boris was able to deflect part of it, suffered a number of cuts. He steps forward and causes the thorned grass to constrict.

                        Boris: You are no longer welcome at the Keeper’s Chantry!

                        Helen passes out and falls limp to the ground. Boris walks up to Helen, puts his hands on her Tree necklace and dismisses the life pattern within it, turning it inert. He then prepares another effect.

                        Hanson: Boris, she’s incapacitated, it’s over.
                        Boris: She is the progeny of the progenitors!
                        Hanson: She’s not on their side.
                        Boris: She’s a deceiver, and shall be branded as such.
                        Hanson: Boris, let’s talk this out.
                        Boris: She will never deceive us again!

                        Hanson lifts his gun at him.

                        Hanson: I said, let’s talk this out.

                        Boris holds the effect.

                        Hanson: What happened to your family?
                        Boris: They took them, took them in for their experiments. When they were found, they were more machine than man. This is the greatest insult to us, to pervert their very bodies, force them to be trapped in these cold lifeless bodies. They did worse than kill them!
                        Hanson: She shouldn’t be blamed for this.
                        Boris: Her actions have spoken clear enough. And what of you? What makes you so certain you can side with her?
                        Hanson: One more question. Do you know a Sarah Phillips?
                        Boris: … You try to push away the question? We’re focusing on her, she’s the child of a progenitor, a she means nothing but harm.

                        While talking, Helen comes to and managed to heal herself before she faints again. She then points her wand at Boris.

                        Helen: Shut up!

                        Hanson holds up his gun again, ready as Helen and Boris look like they’re about to go at each other. But something hits Hanson from the back. It feels as though his body is being torn apart. He turns around and sees Zandros standing.

                        Zandros: Get away!
                        Boris: Alex! Wait!
                        Zandros: We have to get away from them!

                        Hanson aims to shoot, but is hit again by this life wrenching pain before he has a chance to pull the trigger. Boris gets up and escapes with Zandros into the woods. Helen gets up and starts to go after them, but Hanson stops her.

                        Hanson: Helen, No! They are very powerful mages, and we are hurt.

                        Helen looks into the darkness, and her rage starts to fade into confusion. At some point during the commotion, Boris unleashed his branding effect on the ground. Etched into the earth is the runic symbol of the traitor. They talk for a bit.

                        Hanson: You ok?
                        Helen: I don’t know… My parents weren’t technocrats, they weren’t.
                        Hanson: That dagger, why did you take it?
                        Helen: It’s evidence, it proves he killed my parents…
                        Hanson: And where is it now?
                        Helen: I can’t say…
                        Hanson: Helen. Talk to me.
                        Helen: I need some time…

                        Hanson can see that she is not in a good place right now, and lets up on the questions. They walk towards the node together. The air is wild, but Hanson and Helen can both sense a change, as though its power was somehow muted. Helen tended to Hanson’s wounds, and gathered some herbs to do what she had done before, made him unable to feel the pain. Hanson felt relieved and clear headed, and then recalled the house.

                        Hanson: Helen, I’m going to check out the house we saw on the way.
                        Helen: Ok, I’ll join you in a bit, I need some time to think.

                        Hanson left as Helen sat on the field in the node. She wondered how much she really knew about her parents, and whether there was more to this than she first understood. She looks about for any wild plants and uses them to heal her wounds and suffers a minor paradox backlash which stiffens her joints slightly. She falls back into quiet contemplation, which gives way to meditation as she tries to relax and regain composure while imbuing her avatar with some of the node’s energy.

                        Hanson finds the House after some searching. The closer he gets to it, the more foreboding the atmosphere becomes. The moon is full and light floods almost everywhere, but seems to darken as he approaches the building. The grass around the house is grey, with all life seemingly drained from it. As he nears the wall, he starts to hear something. He gets his hipflask, dangerously low on alcohol, and takes out his notepad to create his filtered sound effect, amplifying anything people say. He can hear two people within the house, one is cowering while the other if coughing.

                        Hanson walks around the perimeter towards the front door, where yet more grey lifeless grass lies between the building and the well. He walks towards it cautiously and starts to get the strange urge to jump inside it. He inches closer but then fights the urge and retreats, never going near the well again.

                        As he approaches the door, he can sense a very Otherworldly resonance. Edwin is here. Hanson looks down at his hands for any sign of transformation. They see paler than usual, but he cannot tell if this is the moonlight’s doing or not. However, he is reassured by the lack of scales.

                        Hanson thinks for a moment. He doesn’t want to screw this up. Edwin thinks he’s stuck as a Lovecraft character, that means if he wants to get through to him, he needs to become a character in his world too.

                        Hanson: FBI, This is Inspector Joe Hanson. Open Up!

                        Hanson barges at the door and knocks his way in. He first sees a many siting in a chair with grey skin, covered in welts, boils, and blisters, his flesh appearing decayed and hanging of his bones, and his entire body contorted as though bowing under the weight of his own existence. The second thing he sees is a figure rush upstairs. Thinking it’s Edwin, he rushes up in pursuit, and sure enough sees him cowering in the corridor of the next floor.

                        Hanson: Edwin Phillips?
                        Edwin: Wha…what’s going on?
                        Hanson: Do you know a Ms Sarah Phillips. I’m working with her to find you.
                        Edwin: It’s not safe here. It’s not safe.
                        Hanson: What happened?
                        Edwin: There… There was a meteorite. A meteor crashed, it drains life, it drains your essence. The well. The Well!
                        Hanson: Calm down, I can help you.

                        Hanson can hear a knock at the door, followed by people coming entering. His specialised hearing effect was still active, and he could make out the voices of Lance and Hector.

                        Hanson: Edwin, be very quiet…

                        Edwin dives into one of the rooms nearby, Hanson runs into action and tries to open a window at the end of the hall, he only just manages to loosen the latch and pull the window open when he hears a gun getting cocked.

                        Hector: Stop… Turn around slowly.

                        Hanson complies and turns to face Hector.

                        Hector: Hanson, I’m sure you remember who I am.
                        Hanson: Hector, is it?
                        Hector: I wouldn’t recommend running, I’m sure you can recall how good a shot I am.
                        Hanson: Yes, I can recall the last time we met, when you tried to execute me.
                        Hector: And when you threw fire at me. Do you know how easy it would be to pull the trigger now?

                        There is a tense moment of silence. Hanson noted the unnatural precision of his stance.

                        Hector: So, Are you going to come with us quietly, or are we taking you?
                        Hanson: It’s not safe here, you know. A meteor might land on us any second.
                        Hector: Oh really? Our sensors didn’t pick up anything like that.
                        Hanson: Your sensors can detect people’s mindscapes then?
                        Hector: Whatever your imagination can conjure up, we’ll be able to handle.
                        Hanson: What are you saying?
                        Hector: At almost every site of dimeniosnal abnormality, you’ve been there. Either there’s been footage, or people have seen you, but you’re never far… Isn’t that interesting.
                        Hanson: You think I’m behind this…. You have no idea what’s going on here at all.
                        Hector: Come with us, and you can set the record straight.

                        Edwin cries out “We have to leave here” in terror, Hector looks behind him, and Hanson takes this opportunity to make a run and jump through the window.

                        Moments earlier, Helen arrives at the house. She finished meditating and wanted to know what Hanson had found, she sneaked around in the darkness, though the moonlight made it difficult to hide. A man in a suit was standing with a flashlight. Helen tried to edge closer, but the suited man instantly spotted her. The stand and stare at each other for a while, neither one sure on how to proceed.

                        Lance: Who are you?
                        Helen: I’m, just looking for my friend.
                        Lance: Your friend? Who’s that.
                        Helen: Oh… he’s just, someone.

                        Hanson jumps out of the window and manages to land without injury.

                        Hanson: We got to leave. A meteor or something is coming in.
                        Lance: I know things seem scary right now, but stay with us, we have people who can help with your condition.

                        Hanson is somewhat bemused by this, but hasn’t long to dwell on it as a searing pain in his leg becomes the main focus of his attention. He had just been shot. He looked up and saw Hector from the window, who summersaulted out of and landed perfectly on the ground.
                        As Hector approached the three of them, the ground began to shake, and they all began to transform, the colour draining from their bodies. Edwin called out has he exited the building. “Leave now! It’s going to leave the well!”

                        Freaked out, Lance and Hector started to escape, hampered by their new forms. Hanson saw Helen was lagging behind, and grabbed her hand and pulled her along. They were only able to get so far when a great plume of colour erupted from the well, reaching a great height. Hanson and Helen looked on as the image, at once both spectacular and deeply horrifying, began to fade into nothingness.

                        Lance: Hey, Stop!

                        Hanson turned around and saw the technocrats had doubled back and were now chasing them. Helen drew her wand and managed to cloak themselves in an envelope of darkness. Hanson worked on creating a slipstream for them to run through, making it all the easier to escape.

                        Hector: You can’t run for long Hanson! We know where you live, We’ll find you!

                        Hanson and Helen ran in their shroud of darkness, only vaguely aware of what was ahead of them. Hanson used his Danger Sense, and Helen the warmth of her Bracelet to avoid running into anything that may harm them. When her bracelet was cold and his sense down to background levels, Helen dismissed the effect. They found themselves in a residential road, not far from the Heath. Hanson put up his Perception Filter, and ensured Helen that they could walk without fear of being noticed.

                        The two of them are riding on the tube, silent. Hanson was thinking over what had just happened. He had come so close to reaching out to Edwin, he didn’t change, he was able to exchange words, and then these guys come and ruin it… Helen on the other hand was still concerned about what had happened with Boris. She wouldn’t be able to return to the keepers now, and if she did, how long would she be safe there. There was only one thing she could do, she’d have to return the dagger. Eve probably still has it.

                        Hanson: Helen, are you going to tell me why you stole their dagger?

                        This question jolted her out of her train of thought.

                        Helen: Uh, it’s evidence for my parents murder.
                        Hanson: Is that all that’s going on?
                        Helen: I… Yes…
                        Hanson: Helen…

                        Helen sees a message appear on her bracelet.

                        “Helen, We have to talk about this dagger. Come speak to me now.”

                        Helen: I… I have to go.
                        Hanson tries to get more out of her, but she leaves at the next stop. Hanson waits until he’s outside the range of his perception filter and tries to follow her.

                        [ST NOTE: What followed was a great number of contested dice rolls, where Helen tried to walk away from Hanson while Hanson pursued her. If he did lose sight of her, then he just used a few Entropy effects in order to find her again, and due to his Arcane and Perception Filter, was pretty difficult to notice. Helen’s player was not very receptive to this though. She knew Out of Character that Hanson was following Helen, and had a lot of trouble having Helen respond appropriately, making her do a bunch of things “Just in case” someone “might” be following. Eventually she just had to accept that Helen didn’t know she was being followed.]

                        Helen made a quick stop to her student accommodation to shower and change, her clothes still somewhat in tatters from the thorns. She noticed another message on her bracelet “It’s urgent, meet me now”. She rushed out of the filthy student halls and towards the university building where she knew Eve would be, Hanson following just out of sight. Helen entered a room and Hanson stayed behind, using his specialised hearing to listen out while noting down in his notepad anything he heard.

                        Eve: Helen, are you alright?
                        Helen: Yes… It’s been quite a day.
                        Eve: I’d like to ask you about this.

                        Eve shows her the dagger, encased.

                        Eve: Where did you get it?
                        Helen: I found it in the drawer of one of the Keepers, the high priest.
                        Eve: So it belongs to them.
                        Helen: Yes, and I need to return it, may I have it back?
                        Eve: I’m afraid not. I’ve had some people run a few checks on it. This dagger is a powerful artefact which enthused with the spheres of Life and Prime, allowing it to draw quintessence out of anything or anyone, hold it, and distribute it. No doubt it plays a role in their rituals. However, we’ve checked the object’s Vis Historiae and have found several concerning resonances held within it. This tool has been used to rend quintessence from people, unwilling people, a number of times. There is evidence here that this dagger has been used for some kind of murder ritual, perhaps even the work of the nephandi. You said in your report that you suspect their maiden is a Widderslainte.
                        Helen: Yes.
                        Eve: Is there anything you’d like to add?
                        Helen: I do, their high priest Boris, he seems to working with Zandros.
                        Eve: Isn’t this someone you identified as a Choristor?
                        Helen: I did, but I have to revise that. I think he too may be a nephandi.
                        Eve: So their High priest is assisting a nephandi, and may very well be a nephandi himself, if this is indeed his blade. While the high priestess is protecting a widderslainte…
                        Helen: I have a friend who was with me tonight. He was trying to help. He is a good man.
                        Eve: When did you meet this friend?
                        Helen: I met him the same day I met the others, I don’t think they are nephandic either, they are innocent.
                        Eve: This is the sort of thing that can be properly discussed at the Tribunal.
                        Helen: Eve, one more thing. Were my parents technocrats?
                        Eve: Helen… How many times do I have to tell you? Stay focused. You risked undermining all the work you’ve done!
                        Helen: I see...
                        Eve: Sorry. I don’t mean to be so stern. House Quaesitor are determined to learn of these Keeper’s activities. You’ve done very well to get this far and discover as much as you have so far, and I assure you this will not go unrewarded.
                        Helen: Thank you.
                        Eve: I need to ask you now, House Quaesitor are eager to begin proceedings. You said in your report that they spend a lot of time at Hampstead Heath. Is it likely they will return there?
                        Helen: Yes, it’s likely.
                        Eve: They intend to hold a stakeout, awaiting the next time the Keepers appear so they may be taken to the London Tribunal. But before this happens, I need to know what you think. Do you consider the evidence we have as sufficient, or is there still more that you think you could find with a bit more time?

