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Chronicle Report: Keepers of the Wyck

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  • #61
    Session 15.1

    Little mini-session for Lydia. Here's what happened just after her paradox backlashed around her as the others were being taken to the Tribunal.

    Another one of the many misadventures of everyone's favourite Moon Witch.


    Lydia looked around. The air was filled with a soft mist which enveloped the far corners of her vision. A haze hung firm in the air as the full moon shone down with vibrancy. “Hello?” she called out uncertainly. She could see vague figures, just a bit brighter than shadows, walking around and away from her. “Alfred? Vivian?” None of these shadows reacted. She recalled moments earlier the harsh cries she heard, the shrill screams of a thousand lost souls calling out for some form of refuge. Though she had heard many tales and caught glimpses of the penumbra via the pathways, this was her first time to walk it freely. It took a while for the reality of the situation to set itself upon her. She was trapped beyond the gauntlet with no way to return.

    She was still on the heath, or rather, was now in its umbral shadow. She set off in search of some kind of shallowing, or aid from another. The Heath itself looked strange. Although it held a great vibrancy to its plants, the moonlight illuminating each vein of every leaf, this much was to be expected, but there was a subtle air of numbness about it, as though a filter was placed upon the scene, muting its brilliant silver light to stale beige. It wasn’t long before she caught a glimpse of them, big black forms moving in the heightened nature of the heath.

    Lydia called out to them cautiously, but it did not turn. She snuck by it and got a glimpse of their large rows of teeth barely contained within its jaws. Creeping away, Lydia looks up towards the moon and spies a lone Lune spinning nervously above. At least this confirmed she was in the umbra. She called out to it.

    Lydia: Hello? Lune?

    The Lune floats down, Lydia can tell the spirit is concerned and frightened.

    Lydia: What’s the matter? What’s wrong?
    Lune: The wyrm… The wyrm is near…
    Lydia: Where is it?
    Lune: There is danger….
    Lydia: What danger?
    Lune: …danger…

    Lydia leaves the Lune, seeing how distraught it was. Neither of them where in any condition to help each other anyway. Lydia heard something, something towards the ponds. She walked towards it and the great wall of briar plants which lined the perimeter. The penumbral mists enhanced this tangled weave of thorns and twigs into a mesmerising fractal of ominous growth. Lydia tried to spy over the briar but misjudged her footing and fell onto the thorns, catching her clothes. She landed with a crunch which drew the attention of something slowly prowling. The beast, with large form, gaping jaw, and glowing red eyes, drew near.

    Lydia: Hello? Are you spirit?

    The beast did not slow, but instead started to speed.

    Lydia: What do you want?

    Lydia was seeing how fast the thing approached, and started chanting to Luna for a way to get out of this. As the Beast leapt towards her, she somehow managed to uncatch herself from the thorns and roll harmlessly out of the way while the beat lands head first into the brambles, struggling.

    Lydia looks on at the creature and feels a certain bit of pity for it.

    Lydia: Are you ok? I’m not a threat, I don’t want to hurt you.

    The beast simply struggled harder.

    Lydia: If you calm down I might be able to help, I’m good with healing spells.

    This did not calm it. The creature started to bite relentlessly at its bindings, looking at Lydia with vicious intent. Lydia started to get concerned and so quickly went over her runes to cause the brambles to entwine the best, buying her the precious time she needed to run.

    The Heath shot by her in a blur as she struggled to put as much distance as she could between that thing and herself. She can hear a great snapping of thorned branches, then the angered footsteps of a hasty gallop. There was little chance of outrunning it. She looked around desperately for somewhere to hide, somewhere to stay out of site. She dove into a patch of undergrowth nestled between the trees, and made the plants grow around her, providing a silent spot.

    And there she waited, quietly, listening. The sound of quick legs curtailing their rhythm to a pause. A great heaving of air for a creature short on breath. An intake of scent and the slow but steady sound of ever nearer steps. Lydia wanted to call out for a spirit to help, but dared not make a sound, not with this thing so close to her. She waited in absolute silence. Lydia could feel a great sense of dread whenever this creature drew near, as though the scent of putrid fear emanated from its very being. She was able to hold down the urge to run, but her body ached with the stress of stillness as she began to feel the grass move so very near.

    Her arms faltered. A branch snapped. A rush of moving grass and Lydia jumped into action. She channelled Luna’s energy into the plants around the creature and caused them to grow and contort into a cage. Recalling how quick the creature escaped the briar, she then reinforced her plant cage with thorny brambles of her own. Within this orb of grass, the beast struggled and cried out, but in rage or pain Lydia could not tell.

    Lydia: What’s wrong? Why are you chasing me? Are you also afraid of the wyrm?

    Sensing no relief, Lydia tried to sense the creature, what kind of life form was it? She discovered that while it indeed held a life pattern, it had been possessed by a malevolent spirit.

    Lydia: I see you in there. Come out, leave this creature be and face me directly.

    Though the beast’s thrashings did not lessen, she heard a sinister voice give a short low laugh.

    Lydia: Spirit, who are you?

    The spirit spoke with a low rasp as though every word needed to be forced through.

    Bane: Your worst nightmare.
    Lydia: I have no nightmares, and I make no enemies with spirits…

    The creature stopped. A moment of quiet, eerie stillness in the air in stark contrast to the pained struggles of before.

    Lydia: Spirit? Are you hurt? I can heal you if you need help, but you have to promise to leave me be.

    She slowly approached her grass and bramble cage and placed her hand upon its surface, preparing her written runes for recitation.
    Lydia fell back, the beast tore through the grass and pounced onto Lydia. She had been tricked and now lay on the ground in severe pain. She heard the spirits laughter grow as it made the helpless beast march slowly forward with teeth on full display.

    Lydia waited, anticipating the pain that was sure to follow, but none came. She looked up and saw that the thing had stopped. Its limbs had contorted into a painful shape and its body was twisting around, almost independently. It let out a great cry and jumped off into another direction, chasing after something Helen could not see. Another figure approached her, bathed in shadow, with a black miasmic trail dissipating from the edges of their form.

    Boris: What are you doing here?
    Lydia: Boris?

    Lydia was a bit shocked and uncertain of what to do. Boris stood over her and pulled out a knife, cut his hand, and allowed his blood to drip into her wounds, healing her in moments.

    Lydia: Thank you… I shouldn’t be here. Paradox pushed me through the gauntlet.
    Boris: I see… Then you would better stick close to me.
    Lydia: What was that thing?
    Boris: A fomori, a living being possessed by a harmful Bane.
    Lydia: One of the Lunes told me the heath was surrounded by the wyrm.
    Boris: Banes are often in service to the wyrm. I fear the nephandi may have had a hand in these creatures.
    Lydia: Melonie…
    Boris: …perhaps.
    Lydia: So she was trying to kill me…

    Lydia: Boris, I have to tell you something. Vivian and Alfred have been captured and taken away by the Hermetics.
    Boris: They have?
    Lydia: Yes, they suspect Vivian is harbouring a widderslainte. Before this, Vivian had found Melonie, and the two of them fought.
    Boris: I see. Then we must be quick. Melonie is somewhere out here. We have to find her, but first I need to call for Alex, he will help us.
    Lydia: Alex was there too. He was helping Melonie.
    Boris: No. You are mistaken, Alex wouldn’t mix with the likes of her.
    Lydia: I saw him. Vivian said her name!
    Boris: I know Alex, he would not do this.
    Lydia: Did you also know Melonie? See how she turned out.

    Lydia: So who did we see?
    Boris: The nephandi rule the day with trickery and deceit. Perhaps it was a doppelganger designed to disguise the true form.
    Lydia: Is such a thing possible?
    Boris: With Life, anything is possible.

    Lydia was uncertain whether Boris was lying or simply being deceived himself. She wasn’t sure she could trust him, but lacking any alternatives felt he the safest thing to do was stick with him.

    Poor Lydia. she wants to see good in all and believes so very much that all one need do is try to understand the others position, and there'd be no need for conflict. That all one need do is listen and speak, and all can be resolved. She had never encountered a Bane before, a being of pure malevolence, the very antithesis of her vision for a tolerant and understanding society. If this experience hasn't taught her that not all foes can be reasoned with, then the next lesson may be a bit more costly.
    Also, as an aside, Lydia's player has pretty much zero knowledge of Werewolf the Apocalypse, so when I mentioned the Wyrm, her first response was: "Is that something I need to go and stop?" Well.... Yes... in theory... but you're going to have a hell of a hard time getting there...

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


    • #62
      16th session

      My goodness, it's a Full Cast! How long has it been since everyone was in the same room together?

      Cast List
      Aaron Gibson: Punk Hacker
      Lydia: Moon Witch
      Joe Hanson: Noir Detective
      Helen Walter: Hermetic Spy
      Alfred Camlann: Excalibur Mage
      Sean "Sam" Heath: Templar Knight

      Notable NPCs include:

      Vivian - High Priestess
      Mica - Techno Witch
      Kael - Artefact Crafter

      Lance - R&E Void Engineer
      Mr Steed - NWO Agent.

      Edwin Phillips - Our Marauder


      [ST NOTE: At some point after the Tribunal, Hanson informed the others about what he knew of Helen’s suspicion of Boris and the death of her parents, so now almost every player is aware. I neglected to include this in the previous write up.]

      They stood by the entrance of the hermetic chantry. It was late in the evening. Hanson’s Mind effect was still in action, allowing him to ignore his injuries, but the pain never went away. Eve offered to take Hanson into the chantry and to their node to heal. Sean stood by and watched as Aaron frantically told Alfred that they needed to go to the Astral realm.

      Alfred: We are not going to the Astral Realm.
      Aaron: We kinda have to.
      Alfred: I’ve never been there. I wouldn’t know how to get there, or even where to go once there. Besides we have too many things we need to take care of here.
      Aaron: The technocracy might be after me now.
      Alfred: Yes, I know what that’s like.
      Aaron: It’s the Esther file… It has to be.
      Alfred: I remember them mentioning they were looking for it…

      Eve had brought the two of them into her Sanctum within the chantry, a room filled with geometric objects of every kind. Pictures of various shapes with measured angles and numeric properties lined the walls, while various three dimensional polygons sat on every available surface along with many books and a great many tools for measuring, drawing, and calculating.

      Eve: You’ve done very well Helen.
      Helen: Thank you.
      Eve: Keep with her for the moment, make sure the others are taken to the Tribunal. Once this is over we’ll be able to make plans for you induction ceremony.

      Helen left to checked on the chantry node she had access to. Hanson used this time to speak with Eve alone.

      Hanson: So what did you hear of the Keepers?
      Eve: Only that House Quaesitor was interested in investigating them. Helen showed a knack for magic with the sphere of Life and thought she’d be a suitable spy.
      Hanson: She certainly had them fooled. Do you know what will happen next?
      Eve: I cannot say. I am not of house Quaesitor, so I am not part of these decisions. But I do know that first the rest of the Verbena group need to be brought here to learn the full story.

      Hanson tells Eve about what he saw Boris do to Helen.

      Eve: He tried to brand her?
      Hanson: He did.
      Eve: He has no right to do that. No right at all.

      While waiting, Aaron got Sean to mend his phone, making the screen nice and smooth at the expense of a minor paradox backlash.

      Vivian returned to the rest of the group shortly after Hanson and Helen.

      Alfred: High Priestess, are you ok?
      Vivian: I am fine. Camellia is being kept asleep. They won’t allow her to wake until they’ve seen the others…
      Hanson: Vivian. A few days ago, I tried to enter the Chantry, and I heard some noise down there. I think Boris might have been hiding in the Chantry that night.
      Vivian: Then we will have to return to the quickly.
      Alfred: What do you plan to do?
      Vivian: I have to speak with Boris, I need to hear from him what he’s been doing.
      Alfred: (to Sean) Sam, I think we could do with your assistance again. You’ve proved yourself to be a valued allie.