                        Helen thought about this for a moment. She knew that she wouldn’t be able to return to the chantry, and that if there were nephandi in the group, they must be dealt with as soon as possible. But she also knew that the other mages she met may get caught up in this. Then she thought of Boris. If he were prosecuted, she might finally get some answers about what happened, or at the very least he’d get his just desserts…

                        Helen: Do the stakeout.
                        Eve: I’ll let them know.

                        Hanson had heard all of this. He was sure who House Quaesitor was, but was starting to realise that Helen had been hiding much more than he ever suspected. The London Tribunal was something we did know about though. A cross-traditions platform within London put in place to protect and oversee dangerous magical activity within London; managed jointly by members of the Order of Hermes, the Celestial Chorus, and the Euthanatos. They were several rungs bellow the Council of Nine, but claimed more authority that any one cabal or chantry did alone. Hanson intrinsically didn’t trust any group which claimed dominion of law over another, especially anyone Tradition over another. However, he did appreciated the dangers of a mage gone rogue, and the need of such institutions to maintain at least a level of safety. He would have to see how they would deal with this for himself...

                        Eve: What was the name of your firend?
                        Helen: Joe Hanson.

                        Hanson decided now was a very good time to leave.
                        Eve brought out a gyroscope, and spun upon a white sheet of paper, watching the shapes it traced out as it spun around the name Joe Hanson…
                        Eve: He’s not far from here… Perhaps you should talk to him. His testimony may be useful at the tribunal.

                        Hanson is on his way to the Keepers, he needs to clear something up with Vivian regarding Boris’s activity. If Vivian wasn’t aware of what Boris had been up to, or he was lying to her, then there was a good chance Boris had gone rogue or worse. Otherwise, he’d need to get to the bottom of what the Malady, Zandros, Boris, Vivian, Camellia connection was, and just how corrupted the lot of them actually were.

                        Helen called Hanson and told him a few things about the conversation between her and her mentor, explaining that there was going to be a tribunal though stopping shy of mentioning her real tradition. She invited him to stay in her student place, and while he appreciated the offer, Hanson declined still intent on speaking with Vivian.

                        Helen made her way to her flat alone. It would be the first time since she returned to London that she’d be staying there. She wondered cautiously about what she had just done, and whether it really was the right choice. The chance to bring justice to her parents, to expose fallen mages, and to finally rise to the fourth rank, all seemed so close, so within reach. But it felt all too delicate, as though suspended upon a string moments away from being cut.

                        For those wondering, today’s Lovecraft experience was brought to you by The Colour out of Space. I can’t tell you how long I’ve been waiting to use this story on Hampstead Heath in some way, if only just to satisfy the name.
                        Helen’s Player had quite a lot of trouble making decisions today. Each one took her several minutes of deliberation. Since it was only two players, it didn’t slow the game down too much, but it was still rather agonising to watch her call for Out of Character discussion on almost every point. It could simply be a lack of experience and she’ll improve in time. This is her first time playing a Table-top RPG after all. Before this, she’d been on computer games or consoles, so she’s probably used to having a lot of time to consider the pros and cons of each choice. That being said, she seemed to really enjoy her backstory becoming the focus of the plot this time around.

                        So, one more session to go before the break. I hope you’re all looking forward to it.

                        Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running FINALE: Chapter 39: Green Fairy


                        • #57
                          Session 14.1

                          Sorry about how late this one is. We had the session last Thursday, but one of our players had to leave just before the end. I was hoping I'd be able to get a time with both them and another to replay that last little bit and see if they'd change anything. But alas, their schedules did not mesh. Oh well.

                          Cast List

                          Aaron Gibson: Punk Hacker
                          Sean Heath: Templar Knight
                          Lydia: Moon Witch
                          Alfred Camlann: Excalibur Mage

                          Notable NPC's Include:

                          Vivian: High Priestess
                          Granny Elm; Crone
                          Camellia: Maiden
                          Kael: Talisman Crafter
                          Mica: Techno Witch

                          Lance Armstrong: R&E Scientist
                          Hector Howard: NSC Biomoded Cyborg.

                          Exarch Timothy Richmond: Master of the Light
                          Jeniffer Cromwell: Monist
                          Stephan Bates: Septarian
                          Joan Frank: Septarian

                          Malady: The Fallen Maiden
                          Rowan: A Sorcerer and Lydia's Student

                          ---CHAPTER 14b: THE BATTLE FOR HAMPSTEAD HEATH---

                          They stood on the penumbral path as Mica slowly tried to stand. She was hurt, a drop of blood fell from her cheek. A perfect orb which fell without haste, almost gliding as hung in time. Lydia rushed to heal her with a clear chant for aid from Luna. Though her wounds did start to fade, they did so at a much slower rate than she had expected. Aaron informed Lydia that she was probably in the midst of a paradox effect, and that the best thing they could do is get her somewhere safe to wait it out.

                          They looked around, both Helen and Hanson where gone, nowhere to be seen. Aaron reasoned that they would need to help Mica get back to the Chantry, and so they returned to the Common, and hoped that Helen and Hanson would be ok continuing along the path on their own. They worked together to help Mica return to the keepers, her speed only slightly improving by the time they arrived. Camellia brought her down to the node room to recover, while informing them that Vivian had returned.

                          Lydia sat in the kitchen, joined shortly by Alfred and Sean, while Aaron went down with Camellia so he could finally meet with Granny Elm.

                          Lydia: Hi Alfred! Where have you been?
                          Alfred: Lydia. We’ve been on quite the adventure.

                          Alfred recanted part of his tale of the Umbra, telling her of the Talons of Horus, the Surtur, the egg they had to retrieve.

                          Alfred: In total, I believe Sam stumbled across about three realms in the Umbra, and myself… four.
                          Lydia: That’s amazing!
                          Alfred: Oh, I also met a few Lunes.
                          Lydia: Did you like them?
                          Alfred: Well, I did, right up until they passed through me, shredding me a bit.
                          Lydia: You must have met them during the full moon… They can be like that sometimes. Next time just let me know and I can talk to them for you.
                          Alfred: I’ll bare that in mind.

                          Lydia then let Alfred know about her advancements in Life magic, that she gave herself wings for a short while, had learnt to heal others, and was able to visit her uncle by stone hedge.
                          Alfred quickly checks his phone and can find several missed messages from a withheld numbers.

                          Aaron stepped into Granny Elms room. As she had done with all the others, she stared forward, not quite looking at him as he entered.

                          GE: So, you’ve finally arrived.
                          Aaron: Yeah…
                          GE: Tell me, how have you found your time with the Keepers?
                          Aaron: It’s been alright I guess. Most people seem friendly. Though I’ve had a little trouble with this down here (he holds up his phone) so that’s a problem.
                          GE: Ah yes… Your machines.
                          Aaron: Hey, I don’t complain about how you guys do stuff.

                          Granny Elm starts to take her cards in hand and begins to shuffle through them.

                          GE: Tell me, what do you think about fate?
                          Aaron: Ah, it’s going to be one of those discussions… I don’t really think I buy in to the whole idea of fate. A lot of things happen and they’re based on all kinds of different things. Really it just comes down to chaos.
                          GE: Chaos…
                          Aaron: Yeah, so many things are happening at once it’s not really possible to know exactly what will affect what.
                          GE: You say all is chaos, and yet you rely on such ordered machines…
                          Aaron: Well, yeah, but it’s a little different.
                          GE: Is it? Even within chaos, patterns can be seen when searched for, can they not? And such patterns can allow for moments of order. This is what I wish to provide for you, a glimpse into these moments of order.

                          She lays out her cards in the same pattern and prepares her reading.

                          [1] [2] [3] [4]


                          .....[8] [7] [6]

                          1: The self. It is THE MAGE.
                          GE: The man seen here has the fabric of reality at his fingertips. Their tools are many and varied, and include their fair share of machines. However, while he may seem accomplished and able, he is still at the beginning of his journey.

                          2: What you were. It is PAGE OF PATTERN REVERSED (Coins).
                          GE: The page stands amidst a distant scene of wonder and curiosity, it depicts a youth who is only barely aware of the reality they have found. The reversed meaning demonstrates complacency with this insight. It may mean that at one point you were without direction, uncertain on how to use what they had learned.

                          3: How you developed. It is FIVE OF QUESTING (Wands).
                          GE: We see five people all looking in different directions, perhaps in search of something. I notice a great deal of technology in this scene, perhaps you know these people.
                          Aaron: Maybe…
                          GE: The meaning of the card is one of difficulty, an event of strife. It may mean that this moment the darkness surrounded imposing shadows and hidden monsters gave you a sliver of clarity, and while help was at hand, you were able to gain realisation.

                          4: Your avatar's will. It is THE TOWER.
                          Aaron: Quick question. What exactly is an Avatar?
                          GE: The Avatar is a powerful force of will, we consider it to be the spiritual embodiment of magic itself, and a force which acts to guide you.
                          Aaron: Right, I don’t think I have one of those.
                          GE: You do, we all do, though some may not be as blatant as others.
                          Aaron: Hmm.
                          GE: This card demonstrates a force of breaking down that which we are accustomed to. Symbolically it may refer to acts of arrogance, or assurance of what one has been taught or decided for oneself. It may indicate that within you is a desire to tear down at the systems built into accepted normality.

                          Aaron thought about his previous Seeking, that strange dream in the maze. He felt as though he was starting to get a better idea of what was expected of him.

                          5: Your Future. It is EIGHT OF QUESTING (Wands).
                          GE: The figure rises ever closer to the heavens. This is a card of progress, of triumph. It may indicate a period of success towards your goals. Whether this is in dismantling what has been set up, or in your continued search for a path, or a yet unstated goal is difficult to tell for now.

                          6: What you desire. It is FOUR OF PATTERN (Coins).
                          GE: This card can demonstrate power, a point of clarity and understanding. The figure sits and the centre, surrounded by cosmic points. Perhaps you desire to reach this state of understanding from the information you tear against. The previous card may tell that your road to this understanding is more at hand than you realise.

                          7: What can help you. It is KNIGHT OF QUESTING (Wands).
                          GE: Haste and quick action. The Knight of Questing follows through on its tasks. This may represent a specific person from whom you can learn from, or a proper frame of mind, but haste will be your ally in either event. A quick rise or a sudden strike may be of use to you.

                          8: What you dread. It is ACE OF PATTERN REVERSED (Coins)
                          GE: An iron fist take grabs hold of something valuable, perhaps the thing you have been searching for. While this card usually demonstrates success and a wealth of resources, its reversed meaning speaks more of corruption. One interpretation points to a fear of becoming corrupted by material gain or an increase in power, or perhaps you dread being influenced by those who have ill intent. A more literal interpretation could be that of the technocracy threatening to take away what is important to you.

                          9: What can harm you. It is TEN OF PATTERN (Coins).
                          GE: This card depicts stability, wealth and power at its peak. A group of people in a position of far reaching influence; if what you dread is indeed the reach of the technocracy, then perhaps your fears are founded. It may be that these are the systems your avatar urges you to tear down.
                          Aaron: Hm…
                          GE: The reading seems quite vague so far. That can be the case, the final card may be enough to provide some context towards what your fate contains.

                          10: The Unexpected. It is THE STAR.
                          GE: The star has many interpretations. At once it is a symbol of hope, of hidden insight, and of guidance. It may also depict a part of the umbra, perhaps the Astral Realm…
                          Aaron: The Astral Realm…
                          GE: Now that I see this, I notice how often the Star appears depicted in the cards that come before it. In your past the stars are all above you, and you lie overwhelmed by their spectacle, yet now the stars float above you as you assume your role as Mage. In your future you shall propel yourself up towards the stars in order to attain your desire, understanding of their position and place, while the knight travels along the path the star provides. While you yourself are searching for this Star, this insight, you dread the thought that others may take it from you and perhaps there is reason, for once they do they shall use it for their own ends to your own detriment. Notice how in both cards, the star is under control of an iron fist, and adorned upon those who have snatched it, leaving not a single light in the sky.

                          Granny Elm finishes her reading, leaving the cards out for a moment.

                          Aaron: Well…. You know that feeling where something is staring you right in the face, and you just can’t figure out what it is?
                          GE: Fortunes can be cryptic, but once you see beyond your assumptions, its insight can be invaluable.

                          Aaron stared at the cards, and then thought back to the prophecy Lydia had shared with him. “Three men, Profit, Fear, and Charting stand in search of the star for control, utility, or understanding. The bearer may decide on whom the star shall sit. Its secrets must be learnt within the astral realm before the death spiral is complete.”
                          Did this have something to do with the Ester file? Are the technocracy trying to get it?

                          Aaron thanked Granny Elm, who let him know that he was always welcome to return for a consultation. He left still feeling only just a little bit out of his depth. He joined the rest of the group upstairs just as they had started to discuss the letter Alfred had found in Boris’s study, the one which spoke about the concerns over the covern maiden, and how a widderslainte should be dealt with.

                          [ST NOTE: Granny Elm knows she has to be cautious with Aaron. He was more likely than most to be sceptical of her motives. She decided to turn his reading into a Technocracy centred puzzle to keep him busy. This reading was heavily based on the Ester File. I’m still trying to figure out what it actually is myself, and whether or not it’s something Granny Elm would have an interest in if she ever became aware of it. I have a lot of ideas for what it can turn out to be, but I’m still trying to hammer it out into something solid.]

                          Aaron: So is Camellia a Widderslainte?
                          Alfred: When it says the Coven Maiden, it could mean Camellia. I believe that this letter was written by my grandfather, he knows a few people in the Keepers. The last time he’s had any contact with them was about a year ago. That’s back when Melonie was still the Coven Maiden.
                          Lydia: Who’s Melonie?
                          Alfred: She’s also called Malady.
                          Aaron: Oh yeah… The Bitch.
                          Lydia: Is she really that bad?
                          Aaron: Yes.
                          Lydia: She was a bit weird when I met her, but didn’t really do anything too bad. You sure you didn’t upset her?
                          Alfred: She broke Aaron’s laptop…
                          Lydia: ok?
                          Alfred: So this letter may mean that Melonie is a widderslainte, and the Keepers have been trying to figure out what to do with her.
                          Aaron: Well, dealing with nephandi is always bad news.
                          Lydia: What’s the problem?
                          Alfred: If she’s a Widderslainte, that means she’s born with an inverted avatar, she may not have been a nephandus from the start, but according to this letter, those who are born this way seldom escape this path.
                          Lydia: So it’s not really her fault then.
                          Aaron: No, she was born evil, but that still means she’s evil.
                          Lydia: Maybe she’s not though, maybe they just have a different point of view.
                          Aaron: Why are you trying to defend a Nephandi!?
                          Lydia: Because we can’t all choose how our avatar behaves, can we Alfred?
                          Alfred: No… No we can’t.
                          Lydia: I’m sure we can all relate to how it feels when our avatar pushes us towards things we don’t want to do.
                          Alfred: Yes…quite.

                          Vivian arrives and informs them of the break in that happened not long ago. Suspicion falls briefly on Helen, but the group doesn’t dwell on it longer enough to make any real accusations. Vivian tells them that she will be running her Open Circle tonight. A meeting where sleepers are invited to join in and take part in the arts the Verbena practice and where they may teach their stories and legends. This serves a dual purpose of keeping their ways alive within the heart of the city as well as casting a wide net which may encourage the newly awakened and sorcerers alike towards the Verbena way of magic. The group agree to travel with them to the circle, and Lydia agrees to the request to teach.

                          Alfred’s phone rings. Another withheld number. He tentatively answers it.

                          Lance: Alfred! Where have you been?
                          Alfred: I’ve been away.
                          Lance: Where?
                          Alfred: In the world of the spirits.
                          Lance: Well, wherever you were, we’ve been trying to call you for days. There’s been a lot of activity since you left, a couple more breaks in the dimensional barrier, and a lot of activity going on at Hampstead Heath.
                          Alfred: At Hampstead Heath?
                          Lance: Yes. We’ve had a report of a house and a well suddenly appearing on the Heath, and we’re going to check it out. We have a feeling it might be this marauder you told us about.
                          Alfred: Right, if that’s the case, then it’s probably something from Lovecraft, you know the author?
                          Lance: Never got around to reading it. Anything else you can tell us?
                          Alfred: I’ll… I’ll come over.
                          Lance: Right, see you there.

                          Alfred excuses himself, explaining he may know where Edwin was likely to be, and wanted to go and find him. Sean and Aaron both knew who the call was from, and Sean agreed to go with him while Aaron would watch him from his laptop with the others, intervening if things get difficult.
                          The open circle was in a small rented space in the middle of London. All of the Keepers except Boris had come along with Lydia, Alfred, and Aaron. Aaron got comfy at the back finding a wifi spot while Alfred and Lydia helps out with preparations. Sleepers are already starting to enter the seminar room, one of whom approaches Lydia.

                          Woman: Oh Hey! I know you!
                          Lydia: You do?
                          Woman: Yeah! At the protest! We shared a police car.
                          Lydia: Oh yes… What are you doing here?
                          Woman: What am I doing here? This is where you get this wicked jewellery isn’t it? And yeah, I’m also hear for the vibes, get my mind in tune with the universe, all that stuff. You too?
                          Lydia: ….Yeah, of course, vibes, definitely.

                          Lydia couldn’t get away from her quick enough. She tried to keep herself busy setting up but it wasn’t long until someone else recognised her. One of her old London based students.

                          Rowan: Lydia! You made it!
                          Lydia: Hello Rowan! I didn’t know you were here too.
                          Rowan: I’ve been coming here every time they’ve done one of these for a while now. It’s not always the same people, Vivian sometimes isn’t here, and then a while ago a bunch of people left, but it’s ok. Are you teaching?
                          Lydia: I will do, a little bit. What have you been up to?
                          Rowan: I’ve been studying the Path of Fortune a bit, Granny Elm really has been helping me hone my skills. Perhaps I might get as good at changing fate as you one day.
                          Lydia: Well, good luck with it.
                          Rowan: Thanks.

                          Vivian got everyone’s attention, and began to speak a bit on the Umbra.

                          [ST NOTE: This was a chance for me to speak directly to the players through Vivian and explain to them a few aspects of the Umbra, one of the most confusing subjects for mages within the WoD. I briefly went described the Astral and Dark umbra since Vivian wouldn’t know much about those, and focused a bit more on the Spirit Wilds and how it differed from the penumbra, even going so far as to list the variety of spirits and their various associations. Vivian presented the relationship between the umbra and the mundane world of one being the reflected shadow of the other, but which was reality and which was the shadow was not something that could possibly be known].

                          Alfred and Sean made their way to the Heath. As they approached, they saw a great plume of colour rise to a great height. Thinking it may have something to do with Edwin, they rushed towards it just as it began to fade away, in its place, Alfred could feel the gauntlet had been twisted and stretched an unbelievable amount. A few gun shots were heard, and before them a patch of darkness started moving away. Sean quickly recognised it as a magical effect rife with prime. Alfred tried to read its resonance, and saw a few. Static Constant, Static Controlled, Dynamic Shifting, and Entropic Darkening. Following the darkness in hot pursuit were Lance and Hector. Hector was much faster but had trouble aiming through the darkness. As the patch ran out of view, Alfred could hear him call out “We know where you live Hanson!”

                          Sean hid behind a bush before the technocrats returned, seeing Alfred an approaching him.

                          Lance: Ah, Alfred.
                          Alfred: Lance, what did I miss?
                          Lance: I believe this was the marauder friend you told us about.
                          Alfred: friend?
                          Hector: Hanson, he was just here.
                          Alfred: Hanson isn’t a marauder.
                          Lance: Are you sure about that?
                          Alfred: Quite sure.

                          Lance recounted a bit of what happened before the illusion faded, but something distracted Alfred. He could feel the gauntlet getting stretched by some spiritual presence.

                          Alfred: Not to interrupt, but I think the gauntlet might be about to rip open.

                          Lance checked his devices.

                          Lance: Yes… The there is a lot of fluctuation in the dimensional energies…
                          Alfred: Do you have anything that can close it?
                          Hector: Not with us.
                          Lance: We usually don’t carry the heavy equipment unless we know we need it.

                          Hector starts making a call requesting people come to the Heath with equipment, while Alfred takes matters into his own hands. He works hard to try and strengthen the gauntlet with a great deal of rhythmic chanting and prayer. The gauntlet is pulled in and out, and just as it threatens to burst, it pushes back, holding fast and closed. Alfred gets a brief vision, a blink of a great creature, part dog part bear, with great teeth and a vicious look on its face. It lasts for little more than a second before passing, but the scene sticks in his mind.

                          Lance: Cancel that call Hector, it seems to have stabilised.
                          Alfred: Yes, you can thank me for that.
                          Lance: Thank you? Why? What have you done?
                          Alfred: I kept the gauntlet secure.
                          Lance: I don’t think you did. Sometimes these things sort themselves out. The fluctuation must have been temporary eddies in the fields.

                          Hector takes Lance a side and tells him something while Alfred broods a bit from having his hard work diminished.

                          Hector: We’ll need to search the area for the marauder.
                          Alfred: Yes, good idea.
                          Hector: Let us know if you find him.
                          Alfred: Will do, and you might want to read Lovecraft, just to know what you’re up against.
                          Lance: Certainly. Anyway, you should probably get going. We’ve heard that a team from the progenitors is due to arrive here. Something about a number of Verbena who attacked them while they were working.
                          Alfred: Oh…
                          Lance: Yeah, you wouldn’t want to get caught up in that. They might think you were involved with it.
                          Alfred: Yeah… That would be best avoided…

                          Lance and Hector head off into the woods vaguely in the direction they think Edwin went. Alfred waited until they were out of sight and then walked over to where Sean was hiding. They decided to go towards Boudicca’s mound and look out for any sign of progenitor activity. They waited, and saw a familiar van appear, with a number of people piling out of it. The progenitors had arrived.

                          The lectures at the Open Circle had finished, and Vivian was now leading everyone except Aaron on a guided meditation. Aaron had heard everything that happened. He quietly tried to pull Vivian away and inform her of the oncoming Progenitors. She quickly ended the meditation, concluded the meeting as quick as she could and tried to get the other sleepers out without causing a fuss.

                          Aaron began to set up a Correspondence effect to teleport as many people as he could. It would be himself, Lydia, Vivian, Camellia, Kael, and Mica. Granny Elm stated she would return to the Chantry and keep a watch over it. The way I’ve set it up is he’d need to get an extra success for every additional person he’d want to take along with him. Aaron dove into his programmes and started searching for the correct coordinates of Alfred and Sean’s location. He got to work and within minutes he was able to create a new directory in space which should relocate their position. However, as he started to input the positions of those around him, it started to get far too difficult to continue without risking a botch. As it stood, he would only be able to bring three additional people with him. He chose Lydia, Vivian, and Camellia. Mica and Kael would have to make their own way.

                          [ST NOTE: I had plans for how each of the Keepers would contribute the progenitor battle. Had Mica arrived, I would have had her speed everyone up with Time, allowing them to take on a lot more at once, and had Kael arrived, he would have been able to assist with defending the node directly via Prime.]

                          The world warped around them, as though they were traveling through a series of tubes. Lydia had never experienced anything like this. They were pulled through a long narrow space, at the far end an image of the heath came hurtling towards them, hitting them into place; the night sky snapping into view, the textures of the grass and trees popping up a second later. They were now all standing around Alfred. All except for Aaron, who suffered a paradox backlash partway through the effect, and was now nowhere to be seen.

                          The progenitors seemed to be heading towards the lakes. After some discussion they decided on a plan of action. Vivian and Camellia would go towards the ponds and deal with them directly. Alfred and Sean would head towards the node, and traverse to the ponds from there. Lydia would look for Aaron.

                          Vivian and Camellia rushed off, but before the others got a chance to disperse, two men in white shirts and ties approached. Their features, their mannerisms, even the way they walked were strikingly similar. As they approached the three of them, Sean made a run for it, immediately attracting their attention. One ran to him while the other walked to Alfred.

                          Man: Identify yourselves.
                          Alfred: We are not a threat.
                          Man: (scanning his face with VDAS) Identified as threat. Dangerous. (draws out a gun)
                          Alfred: Wait, I have an alliance with the Technocracy, I’m helping them out.
                          Man: (scanning) No such record found.

                          Alfred recalled that Aaron had managed to get record cleared, but this was before he almost squeezed a progenitor to death.

                          Sean dove to the ground as the second man shot. The first took a shot at Alfred, getting him in the shoulder. Lydia, seeing how dangerous these people were, starting building an effect to encourage the plant life around to grow into a mighty tree just under their feet. Alfred kept up his attempts at dodging, but was badly wounded for his efforts. The man walked up to him slowly with gun in hand, and Lydia released her effect.
                          A small tree sprouted from the ground roughly eight or nine feet tall. The man hoisted up and caught in its branches, giving Sean a vital moment to heal.
                          Sean, was fairing a little better, even able to sink a couple of shots in while avoiding fire himself. Lydia, encouraged by the power she felt from the full moon, ran off to try the same tree trick on the other guy.
                          Alfred looked up at his assailant. Though caught in the branches, he seemed to shake them off with little trouble. Alfred to the base, cutting his hand and grabbing hold of the bark, speaking in rhyme as he squeezed the tree and encouraged it to hold him in place. The branches twisted and folded in on the man as he tried to wrench himself free. “Oh, you want to get down do you?” He called out “Let me help you that”. He struck a song out and the tree began to shudder and move, smacking the man against the ground several times.
                          Sean attacked his man, now also in a tree, trying to aim at his hand to get him to drop the gun. Seeing that no one was in danger now. Lydia made her exit, casting entropy to try and figure out where Aaron might be, leaving a trail of growing plants and mushrooms with every step.
                          While the man struggled, Sean used this time to strengthen his clothing with a prayer, then landed a few shots before running off to Alfred to strengthen his clothes. Alfred’s man had finally wriggled free and was now approaching him with his gun. Alfred tried to push an emotion burst on him, harming him with Mind, and it did the trick. The Man clutched his head and screamed as his very being began to burst into a black mist. While the other man was after the pair of them, Sean turned and fired a shot straight at his head. The second man started to dissolve as the first had done. No part of their bodies remained left as they dispersed into the night. Alfred stood there with a look of abject horror and total confusion. “What the hell where these things?”

                          Aaron was in great pain. His effect had stretched him between the two locations like a rubber band, and the burn had left him crippled on the ground. He wasn’t too certain where he was, but he knew he was at the base of a tree. He could see the glow of his laptop coming from somewhere in its branches, just out of view. Taking out his phone, we did a quick check on exactly where he was. Still on the Heath, not far from where he was supposed to be. Relieved, he lay back on the ground, far too hurt to get up. Beneath him he noticed a strange rune like mark etched into the soil. He would have queried over it longer, but something caught his attention. A noise of someone coming out of the ground, then a familiar voice.