      Sean was not all together thrilled about staying with the Verbena for so long, but at the same time was not looking forward to returning to the Chapter House after what had happened, so begrudgingly accepted.

      Helen: Is there anything I can help with?
      Vivian: I do not wish to hear from you!
      Helen: Oh… uh.
      Vivian: You lied to me. I trusted you, took you into the heart of our group, and you stole from us, you betrayed us.
      Hanson: Now hold on. If it wasn’t for Helen, none of this Widderslainte business would have come to light.
      Helen: You were keeping a widderslainte secret.

      Vivian became silent, and instead gestured to the group to follow as she walked.

      Aaron had other ideas. He felt he needed to learn more about the Esther file very quickly and asked Hanson if he’d go with him to assist. Hanson agreed, and being the paranoid guy that he was, started to put in place his perception filter with a couple of drinks. Except, this time it didn’t go according to plan, and the whole thing started to botch. He kept trying after holding off the backlash, but still could not get it to work. Aaron suggested going to a pub to try and cool off, and when they arrived, the paradox let loose.
      Hanson looked around, and could not see a soul. He could see the pub itself, the benches, the seats, but no people. Aaron stood next to him and watched as he looked around in utter confusion. Any attempt to speak with him was completely ignored. Instead, he tried to call him on the phone.

      Hanson: Uh… hello?
      Aaron: Hanson, you ok?
      Hanson: Who is this?
      Aaron: It’s Aaron.
      Hanson: Where are you?
      Aaron: I’m literally right next to you…

      After a bit of coordination, Aaron was able to help Hanson leave the pub and slowly head towards his home, until he noticed a marking on the floor near an alleyway. A twig with five stems… Edwin had been here. Pointing it out to Hanson he noticed the mark was near an odd puddle of green slime, and a light trail of slime lead further down the alley.

      Lydia looked around, confused. She was surrounded by buildings with large spider webs all across them. The last thing she recalled was Boris, he was talking about Helen, saying that she was a Technocratic spy, but after this, everything was blank. She could not remember how she ended up here. She was certain she was in a London street judging by the shape of the buildings. When she approached the webs, she observed a number of pattern spiders walking along it. She was still in the penumbra.

      Lydia tried to speak with one of the Pattern spiders

      Lydia: Hello? Could you help me?
      Spider: (looks up)
      Lydia: I’m lost, I need to get back.
      Spider: What does it think…
      Lydia: what?
      Spider: Does it need?
      Lydia: Uhm… I need to find someone, could you send a message to Alfred?

      The spider grew disinterested with her, and returned to tending the web. Lydia, somewhat disheartened sat down on a nearby bench, underneath which was a chrome cockroach, the Kilakac’n.

      Lydia: Oh, Hello!
      Roach: Ahh! (scuttling away)
      Lydia: No, don’t go. I’ve seen you before?
      Roach: Seen before? Not seen you.
      Lydia: Oh, maybe another roach then.
      Roach: (The roach wiggles its antenna, connecting with the pattern web) Oh, you have.
      Lydia: Yes, I can make you food if you like.
      Roach: Food?
      Lydia: I need you to find Alfred, tell him I’m trapped in the umbra.
      Roach: Where is food?
      Lydia: I can grow some for you now.

      Lydia found a patch of grass and used Luna’s energy to grow it into a big sugary plant. From under the bench, about 5 or 6 of the Kilakac’n rushed out to swarm it. Once they were finished, they rushed away, with a small “thanks” thrown by. Lydia looked up, suddenly she was surrounded by a number of pattern spiders, all of whom were staring at her with intent repeating a similar mantra “The web is under threat. Danger. We will neutralise it”. Within seconds Lydia was surrounded by their web, and slowly wrapped up.

      Helen walked in silence for a time, feeling really awkward as she followed behind Alfred, Sean, and Vivian.

      Helen: I’m sorry I broke up your coven…
      Alfred: …You did what you felt you had to.
      Helen: I hope we can still be ok.
      Alfred: While I’m sorry for your loss and I understand you were looking for justice for your parents, but your rash pursuit for vengeance has led to the false capture of an innocent while the true culprit still runs free.
      Helen: I’m really sorry.
      Vivian: Enough. I do not want to hear from you anymore. You may stay with us until this is at an end, but that does not mean you are forgiven. (To Alfred). The spell they placed on me means any action I take must be to bring my coven to them. But as long as I am acting towards this goal, I should be able to do anything for it, the same will be true for you.
      Alfred: What is your plan?
      Vivian: Once we return, I shall speak with who I find, and then go in search of the rest. After that, I’ll have to step down as High Priestess, but not before I appoint another. They may control my fate, but not the fate of the coven. I hope this may go in some small way to undo the danger I’ve put you all in.
      Alfred: You are still my high Priestess, and I will do what I can to serve you.
      Vivian: I’m not sure I deserve this title anymore, perhaps this is what needs to happen.

      When they arrive at Churchill Gardens, Vivian allows them to enter, but instructs both Helen and Sean to stay upstairs while the others follow her down to the lower chantry. However, Vivian returns to let them both down because Granny Elm instructed her to.
      They all entered the node room, with the large tree in its centre, but something was different about it. Its branches were slightly withered, its leaves tinged with yellow, and its great stature reduced. Around the tree were placed a number of gems, Mica and Kael where doing some kind of ritual around it. Granny Elm was approached the five of them as they drew near.

      GE: High Priestess, you are going to search in the umbra?
      Vivian: Yes. I must.
      GE: Then you must be quick, (turning to the group) one of yours is trapped there.
      Alfred: Lydia!
      GE: She is in grave danger! You must go now!
      Alfred: Sam? You have proved yourself very useful in combat within the umbra, will you join us?
      Sean: *Sigh* I guess I’ll go consecrate my clothing then…

      Hanson’s senses were gradually returning to him as he and Aaron followed the blobs of slime. As they progressed they started to notice strange alien plants growing through the pavement, becoming more and more common until the plants where all you could see. It was as though they had entered a different world, but knowing who they were following, this was not unlikely. It wasn’t long before they found Edwin sitting down and looking through his book.

      Aaron: Hanson. It’s him!
      Hanson: Right, stay calm… That book is probably the source of his power, he need to get that off him. But we can’t just walk up to him or we’ll change… We need to fit in to his narrative.
      Aaron: I could try and get it with a little correspondence.
      Hanson: I’ll keep him busy.

      Hanson approached him slowly.

      Hanson: Hey Edwin, Remember me?
      Edwin: what? How-
      Hanson: Detective Hanson, FBI, we met yesterday.
      Edwin: I remember… Yes. How did you get here?
      Hanson: How did you get here?
      Edwin: I… I don’t know.
      Hanson: Where are we anyway?
      Edwin: Somewhere alien… Somewhere not of our Earth… Are you trapped too?
      Hanson: Seems that way…
      Edwin: I’ve been trapped for so long… Every time I think I’m home, it just twists away… Sometimes there are portals, ways back, but they always lead to a new nightmarish landscape.

      Hanson listened to Edwin’s ramblings showing a bit of sympathy, all the while keeping his attention away from Aaron who was furiously typing on his keyboard, recoding the coordinates of the book from Edwin’s hands to his.
      Something loud was approaching them from behind, something that sounded like a helicopter, but not quite. Edwin noticed the noise and looked around just as Aaron successfully obtained the book. Edwin did not see Aaron immediately, but instead looked at the sky.

      Edwin: They’re coming…
      Hanson: What?
      Edwin: Be prepared, we may have to run.

      Aaron checked the book he had just aportated, entitled the Necronomicon. He leafed through it, but found most of it written in a gibberish language, the parts he could read, though, seemed like the raving of a madman, and filled his mind with terrible images and fearful ideas. This was when Edwin noticed him. Aaron looked up.

      Edwin: Oh!
      Aaron: Uh… I’m not here!
      Edwin: The Cultist!
      Aaron: Oh…dammit.

      Aaron started to shift form as he spoke, his clothes taking the form of a hooded robe, he could not help but speak in an ancient tongue. Edwin ran while Hanson tried to keep a hold of him, but then something drew near, something horrible. The sound of flight grew close and Hanson saw a hideious creature. It had great wings as large as its legs, but its head was just a great mass of antenna jolting out in all directions, no space for a face, let alone an eye. It’s size was that of a human and its stature resembled a cross between a praying mantis and some hideous crustacean. Hanson kept close to Edwin as they ran.

      Hanson: What is that thing!?
      Edwin: It’s the Mi-go. Don’t let them grab you. I’ve seen them take people to the edge of the solar system. Once they get a hold of you, they will not let go.
      Hanson: Where are you running to?
      Edwin: There’s a portal around here, we have to go through it. It may be out only escape.

      Vivian and Alfred were both skyclad as they crossed the gauntlet, Sean walked through with all his belongings an extension of his pattern, while Helen just entered with all her things, adding extra strain to Vivian’s spell. On the other side the Kilakac’n finds and recognises Alfred, turns out it was the same one that had guided him before, and lead the way to where Lydia was. What they saw was a hoard of pattern spiders around a wrapped up Lydia, she was completely unable to move.
      Vivian sprung into action, turning into her avian form to distract the majority of the spiders while instructing the rest to unwrap Lydia.

      They approached and prepared to untangle her. Alfred first by attempting to unweave the spiritual thread of the web, but one lone spider remained to defend it, and struck against Alfred, starting to wrap him up in a web. Helen focused on fending off the Spider with her gun, but the spider continued to spit web at Alfred, slowing binding him up, making him unable to move. Sean took out his crucifix but it slipped right out of his hand. It had somehow become impossibly smooth. While the others fended off the spider, Lydia wriggled against her bindings.
      Sean grabbed for his cross but it wouldn’t stop slipping, so he kept it on the floor and concentrated on faltering the Matter of Lydia’s binds, allowing her a bit of room to move. Alfred, on the other hand, was wrapped tight. Helen changed tactics and started tracing shapes, the idea was to lull the spider into a state of complacency with Mind.
      Just as Lydia ripped herself free, Sean forces a wall of earth to rise from the ground between them and the spider. Helen pulled of her mind, the spider became still, and the rest of the group rushed to unwrap Alfred.

      No longer in immediate danger, they made some distance between themselves and the webs. However, the other spiders don’t seem to be chasing after them, instead they were rushing towards somewhere else. While they marvel at this, Vivian swoops down before them and returns to human form.

      Vivian: Lydia… You do get yourself into some difficult situations…
      Lydia: Yes… I guess I do. Vivian, I need to tell you something. I saw Boris.
      Vivian: Boris? Where?
      Lydia: He was at the Heath, I was being attacked by thing creature, but Boris stopped them somehow. But… I don’t know what happened after that, I can’t remember…
      Vivian: Boris was known to practice types of Mind magic… I hope he hasn’t done what I think.
      Lydia: I think he’s working with Alex.
      Vivian: We have a more immediate problem to address. There is another breach in the gauntlet.
      Alfred: Edwin! The marauder must be near. So the spiders are rushing to fix the break.
      Vivian: We must be quick. If this marauder enters the umbra… there is no telling what havoc they will extract.

      Edwin: There it is! The Portal!

      Edwin and Hanson had reached a round swirling breach in the gauntlet, beyond it swirled a mass of confusing shapes and images. Hanson turned to speak to him, but suddenly the Mi-go appeared and grabbed Edwin of the ground. Hanson reached out and held on to him, the three of them forming a human ladder. Hanson tried to pull him down with little luck. The Mi-go’s grip was far too strong.

      Vivian and the others reached the other side of the breach to see this. Alfred and Lydia realised that the breach was having a strange effect on the Avatar storm, as though it tore right through it.