                          Malady: Having trouble, are you?
                          Aaron: You!? Oh no…
                          Malady: You never were any good with your little toys, were you.
                          Aaron: This really is not a good time.

                          Malady laughs at this, very much enjoying his discomfort.

                          Malady: Need some help?
                          Aaron: No! And certainly not from you!
                          Malady: So you’re just going to lie here?
                          Aaron: Sure.
                          Malady: Suit yourself. If you’re not going anywhere, there’s a friend of mine who’d be interested in meeting you.

                          She walks off just as Lydia finds Aaron.

                          Aaron: Lydia!
                          Lydia: There you are! Hold still.

                          Lydia scribbles a couple of runes before him and heals him back to health, though paradox weighs heavily on her and in exchange for his health, she falls weak to the ground, growing pale and cold.

                          Aaron: Lydia, Malady is here, and she’s got a friend.
                          Lydia: Oh… We should probably tell the others. But I think I need a moment.
                          Aaron: Sure, I need to get my laptop anyway.

                          While Lydia rests, Aaron gets to work climbing the tree and finding his computer amongst the branches. Back on the ground, Lydia hears a strange rustling. She tries to sense for life and spirits, and sees a strange creature approaching her, dark and huge, with great snarling teeth, it draws near breathing audibly with every step. As it gets near her, Lydia can hear it call to her. “What do you hate?” It asks, with vicious intent. Lydia responds as truthfully and as literally as she can. “Nothing.” “What do you hate!?” It asks again, slightly more angrily. “I do not hate!”.
                          Aaron grabs hold of his laptop, and drops to the ground, just as he notices this thing drawing nearer and nearer to Lydia. “Nope! Not dealing with this today!”. He quickly punches in Alfred’s coordinates and teleports the two of them out of there, just before the creature lunges to bite at Lydia.

                          Lydia starts to perk up a bit once they arrive, both Alfred and Sean look aghast at the lack of remains of their attackers.

                          Aaron: Guys, Malady is here! And there are some kind of monsters on the Heath. What happened here?

                          They recount a few of the details to what they just fought. Aaron remembers a few things he’s found out while snooping around Technocractic files.

                          Aaron: They might have been Clones. Progenitors make these guys and use them to do their heavy lifting.
                          Lydia: So they’re alive?
                          Aaron: Kinda. They live, but the crude ones don’t really have a long life span, and once they reach their end, they just die.

                          They decide to make their way to the Node as soon as possible to aid Vivian. Alfred sets up a mental link between the four of them, allowing the communicate discreetly so long as they stay close to him. As they get to the node, however, they see something unexpected.

                          A great group of people in robes stand around the centre of the node’s field, all of them chanting songs not dissimilar that sung to Gregorian monks. Of the group, they could recognise Stephan and Jenifer leading the chants, holding a crucifix.

                          Aaron: Choristers…
                          Lydia: Here? Why?
                          Sean: They’ve come to drain the node.
                          Alfred: No, we can’t let them.
                          Aaron: How are we going to stop them?
                          Alfred: Sam, go talk to them.

                          Sean got up and walked over to Joan, who stood on look out, not directly partaking in the ritual herself.

                          Joan: What are you doing here?
                          Sean: I’ve… I’ve come to ask what’s going on.
                          Joan: We’re draining the node, Have you come to aid us?
                          Sean: …yes.
                          Joan: Good, make sure those pagans don’t bother us while we do this.
                          Sean: Of course.

                          Sean returns to the group.

                          Sean: Well, I tried.
                          Alfred: And they’re not stopping.
                          Aaron: Is this really our biggest concern right now?
                          Alfred: The Heath is falling to corruption. This node’s power might be the only thing keeping it alive. If Melonie’s got monsters out here, we can’t afford to lose it.
                          Lydia: Maybe if we just explained that to them, they will stop.

                          Alfred stood up and spoke.

                          Alfred: Excuse me.
                          Joan: What are you doing here?
                          Alfred: I am sworn to protect this node.
                          Joan: It’s power is being protected. Don’t worry about that.
                          Alfred: The spirits here can feel the push of the Wyrm. Without this nodes energy, they may succumb to a worse fate, and with it the entire Heath may fall.
                          Joan: Sure…
                          Alfred: The progenitors are coming, as are dark creatures.
                          Joan: Then you should focus your attentions on making sure they don’t disrupt our ritual.
                          Alfred: And the Node?
                          Joan: This ritual shall protect the divine essence from these beings.
                          Lydia: By putting it in a cross?
                          Joan: Once it’s in our control, we can see to it that it is not used for ill.
                          Alfred: You don’t understand, this land needs that quintessence.
                          Joan: Pagans…

                          The discussion goes on like this for a while with a lot of angry words and plenty a Charisma roll, Alfred and Lydia do most of the talking while Aaron sits back, not wanting to mess up the diplomacy. They make some headway, while in the distance, a storm starts to form.

                          Alfred: Do you promise that you will return it to this site.
                          Joan: Provided that you protect the ritual from any intrusions.
                          Alfred: Swear it.
                          Joan: What?
                          Alfred: Swear on your god that you will return this power.
                          Joan: Fine. I swear in the presence of the One that this essence shall be returned once all threats are gone.

                          Behind them, they notice a number of Clones, three in total, marching towards them from beyond the trees. Sean and Aaron get into position and start to fire a volley of bullets in their direction. Alfred assists with more emotion bursts, proving to be remarkably effective. One of the clones shoots at Aaron, harming him significantly. As they fire again, Sean jumps infront of him, absorbing the bullet with his hardened clothing, and finishing the clone off with a well timed shot.
                          While this is happening, Lydia is preparing an Entropy effect to disrupt the ritual subtly. A gust of wind blows over both Stephan and Jenifer, but miraculously they are able to keep their concentration, and the ritual holds.
                          Lydia returns and heals Aaron while Alfred tends to himself. During the quiet lull in battle, another figure approaches wearing white robes. Sean recognises him as Exarch Timothy Richmond. Joan goes to speak with him.

                          Exarch: Your service is no longer required. The Chorus can deal with the node by ourselves.
                          Alfred: I am not leaving. I am sworn to protect this node and the spirits it holds.
                          Exarch: Spirits… Whatever your problems, settle them once we are finished.
                          Alfred: If you drain the node, there may be a great demonic force that will no longer be kept away.
                          Exarch: Then we shall deal with the demons after we have made safe this divine essence. Now, if you’re intent on staying here, make sure the ritual is protected.

                          Leaving Alfred to fume, the Exarch takes Sean aside.

                          Exarch: You’re the Knight I met just over a week ago, yes?
                          Sean: Yes, sir.
                          Exarch: Keep an eye on these ones. If they try to disturb the ritual in any way, shoot them.

                          Sean does not transmit this information across, and instead resumes a post looking out from the trees. The rest communicate telepathically.

                          Lydia: We need to find a way to stop them, the Node’s starting to get weak.
                          Alfred: I’m not sure how. Perhaps we can distract them.
                          Aaron: I don’t think we can afford to fight both the Choristers and the Progenitors, especially if there are weird nephandic dogs running around.
                          Alfred: If the ritual fails, the quintessence stays where it is. Perhaps we can try something…

                          Before this thought could be concluded, another wave of Clones arrive, Lydia starts scribbling runes to try and manipulate the fate of the bullets to miss Aaron. Sean and Aaron continue to exchange bullets and miss a great deal while Alfred continues with his emotion burst. Aaron sensed that more were coming from a different side, where the ponds were, and Sean rushed into action to await them. Lydia began enchanting the grass beneath the last Clone standing to entrap him in a entanglement of roots.

                          Lydia: I think I can interrupt the ritual with a big enough Entropy effect.
                          Alfred: Good, then do it.

                          Sean heard all of this, in his mind a single word dominated all other forms of thought; “Judge” spoken in a divinely authoritative voice. He looked on at the scene. He could tell Lydia was going to do something which, if he followed his orders, he would have to shoot her for. But did the pagans not have claim to this site? Did the Chorus have the right to assume authority over it? “Judge” the word boomed again. There was nothing for it. He would have to act on his judgement.

                          Sean stood up, and ran towards Stephan, barging straight into him and knocking him to the floor. The choristers stood in shock, as did everyone else. The ritual was delayed, but Jennifer was able to keep the magic stable. The Exarch looked down at Sean in surprise and contempt. He was about to act when he noticed another group of clones followed by at least two progenitors approach.

                          Exarch: I shall be speaking with your superiors.

                          He spoke as he prepared to fire bolts of prime straight at the oncoming attackers.

                          [ST NOTE: Up until this point, Sean had been the most aloof character of the group. Usually choosing to listen to conversation than contribute, and only really stepping in when combat was underway. All the players were aware that Sean was sending reports back to his chapter house, and he always acted with a sense of distrust towards the Verbena in general. So this heel face turn surprised everyone. Not least of all me. I could tell from his face while the conversation was happening that he was having a hard time with this moral decision. I guess I’ve been more effective with his avatar than I thought.]

                          The storm was starting to rage further. Alfred continued his emotion bursts to the current wave of clones, and decided he needed extra cover. He pulled out his runes and called down to a bush to grow and cover him. It did, but as paradox started to flow through him, he became one with the bush. Unable to move as he was rooted to the ground, he resigned to acting as a telephone poll for the other’s telepathic communication.

                          The wind blew strong, and both Alfred and Lydia could sense a spiritual presence. Alfred recognised it, the Talons of Horus were coming to aid them.

                          Lydia: I’m going to try and ward away these spirits.
                          Alfred: no Don’t! The Talons of Horus are our allies. We aided them with Vivian in the Umbra. Do not harm them.

                          Lydia looked towards the moon and started making chants of her own, asking for the assistance of Lunes, the node was still active, if only barely. Alfred stood in his part bush form as a figure approached him. He recognises her as Dr Zormpa, the progenitor he almost squeezed to death. She did not recognise him, however. Just as she walked to take a closer look, a flurry of silver ribbons attacked the woman forcing a retreat. This happened as the Talons of Horus flew with a great gust of wind. Sean saw as the remaining few clones and a number of progenitors ran off, warded away by this influx of energy. Vivian and Camellia arrived from behind them. Vivian rushed to Alfred and dug him out, allowing him to walk, leaves still sprouting from his hair. The Chorus were starting to get disrupted by the wind. They ended their effect just shy of draining the node entirely, and brought the lion’s share of the quintessence into the periapt as the choristers started to disperse and run to safety. Alfred approached the Exarch and spoke.

                          Alfred: I held up my end of the bargain, now you yours. Return the essence.
                          Exarch: I made no such bargain.

                          Vivian quickly assessed what was going on. The Exarch took the cross and ran off. Vivian called for the others to follow, and everyone ran into the woods after him.

                          Vivian, Alfred, and Lydia ran together in one direction. But stopped when they realised they had no idea which direction the Exarch had run to. Vivian was about to turn about when the ground beneath her caved in. The earth contorted, burying the High Priestess and separating Alfred and Lydia from her. They heard Vivian call out to them, and then stop as Malady entered the scene. “Hello High priestess…”

                          [ST NOTE: At this point, Lydia’s player had to leave. I continued the segment with just Alfred to a certain conclusion, but we knew that Lydia would have done something to intervene. So we decided to redo this segment when both Lydia and Alfred’s players were free, which turns out to be not until the new year. I won’t describe how the Malady Vivian conversation went until we redo it.]

                          Sean, Aaron, and Camellia were running in pursuit of the Exarch, but they too lost him through the woods. As they were no longer anywhere near Alfred, their telepathic link was dead. Aaron took out his computer and tried to scry out ahead of them, wanting to find any likelihood towards his whereabouts. As he typed, he became aware of something else. Not far from them were a number of strange values, as though someone messing with patterns of Correspondence. Sean could sense it too, Correspondence magic was being performed not far from them. Aaron concentrated and recognised these values as similar to those created when teleporting. A large number of people had just arrived.
                          No sooner had they sensed them did a number of figures in robes and armour approached them. The three of them stood there as the robed men surrounded them.

                          Man: State your names.
                          Aaron: Uh.. Aaron.
                          Man: And you?
                          Camellia: I’m Camellia, of the Keepers.

                          Another figure steps up to the man, and says “That’s the one…” to him.

                          Man: And you?

                          Sean stays quiet, trying to think up a suitable pseudonym.

                          Man: State your name.
                          Sean: Steven…
                          Man: On behalf of the London Tribunal, in the name of House Quaesitor, you are being detained under suspicion of harbouring a Widderslainte.

                          Neither Sean nor Aaron were in any shape to fight, and considered themselves to be innocent bystanders. The allowed the Order to restrain them and walked away with them quietly. A number of the Order dealt with Camellia, keeping a stern eye on her as they gathered together. A portal was opened in the middle of the group, and everyone was transported on mass to the heart of the London Tribunal.

                          Look how much my players have grown! To start with they were all tentatively throwing tiny spells and terrified of even a single point of paradox. Now they’re slinging magic around like it was on sale. They became really engrossed in all of it. Every chance to roll the dice was treated with anticipation; they would regularly look through the book for ideas on what to do next while it wasn’t their turn. When not in combat, they all took the scenario and its stakes seriously, discussing their options and, dare I say, planning ahead. It was an absolute joy to behold, and a really solid way to finish off the year.
                          Yes, Helen’s actions directly caused the outcome. She led the Hermetics to think that Camellia was a widderslainte and advised they proceed with their capture. None of the other players are aware of this so it’s going to be an interesting source of drama once we resume.
                          We still need to do that one scene with Alfred and Lydia at the end, but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. I’ll have to meet with almost everyone else anyway for Seekings anyway.

                          Just to sum it all up. The following mysteries are yet to be properly understood.

                          Boris’s connections with Zandros and Malady – Is he on their side? Is he due to fall or has he done so already?
                          Sarah’s friends – Yes, we all know who they are, but the players don’t. Not yet.
                          The Beasts – What were those things? (I’m still trying to figure that out. They would likely either a Bane, an animal Fomori, or a Black Spiral Dancer depending on how painful I want them to be, If you have any suggestions for something appropriate, let me know).
                          The Rat – While Aaron doesn’t know about the connection his rat problem has with his enemy, his player certainly does. Now that rat is free. This won’t be the end of it.
                          The Norns – Alfred and Sean have yet to pay their debt. If anyone has any suggestions of what these spirits may do to punish them, I’m happy to hear it.
                          The Esther File – What is it and what would the Technocracy want with it?
                          The Fox – I’m telling you, this fox is really important, and no one seems to know that!

                          This is the last game of the year. It hasn’t been a week since the last session and already things have been going slower.
                          I’m glad I’ve been writing these sessions up as I go. After each session, just after saying goodbye to everyone and while I started to clear up all the snacks and gather the sheets, more often than not I’d start to worry about the direction my game was heading in. I’d think about how I delivered the information, portrayed a character, or fluffed up some of the rules and was utterly convinced I’d ruined the game somehow. I revealed too much and now there was no intrigue, or I made the characters too unlikable, or not given them enough to do, or I screwed up on the rules and things should have been easier or harder had I properly thought about it. I’d even worry that the players were starting to get sick of the plot and disinterested in the characters, and would rather be doing something else.
                          But whenever I write them, I get a chance to retell the events and relive the adventure that just occurred, and I’d realise how many genuinely fun moments there were, moments of discovery, of loss, or confusion, and of wonder to name a few. I’d recant these events and gradually became comfortable with whatever I thought “ruined” the game, and even got ideas on how I could carry this forward into new and unusual plot developments.
                          I’m not sure how long this game will be going for. But with all those mysteries to think about, as well as whatever fallout arises from the London Tribunal, we’ll hopefully be playing well into the summer.

                          Thank you for reading. See you all in 2017.

                          Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running FINALE: Chapter 39: Green Fairy


                          • #58
                            Mini session

                            And we're back. Before the next big session, we're having about four mini sessions with specific people. Three of these are going to be seekings.

                            First of all, let's finish that last scene at the heath with Alfred, Lydia, Vivian, and Malady.

                            Cast List
                            Lydia: Moon Witch
                            Alfred: Excalibur Mage

                            Notable NPCs:

                            Vivian: High Priestess
                            Malady: Widderslainte
                            Zandros: Barabbus

                            ---CHAPTER 14c: THE LOST APPRENTICE---

                            Lydia had gotten herself separated from the group. Running through the woods, she no longer could see any of the others, let alone the Exarch. She felt a spiritual presence nearby, trying to get her attention. She focused on Luna’s light to try and see through the gauntlet, and saw a Storm crow.

                            Lydia: Oh… hello. Have I met you somewhere before?
                            Crow: Mistress has decided on a favour.
                            Lydia: Who is your mistress?
                            Crow: Mistress says you owe her, and promised her a favour.
                            Lydia: ok… what is it?
                            Crow: Mistress says you are not to interfere between her and the High priestess.
                            Lydia: And who does she say the High priestess is.
                            Crow: This is all mistress has said.
                            Lydia: So, by not interfere, she means directly?
                            Crow: This is the favour she asks.

                            The Stormcrow flies away. Lydia recalls her promise of a favour she gave Malady earlier in the week in exchange for having saved her life and returned her necklace.
                            Lydia hears something not too far from her.

                            Vivian is stuck, the ground beneath her had collapsed and a large number of vines ensnared her in place as Malady slowly drew near, brandishing her rusted blade.

                            Malady: Hello High priestess.
                            Vivian: Melonie!
                            Malady: Oh, is that what you’re calling me now.

                            Alfred tried to untangle her with Life, but found his own wounds far too painful to concentrate.

                            Malady: So, how do you like being helpless for a change, being away from your precious control?
                            Vivian: Melonie, please.
                            Malady: It’s Malady now. Isn’t that how you prefer it?

                            Alfred tried to heal himself, but this effect botched, and the ensuing backlashed made his body very difficult to heal for a while.
                            Lydia followed the sound of their voices towards them.

                            Alfred: Lydia! It’s Malady
                            Lydia: What’s going on?
                            Alfred: She’s harming Vivian, we have to do something.
                            Lydia: I’m sorry… I made a promise, I can’t interfere.
                            Alfred: We have to do something.
                            Lydia: Are you ok?
                            Alfred: Not quite. There’s a jar of my salve in my pocket, grab it and apply it to me.

                            Lydia does so, giving Alfred a temporary amount of pain relief.
                            Malady takes her blade and makes a cutting motion in the air, Vivian fights to hold back a scream. The two of them stand locked in a contest of wills. Vivian fighting to counter Malady’s pain inducing effects.

                            Alfred: I am in no condition to fight her.
                            Lydia: As long as she’s fighting Vivian, I can’t do anything. But maybe we can get someone else to help. We should call Boris.
                            Alfred: How.
                            Lydia: Get a spirit to him.

                            Lydia tries to call through to the spirit world but is having trouble. The gauntlet is thicker than she expected it to be and the effect botches around her. Whatever the choristers did to the node, she started to suspect it was affecting the gauntlet.

                            Alfred tried to cause the grass to grow and ensnare her, but Vivian’s cries of pain affected him too much to concentrate.
                            Malady left Vivian screaming and turned towards the other two.

                            Malady: What exactly are you trying to do?
                            Alfred: Melonie, this isn’t right. You can’t do this.
                            Malady: Can’t I?
                            Alfred: You might be upset with the high priestess, but this won’t solve anything.
                            Malady: Blindly loyal, (to Vivian) Just the way you like them!
                            Alfred: I won’t let you harm her Melonie.
                            Malady: It’s Malady now!

                            Malady walked slowly towards Alfred, lifted her knife into the air and started slicing slowly downwards. Alfred felt an incredible amount of pain, great white sparks darted across his eyes as every bone in his body tried to pull itself away from him. Malady smiled with each shriek uttered.
                            Lydia started preparing an effect. For as long as she fought with Alfred, she could interfere without breaking her promise.
                            Lydia focused on causing a tree to grow right underneath her, embracing the energy of the full moon. Just as before, a small tree grows rapidly from the ground, just missing where Malady stood. Confused, Lydia tried again, focusing on exactly where she wanted the tree to sprout. The effect released, the tree rose, and barely grazed her arm as it shot right next to her. Malady stopped torturing Alfred and looked at the tree with a smirk.
                            Lydia called out for Luna to have the tree smack at her, but before the tree could move, it began to change. The leaves fell from it, the bark began to pale, and its branches withering. Malady had stabbed her dagger straight into its trunk.

                            Lydia recognised that the forces of Fate and Decay were being greatly disturbed. Around Malady was where these energies were most potent, this may be why her trees kept missing.

                            Alfred: Melonie.
                            Malady: It’s Malady!
                            Alfred: I know you’re a widderslainte, and whatever Vivian did to you, this won’t change it.
                            Malady: What do you know about any of this!?
                            Alfred: You didn’t choose this, you don’t have to go through with it.
                            Malady: Far too late for that.
                            Lydia: So what are trying to do here? Harm Vivian?
                            Malady: Harm her… Harm her precious Heath.
                            Lydia: But why? What are you going to then?
                            Malady: What indeed.

                            Malady extended her arm when Vivian interrupted.

                            Vivian: That’s enough Melonie! This is between you and I. They are not involved. Settle this with me and me alone.
                            Malady: Gladly.

                            Malady lunged at Vivian and the two of them fought. Every blow Vivian attempted to make seemed to miss, as though she had misjudged each swing, while Malady revelled in any change to slice at her. Neither Lydia nor Alfred intervened.

                            Lydia dropped to Alfred’s side.
                            Lydia: Are you ok?
                            Alfred: I’m fine. We have to help her.
                            Lydia: How? I can’t fight her! I promised…
                            Alfred: I’m in no state to fight her either.
                            Lydia: Perhaps I can call for the Lunes to fight for us.

                            The gauntlet was still stronger than they needed, so the two of them decided to work together. They would chant a series of rhythmic poems to Luna to allow for easier access to the spirit world. But the effect botched and paradox slammed down on both of them. Lydia was able to stave it off for the moment, but Alfred was hit with the full force of it. He suddenly got flashes of the spirit world; the decayed ground, a blood red sky, and great black beasts in the darkness. In these brief flashes, he couldn’t make out anything more than the general shape of these fearsome creatures, other than they were big, the size of great bears, with glowing red eyes.

                            Vivian continued to struggle against Malady, and though Malady had managed several blows against her, she was not bleeding, her skin holding fast against the damage.

                            Malady: How do you like me now High priestess?
                            Vivian: You’ve… certainly improved.
                            Malady: Magic flows so much better once you embrace what you are. Don’t you think?

                            Every strike Vivian took continued to miss, yet she fought on regardless until her circumstance allowed her a clean strike. Malady fell and Vivian stood over her ready to follow through. She hesitated, a pained look in her eye. She just couldn’t bring herself to do it. Malady smiled at her weakness and sprang up, throwing her to the ground. Malady grins insidiously as she prepares to thrust her dagger down.

                            Zandros: M’lady! Stop.

                            Malady pauses for a moment.

                            Zandros: We have work to do.
                            Malady: I’m just about to have fun with her!
                            Zandros: She’s not worth it.

                            Vivian looks ahead at Zandros, her eyes widen, her face aghast with disbelief. All will to fight drained from her, only a single word escapes her throat.

                            Vivian: Alex?

                            Zandros: We must go before they arrive.
                            Malady: …Fine.

                            Malady and Zandros walk into the darkness leaving Vivian on the ground completely distraught. Alfred tries to comfort her, but she does not respond, only looking at the ground with a look of defeat.

                            Alfred reaches into his pockets and takes out his phone and tries to call Mica, leaving a message explaining what had just happened. Lydia looks out to where she saw Malady and Zandros escape to, but instead sees a number of other mages approach. She recognises the emblems they carry as belonging to one of the houses in the Order of Hermes. Within a minute, six of these mages stand around them.

                            Hermetic: State you names and allegiances.
                            Lydia: We’re Verbena!
                            Hermetic: Your names.
                            Lydia: I am Lydia.
                            Alfred: Alfred.
                            Hermetic: And you?

                            Vivian does not look up as she speaks her name. The Hermetic notices their necklaces.

                            Hermetic: You are part of the cabal “Keepers of the Wyck”?
                            Alfred: We are initiates. This is our high-priestess.

                            One of the other mages murmurs the words “That’s her”, the two of them confer for a bit, and then return.

                            Hermetic: In the name of House Quaesitor, on behalf of the London Tribunal, we place you in captivity awaiting tribunal effective immediately.
                            Alfred: What are we being charged with?
                            Hermetic: Suspicion of harbouring a Widderslainte.
                            Lydia: Well she’s just run off that way, so we’re no longer harbouring her.
                            Hermetic: I have been informed that the suspected widderslainte has been found and captured. Turn around and put your hands behind your back.

                            Vivian slowly stands and gives herself up, Alfred tries to help her up but she shrugs him off; guilt running heavily through her. Alfred gives himself up along with her, and seeing that neither of them are resisting, Lydia followed suit.

                            The three of them were now under the authority of House Quaesitor.


                            Just as I finished writing up the last chapter, I ran the first of three seekings. Details below.

                            Sean’s Primordial Avatar was generally satisfied with his progress. He had demonstrated a keen sense of judgement and was able to stay true to his morals in the face of his superiors. His Avatar now thought it was time he learnt to appreciate the powerful potency of Prime magic. Here’s how the Seeking was set up.
                            First Sean found himself in a thin dark room. The only way out would be to use Matter magic. This is so Sean’s player was aware that Magic can be used (and in this case must be used) during the seeking. He opened up the wall and entered a chapel, outside of which he would find a dragon destroy parts of the town. No people, just carnage.
                            As Sean approached it, the dragon would start to attack in all they ways you expect them to; claws, teeth, fire breath, etc. Sean had his gun, but it would not do any damage. The only thing that will harm the beast is Prime magic using its own Quintessence to fuel it.
                            It took a while for Sean to figure this out, first trying to shoot at it, then trying to summon a Prime spear to stab it. For every moment spent figuring it out, the dragon would attack, dealing a single point of Lethal or Aggravated damage. He had until the Incapacitated level to get it.

                            By “Wounded” he realised this creature had its own supply of Quintessence, and began using Prime to funnel it away into a new Prime spear, which he managed to stab into the chest of the beast. By Mauled, he managed to pull the quintessence out of its Fire breath, rendering it much less threatening. He then launched the dragon’s energy right into its wounded chest, causing it to fall. Sean took the spear and walked over to the creatures head, putting it out of its misery.

                            The creature started to change, its face began to shift, its nose growing shorter, and indeed its whole body started regressing into a bipedal form, a man. Sean did not recognise the face, but he noticed he wore a crucifix around his neck. Sean picked the man up, brought him to the alter in the chapel, said his last rites and made a few prayers before burying him somewhere appropriate.
                            After he was done, the sky grew bright and a booming voice flowed from above.
                            “One can attain great power to perform great and terrible deeds. Yet this same power can be turned against its bearer, leading to their downfall. This is the lesson of Prime.”