      Vivian: We have to prepare to close it.
      Helen: Wait, I see Hanson out there!
      Vivian: We cannot keep it open and risk the Marauder’s entrance.
      Alfred: If you want to run through, then run through.

      Helen hesitated, but as Vivian started leading a chant to close the breach she made her mind up. She jumped through the breach unharmed and into the transformed world of the Marauder’s making. Behind her, the three verbena were able to close the breach behind her, just before the Pattern Spiders appeared.

      Helen looked up. Hanson was struggling to keep a hold of Edwin as the Mi-go pulled tirelessly away. Without knowing what else to do, Helen brought out her gun and shot at the monster who fell to the ground along with Edwin.

      Hanson: Helen! It’s a good thing you got here.

      Hanson acted quickly; he needed to include Helen into the narrative before Edwin assigned her a role.

      Edwin: You mean you’re on her side!?

      However, Hanson did not take into account the fact that these two had met before. Hanson tried his best to lull him but became so spooked by Helen’s appearance beyond the portal, and the impending suspicion that more Mi-go were about to appear, that he ran off. Hanson and Helen gave chase but soon lost sight of him in the mounds of vegetation. Helen looked back and noticed the Mi-go was changing form. It’s body shrunk back into that of a human wearing a suit, a pool of blood forming where he lay.
      Helen rushed back in order to apply first aid, Hanson stayed back, watching out anxiously for whoever might draw near. He knew that wherever Edwin was, the Technocracy was not far behind. But as Helen patched him up, Hanson got a good view of the man’s face and recognised him. Helen had shot Lance just below the shoulder.

      Hanson: Helen, this is a Technocrat. We’ve got to get out of here.
      Helen: We can’t leave him like this.
      Hanson: They’ll be looking for whoever shot him.
      Helen: I’ve patched him up, he won’t bleed out, but he need a hospital.

      Hanson reluctantly called an ambulance and agreed to stay with Helen, watching over Lance until they arrived. He put up his perception filter on the two of them, and kept a nervous watch out for anything, ready to bolt the moment trouble drew near.

      While walking back towards the chantry, Alfred caught Lydia up on what had happened at the Tribunal, as well as informing her of Helen’s true role as a Hermetic.

      Helen: How did I not see this earlier!? When she was at my seminar she seemed to know nothing of the Wyck. But I knew she was intelligent and capable… How didn’t I notice this?
      Alfred: Yes. Her techniques should have made it more evident. None of us realised what she really was.
      Vivian: I’ll need to speak with Gwyn about who he recruits.
      Alfred: When is Gwyn returning?
      Vivian: Soon, in time for the Harvest ceremony.
      Alfred: That’s only a few days away. What do you plan to do?
      Vivian: I must find Boris. Once we return we shall speak with Granny Elm. Then you may rest in the chantry until tomorrow when the search shall begin.
      Alfred: Will you join us?
      Vivian: I will not be resting. I shall search through the night.

      Aaron returns to his senses not long after Edwin ran away from him. He looks at the book he holds which is not completely different. It is entitled as a new edition of the Theothanies, and contains passages about any aspects, stories, and religious teaching of The One. Aaron got tired of reading it pretty quickly. He noticed a man in a suit and a bowler hat not far from him, and realised he wasn’t safe. If he didn’t leave now, he may not get a chance. He slunk away and took the most convoluted route he could think of to avoid detection, winding his way home.

      An ambulance appears by the fallen Lance, Hanson and Helen keep a close watch. But it’s not just an ambulance, it’s a black unmarked van. A number of well suited people pile out, one of whom has a sinister face which strikes a tinge of fear into both Hanson and Helen. When he spoke, it was with a low sinister tone, one which demanded attention.
      Hanson was about to leave, but something told him to stay, an intuition, to stay and see what was about to unfold.

      Steed: How is he?
      Paramedic: He’s not bleeding, though we’ll have to get him back to the lab soon.
      Steed: Can you identify him?
      Blacksuit: (looking at his VDAS equipment) It’s a Mr Armstrong, of the Void Engineers.
      Steed: I see… Take him back.
      Paramedic: Yes Mr Steed.
      Steed: Take a memo. The Engineers have not made satisfactory progress in stopping the Deviant. I shall be taking over the operation permission pending.
      Blacksuit: Yes sir.

      As the back doors of the ambulance opened up, Helen got a strange feeling looking into it, as though there was something in there.

      Steed: Sweep the area. Look for anyone that might have done this and take him with us.
      Hanson: Helen, that’s our cue to go.

      Helen could hear a voice, barely above a whisper, telling her that all the answers could be found if she entered this ambulance.

      Hanson: Helen!
      Helen: …
      Hanson: Helen, let’s go!

      Helen looked around and saw the technocrats moving around in search, and decided for Hanson’s sake that she would not pursue this urge. The two of them made their escape to the sanctuary of the Hermetic Chantry. Helen said told Hanson she needed some time to heal herself. She went to a small node in the Chantry, a fountain in the shape of the swan. Being a public node it was often low of quintessence, but perhaps there would be just enough for this.

      [ST NOTE: Helen has had a node as one of her backgrounds from the start, and this is the first time she’s actually tried to use it.]

      While Helen was doing this, Hanson decided to find a balcony to clear his head. He pulled out a cigarette and slips into his head. This had been the closet he’d gotten to helping Edwin. Aaron had the book, but how they could use this book to help him was a mystery to him, a puzzle that didn’t seem to have an obvious solution. He drifted around these thoughts looking over the buildings bellow when something hit him on the back of the head.

      Man: Hey!

      A man stood behind him with a holding a long staff.

      Hanson: What the heck?
      Man: I said there’s no smoking here!
      Hanson: It’s a balcony! I’m outside!
      Man: You are a guest, show some respect and leave!
      Hanson: Fine, whatever.

      Hanson went onto the street before trying to relight his smoke, but the flame just wouldn’t come. That man, that hermetic wizard had put a Fire ban on his lighter

      Hanson: Asshole! …god dammit.

      He was about to try and undo the ban with his own brand of Forces, but decided to just buy a new lighter, not wanting to risk the paradox on something this banal.

      When she met up with Helen later, he noticed she had changed into her ceremonial robes. He had to admit that she looked much more comfortable in these than when she was with the Verbena, as though she was finally herself again. Helen had a single room in the chantry.

      Hanson: You sleep her?
      Helen: Sometimes. It’s nearer my lessons than my student accommodation.

      Though there wasn’t much space, Hanson felt find with sleeping on her floor. He never needed all that much sleep anyway.

      Aaron arrived home, it had been a very long day. But without taking a breath he rushed to his computer and started having another look at the Esther file. What was so important about this thing? On his second viewing he noticed a strange bit of code that he hadn’t seen before. The code would cause the file to delete itself if it was ever moved, sent, copied, or otherwise transferred. There could only ever be one copy of the file at any one time. The code was so ingrained into the rest of the file that any attempt to remove it may trigger its deletion is done incorrectly.

      He looked at this phone nervously and decided to do a quick sweep of his computer for any kind of tracking software. The only thing he found was a Trojan virus called “Dare U 2 Delete Dis!” Thinking this was probably not something a technocrat would send, he disregarded it. “Probably one of the other hackers messing with me”.

      Aaron got Rubrix up on skype to talk to him.

      Rubrix: Yo Bus boy, what you need?

      Aaron’s screenname was still: iamabus

      Aaron: Yeah… about that. That name needs to be changed.
      Rubrix: Oh right. Finally.
      Aaron: Also, I realise that I’ve been screwing up for a while. You guys are keeping me out of the missions and generally not respecting. I get it though, I’ve been pretty lame. That job I did a while back. I was sloppy, really bad form. And yeah, I want to improve.
      Rubrix: Right… Nice to see.
      Aaron: Anyway, I think I might have found something BIG.
      Rubrix: Oh really?
      Aaron: Yeah. I’ve got a file that the Technocracy are after and I need some help figuring it out. Could you send it to a KiBo?
      Rubrix: Ah. Gotta be careful with KiBos. You send it to them, there’s not telling who they’ll send it on to. Basically anyone who asks for it. Those guys don’t believe in data privacy you know.
      Aaron: Good point. Well, maybe if I sent it to you, you could try and talk with one.
      Rubrix: Don’t send it to me! I don’t want the Technocracy up my ass.
      Aaron: So what then?
      Rubrix: We might be able to get some advice from someone, but we’d have to do it covert style. You been on the Digital Web yet?
      Aaron: Like properly on? No.
      Rubrix: Get yourself some VR equipment. At the very least you can mod some Playstation stuff for it.
      Aaron: I’m sure I have a powerglove in my drawer somewhere.
      Rubrix: Going retro eh?
      Aaron: Oh, that’s another thing. The file has this code on it that means only one copy can exist at any one time.
      Rubrix: Ah.. That might make things tricky. Tell you what, I’ve got a secure dropbox you can put it in. You’ll be able to look at it, as will I, and this will be how we can get our expert to look.
      Aaron: Cool, just send the link and I’ll upload it.
      Rubrix: Let me know what you get your VR shit together.

      As the file uploaded, Aaron’s phone started ringing, it was his landlord.

      Landlord: Aaron?
      Aaron: Hi.
      Landlord: Listen, I’ve been getting a number of complaints from the other flats about noise. That there’s been a lot of running and thumping, what’s going on?
      Aaron: Oh it’s nothing. Nothing to worry about.
      Landlord: Ok… If I get one more complaint though, I’ll have to come and take a look.
      Aaron: Yeah, I get that. But really, there isn’t anything to worry about.
      Landlord: Sure. Also, your rent’s due in a few days, you know that right?
      Aaron: Oh yeah.
      Landlord: I can’t have it be late this time, I gave a while before, but this time I’m going to need it at the date.
      Aaron: Don’t worry, you know I’m good for it.
      Landlord: well ok. Try to keep the noise down.
      Aaron: Sure. Bye.

      Aaron looked up at the screen, the upload was complete. Satisfied and more than a bit tired, he decided to get back to bed. That night, a strange and curious dream stirred within him. He was in a strange and unknown land with plants of kinds he had never seen littered around him. In the distance he could see a small group of Mi-Go flying by. Ahead of him was a mountain, towards which he felt drawn towards, as though the very earth called out to his soul. He walked slowly towards the mountain, its foreboding stature eclipsing any view of the land around it.

      This was a much more freeform session. I wasn’t entirely sure where everyone would go after the way the last one ended. They might have gone back into the Umbra, perhaps to save Lydia, and then move on to the Astral realm. But they easily could have gone in search of Boris or tried to figure out what more there was to the Esther file. So I kept things really open. I didn’t even know Edwin was going to show up until I threw him into it. I’m not sure what book the weird vegetation was from, perhaps one of the dreamworlds. But the Mi-Go coming in and Mr Steed taking over were not planned, but rather consequences of what the players decided to do.

      For those wondering the Mi-Go are from Whisperers in the Dark. It

      Watching my player’s reactions for things their character isn’t there to see is so much fun. Alfred’s player, for example, was the most vocal when the technocrats started to arrive. Saying things like “You shot Lance… That’s not good, he was the only guy on our side!?” and then “Mr Steed is taking over? We are screwed… This is bad, very bad!”.
      I’ve reached a point in the game where I don’t need to work quite so hard to explain to the players why they should care. They’ve had enough exposure to the character and the world to see them as people, and are aware enough of the various factions to get a general sense of who will do what. It’s gotten to the point where I only need to mention a name or a phrase and the players instantly recognise that the stakes have been raised.

      We have no Helen for the next few weeks, so I’ll have to temper the next few sessions accordingly.
      Last edited by Saikou; 02-01-2017, 11:22 PM.

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


      • #63
        17th session

        With Helen’s Player absent for a few weeks, and Alfred’s unable to do weekends. It looks like we’ll be having a few incomplete parties for a while.
        Let's hope Helen doesn't miss too much.