                            Sean had passed his Seeking, gaining the fourth point of Arete, along with some Entropic Resolving resonance, 3 points of WP returned, and 5 points of Quintessence to play with. All health levels lost were regained, except for one point of aggravated damage, a small reminder of the potency Prime provides.


                            Hurrah! A Successful Seeking! Let's see if the other two can go this smoothly.
                            Next up will be Aaron, and then Hanson.
                            This will be Aaron's second attempt at this. As his avatar is Dynamic, he won't be getting quite the same challenge this time around. Though the core idea of shedding of external reliance will still be a part of it.

                            Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running FINALE: Chapter 39: Green Fairy


                            • #59
                              Mini session.

                              Just going to put the results of the other two Seekings here.

                              Aaron’s Seeking

                              Aaron’s Avatar decided to give him another chance, and threw him into a seeking. It started off with a black screen, a string of file directories with the words “Loading Theseus.exe”. Around him loaded a CG maze with stone wall textures. He stood in a room with a single exit, it lead to a corridor branching both left and right. In the corner of the room was a computer terminal chained to the wall. The machine lacked a keyboard, but had a single webpage on it. A Gamefaqs walkthrough entitled “How to escape the maze” with 128 steps of instructions. Tied to the computer was a spool of golden thread.

                              The first thing Arron attempted was taking the thread and just wondering aimlessly about the maze, around many twists and turns, climbing up and down stairs, around corners, and through corridors. Each path forked into five or six others, with no real indication on how best to proceed. After a time, the thread became taut. Aaron abandoned this approach and followed the thread back to the starting room.

                              The next thing he did was follow the instructions. He would memories about 6 or 7 at a time, follow them, drop the thread, follow it back to the starting room to read the next set, and then follow the dropped back to where he left it. The walkthrough lead him through a series of rooms with standard videogame puzzles in them, such as finding the hidden switch, pressing levers in the right order, walking across a chess board as though you were a Knight piece. Each time the Walkthrough would provide instruction on how to proceed, and how to solve the task.

                              Aaron noticed that every return trip to the starting room seemed to be quicker than the trips leading out, as though the maze shortened its length when returning. He also noticed the thread would pull at him, as though elastic, as he got further away from the start, to the point at which is started resisting. He began experimenting, dropping the thread and making his way on his own, though after wondering ahead, he would start to get lost and so returned for the thread and guidance.

                              He noticed a puzzle which the walkthrough instructed to ignore. For his own satisfaction, he started solving it, and the room ahead changed slightly, a black door appeared when no door was there before. Taking a step through it, the golden thread became rigidly taut. He was unable to make any more than two steps into the dark room. Aaron decided to let go of the thread and leave it behind.

                              The main lesson of this seeking was about how relying on help for everything can hold you back more than going off on your own. By letting go of the thread and walking into through the dark room without it, he had taken charge of his own path. After walking around in the darkness, the maze started getting more erratic and non-Euclidian. Soon he came to a sideways staircase where he could see the entire maze folded around him, as though it was stretched around a tube he stood within, even able to recognise some of the room he previously solved. With little other idea on where to go, he jumped down the centre. The maze rushed passed him as he fell further and further down into darkness. Before him all he could see was a golden thread just within reach. He refused it and continued to fall.

                              Light appeared around him, he had fallen out of a dark cloud which surrounded this strange space, suddenly able to whiteness this new perspective, the epiphany was reached. Aaron finally gained his new point of Arete, along with a point of Entropic Unravelling resonance, and a -2 to difficulty on Engima rolls for a while.

                              [ST NOTE: I’m really pleased he was able to succeed this time around. Aaron’s player took it a little hard after the first failure, so watching him “redeem” himself as it were was quite uplifting. I’m also a lot happier about how this seeking went in general. The point was much better demonstrated symbolically, forcing him to rely on the teaching aid before he had to inevitably let it go, rather than just have the teaching aid be wrong from the offset.]

                              Hanson’s Seeking

                              Hanson was the kind of guy who tended not to regret the decisions they’d make. Sure things could have gone better had he acted differently with hindsight, but he felt that, form his perspective every decision he made was the right one given the information he had at the time. Given the chance to redo mistakes, he wouldn’t change a thing. Regret was something he thought of as wasted time. Hanson’s dynamic avatar was not satisfied with this inflexible mentality and so decided to give him a chance to relive and resolve.

                              His seeking took the form of an American bar on the side of the road. Hanson entered it and started talking to the bar tender. As the conversation progressed, the bar tender started to ask him about why he left America. What followed was a series of narrated flashbacks. As he’d speak, the world would dissolve into the scene he’d describe, allowing him a chance to relive it.

                              The story went like this. Back when he was a cop, he’d gotten involved with a case that had the rest of the department stumped. A number of deaths with the same M.O., with each victim sharing little in common. A bit of sleuthing revealed that they had all gone to trial a few days prior, all cases involving the same detective, Detective Miller.

                              After the latest murder, he pursued Miller to London where he found him in a chantry of Euthanatos mages, and later followed him to stop him in his tracks, lest he murder another. Each time he told his story, the Bar tender would ask him if he felt he acted the right way. Each time Hanson said yes, he’d be drawn to the shot of Scotch before of him, drinking more and more with each assertion.

                              In the final scene, just after Hanson made it clear he had no regrets for how things transpired, he was asked if, knowing what he knew now, he’d have treated him differently. On replying “perhaps” the scene dissipated. Hanson found he was holding a gun, standing in an all too familiar room in front of Miller. This was where Hanson had a chance to talk to the guy, and see if he could steer the outcome a different way.

                              As he spoke to him, Miller would start to speak about his actions, how he had no regret for what he had done, how the people he killed had escaped justice, and knowing what he knew at the time, it was the only thing that could be done. However, Hanson didn’t seem to address the similarities between Miller and his own mentality, instead choosing to lecture him on morality. This act of hubris did not sit well with his avatar, who proceeded to up the ante a bit, making Miller more unstable, eventually raising his gun.

                              Hanson shot Miller at the sight of the weapon, and Miller fell in exactly the same way he fell all those years ago. The scene melted away and Hanson sat before the bar, and endless stream of Scotch before him to drink. Nothing changed.

                              [ST NOTE: Hanson’s seeking was a bit of an experiment. We had never fully fleshed out his backstory before now, so most of this session was a back and forth between the two of us making up the details of the case as we went on. I’m not sure if that distracted from the point or not. I’m not sure what I’ll be able to do for his next Seeking. As his is a Dynamic Avatar, I’m rather bound to make it significantly different from this if not at least in style. Perhaps something interesting will come up as the game progresses]

                              Thank you for your patience. Next up: The Tribunal.

                              Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running FINALE: Chapter 39: Green Fairy


                              • #60
                                15th Session

                                This session takes place entirely within the London Tribunal. A cross tradition judicial system which deals with problems that are beyond the handling of a single chantry, and encompasses the interests of multiple traditions, though is not quite at Council level yet.

                                Cast List

                                Aaron Gibson: Punk Hacker
                                Sean Heath: Templar Knight
                                Alfred Camlann: Excalibur Mage
                                Joe Hanson: Noir Mage
                                Helen Walter: Hermetic Spy

                                Notable NPCs Include

                                Vivian Porter: High Priestess
                                Mica Rose: Techno Witch

                                Guys you've seen before:

                                Exarch Timothy Richards, Master of the Light
                                Joan Frank: Presbyter who made a promise.
                                Eve: Helen's Mentor

                                Let's get to it.

                                ---CHAPTER 15: THE TRIBUNAL---

                                Alfred awoke in a jail cell. The night before he, Lydia, and Vivian were arrested by Hermetic mages from House Quaesitor. Lydia was the only one to inadvertently get away. Just as the Hermetics tried to take her away, Paradox set upon Lydia as she started to fade through the gauntlet. The law mages, so certain she was attempting an escape, couldn’t figure out how she got through the thick gauntlet without them noticing. Without the means nor safety precautions in place to chase after her, they resumed the arrest.

                                Alfred sat in a room with stone walls and heavy iron bars. In the room sat Vivian, and across from him was a similar cell with Sean and Aaron. They both seemed in fairly high spirits all things considered. Overnight epiphanies will do that to people.

                                They had all been stripped of their material foci, and Sean could tell there was a prime effect in the air, possibly something which would detect any attempt at magic. Vivian sat staring at the floor.

                                Alfred: High Priestess…

                                She did not respond.

                                Alfred: You must stay strong. Tell them about Melonie.

                                Alfred turns to the others across and notices that Camellia is absent.

                                Alfred: Wasn’t Camellia with you?
                                Aaron: Yeah, but they probably took her away. You know, suspecting her of being a Widderslainte.
                                Alfred: Camellia?
                                Vivian: What?
                                Aaron: Yeah, Camellia was a Widderslainte, it was on that letter you had.
                                Vivian: Camellia is not a widderslainte.
                                Aaron: She isn’t?
                                Vivian: No!
                                Aaron: Oh… Well they think she is.

                                Alfred felt around for the letter he held, sent to Boris from his grandfather, but couldn’t find it, the Order had taken it.

                                A woman appeared in robes with an iPad. Her name was Alexis. Noticing how badly damaged Alfred was, she offered to heal him, drawing a Seal of Solomon on her iPad (which started drawing itself after a few flicks) and placing his hand upon it. Alfred’s lethal damage slowly changed to bashing.
                                Alexis began to explain the proceedings. The Group had been taken on suspicion of harbouring a Widderslainte. First they would take each one individually to a private hearing where they would answer questions, then they would be expected to attend the Tribunal, where they may have the chance to explain themselves against the evidence.

                                Aaron: So, when do I get my phonecall?
                                Alexis: Phone call?
                                Aaron: Yeah, am I getting a phone or something? There’s someone I need to contact who might be able to help with all this.
                                Alexis: Who are you?
                                Aaron: Aaron, Virtual Adept.
                                Alexis: I’m sorry Aaron, no. We don’t allow those in captivity access to such things. Too many before have used them to teleport away.
                                Aaron: Oh… Yeah that makes sense actually.

                                She asks one of them to be the first to step up to attend their hearing, and Vivian makes her way first.

                                Hanson wakes up near an alleyway next to a puddle of vomit. His head was aching hard. He takes a small drink from his hip flask and numbs his mind from the pain. He calls Helen and they agree to meet at the Keeper’s Chantry to try and get some answers. Helen was nervous, it was only a few hours ago that Boris had removed her necklace’s power and attempted to brand her, but Hanson reassured her.

                                Hanson looked around for any sign of anyone, but couldn’t find a soul in either the communal areas or the rooms upstairs. Knocking on the door to the lower chantry didn’t get a response, but he could just about make out the sound of something, or someone, moving about below. He knocked again, but whoever was down there did not approach.

                                Helen received a text from her mentor Eve.
                                “The Tribunal will take place this evening. Please meet me at the Chantry”.

                                Helen called Hanson down, pulling him away from his investigation, and they made their way to the Hermetic Chantry.

                                Alexis would return and take them one by one into a dark room with a single chair. Before them would stand Gustav Richter Kratochvil, bani Quaesitor, who would ask them a series of questions.

                                Gustav: State your name
                                Aaron: Aaron Gibson, Virtual Adept
                                Gustav: Tell us what you know of the Keepers of the Wyck
                                Aaron: They’re a group of Verbena.
                                Gustav: Hwo are their members.
                                Aaron: Well, there’s Vivian, who you’ve already seen. There’s also Granny Elm who mostly keeps to herself, Camellia who you’ve got captured though we aren’t sure if she’s a Widderslainte or not. Then Kael and Mica. Also there’s Melonie who might actually be a Widderslainte.
                                Gustav: Do you know the location of the others?
                                Aaron: No.
                                Gustav: Finally, do you trust the High Priestess Vivian?
                                Aaron: I don’t have anything against her.
                                Gustav: But do you trust her?
                                Aaron: …no.

                                Aaron was led away, informed that if he had any more details to tell the others, he may ask.

                                While Aaron had his hearing, Sean and Alfred spoke for a while.

                                Alfred: Sam, you attacked one of the Choristors, trying to disrupt their ritual… why?
                                Sean: I did what I felt was necessary. I saw what was happening and had to make a judgement base one what I felt was the will of the lord.
                                Alfred: …thank you. You really are a credit to your faith.

                                Alexis arrived and Sean was next to offer himself up for questioning.

                                Gustav: State your name.
                                Sean: Sean Heath.
                                Gustav: Tradition?
                                Sean: Templar Knight.
                                Gustav: What is your business with the Keepers?
                                Sean: I was investigating a burglary of one or the Chorus’s sacred texts. There were suspicions that they were taken by Pagans, and had infiltrated their coven to further investigate. However, it has since become evident that the burglar was a marauder by the name of Edwin.
                                Gustav: Of the Keepers, who do you know of?
                                Sean: There’s Granny Elm, who has a consultation role. Vivian their high priestess, she has a soft approach but it formidable in a battle. Boris the High Priest though I haven’t seen much of him. Together they train a young witch Camellia, whom consumes a lot of tea to keep her calm. In adition there is Kael, an artisan of sorts, and his apprentice Mica who experiments with technology. Lastly there are three initiates, Alfred, Helen, and Lydia, all of whom arrived at the same time I did.
                                Gustav: Very good. Lastly, do you trust the High Priestess Vivian?
                                Sean: No, I can’t say that I do.
                                Gustav: Thank you.
                                Sean: One more thing. While with them, I used a different name, Sam, and told them I was a member of the Celestial Chorus. I hope you understand that I need this to remain secret for the time being.
                                Gustave: We understand, let us know if there are any more details you would like to include.