        Cast List
        Aaron Gibson: Punk Hacker
        Joe Hanson: Noir Detective

        Notable NPCs Include:

        Granny Elm: Malfean. The Coven’s Hag
        Mica Rose: Technowitch

        Corporal Hector Howard: Cybernetic Biomoded NSC Soldier
        Sarah Phillips: Edwin’s Sister

        ---CHAPTER 17a: REAL MAGIC---

        Hanson awoke on the floor. Helen was still sleeping in her bed. Not wanting to wake her, he quietly left the room to find somewhere to have his morning coffee, somewhere away from the eyes of judgmental Hermetics. He found a small café and sat with his brew thinking over the case in his head. It was Monday and Edwin was still out there. If he didn’t find him soon, Violet may get to him first. Slipping into a dream, he concentrated on the question “What am I missing?” Within the space around him, a small image of a crying face drifted over.
        Whatever happened, he sent Aaron a text requesting to meet up.

        Aaron awoke at the crack of noon slightly disorientated. He saw Hanson’s text and responded before getting up and taking a look at the Esther File once more. For the next hour and a half he poured over it, and discovered a number of properties. First, the deletion command was not just in one point of the code, but repeated several times throughout the file, and any attempt at removal would trigger it to delete itself. This would mean he’d have to change every instance of it all at once, making copying this file incredibly difficult.
        Second, while many parts of the file seem to mimic coordinates, other parts look more like an algorithm, but stranger still was that large sections of the algorithmic areas seemed to be surrounded by streams of meaningless “junk code” that did not fit any language Aaron was familiar with, nor was referenced within the algorithm itself. Apart from being some kind of sophisticated encryption mechanism, Aaron couldn’t imagine why anyone would put so much nonsense in their programs.
        While considering the code, Aaron got a call from a withheld number. He let his phone ring out, ignoring it entirely.

        Hanson arrived and the two of them explained each other’s predicament. The hunt for Edwin, and the curious properties of the Esther File.

        Hanson: So Lance, the guy who was with the guy who shot at me? Well, Helen shot at him, except she didn’t know it was him, it was one of Edwin’s delusions made real.
        Aaron: …go on.
        Hanson: Well, we saw another guy, real scary looking guy too. Full suit and everything. Mr Steed. He said he’d be taking over the investigation. I’m thinking he’s not with the Void Engineers, My guess is either Syndicate or New World Order.
        Aaron: Hmm… If it was the Syndicate, that wouldn’t make much senses actually… Why would the Syndicate care about a marauder? So it’s probably the NWO, and if it is, then that’s really bad for all of us.

        Hanson receives another call from the withheld number. Tentatively he gives in and answers it.

        Voice: Hello Mr Gibson, so nice to finally get through to you.
        Aaron: Hello? Who is this?
        Voice: Now, I believe you have something of mine.
        Aaron: Uhh… what?
        Voice: I’m sure you know perfectly well what. Shall we discuss how you will be returning it?
        Aaron: I really don’t know what you’re talking about.
        Voice: The Esther file!
        Aaron: …Nope, not ringing any bells.
        Voice: I see… That would be unfortunate as I’ve already sent a few people around to assist with negotiations, it would be a shame if it turned out I’d have to blacklist the entire event.
        Aaron: Blacklist? What are you talking about?
        Voice: Now, Mr Gibson. If you’re willing to cooperate, I then we can start talking. Otherwise I will be getting what’s mine back.
        Aaron: No you won’t

        Aaron hangs up the phone, turns to Hanson and speaks plainly.

        Hanson: Yeah, we gotta go. Now.

        Hurriedly, Aaron rushes around his room, packing away as many things as he can into a duffle bag, being sure to take his computer, phone, and charging equipment, along with two sets of clothes and a few other things such as the stolen copy of the Theophanies. He was just about to say “let’s go” when he heard three great knocks at the door.

        Thugs: Mr Gibson! Open up.
        Aaron: Shit! Ok, we’re teleporting!

        Aaron panicked, grabbed at his phone, and started to key in coordinates to teleport the two of them to the only place he could think of that was safe, The Keeper’s Chantry. While he fiddled with his code, Hanson rushed to barricade the door with anything he could find, throwing a chest of drawers, and even the bed in front of the door as the knocking turned into bashing. With not a moment to spare, Aaron coded their escape, unravelling the walls, floor, and ceiling of the place they stood in, which reconfigured itself back to where Aaron slept in the upper rooms of the Verbena chantry.

        They took a moment to catch their breath.

        Aaron: Looks like I’m not going home for a while.
        Hanson: Well, while we’re here, might as well check who else is around.

        [ST NOTE: Aaron’s player started referring to the lower chantry part of the Keeper’s place as “The Undergrove” and it’s sort of stuck. So that’s what it’s called now.]

        The two of them look around the chantry, but not a single person could be found. Neither of them could access the Undergrove with the pendants they had. They knocked at the door, uncertain of who they would find. Mica opened the door for them.

        Mica: Oh, hi.
        Hanson: Mica, hi. You ok?
        Mica: Not really…
        Hanson: Sorry about the way I broke the news to you the other day.
        Mica: Hmm… It’s been hard. Kael and I have been fighting to keep our node in strength. We saw you guys getting carted away, so we hid back here.
        Hanson: Is it just the two of you then?
        Mica: Not really. Vivian went off into the umbra to search for Boris, I have no idea where he is. Kael left too so it’s just been me and Granny Elm making sure this place is still safe.
        Aaron: Granny Elm is with you?
        Mica: Yeah, she usually stays around here, and especially now we need someone who can keep an eye on everything. You want to consult with her?
        Hanson: Actually yeah, that could be a good idea.
        Aaron: So you’re not going to look for Boris with Vivian?
        Mica: That’s the umbra… I don’t really do so well in the umbra. I mean, It’s important. And that’s where all the energy for my gems come from. But my devices have a lot of trouble there.
        Aaron: Yeah… About that. How does your magic actually work?

        Mica’s face brightened up considerably when Aaron asked this, and offered to take the two of them into her small room in the Undergrove, filled with various tools, metalwork, and gem stones, and started explaining her paradigm.

        Mica: Right, so you know that everything has an energy to it yeah? That’s this energy which is in everything, it’s in all of life, it’s in all parts of magic. When you put your hands together and hold them an inch apart, you can feel that energy flowing between them, that heat, that connectivity. That energy comes from the Umbra, and it’s what gives everything life. Well, that energy is also held in these gems. That’s where their energy comes from. Kael says that if you can focus on the energies contained within the gems, you can enforce them onto other aspects of reality. I have trouble with that, so I thought I could build something to help. You see, these energies all have their own frequency, so it should be possible to enhance their frequency, maybe with light or vibration. It’s like how watches work by enhancing the frequency within quartz to keep in touch with the energies and rhythms that keep track of time.

        Her explanation caught Hanson’s imagination, and was genuinely interested to hear more. Aaron, however was much more confused.

        Hanson: That’s actually really interesting…
        Aaron: I’m…not sure I really get it. How do you work that into your computer?
        Mica: Do you want to see?

        She went to her computer and opened it up for them. Lying just above the circuit board was a large chunk of bismuth, soldered into place. Aaron just stared with a look equal parts bewilderment and horror.

        Aaron: How does that… What?
        Mica: The bismuth, part of the grandmother board is able to attract all kinds of energies from the umbra. By funnelling them through specific squares, it can influence and be influenced by other parts of the circuitry on the mother board. This part over here.

        Hanson: I’ve never seen anything like it. You’ve taken mystic and added it with the technological! I’m not easily impressed, but I’ve got to say, this is amazing.

        Mica beams at this and awaits Aaron’s response. Aaron tries to get the pictures of computers mangled by rocks being shoved into them out of his head.

        Aaron: It’s… yeah. As long as it works for you I guess. I wonder how you’d do with a trinary computer.
        Mica: Trinary?
        Aaron: You don’t know… Right then-

        Aaron starts to explain to her how trinary works, and how the Virtual Adepts take advantage of its fuzzy handling of data. Mica does not seem to really understand it though, nor does she quite get the idea behind Binary, and how that’s remotely related to crystal energies. Aaron eventually just gives up stating “well, you do you”.

        Mica then demonstrates a few of her other gem assisted tech, like her Ruby tipped laser which calls back the frequencies of previous times, or her clock mounted with several different quartz crystals, which she calls her “second chance machine”.

        Aaron: Huh… interesting. That might come in handy.
        Hanson: Witch all these machines, why do they keep you stuck in here?
        Mica: Well, none of the others really like this stuff. Kael especially, he says I’m harming the crystals energy with them, but I don’t know. Vivian and Gwyn are a bit more ok with it than the others, so they helped me set up this room here. Also, this is the only place where I can get a wifi signal.
        Hanson: Well, as far as I’m concerned, you’re doing fine. They’ll learn to appreciate your stuff someday.
        Mica: Maybe…
        Aaron: Ah… You’ll be fine.
        Mica: So… did you want to go see Granny Elm?
        Hanson: Yes, let’s do that.
        Mica: Let me know if you might need help with anything.
        Aaron: Sure, you’ve got my screenname right?
        Mica: Yeah… iamabus, right?
        Aaron: I’m changing that.
        Mica: What is it now?
        Aaron: Theseus.
        Mica: As the greek myth?
        Aaron: If you knew what I’ve been through, you’d understand.
        Mica: Like what? A maze?
        Aaron: ….pretty much.

        They approached the Granny Elm’s room and knocked at the door gently. From beyond the door she spoke.

        GE: Detective Hanson… yes?
        Hanson: Yes.
        GE: And Aaron, come to see me?
        Aaron: …yeah…
        GE: Yes… I knew you would come today.

        She beckoned them in and they sat down, the eeriness of the room ever present. Granny Elem sat across from them, shuffling her cards constantly, speaking without need to look up.

        GE: Tell me, what is it you wish to seek advice upon?
        Aaron: Well, I need help finding a… star. It’s meant to be in the Astral realm, and other people also want to find it. Why do they want it, and why is it so important?
        GE: The Star you seek… it is important indeed. Those that search for it are as eager to unlock its mysteries as you.
        Aaron: Where can I find it?
        GE: It’s possible that the Astral Realm may provide some answers, but it is difficult to say.
        Aaron: Right… There was a guy on the phone earlier asking for it… Why?
        GE: I cannot say why they would need it, but only that they feel their need is great.
        Hanson: So, Edwin. The Marauder. I’m trying to find him, but every time I get close he slips away. What am I missing? What do I need to do?
        GE: Marauders are always difficult to deal with. Though some may need more familiar ties to keep them grounded.
        Hanson: I already play into his narrative, then he doesn’t transform me, I’m just a part of his story.
        GE: Though if his stories are about his escape, maybe someone familiar from outside the stories will be needed.
        Hanson: Sarah…
        Aaron: Hey, did you call her?
        Hanson: I was planning on it. Bringing her along might help a lot, actually.
        Aaron: Yeah, you should do that.
        Hanson: Do you know where Edwin is right now?
        GE: It’s difficult to say… Marauders are by their nature difficult to predict. Though if I had an item which held some kind of link with him, I might be able to see more.
        Hanson: His book! Aaron, you still have the book he was carrying around?
        Aaron: Yeah, it become something else though, something pretty boring to read. I’ll go get it.

        While Aaron left the room to retrieve the book from his duffle bag, Hanson decided to ask some questions regarding the Keepers.

        Hanson: So, It’s just you here then?
        GE: I and Mica, ensuring the Chantry remains safe.
        Hanson: What do you think of everything? Of Melonie coming back? Of Alex’s involvement?
        GE: It is difficult to say. The nephandi are notorious for their planning. It seems they seek to corrupt the nodes of Hampstead Heath. But to what end is unknown.
        Hanson: What about Boris… I’m having a difficult time trying to guess his allegiances. He tried to brand Helen, but then stopped when I spoke to him. But at the same time he’s was talking to Alex, as though they were working together. I don’t think he’s turned naphandi or anything, but the fact that he didn’t tell Vivian about any of this is really suspect.
        GE: Boris has been a concern. Vivian is in the Umbra now, searching for him. Perhaps when he’s captured, we’ll be able to get some answers.
        Hanson: Helen thinks he killed her parents, and he confirmed that, but said it was because they were technocrats. Do you know anything about this?
        GE: There may be truth to it, but if Boris is in league with the nephandi, it makes his words very difficult to judge. The tricks of the fallen should never be underestimated.
        Hanson: Hmm…

        Aaron arrives with the print edition of the Theophanies. Granny Elm took it from, revealing her hands to be worn and withered.

        GE: I will see what I can do with this, but it may take a considerable amount of time.

        Aaron’s phone starts to ring, a withheld number again. He looks surprised, his tech never worked in the undergrove before. What was going on?

        Hanson: Hey Aaron, is that your phone?
        Aaron: Yes… but… what?

        Aaron tried to answer it, but the signal was so poor the line fell almost immediately.

        They looked confused at the phone for a while, then Granny Elm spoke with a note of concern.

        GE: So, our node really is weakening.
        Aaron: huh?
        GE: You may have wondered why technology does not work down here. This place is a shelter for a time long lost to history, and as such it holds the feelings and rhythms of that time. As the node fails, so too do these ties to the primordial.
        Aaron: Oh.
        Hanson: And that’s because of the Hampstead Heath node?
        GE: The ancient energies of these paths help feed this place and keep it strong. Without its power, our node may slowly fade away.
        Hanson: What can be done about that?
        Aaron: Well, when I was there, I saw that Exarch guy draw up all the quintessence from it. I think we need to put it back somehow.
        Hanson: Where did he put it?
        Aaron: Into a cross.
        GE: Here.

        Granny Elm has been silently casting a spell with aid of the Theophanies. An image appears before them of a black crucifix with rounded edges.

        GE: The quintessence of the node has been placed within. The Choristers have taken it to their Chantry on the Heath.
        Aaron: Well, it’s another thing to do then. Get that Cross.

        The two of them left Granny Elm to discuss their plans at ground level.

        [ST NOTE: This is where Granny Elm is beginning to grow a bit more manipulative. By helping them with their questions about the Esther file, she hopes to keep Aaron distracted, while aiding Hanson in bringing Edwin back to Sarah. Plus, as a nice consequence of Edwin stealing the Theophanies, which Aaron then takes back and gives to her, she now has a really convenient window to watch all the Choristers who had a hand in writing this book. The best part about it, is that neither Aaron nor Hanson realise just how much power they’ve offered her]

        Aaron: Right, so we’ve got that cross to get, but I’ve also got to get some VR equipment so I can figure out this Esther file business.
        Hanson: Well, I know what I’m doing. I need to talk to Sarah and see where she is, and if she could perhaps calm Edwin down once we find him.

        Aaron shot of a quick text to Alfred:

        You Pendragon

        Missed you at the Undergrove. Things are definitely weakening around here. Granny Elm seems to think it’s tied to the Heath’s Node. Basically, to unfuck things, you gotta get all the juice the Choristers put into that little cross and pour it back into the Node. It’s being kept in Kenwood House. Granny Elm can tell you more. See you soon if I don’t get blackbagged!
        - Rusty

        Hanson called Sarah:

        Sarah: Hello?
        Hanson: Ms Philips, It’s Hanson.
        Sarah: Is everything ok? Have you found him?
        Hanson: Not quite. He keeps getting away from me.
        Sarah: It’s been almost 2 weeks. What kind of detective are you!
        Hanson: Ms Phillips, please. I’m working hard on this. Are you busy right now?
        Sarah: Not especially.
        Hanson: Good, I think we need to meet up and talk about a few things. Where are you right now.
        Sarah: Around Soho.
        Hanson: Ok, Would you be able to meet up soon?
        Sarah: …
        Hanson: Ms Philips?
        Sarah: There’s someone following me…
        Hanson: Are you sure?
        Sarah: Yes. I think he’s been following me for a while.
        Hanson: Can you describe this person?
        Sarah: I can’t tell their face, but they’re wearing a black suit and a hat.
        Hanson: …oh no. Right, Ms Philips, tell me where you are.
        Sarah: I have to go!
        Hanson: Ms Philips. Please.

        Sarah hangs up the phone.

        While this is happening, Aaron went down to see Granny Elm to ask one last question. Granny Elm was preparing to do something in the node room, drawing out a pentagram by the base of the tree. Aaron quickly explained the prophecy Lydia had stated, and then asked her what she thought the Death Spiral might refer to. She responded with uncertainty, but that it could simply be the death of the node they are protecting.

        Aaron returned upstairs.

        Hanson: Aaron, we need to go now. Sarah’s being followed by a technocrat, I have a feeling it’s and old friend of ours…

        Before they set of, however, Aaron received another call from this withheld number.

        Aaron: Hello…?
        Voice: Well, Mr. Gibson, you certainly are a difficult man to get in touch with.
        Aaron: Yeah… I’m funny like that.
        Voice: You would me making things so much easier if you would just open yourself up to talks.
        Aaron: What kind of talks do you have in mind exactly?
        Voice: Negotiations. You have something which belongs to me, and I want it back.
        Aaron: Look, I’ll be willing to talk to you at the end of the week, but I’ve got-
        Voice: You will meet with me tomorrow at the latest, I will have someone inform you of the place and time. Try not to be late.

        The phone cuts.

        Aaron: That probably wasn’t good.
        Hanson: Sounds like you’ve got quite a bit to deal with yourself.
        Aaron: Yeah… but it looks like you need help more right now.
        Hanson: I’m thinking we might be able to talk with him. He’s a Void Engineer, and the NWO are about to take over his case. He probably hates that, so we might have a bit of common ground there.

        The text comes shortly after: Wandsworth Place, 2pm Tomorrow

        Hanson: Right… that’s less than 24 hours to live.

        The two of them left towards Soho, but not before putting on a heavy perception filter. Hanson also takes out his notepad and starts scribbling down possibilities, shifting a way through the maelstrom to create a controlled path of chance, allowing them not only to find Sarah, but also to create an escape route. A few corners around several streets later, and Hanson sees the man in the suit. Hector.

        Hector, however, does not see Hanson or Aaron…yet. Hanson grabs his phone and calls Sarah. He can hear her ringtone where he stands, as does Hector, followed by the sound of frantic attempts to switch it off. Hanson and Aaron quickly walk towards where they heard the tone, but cannot see anything. Hector walks down an alleyway while Hanson and Aaron walk another one. They still cannot see any sign of here, or anywhere that she could be hiding. But they can sense something isn’t right, as though some kind of Force was being bent out of alignment. Aaron confirmed that there was a magic effect in place causing light to bend around a particular place.

        Hanson: Ms Philips?
        Sarah: Detective? Where are you?
        Hanson: Where are you?
        Sarah: I don’t know, I can’t see anything.

        Hanson figured followed the sign of her voice and placed his hand out.

        Sarah: Sarah? Are you there?

        He felt something, followed immediately by a sharp pain on his hand.

        Sarah: Hey!
        Hanson: Sorry. I think I know what’s happened. You’ve turned yourself invisible.
        Sarah: Invisible? How?
        Hanson: Magic. Anyway, Ms Philips, Grab my hand. We’re going to take you somewhere safe.

        While the two of them feel around for one another, Aaron notices that Hector has just appeared behind them.

        Aaron: Hanson! We gotta go!

        The three of them start running. Hector shifts his bionic eye to see infrared, and starts shooting at Sarah, but misses. “Hanson!” he calls out, having now noticed him. The three waste no time following Hanson as he runs down whatever route just feels right. They turn a corner and rush up a fire escape. Hector is not far behind, and just as they reach the roof, Hector jumps to meet them.

        Aaron: Crap, the guy can jump!

        They run down the roof, Hanson starts putting down his shades to speed them up, searching for a slipstream in the maelstrom. Aaron takes out his phones and quickly sets up to remove Hectors speed, slowing him down considerably. The three of them run across the roof and find an open door. They run to it, close it behind them, and lock it before Hector has a chance to get near it.
        The door led to a set of stairs which eventually opened up into a shopping mall.
        Hanson: Good… We can get lost in the crowd.
        Aaron: There goes trying to talk to him.

        Helen’s invisibility effects fades away, and the three of leave the mall to find somewhere safe to go.

        Aaron: We could take her to the Verbena place.
        Hanson: Yes, but it’s too far. The Hermetic Chantry is nearer.
        Sarah: What? No.
        Hanson: It’s fine, they’re safe. They don’t want to do anything to you.
        Sarah: I’m not going. Those people are Order of Heremes right? They’re one of the groups trying to kill Edwin!
        Hanson: Ms Philips, it’s the safest place to go.
        Sarah: I’m not going to them! I have somewhere in Soho we can wait.
        Hanson: Ok then.

        Sarah leads them down a few streets and into a neglected side road and to an unassuming door. She pushes through and beacons the others to follow as she climbs up, arriving at a squalid concrete box of a room, with fragmented carpeting, a leaking pipe, a single mattress, and a horrible smell of damp and mould.

        Sarah: It’s not a lot, but it’s safe.
        Hanson: So you’ve been living here?
        Sarah: Edwin and I have been on the run for years now. I’ll take whatever I can find.
        Aaron: Well, it’s not exactly the Ritz, but it’ll do.
        Sarah: Sorry, there isn’t any electricity here.
        Aaron: Ah… Well I should be fine for a few hours at least.
        Hanson: A good way to keep out of the Technocracy’s sights.
        Sarah: Out of everyone’s sights really.
        Hanson: You turned yourself invisible earlier.
        Sarah: Did I? All I know was I couldn’t see anything.
        Hanson: It was your magic?
        Sarah: Magic… I remember those Hermes people talking about magic and spheres. It’s all meaningless to me.
        Hanson: So how did you do that?
        Sarah: I don’t know. It just happens. A week ago, I started getting desperate for money, so I turned up to a place to work, just a waitress job really, and when I talked to them it was like they thought I already worked there. I did the tables and they paid me without ever asking who I was.
        Hanson: Was that you as well?
        Sarah: Maybe… These things never happen when I want them to… maybe it’s only when I’m desperate. I’ve never had the time to think about it, I’ve always been running, keeping Edwin safe.
        Hanson: Ms Philips. I might need your help with that.
        Sarah: With what?
        Hanson: With Edwin. I’m not able to get through. But I think if you came with us, it might help.
        Sarah: Well… Do you know where he is?
        Aaron: Working on it! Hanson, come here.

        Aaron and Hanson discussed a spell they could use to try and locate Edwin. After a lot of considering, they came to a combined Entropy ritual. Aaron would go onto his computer, map out all the locations they knew Edwin had been in, while Hanson would go over all he knew about the case, and about Edwin, in his notepad. The two of them would use this combined pool of data to determine the most likely location that Edwin would turn up next.

        It was an arduous ritual, lasting well over two hours. Trying to predict the moves of a Marauder is a task most would consider a fool’s errand. But Hanson was certain there was a pattern to it, and Aaron believed that if there was, he would see it. Sarah was lying down on her mattress as the two of them kept at it. But in the end, they had settled on a place. The Tower of London.

        Before they could make any actions, however, Paradox set upon Hanson. He’d been holding it back for a while. His joints came alive with movement and friction. Every attempt at movement felt like a burn. Aaron, got paradox of his own after attempting a precautionary “Mental Firewall” effect resulting in a severe burning headache..