                                Sean was led away. He and Aaron were sat in separate single cells.

                                Gustav: State your name.
                                Alfred: Alfred Camlan.
                                Gustav: Of which tradition?
                                Alfred: Verbena
                                Gustav: What is your involvement with the Keepers?
                                Alfred: I am an initiate.
                                Gustav: What can you tell me of their activities?
                                Alfred: They protect the nodes around London, and teach the ways of the Wyck to an open circle, one which I had been too only yesterday.
                                Gustav: Who are the members of the Keepers?
                                Alfred: Vivian is our high priestess, though she’s having a turbulent leadership of late, she leads with Boris who is was my Grandfather’s Apprentice. He told me that the Keepers are well respected by the Verbena community.
                                Gustav: What is your grandfather’s name?
                                Boris: Beranabus. That Boris also had an apprentice, Alex, though he left along with a number of other members after their previous maiden, Melonie, left. Recently Melonie tricked a few of us into planting seeds around the Heath and have been using the threat of the technocracy to distract us from their corruption. Anyway, Apart from them there’s Granny elm, the Chrone of the coven. Kael and Mica, who deal with gemstones, and Gwyn, a practiced spiritwalker who has been away for the past few weeks.
                                Gustav: and finally, do you trust the High Priestess Vivian?
                                Alfred: She’s is my leader.
                                Gustav: Do you trust her?
                                Alfred: …Yes.
                                Gustav: Very good…

                                Alfred too is lead away to a cell, separate from the other three. After some time passes, both Aaron and Sean are released. Informed that they are free to join the Tribunal from the audience perspective, and that their items will be returned after the verdict is given.

                                The Hermetic Chantry was just north of Temple Station. Helen arrived to meet with Eve at the entrance. She was a bit concerned that Hanson was with her, but figured that he was already quite aware that there was more to her than she let on.

                                Eve: There you are, they will start calling us in soon.
                                Helen: Thank you Eve.
                                Eve: And your friend?
                                Helen: Yes, he’s here.
                                Hanson: Hi, Joe Hanson.
                                Eve: Hello. You may call me Olivia.
                                Hanson: Olivia?
                                Eve: Yes. Good to meet you.

                                Shortly after this, they were met with both Aaron and Sean. They spoke a bit and caught each other up on what they didn’t know. Sean and Aaron describing the fight with the progenitors, and Hanson describing part of what happened at the Heath. He mentioned the encounter with Boris and bumping into Edwin, but stopped short of Boris’s accusation of Helen being a spy from the technocracy.

                                A door opened and people were ushered in to the London Tribunal Hall. The room was set up similarly to an old-fashioned operation theatre with seats; a ring of seats with a bar in front for those who wished to stand, a total of three rings rose out from the middle. They formed three concentric circles, and at one end stood three great benches on which three judges would precede. The centre of the ring stood both Alfred and Vivian. Within the room were a number of active effects, the most prominent being one which handles the lights, which shown brightly on the inner most circle, and became dull just beyond, where the audience were sitting. The effect was that while the audience were able to see the accused perfectly, the accused would only be able to make out their forms, not their faces. In addition to this was an effect designed to transform all manipulation of quintessence into coloured light, making visible any magic performed within the inner circle. Thus it would be abundantly clear if such trickery were to be attempted.

                                Helen, Eve, Hanson, Aaron, and Sean took seat around the second ring and began to talk to one another. Both Hanson and Sean had a little knowledge on the law and explained to the others things like the Protocals of the Council. Helen looked rather sheepish at seeing Alfred standing trial, but even more concerned that Boris was nowhere to be seen.

                                Alexis: All stand for the precision of the judges

                                Everyone got up. Alexis and Gustav stood just in front of the three benches. As the three men maid their way to the benches, their names were announced by Alexis.

                                “Adeptus Major, Erasmus Arminius Arhur Stuart Mantleby Crothaw, bani Quaesitor. Pervaiour of truths, keeper of chains, magistrate of the London Tribunal, in possession of the Seat of Law.”

                                Both Aaron and Hanson stared aghast at the length of this name. Alfred too was quite shocked. He was aware of the power true names held, but these Hermetics took it to a whole other level.

                                “Exarch Timothy Richards, Master of the light, in possession of the Seat of Morality”.

                                Alfred looked up at him in anger. This was the man who drained the Heath, and now he was going to pass judgement over him.

                                “Acarya Anil Mishra, bani Vrati: Albiero, in possession of the Seat of Justice”.

                                The Euthanatos mage was an unknown. Alfred was never sure whether to trust them or not due to their reputation, but for now it seemed that part of his fate was in their hands.

                                [ST NOTE: From this point onwards, things became quite roleplay heavy. Very few dice were rolled outside of a few Subterfuge checks. It’s difficult to recall every single thing that was said and who said it, so I will be paraphrasing a few of the arguments down to their core ideas.
                                Also, for simplicity sake, I’ll be referring to the judges as Crothaw, Exarch, and Mishra respectively.]

                                Crothaw: State your names for the court.
                                Vivian: Vivian Porter, Verbena
                                Alfred: Alfred Camlan, also Verbena.
                                Gustav: Vivian, you are the High Priestess of the coven known as the Keepers of the Wyck. Correct?
                                Vivian: Yes.
                                Gustav: We have evidence and testimony that your coven has been harbouring a Widderslainte. The coven is therefore being accused of breaking the 6th Protocal. Conspire Not with the Enemies of Ascension.
                                Crothaw: How do you plead?
                                Alfred: Not Guilty
                                Crothaw: And you?
                                Vivian: …I wish to understand better the accusation.
                                Crothaw: Very well.

                                Gustav takes out a copy of Helen’s report and reads from it.

                                Gustav: This report, written by Aileen Davina Freya, bani Jerbiton states the following pertinent points. The Keepers of the Wyck are hiding their coven’s maiden away from the public. Her name is Camellia, who could be a widderslainte. Her widderslainte nature was supressed by a special herbal tea which is infused with powerful calming mind magic. The high priest Boris and high priestess Vivian are certain that they are doing the right thing to keep Camellia alive, yet they don’t know how to save her soul.
                                Vivian: This is wrong.
                                Gustav: The report goes on to talk about another mage named Zandros who meets with your high priest Boris. The report goes on to suggest the two of them are in league with the naphandi.
                                Exarch: Do you know of a mage named Zandros?
                                Vivian: …no, I do not know this name.

                                Alfred was disheartened by Vivian’s attempt at hiding Alex, so he came forth and explained who Zandros, or Alex, was; that he was Boris’s apprentice and that they had encountered them on the Heath the previous night, drawing Melonie away. Alfred then goes on to talk about Melonie, aka Malady, and that she was the coven maiden before Camellia. Vivian is shocked to hear of Boris’s involvement, but tries to hide it before the judge.

                                Crothaw: High Priestess
                                Vivian: Yes?
                                Crothaw: You say that Camellia is not a widderslainte.
                                Vivian: She isn’t.
                                Crothaw: Is it true that you keep her subdued with a calming effect?
                                Vivian: She takes the tea herself, I do not provide it.
                                Crothaw: Why does she require it?
                                Vivian: …That is not for me to say.
                                Exarch: She’s being evasive!
                                Hanson: Now hold on.
                                Gustav: Who speaks?
                                Crothaw: Yes, state your name.
                                Hanson: Joe Hanson.
                                Crothaw: Of?
                                Hanson: I’m an Orphan.

                                There is a growing murmur at this, built of disdain, contempt and dismissal. Crothaw calls for order, banging his gavel and instantly removing sound within the room for a second.

                                Crothaw: Speak.
                                Hanson: Now it seems to me that you’re condemning this girl for what is effectively hearsay. How can you determine she’s a widderslainte based on one person’s account?
                                Gustav: There is more to be discussed, if we may proceed.
                                Crothaw: Yes, let us proceed.
                                Gustav: We have received two letters addressed to the High Priest concerning the keeping of a Widderlainte.

                                He took out the two letters, one was confiscated from Alfred as he was taken in, while the other was the one which Helen had stolen from Boris’s office.

                                They read as follows:

                                “Yes, it is difficult. The extent of the Nephandi’s reach can be confounding even for those with years of experience. I can recall a coven who’s High Priest had fallen years before his true nature was discovered. By that time, a lot of damage had already been done. Many innocent people suffered greatly, the land had been spoiled, and half the circle had fallen along with him. The damage was immeasurable. If your coven’s maiden is truly tainted, then you must deal with her as soon as possible. Such a corrupting force cannot be allowed the chance to grow and spread. You put the whole cabal at risk if you don’t. I understand your concern and hesitation, and no, it isn’t fair for anyone who is born corrupted.”

                                “I’ve yet to hear of a single widderslainte that could be “brought back” as it were. Their fate was sealed at birth. I know it’s tempting to think they can be saved, but such thinking endangers yourself and all those around you. Sometimes it’s necessary to prune the diseased branches to keep the tree alive. Until your High Priestess is certain about the true spirit of your coven’s maiden, I suggest you do what you can to support her efforts.

                                Crothaw: Is this name, Berenabus, familiar to you?
                                Vivian: It is not.
                                Crothaw: And you?
                                Alfred: It is. Berenabus is my grandfather, and he wrote these letters. But I know that these letters did not arrive until after Malady left. This is before Camellia became the Maiden. They can’t be referring to her.
                                Exarch: That might explain one of the letters, but what of the other?
                                Alfred: They are the same letter.
                                Exarch: Can you prove this?
                                Alfred: Don’t you have some sort of Time magic that could determine the age of these things.
                                Gustav: While it is certainly possible, it would be difficult to accept as such patterns can be manipulated with magic to make them seem more identical than they actually are.
                                Exarch: Yes, perhaps you know a mage skilled in the crafts of Matter and Time would be able to match the letters. It would seem quite convenient you happen to have this letter on your person.

                                Aaron stands and starts to speak.

                                Alexis: State your name.
                                Aaron: Aaron Gibson
                                Alexis: Of?
                                Aaron: The Virtual Adepts.

                                A few members of the audience sigh at this. Aaron ignores it.

                                Aaron: Isn’t there some kind of magical way you can just tell if Camellia is a widderslainte or not?

                                Someone calls out from the audience “Of course not! If there was, we wouldn’t need this Tribunal now, would we?”

                                Alfred: (To Vivian) Vivian, you have to tell them about Melonie.
                                Vivian: I…
                                Alfred: They think Camellia is a Widderslainte. You have to explain to them what actually happened.
                                Audience member: Yeah, let’s hear from her!
                                Croshaw: Agreed. I think an explanation is in order.

                                Vivian steeled herself up, putting on a stoic face as she tried to explain Melonie’s story.

                                Vivian: I found Melonie running from a mob. They were part of the village where she grew up. They had a real disdain for her, and blamed her for any failed crops, dead animals, or sickness of the people. They branded her The Malady. She was running to escape them as they chased her with torches when she came across me. I could sense that she had awakened, and assumed she was having trouble coming to terms with her new powers. I spoke with the village, offering to take her into my care. They seemed uncertain by this. Some warned me, others were glad to see rid of her. I started training her. In time she became much more comfortable with herself and what she could do. After a while, I initiated her into the coven properly, and made her our coven’s Maiden. At some point after, Granny Elm informed me that she could feel the taint of the nephandi about her. At first I couldn’t believe it, but in time I noticed odd behaviour of hers, though she seemed unaware of it. It wasn’t until one of our trips through the umbra… She had been found by a number of Bane, spirits that serve only destruction, but she had somehow managed to gain command of them. What’s worse is they seemed to respect her as an equal. From this point on, we stopped taking her into the umbra, we started involving her less and less with our rituals as we tried to figure out what to do.

                                Sean: Didn’t you suspect something earlier based on her behaviour?
                                Vivian: No. I did not. When you see a child playing with a knife, do you see malicious intent?
                                Alfred: no… you see innocence…
                                Mishra: So this maiden, Melonie, she is a widderslainte.
                                Vivian: Yes. I am certain of this.
                                Croshaw: And what of this other maiden? Camellia?
                                Vivian: Camellia is innocent.
                                Exarch: Can we really trust her when she says this? She protected the last Widderslainte in her care, how can we know she isn’t protecting this one?
                                Vivian: Camellia is not a widderslainte!
                                Alfred: Adeptus Major. From what I understand, this letter was sent by my grandfather, who I know did not have any contact with the Keepers for over a year ago. This was before Melonie left.
                                Exarch: And what of the other letter?
                                Alfred: I assure you, they are part of the same letter.
                                Gustav: We cannot be certain of this.
                                Croshaw: It’s true, there’s a chance that they are two separate letters. Perhaps one for each maiden.
                                Hanson: So let me get this straight. All you have to go on that Camellia is a widderslainte is that these two letters are possibly from different people? Doesn’t that seem a bit shakey?
                                Gustav: There is more.

                                Gustav takes out the Keepers ceremonial dagger.

                                Vivian: Where did you get that!?
                                Gustav: It was obtained from a source. Do you recognise it?
                                Vivian: Yes! It’s our ceremonial dagger. We use it for our rituals.
                                Gustav: These rituals involve blood sacrifice?
                                Vivian: They may do.
                                Gustav: Who usually keeps hold of this knife?
                                Vivian: Our High Priest.
                                Gustav: This knife has been checked and it contains a dark corrupting resonance. It has since been put through a series of Temporis Vis perceptions in order to better ascertain its magical chronology. We have determined that this dagger was used to rend the quintessence from a unwilling living human as early as three years ago.

                                Helen becomes agitated at this and stands.