        Sarah: Are you two ok?
        Hanson: Yeah…. We will… ow…
        Aaron: This… This is what… real magic… looks like.

        This Data plan wasn’t the first thing they tried to find Edwin. One idea was to use Sarah as a link for some Correspondence Scrying. The problem was that Aaron was having a hard time working out how to do this. By that I mean Aaron’s Player couldn’t think of a way to use familial ties as a link within his paradigm. Up until now, Aaron has been using Data sphere sort of things to establish links like Phone numbers, IP addresses, and so on. In order to make the link, he needs there to be some kind of link within the data. Aaron’s player just couldn’t figure out how it would make any sense. It’s a shame Aaron knows nothing about genetics.

        How many plot points have we got going now?

        Edwin’s Madness
        - NWO taking over
        - Hector’s Revenge
        - The Good Death

        The Esther File
        - Syndicate action
        - Meeting a KiBo in the Digital Web

        The Malfean’s Plot
        - The Fomori Army
        - Zandros and Malady’s work

        Verbena Problems
        - Finding Boris
        - Recovering the Node’s Quintessence
        - Protecting the Coven from collapse
        - Saving Camellia

        Player Plights
        - Where Helen’s parents really technocrats?
        - The Knight’s Officers.
        - The Wrath of the Norns

        The Fox
        - It’s really important
        - Seriously.

        Let it never be said I don’t give my players ample things to do.
        Last edited by Saikou; 02-04-2017, 10:01 PM.

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


        • #64
          Session 17.2

          Another romp through the Umbra awaits.

          Cast List
          Lydia: Moon Witch
          Alfred Camlan: Excalibur Mage
          Sean “Sam” Heath: Templar Knight

          Notable NPCs Include:

          Vivian Porter: High Priestess
          Kael: Talisman Crafter
          Mica Rose: Technowitch
          Granny Elm: Malfean Barabbus Seer

          ---CHAPTER 17b: DOWN IN THE DARK---

          The mist is low and the sky is dark. Vivian has brought the group back to the ancient node. She stands with them and speaks with a tone of urgency.

          Vivian: Granny Elm wishes to speak with you. I will stay here and search for Boris.
          Alfred: Do you know where he might be?
          Vivian: All I know is that I need to find him soon. Gwyn will be back in time for Mabon.
          Alfred: That’s only a few days away.
          Vivian: Will you be able to take them across?
          Alfred: I shall try.

          Vivian turns into her great black bird form and launches off into the sunset. Lydia looks on with admiration. Alfred starts his rhythmic chanting as he attempts to press himself and the others through the gauntlet. The shards of the avatar storm once again make their claims, and severely injure both Lydia and Alfred, who arrive in the Node Room of the Undergrove, collapsed and covered in blood. Lydia had never felt such unbearable pain before, leaving her screaming in anguish. Luckily, they had arrived in front of Kael, who immediately instructed Mica to head to the apothecary to get things while he tried to stabilise the bleeding.
          Sean just stood there, not too certain what to do.
          Within moments, Mica emerged with what looked like a stick with a gem on it. She handed it to Mica and Kael stood over the two of them, chanting something neither Alfred nor Lydia were in any shape to listen to. Sean observed as, right before his very eyes, the quintessence left the gem and fused into their bodies, mending their shredded patterns back to full resolve.

          Lydia: Thank you.

          Lydia takes a moment to calm herself after the ordeal. Kael does not respond, instead he looks down at the stick he holds with concern.

          Lydia: What’s wrong?
          Kael: Our node is starting to fade. Since the Heath has been drained, our ancient tree has weakened considerably. I’ve been doing what I can to preserve its energy, but at this rate, our node will be powerless by the Solstice.
          Alfred: Unless we can stop it.
          Kael: Perhaps. I have been trying to supplement the node with my own quintessence, though our stores will start to run low in time. Though at least the apples are still growing.
          Alfred: That’s with Prime, right?
          Kael: Yes, you could say that.
          Alfred: I’ve been interested in learning about the sphere of prime.
          Kael: Perhaps when there is time, and once you’ve finished your initiation, I may be able to teach you.
          Lydia: I’d like to learn about Time.
          Kael: Well, that I might not be able to help with.

          Mica had been gathering gems that had been placed around the tree while they were speaking, but at the mention of Time, her ears perked up.

          Alfred: Mica? Do you know about Time magic?
          Mica: Oh? Oh yes!
          Lydia: Could you teach me about that sphere?
          Mica: Well… Maybe. I’m not sure if you’d like my, eh... way. But I know a bit about Time, I’ve used it, so perhaps yeah, I can teach you a bit when we have some time… he he.

          Kael and Mica return to caring for the tree, while Alfred, Sean, and Lydia approach Granny Elm’s door. It opens just before they press it.

          GE: Enter.

          They oblige.

          GE: Lydia, It is good to see you safe.
          Lydia: Yes… I had a bit of trouble with some Pattern spiders.
          Alfred: As did I.
          GE: There is no shame in that. Such spirits are difficult to appease.
          Lydia: I should be able to deal with them though. I dealt with them before.
          GE: As I’m sure you are all aware, our chantry is in dark times.
          Sean: Yes… I’ve seen your node.
          Alfred: Granny Elm. Would it help if we were to return the quintessence to the Heath?
          GE: It would. Though we would need to find where it has been taken.
          Alfred: Perhaps we could ask your friends in the Chorus.
          Sean: yeah….
          Alfred: Wait a minute. Joan. While I was awaiting the Tribunal, Joan came to visit. She said she’d keep true to her word and return the Heath’s quintessence.
          Alfred: That may stem the Heath from further corruption, but it won’t do anything for the corruption already there. I saw that where the Water nymphs were once, there are now Banes.
          Sean: If we were to fight these creatures, would their defeat restore the Heath?
          GE: Perhaps, though without the nodes power, it may not stand. There is another issue however.
          Alfred: What is it?
          GE: Vivian has gone to find Boris. Though I worry she will not succeed if she finds him. Her judgement is clouded by her emotions. Though she hides it well, the guilt of what has happened to her coven is harming her.
          Lydia: So we can go help her.
          GE: She would not allow herself to be helped. But yes, she needs assistance finding where Boris is hiding.
          Alfred: So then we have to choices… We can go into the Umbra and search for Boris, or we can try to tend to the Heath.
          Sean: Would we even know where to go?
          GE: Though I cannot join you as the Avatar Storm will do great damage, I will be able to guide you from here. I can send a silver orb to light your path once I have found where he may be.
          Alfred: What about the node?
          GE: While you are in the umbra, Kael may tend to the Heath, and I shall keep our node with Mica.
          Sean: What would we do when we find him?
          Alfred: We’ll have to talk to him.
          Lydia: I talked to him. He was adamant that Alex was not working with Melonie, but we both saw the two of them work together. I really don’t know if I can trust him or what he says… For that matter, I’m not sure I can trust Vivian. She’s been lying to everyone about Melonie. And we’re getting Boris so we can save Camellia. But can we trust her? She’s always been a bit off.

          [ST NOTE: This little diatribe started going a bit OOC, she started listing off all the reasons she couldn’t trust any of the players. Hanson and Aaron’s magic doesn’t make sense to her. Helen betrayed the entire cabal, Alfred’s in constant conflict with his avatar, and she even thought he might have been a nephandi at one point, and then there’s “Sam” who she knows is not his real name. She concluded that the only person she felt Lydia could trust was Granny Elm. I can’t help feel like I’ve done my job pretty well.]

          Alfred: Very well… We shall try to find Boris.
          GE: Then get some rest tonight. We shall make preparations for the journey tomorrow.

          The group got to their rooms above the Chantry and rest for the night and return the next day to prepare effects within the node room. Lydia chants to Luna for Strength (and Dex, and Stamina). Sean consecrates his clothing and gun, and Alfred occludes the rhythm of their thoughts, creating a powerful Mind effect which would give extra resistance against any types of mental intrusions. Considering what Boris is capable of, this seemed a necessity.

          Kael approached the three of them holding two pieces of Smokey Quartz on a string. He explained that they were periapts, he offered them to Lydia and Alfred in order to aid in their quest. Quintessence was becoming a precious commodity, needed to keep the node alive, so as Kael could see Sean had his own supply, he did not provide him with one.

          They thanked him, and Alfred proceeded to disrobe.

          Lydia: So, you’re going naked?
          Alfred: Aren’t you?
          Lydia: Do I need to?
          Alfred: It makes it easier to cross.
          Lydia: What about Sam?
          Sean: It won’t be a problem.
          Alfred: I assure you, it is quite natural.

          Lydia was noticeably uncertain about disrobing. It may have been the Catholic side of her upbringing showing through, or her lack of experience performing Skyclad spirit crossings, but her hesitation was there. But Alfred’s comfort with being skyclad seemed to win her over, and she too disrobed. Sean simply averted his eyes.

          Alfred traced a circle in the ground and asked the others to remain within it. He then resumed his rhythmic chanting in order to bring the three of them through. And through they went, emerging yet again on top of a hill. The crossing is harshest on Alfred, the only one to receive Aggravated damage from the storm. Lydia prepares to heal him, but does not know how to use the periapt. In desperation, Alfred gives his own periapt to Sean, so he may draw the quintessence out of it and into Lydia. She then channels it into Alfred to repair his broken pattern. This was probably the moment when Lydia realised just how useful Prime magic could be. After all the commotion, Lydia started to get a little self-conscious, so altered her body to grow a set of scales around her body. We dubbed them “Modesty Scales”. The only object Alfred brought with him was a bag containing his salves and foci.

          Moments later, both Lydia and Sean caught sight of a silver orb, flying off into the mist. Alfred looked for it, but just could not catch a glimpse of it, for a moment he thought he could hear the sound of scissors cutting thread.
          Lydia led the way, walking through the umbral streets, avoiding all forms of spiderweb in their pursuit of the silver orb. It isn’t long before the buildings around them start to give way to more natural settings, streets turning to plains, buildings to trees, and people to spirits. They orb moves onwards through deep woodland, with trees in every direction, leaves covering the ground, and the potent smell of fresh mud. Though Alfred still could not quite tell where they were going, he was able to follow both Sean and Lydia, who did.
          As the trees got thicker, and the light darker, the silver orb became easier to see in contrast up ahead. They travelled on through the damp soil and cold air. Lydia stopped; she had seen something behind the trees off to the right. Something silver. It was far too early to be Luna, but then time was always hard to tell when in the Umbra. She wondered towards it, leaving the others to pursue the orb. Drawing nearer, she could make out this silver light’s shape, a horse standing with great strength, it’s silvery mane flowing down its neck, and a beautiful spiral horn atop its head. Lydia almost gasped when she realised she had found a unicorn.

          Lydia approached it cautiously, quietly scribbling runes so she may speak language of the spirits.

          Lydia: …hello?

          The unicorn turned to her and stared silently, looked down Lydia, trying to sense her being.

          Unicorn: You have Luna’s light.
          Lydia: Yes. Luna is my Avatar.

          The Unicorn seemed confused by this, but ignored it for the time being.

          Unicorn: The Lunes have told me about you. You use their services a great deal. You will need to repay them in kind.
          Lydia: Of course, the Lunes are an extension of me. If they should even need help, I would aid them.
          Unicorn: hmm… They also tell me you have joined the keepers.
          Lydia: I have, do you know them?
          Unicorn: They are known in the umbra as they traverse it frequently. I am concerned for their coven. Recently they have started to fight themselves. Such actions do nothing but harm their goals.
          Lydia: You want them to stop fighting?
          Unicorn: I only wish that they stop their fighting, so they may reach peace once again.
          Lydia: I will do what I can.
          Unicorn: I shall be watching.

          The Unicorn turns to leave at about the same time Alfred approaches, looking for Lydia.

          Alfred: Lydia, where have you- …
          Lydia: Hello Alfred
          Alfred: Was that a unicorn?
          Lydia: Yes.
          Alfred: And you spoke to it?
          Lydia: Yes, we talked for a while.
          Alfred: …how was it?
          Lydia: Very peaceful, I think he might have been a bit stoned.

          Sean stayed on the path and kept an eye out for where the silver orb was. The others eventually met up and the resumed their traversal.

          Then everyone failed their Survival rolls and got hopelessly lost.

          The forest branches stretched impossibly high, and light was all but null. The three of them stopped in their tracks as they realised not a single one of them could see the silver orb. The forest was growing thick. Lydia started chanting at the sky, asking Luna to provide her a route to safety, a way to return to their path. The other two watched as she walked seemingly at random, and quickly ran to catch her up.

          Alfred: Lydia, where are you going?
          Lydia: This is the way out.
          Sean: How do you know?
          Lydia: I just know. This is how we leave.

          They continue to traverse the tree thick forest, getting darker everstill. Alfred began to wonder if this was a section of forest not unlike that they had traversed the last time they entered the spirit wilds. Staying on guard for spiritual presence, he began to feel something dark and shadowy rustling in the breeze.

          Alfred: There’s a spirit here.

          As he spoke, the air cooled and the trees swayed as a Night Spirit made its presence felt. Alfred prepared to speak with it.

          Alfred: Spirit, we wish to pass through.
          Night Spirit: Secrets…
          Alfred: Is that your toll?
          Night Spirit: Secrets!
          Lydia: What’s going on?
          Alfred: The spirit demands we tell it secrets.
          Lydia: Why?
          Alfred: Or it won’t let us pass.
          Lydia: We don’t want to pass, we just want to get out.
          Alfred: Where is this route of yours heading?
          Lydia: Up there.
          Alfred: Then we will have to pay its toll.
          Lydia: I don’t think telling spirits our secrets is a good idea. What stops them from telling everyone else?
          Alfred: You have a point…

          The Night Spirit grows restless and begins to force the wind to rise.

          Alfred: We’ve walked into its domain, so we will have to engage with it, either with secrets, or by combat, and I don’t think we should fight this thing.
          Lydia: We don’t have to do either of those things, let’s just leave.

          Lydia makes an attempt down the path, but the spirit unleashes its rage upon her, pushing her back to the ground.

          Alfred: I don’t think that’s an option.

          Sean starts to prepare for spiritual combat while Alfred tries to track what the spirit is doing. The wind rises, the rustling grows harsh and violent in the dark forest. Lydia decides that she needs to act quickly.

          Lydia: My Uncle is a Priest within the Celestial Chorus, and I suspect he might actually be my father, I do not know who my mother is!

          The wind drops, the rustling silences, and a stillness fills the air.

          Alfred: That’s our cue to run!

          The three of them rush off in whatever direction Lydia runs, making steady work over the tough terrain. Soon, Lydia can see light, shining from beyond the trees, she rushes towards it and breaks through, out of the woods, and onto the side of a meadow. She looked back, but could not see either Alfred or Sean emerge.
          Both men were racing through the forest, close behind Lydia, but as they ran, they could hear the unmistakable sound of scissors cutting thread, and the two of them tripped on the same root and fell into a deep pit, swallowed whole by darkness.

          [ST NOTE: In case anyone is wondering, the Norns have been causing Alfred and Sean the hardship they are experiencing. Every now and again, I will take one of the successes they roll, and turn it into a 1, and tell them they heard a thread being cut. On this particular Dex+Athletics roll for running through the forest, both Sean and Alfred got a single success, which was then turned to a botch. The Norn’s do not take kindly to unfulfilled bargains.]

          Alfred and Sean looked up, their fall did not hurt, but the darkness was so thick they couldn’t see what they might have landed on. Sean put up a Matter sights, while Alfred set up a Life sense, just so the pair of them could tell where anything was. Alfred could see Sean, as well as the umbral grass and trees in his immediate surroundings. Sean could see his own clothes, a few rocks, Alfred’s bag, and a cliff face in the distance.

          Alfred: Sam, you ok?
          Sean: Yeah…
          Alfred: We really need to find that sword for the Norns…

          They headed towards the cliff wall. The darkness was almost all consuming, not even looking up gave them a clue to where they were. When they reached the wall, they decided to use it as a guide, keeping one hand against it as they walked along its side. Alfred realised he couldn’t see much of anything, so changed his effect. He’d influence his Green Thumb ability to grow flourecent mushrooms, providing a soft blue glow wherever he trod.

          They had walked what felt like hours before Alfred felt a presence following them. He couldn’t tell exactly where it was, but it stayed just beyond the range of the mushrooms glow.

          Alfred: Sam, there’s something following us.
          Sean: Where?

          They looked behind them. There was nought but silent darkness.

          Alfred: Hello? We know you are out there. Why not come forward and introduce yourself?

          There was no reaction, Alfred and Sean resumed their walk, but again he felt its presence. Alfred turned quickly and saw a flash of a face on a thin slender body whip out of view. He recognised it as a Darkling spirit.

          Alfred: Hello? Mr Darkling? Come forward.

          The spirit slowly stepped into place.

          Darkling: hello…
          Alfred: Have you been following us?
          Darkling: Yes…just a little.
          Alfred: Sorry if we fell into your home, we are lost.
          Darkling: Oh, I’m lost too.
          Alfred: Ah…
          Darkling: Where did you come from?
          Alfred: We fell.
          Darkling: Oh no…
          Alfred: Yes, Well, we’re trying to find a way out, and you’re more than welcome to join us.
          Darkling: Oh…
          Alfred: So… Have you been here long?
          Darkling: I don’t know…. I was searching for a way out here…
          Alfred: Where were you before?
          Darkling: The Abyss… It’s a very sad place.

          Alfred wracked his brain to think about what the Abyss was, but unfortunately he only knew of it in name.

          Alfred: Why were you in the abyss?
          Darkling: All lost things end up in the abyss… I was running, then I got lost…
          Alfred: What happened to you?
          Darkling: No… it’s too sad… I’d rather not talk of it…
          Alfred: Well, you may join us as we search for the exit if you like.
          Darkling: Oh… ok…

          Sean points out that he’s noticed an area up ahead which is mostly Matter, perhaps some sort of cave entrance. Alfred and Sean speed ahead and sure enough, they arrive at the mouth of a cave.

          Alfred: Mr Darkling! We’ve found a way out. Would you like to join us?

          There was no repose. Alfred called a couple more times, but again no response was met. Without knowing what else to do, Alfred and Sean pushed through the cave, and emerged to a flat plateu, ahead of which an gapping chasm sat, with a pit too dark to even comprehend. They had unknowingly entered the realm of The Abyss.

          Sean looks ahead with his distance Matter, he has found two paths, one steep and twisted one with bones strewn around, and gold further down, and another with a much gentler slope. Alfred found a bridge which spanned the distance of the chasm. They could feel a sense of despair grow with each moment they spent here, and so elected to cross the bridge rather than tread down into the pits.

          They traversed the bridge for what felt like days, and indeed time itself seemed to be lost down here. All the while the gaping hole of the abyss was calling them down, though they refused to submit, keeping their eyes on the distant edge. When they finally reached the other side, they collapsed from sheer exhaustion, resting for a while. However long they had spent, Both men had noticeably more stubble on their face. On this side, another search for any features revealed two paths, one of thick stone, and the other of loose soil. Seeing no over way to progress, and not wishing to risk the bridge again, Alfred elected to test the Path of Soil. Sean remained where he was, not feeling at all certain about it.

          As Alfred traversed the Path of Soil, he noticed an increasing number of curious plants, the likes of which he had never seen alive, but had heard of… He tried to pick an unusual lily but as he removed it from the soil, it began to wither in his hand. It occurred to them that all these plants were extinct, and perhaps this was their spirits final resting place. In an attempt to gain some semblance of hope, he though perhaps he’d be able to search for a specific plant and take it with him, but in his search, he slipped on the soil and fell, collapsing.

          Sean waited a great deal, but Alfred did not return. Fearing he may have fallen over the edge, he slowly made his way down too, but slipped on the soil, and crashed on a terrace. He searched for Alfred all over, groping around in the dim light against the horrible whistle of wind, when he found a break in the wall. Curious, he pressed further and pushed through. The break lead to a passage way, which quickly fell into a rabbit hole. After a lot of pushing he was able to emerge his head above it, and saw a meadow with a loud stream ahead of him.

          Alfred came to amdist the broken flowers, no more rested than when he had collapsed. He found himself face to face with the plant he was searching for. Carefully, he took an empty jar from out of his bag, put some soil into it, and used life magic to transfer the plan into his jar. Paradox began to flow around him, but he fended it off with sheer force of will, he did not want to trigger a backlash in a place as bleak as this.
          He made his way back up to the surface to find Sean, but Sean was nowhere to be seen. What followed was several days of searching the many plant filled caves and passages that lay around the path of Soil, looking for wherever it was that Sean had disappeared to. At times the path became so open, he had to climb across the wall of the chasm to continue. His search was exhausting. As he felt no bodily urges to eat or drink, it became difficult to judge how long he had spent clambering about the darkness, searching for a man who wasn’t there. Perhaps a week passed when he finally found a passage of his own, pursuing it lead to a narrowing tunnel with water flowing beneath him. The wind of the Chasm was growing ever fainter, and Alfred grew confident that he had finally left the abyss behind him.

          Then his paradox triggered, and he fell to the ground, water gently rushing by his face.

          Lydia’s Player had to leave fairly early, so it sort of worked out that the other two got trapped in the Abyss for a while. They probably ended up spending upwards of one and a half weeks down there in total, but because of how the umbra is, this would probably have taken place in the blink of the eye from Mundane realities perspective.
          Nice thing about the umbra. It makes keeping track of time clashes between sessions a non-issue.

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


          • #65
            Session 18.1

            OK.... This session turned out to be a much bigger deal than I thought it would. This little encounter was originally going to be a quick affair slotted in at the end of the last session. But then the players decided to save it for today, and it turns out Helen's player was able to join the fun after all.

            So prepare for a big deal.

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

            Notable NPCs Include:
            Sara Philips: Edwin’s Sister
            Edwin Philips: Our Marauder
            Violet Dubois: Euthanatos Assassin from afar

            ---CHAPTER 18a SAVING EDWIN---

            Helen woke up in the morning on Monday, Hanson had already left. The Hermetic Chantry was already bustling with activity. She went to speak with her mentor Eve and took the time to start tutoring her in Correspondence Magic. By the time their lesson had ended, it had already turned to evening.

            Hanson and Aaron were recovering in Sarah’s room, the sound of a dripping pipe echoing around the walls.

            Sarah: So… Aaron, is it?
            Aaron: yes?
            Sarah: How did you get involved with all of this?
            Aaron: I ask myself the same thing. Seriously.
            Sarah: Are you like, Detective Hanson’s Assistant?
            Aaron: Hell no. He would not be able to afford me.
            Hanson: Aaron here has had the most encounters with Edwin, he may have built up a bit more trust around him. Started around the blackout.
            Sarah: That blackout… I think it might have had an effect on him.
            Hanson: Perhaps.
            Aaron: yeah…

            Helen, having rested after an intense day of study gave Hanson a text. Hanson, by this point, had almost fully recovered from his paradox pain, his joints no longer on fire. They all agreed to meet up at Tower Hill station, and very deliberately included Sarah.

            At the station, Hanson filled Helen in on what she had missed, and the spell they did to locate where Edwin may be. Hanson was deliberate in omitting Helen’s affiliates when introducing her to Sarah, knowing her experience with Hermetic mages. Once caught up to speed, Hanson put up his Perception Filter on all of them, and they looked around.