                                Alexis: State your name
                                Helen: Helen
                                Alexis: of?
                                Helen: Bani Jerbiton. Boris was the owner of this knife. He may be the one behind these spells.

                                There is a general sense of agreement with this statement.

                                Helen: Was Boris in the woods in Whales three years ago with this knife?
                                Eve: Helen… (Eve looks at Helen sternly).
                                As desperately as Helen wanted to continue, her mentors look dissuaded her enough to stop her. She fell silent and returned to her seat.

                                The murmur continues, with many others pinning the blame on Boris for the actions of Melonie and perhaps Camellia.

                                Vivian: No. Boris is not to be blamed. I am the high priestess, and as such I am responsible. For letting Malady go, for allowing her to ruin the Heath…

                                Alfred: If this daggers magic was used three years ago, then surely it couldn’t have been with Camellia.
                                Gustav: We have determined that this knife has been used for similar deeds since that point, and the potency of its resonance suggests great frequency.
                                Sean: Even still, this knife cannot possibly be tied to Camellia can it?
                                Exarch: What’s your name?
                                Sean: Sam.
                                Exarch: Ah yes… I remember. You ran into one of my choristers, disrupting our ritual.
                                Alfred: That ritual was not disrupted! You drained that node dry!
                                Exarch: We did what was needed.
                                Crothaw: Order!

                                Another loud bang of the gavel and silence was returned.

                                Crothaw: I will not allow this courtroom to descend into a territorial dispute.
                                Alfred: Vivian, you have to finish your story. If you don’t they may harm Camellia.

                                There is a murmer of agreement from some of the audience that Vivian should return to her story, but she stays silent.

                                Alfred: I know it’s hard, Vivian, whatever you did. But you need to talk about it.

                                Mishra: There is no need, if she can answer the following questions. High Priestess Vivian. You became certain that Melonie was a Widderslainte?
                                Vivian: Yes.
                                Mishra: And when she left, did you go look for her?
                                Vivian: I did, for a while.
                                Mishra: But did you find her?
                                Vivian: no.
                                Mishra: When you learnt of her nature, did you consider that you may have to kill her?
                                Vivian: ….I did.
                                Mishra: Were you able to?
                                Vivian: …no.

                                Exarch: In any case, what of her use of the tea. If not to calm the nature of your Coven Maiden, then why does she rely on it?
                                Vivian: She does it to herself.
                                Mishra: Why?
                                Vivian: It is not for me to say!
                                Alfred: High Priestess… You need to tell these people why.

                                Hanson speaks out that while this may be well and good for Melonie, it still did not provide sufficient proof that Camellia too could be a widderslainte. His argument seemed to go down well with the judges as he stood speaking.

                                Another man stood to speak.

                                Gustav: Name?
                                Belladonna: Belladonna, the Aided.

                                Alfred recognised the Aided as the Celtic Euthanatos.

                                Belladonna: High Priestess. Do you accept that what you have done is allow a dangerous being to live, and in so doing have risked the destruction of your entire coven. You must decide who is in greater need of protection, and whether those you protect are as innocent as you believe them to be.

                                Vivian says nothing to this. Though her face is stern, Alfred can tell a lot of work is going into maintaining her composure.

                                Crothaw: We shall call a twenty minute recess as we discuss the evidence, and then return with our verdict.

                                Vivian and Alfred are moved to the holding cells, while the rest convene outside of the tribunal hall to discuss.

                                Hanson and Aaron tried to ask Eve more about the proceedings, though she was unable to say much, claiming that as she was not of Hour Quaesitor, she knew little about the case itself. Helen pulled Eve aside and tried to speak with her.

                                Helen: Eve. I need to ask you. Were my parents Technocrats?
                                Eve: This isn’t the time for this sort of thing.
                                Helen: I need to know.
                                Eve: This kind of conversation can start rumours. I can tell you, you really don’t want those kinds of rumours to come back at you. Now is not the time and this is not the place. Please stay focused.

                                Hanson realises he needs to contact the other Keepers. If they gained their testimony, it may be enough to absolve Camellia of these accusations. He called Mica’s phone.

                                Hanson: Hello Mica?
                                Mica: Hello?
                                Hanson: Where have you been?
                                Mica: I’m with Kael. We saw you guys getting taken away by the Order of Hermes at the Heath. Kael said we needed to stay hidden so we’ve been hiding at his house. What’s happening?
                                Hanson: Right… well… where to start… Vivian’s on Trial
                                Mica: Why?
                                Hanson: For harbouring a Widderslainte.
                                Mica: What?
                                Hanson: And they think Camellia is that Widderslainte.
                                Mica: What? Seriously? Have they met her?
                                Hanson: Well, Melonie is the actual widderslainte.
                                Mica: What!?
                                Hanson: Yeah, she’s been harming Hampstead Heath.

                                With each bit of bad news, Mica goes more and more frantic.

                                Hanson: How fast can you get here?
                                Mica: I don’t know. It might take an hour, maybe 45 minutes.
                                Hanson: Hmm… that’s not enough time. They’ll be calling the verdict before then.
                                Mica: Is the Heath ok?
                                Hanson: Well the nodes been… sort of… drained.
                                Mica: by Melonie?
                                Hanson: By the Celestial Chrous.
                                Mica: What!? What happened?
                                Hanson: The others say that it was done to stop spirits coming through. Also, they said that Alex was there that night
                                Mica: Alex? Seriously?
                                Hanson: and he’s working with Melonie.
                                Mica: …what?
                                Hanson: And I’ve seen Boris working with them, and some people are wondering if both of them have also joined the nephandi.
                                Mica: …WHAT!?
                                Hanson: Are you ok?
                                Mica: Oh yeah. I’m fine. I’ve just discovered half my coven are nephandi… This is the worst Sunday ever!
                                Hanson: So you don’t think you’ll get here in time?
                                Mica: In 20 minutes?
                                Hanson: less than that actually, they might call us in any moment.
                                Mica: Uh…
                                Hanson: It’s just that Vivian and Alfred might get sentenced with something because of this.
                                Mica: Ok… I’m done. That’s just too much. I’m done.

                                Mica hangs up the phone.

                                In the cell, Vivian and Alfred sit waiting.

                                Alfred: High Priestess, are you alright?
                                Vivian: …I have failed them.
                                Alfred: You have not.
                                Vivian: But I have. I was not able to protect my coven. They rely on me for this, and I have betrayed their trust. I am not fit to be their leader.
                                Alfred: But you are their leader.
                                Vivian: Yes… I am.

                                Alfred: Why did you not tell them why Camellia drinks her tea?
                                Vivian: Because it would not help. It would only make them more suspicious.
                                Alfred: What does she need to be calmed so much?
                                Vivian: I don’t know. She was not always like this. When we first met, Camellia was a determined student. She showed a lot of promise and a keen interest in the old healing arts. But something happened. Something she could not share, which devastated her. Granny Elm taught her how to cope with use of the tea, and on taking it she became much more relaxed, but has since been unable to concentrate properly with it.
                                Alfred: Why does she continue to take it then?
                                Vivian: Perhaps it’s easier for her. If you can control your emotions, would you ever choose to be sad?

                                Alexis entered informing them they had a visitor. Joan of the Celestial Chorus.

                                Joan: Can I speak with you?
                                Alfred: Yes..
                                Joan: So it’s true then. That the Heath is to be the site of a horrific evil from this nephandi?
                                Alfred: I believe so yes.
                                Joan: Far be it from me to go against the words of the Exarch, but I am not so confident we would be able to combat them without assistance. I made a vow to you. I swore before The One that I would ensure the energy is returned once the threat is removed. Though it’s difficult for me to honour this promise… I will do what I can to assist you.
                                Alfred: Thank you…
                                Joan: I’m sorry that this is happening to you.

                                The Tribunal is called back in, and all members resume their seats as the judges sit at their benches.

                                Gustav: It has come to our attention that there is one more point of evidence that has been overlooked. This is the testimony of a Verbena witch known as Siobhan who was once a member of the Keepers of the Wyck. She explains that she saw their Coven’s maiden exhibit signs of acting as a widderslainte, and that their High Priestess was not willing to act, instead choosing to ignore the issue for a prolonged period of time. She came to us to report the situation shortly before leaving London.

                                No one challenged or wished to comment on this piece of evidence. And so the final verdict was given.

                                Alexis: The Verdict of the Seat of Law
                                Crothaw: The High Priestess has admitted in protecting what she knew to be a widderslainte, and in so doing has directly gone against the letter and the intention of the 6th protocal. Conspire Not with Enemies of Ascension. We hereby declare her to be guilty of negligence in her post and responsible for her remaining at large.
                                Alexis: The Verdict of the Seat of Morality
                                Exarch: The High Priestess has been show to lie and mislead in order to protect those she values, and has thus endangered her entire cabal. Though she comes from a place of compassion, it cannot be overlooked that she acted in accordance of her own values and not to the benefit of that which she is sworn to protect. It is the Seat’s opinion that any nodes she may claim be taken from her immediately.
                                Alexis: The Verdict of the Seat of Justice
                                Mishra: We have heard what has been stated, but while there is plenty of testimony regarding the nature of the first maiden. There is simply not enough to tell whether or not the second too is one of the fallen. Her word is difficult to trust. As such the one named Camellia shall remain in sleep within these walls until such time that we can determine her true nature. As for the High Priestess, she is to round up the remaining members of her coven for the London Tribunal in order to gain their testimony. After which point she is to relinquish her position as High Priestess, and leave London, never to return and never to take a position of leadership again.
                                Crothaw: Is this understood?

                                Vivian dose not respond, she is becoming more and more distraught and does everything she can to hide it and seem strong.

                                Crothaw: Is this understood?

                                The Adeptus Major speaks louder and more forcefully, but again, Vivian does not speak.

                                Crothaw: Is This Understood?

                                His voice booms over the court. Vivian relents, letting out an audibly broken voice.

                                Vivian: It is.

                                Those with knowledge of Entropy are able to sense a change in the air. The entire courtroom has been a large ritual with the audience acting as acolytes by observing. The effect is that similar to Entropy 5’s Binding Oath. The verdict, once accepted, now becomes an obligation, and to go against it will lead only to misfortune.

                                Alexis: And now, the Verdict for Alfred Camlan. Of the Seat of Law.
                                Crothaw: It is hard to recognise any protocols that have been broken by the apprentice. These events occurred before he came to join the keepers, and as such is innocent of her actions.
                                Alexis: The Verdict of the Seat of Morality.
                                Crothaw: His dedication for uncovering the truth is admirable, as is his wish to do well by his master’s intent. The Seat does not recognise anything notably unmoral about the initiate’s actions in this case.
                                Alexis: The Verdict of the Seat of Justice.
                                Mishra: While both his conduct and character are within the letter of the law, we must not overlook the loyalty he has for his High Priestess. Therefore, The Initiate is compelled to assist her in bringing the other members of the Keepers of the Wyck before the London Tribunal, and may not make efforts to go against our ruling. Is this understood?
                                Alfred: …It is understood.

                                Adeptus Major Crothaw bangs his gavel, and the effect is unleashed upon the both of them.

                                Crothaw: As it is said, it is now done.

                                The Tribunal halts and everyone is returned their belongings, after which they meet outside where it has grown quite late. Eve approaches Helen.

                                Eve: Well Helen, if things go as they do and this Widderslainte is stopped, you’ll have no problems reaching the 4th rank of the Order.

                                By this point, everyone is aware that Helen was a Hermetic mage.

                                Aaron: Ok, so what exactly is going on here?
                                Hanson: Isn’t is obvious? She was investigating the Keepers after they heard there was a widderslainte involved.
                                Aaron: I get that, but why couldn’t Helen just tell us this from the start?
                                Hanson: It would he blown her cover.
                                Aaron: She could have told us.
                                Hanson: Then it would have blown her cover…

                                Alfred looked up at Helen, who immediately turned away, not able to let him look at her face. She was going to do well in her tradition, to be officially embraced into the Order and appointed a True Name, while Alfred may no longer have a coven to be initiated into by the end of this. Racked with guilt, she made a promise to Alfred.

                                Helen: I will help you defend the Heath.

                                Aaron notices a voicemail on his phone. He opens it, and hears a menacing voice.

                                Voicemail: Hello Mr Gibson. I believe you have something which belongs to me. I shall be calling you again tomorrow to discuss how you may deliver it, so you better pick u-

                                Aaron switched off his phone and throws it the ground, stamping on it in terror. The Technocracy had found him. He didn’t know how, but they did.

                                Aaron: Alfred! I’m going to need your help.
                                Alfred: with what?
                                Aaron: Getting to the Astral Realm, and sooner rather than later. (putts up his hoodie) I’ve got a star to find.

                                That was probably one of the more Roleplay intensive sessions that I’ve run for a while. I had to play multiple characters talking to one another, arguing about things that each one knows differently, pretty much from start to finish of what turned out to be roughly 4-5 hours of game time. All the while ensuring that I remain logically consistent and keep in mind what has already been said by whom about what. That said, the players were all really getting involved with it. Some of them were waiting for the right time to bring up certain points, while others were frequently questioning the proceedings (much more than I’ve recorded above). Probably the most fun for me was the slow realisation of Helen’s true tradition, and her face changing to guilt as everyone started to catch on to what she did.

                                Oh, and everyone decided to buy a point in Law after the session ended. Before this only Sean and Hanson put anything for it, so they became indispensable fountains of information regarding the Tribunal's procedure.
                                I always enjoy creating scenarios that make use of lesser used abilities.

                                Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running FINALE: Chapter 39: Green Fairy