            Immediately, Hanson noticed that the crowd was different, there was an increase in well suited men with bowler hats and sunglasses. Perhaps the Technocrats had gotten to Edwin before them. Undeterred, the group decided to keep looking, safely unseen from these vigilant agents. Aaron spotted a couple of agents talking to each other and snuck nearby to listen in. One agent was instructing another.
            “We’ve got a sighting by the waterfront, prepare to cordon off the area and ensure the masses stay out of the way. We need a full perimeter blockade.”

            The agents are incredibly observant, and somehow managed to notice Aaron through his attempts at stealth, Hanson’s perception filter, and even his arcane. Aaron thought he’d be functionally invisible, the agent’s head turning towards him begged to differ.

            Blacksuit: Sir

            Aaron started walking away, pretending to seem as nondescript as possible. The blacksuit was not deterred.

            Blacksuit: Sir, stop.

            Aaron picked up the pace

            Blacksuit: Come back here.

            The Blacksuit matched his speed, Aaron kept going, heading towards the underground station.

            Blacksuit: Stop that man!

            He called out to a few TFL employees who made efforts to block Aaron from getting in. Getting a little desperate, we started running down an alleyway, the Blacksuit followed him. Aaron brought out his phone, he was not prepared to get taken to any kind of Technocratic base, not now. He started furiously typing in code, though was unable to concentrate while keeping his distance from the agent. It all proved too much. A few missed out keystrokes and the entire thing botched right infront of this blacksuit. 11 points of paradox in one felt swoop, held off by sheer force of will alone. Aaron kept running, noticing eerie glitches occurring all around him such as missing wall textures and no-cliping fences.
            Aaron made it down another alley and out into a public road filled with people, letting hi Arcane naturally blend him in with the crowd. The Technocrat had lost sight of him. His relief was short lived, however, as the entire world glitched around him, the paradox laying down hard. After things settled down, Aaron took a look around, the air smelt different, and the sky seemed clearer. More importantly, he was surrounded by water and standing on the deck of a ship flying the Norwegian flag.

            The others saw Aaron getting chased, but not wanting to get noticed themselves, stayed close together. They searched around the road, and noticed the number of people was steadily decreasing, the number of men in suits instead grew. Hanson noticed a roll of police tape being used to section something off, he could feel the subtle mind power it held, not unlike that he saw the technocrats use after the Sturm battle. He had a hunch that this was where he needed to be. After all, if the Technocrats were trying to cover it up, it had to be good.
            Hanson, Helen, and Sarah crept slowly, still unnoticed under Hanson’s perception filter. Hanson tried to slip past them unnoticed. As the other two followed, a horrible noise was heard ahead of them. Two technocrats stood by the tape, and drew out their guns. The mages looked at what they aimed at, and saw a giant rat charging against them. Hanson lead the team away, seeing this as the perfect distraction, only to be set upon by a rat themselves.
            Helen and Hanson started at it.

            Hanson: What the hell?
            Helen: I don’t know.
            Hanson: It must mean Edwin’s close by, maybe he turned someone into a rat again.
            Helen: What if it’s a spirit?
            Hanson: Still, Edwin is nearby.

            The Rat charged at Helen who tried to duck out of the way. The rat did not stop though, it continued to bit and claw at her while she continued to leap out of the way. While Helen kept it busy, Hanson took a nice long drink and focused a strong command towards the creature “Run! Hide! You must flee!”. Inches away from Helen’s neck, the giant rodent stopped, looked around anxiously, and left.

            Blacksuit: Hey!

            Hanson swung round, and saw two men staring back, one of whom looked down at his V-DAS and towards Hanson’s face.

            Blacksuit: That’s the guy! That’s Joe Hanson.

            Hanson kept a tight grip of his gun. The men drew forward. Sarah screamed, and as she did so, the ground before them began to soften and melt. The agents sunk into what looked like tar, struggling to escape. With a quick “Let’s go! Now!” Hanson dragged the two of them away from the agents, now trapped in a suddenly solid road.

            Aaron looked about the ship to try and get a better idea of exactly where he was. He overheard a few of the crew talk about some sort of expedition somewhere between Australia and New Zealand. Where they headed to Antarctica? He was about to reach for his phone to get a definite point of reference, when a shape at the bow of the ship caught his attention, a person with a familiar overworldly feel about them. Cautiously, Aaron called out to him.

            Aaron: Uh… Hello? Edwin?
            Edwin: Who? Who’s there?
            Aaron: Rusty… You remember?
            Edwin: …I don’t know.
            Aaron: Do you know what’s going on here?
            Edwin: It dreams… It’s dreams of madness are infectious. From the great depths it sleeps, but soon it will awaken…
            Aaron: …ok… look, you need to come with me.

            Aaron goes for his laptop, but instead finds a notepad, he then goes for his phone and instead finds a moleskin. Edwin’s quiet was really causing Aaron problems right now.

            The boat thrashes, the ocean shakes, and a great deal of bubbles surface ahead of them.

            Aaron: Edwin… What’s going on?
            Edwin: It wakes… It wakes!
            Aaron: No, no it doesn’t. This isn’t real!
            Edwin: Does its madness infect you too?
            Aaron: You’re the mad one! Look, that doesn’t matter. Sarah’s looking for you, she’s hear and-
            Edwin: Sarah?

            Edwin’s face shifts slightly on the mention of her name, a slight moment of familiarity.

            Edwin: Sarah’s dead.
            Aaron: No she isn’t
            Edwin: That’s impossible! She died many years ago!

            Another giant wave rocks the ship, and the two of them almost lose their balance.

            Aaron: We have to get off this ship Edwin. Aren’t there any life boats or something?
            Edwin: What good will that do? This creature is greater than all of us! It is long beyond our comprehension.
            Aaron: For fuck sake Edwin, do you just want to die!?

            Hanson, and Helen approach the waterfront and, from a distance, notice the ground slowly morph into the deck of a ship. Up ahead they spy two character talking at the front. Beyond them, the river Thames stretches out into a great sea, the skyline seeming distant, obscured by mist. This was unmistakably Edwin’s influence. Helen took a moment to heal herself, and then changed her skin colour a tone darker, hoping this would mean Edwin wouldn’t recognise her and see her as a threat.
            They slowly approach the figures, and as they get closer, the ship illusion starts to become more real, the river turns into an endless sea, and the ship becomes all encompassing. Hanson reaches Aaron just as he starts shouting at him.

            Hanson: Hey Aaron!
            Aaron: Hanson? Huh… Guess I’m still in London then.
            Edwin: Who’s there?
            Hanson: It’s me, Hanson, FBI Agent, remember?
            Edwin: Uh…
            Hanson: Come on, Sarah’s waiting for you.
            Edwin: No, She can’t, she died.
            Hanson: What happened to her? Why do you think she’s dead?
            Edwin: I saw her! I saw her crash, the same crash as me, the same one that brought me to this world.
            Hanson: Calm down, Sarah isn’t dead. She’s right here-

            Hanson looks back and realises both Helen and Sarah are gone.

            Helen noticed Sarah wasn’t with them while Hanson and Aaron were talking to Edwin. She walked back towards the rear of the ship, exiting Edwin’s bubble of reality and found Sarah being held back a Black suited man. He was pulling her away as she struggled.

            Helen: Let her go!
            Blacksuit: Ma’am, this is a restricted area.
            Helen: Let go of her I said!
            Blacksuit: This does not concern you, move away.

            Helen was uncertain what to do, and watched as the man dragged Sarah away. At this point, Hanson had arrived, gun in hand.

            Hanson: Didn’t you hear? She said let go.

            Helen ran to try grab at them, but the man managed to push her away and she fell to the ground. Hanson held up his gun, waited for just the right moment when Helen got out of the way, and shot straight at the Man in Black. He staggered backwards, losing his grip on Sarah, who ran. Hanson kept his gun steady, but the man responded to quick to react, shooting Sarah in the back. Helen tried to get up, but stopped in horror as she looked up, the man’s glasses had dropped from his face, no longer obscured; she could recognise his features, the face of her father.

            The Man called into his arm. “Deviants at the waterfront! I need support here!” Hanson shot at him again and Helen screamed at them to stop. She called out to him “It’s me! It’s Helen!” “Do you remember?” But neither gun was lowered. Hanson managed a direct hit, and he fell to the ground. Distraught, Helen got up and begged Hanson not to kill him. Hanson, confused, walked slowly up to him, he noticed the man wasn’t quite unconscious though, and was still firmly holding his weapon, waiting for the right moment.
            Hanson sprung, grabbing a hold of the gun just before he had a chance to fire it, the two wrestled like this for a moment. Helen jumped in, trying to aid in disarming. In the struggle, the man lost his grip, and the gun misfired. Helen staged backwards, and fell. She had been shot in the chest.

            Aaron: Edwin, listen to me. We can change this.

            The water was getting more violent, and Aaron more desperate to snap Edwin back to his senses.

            Edwin: There is no hope! We cannot possible outsail this creature.
            Aaron: This is not how the story have to be! You can change it.
            Edwin: Do you not understand? This beast has survived long before the birth of humanity, it’s presence is not one that can be realised by our tiny minds. I have stared into the face of madness, and even I cannot fully comprehend these truths! There are things in this world at the far corners that man was not built to know. Things that to gaze upon would bring to the edge of reason!
            Aaron: Then stop looking at it!

            Aaron gives up, Edwin was beyond reason now. He knew exactly how this story ends. The creature, the great Cthulhu rises from the waters, and the ship crashes into it, then everyone goes mad. Aaron needed to do something to change the story. He ran to the bridge and burst his was in. Holding up his gun, he tried to force entry. Though none of the crew spoke English, a gun at the face of the captain served an effective substitute for words. Aaron looked ahead at the waters and notices a giant octopus head was beginning to emerge from the waves. Cthulhu was rising. Frantically, he pulled at the helm and tried desperately to turn the ship around.

            Hanson rushes to Helen. He pocketed the Technocrat’s gun and lowered his own while he tried to stop the bleeding. Helen was weak, but with Hanson’s help was able to dip her fingers into her own blood and draw her healing shapes around her wounds. In moments, her body reformed and healed itself, Paradox mounted, as it always does, but she held it away. This was far too important.

            Hanson: Helen… It’s a good thing you’re ok.
            Helen: oh… is that man alright? Is he still conscious?
            Hanson: I don’t know. I think so.
            Helen: Good…
            Hanson: Do you know this man? Why are you so concerned about him?

            Hanson stopped, he looked back and saw his gun was missing. Looking up he saw Sarah was standing over the agent, gun in hand, aimed at his head.

            Hanson: Ms Phillips? Think about this.
            Sarah: I have to.
            Hanson: Ms Phillips, this isn’t the answer. This isn’t you. You’re not a killer.
            Sarah: I’m tired of running!
            Hanson: This is just one man, if you kill him. He’s already called for backup, all this is going to do is add a murder charge to your sheet.
            Helen: You don’t need to!
            Hanson: We’re this close to Edwin. We need you to help him.

            Sarah stood there, shaking, but ultimately lowered the gun. Helen rushed to the man and tried to speak to him.

            Helen: Do you remember? Do you?
            Hanson: Helen! We have to go.
            Helen: But.
            Hanson: His back up will be here at any moment, we have to go!

            Reluctantly, Helen left the man and walked towards the shipscape with the other two.

            Hanson: Edwin! She’s here! Look at her.

            Hanson called Edwin’s attention, and brought Sarah to him.

            Sarah: Edwin!
            Edwin: But… How? The crash!
            Sarah: I’m still here! I never left.
            Hanson: She’s been looking for you Edwin.

            The ship began to fade. The walls separating Aaron and the rest dissolved. They now stood at the waterfront south of the London Tower. Aaron could still see Cthulhu rising from the river Thames.

            What followed was a great number of social rolls as the three of them tried to convince Edwin that all of this was in his head. Hanson told him he could take back control, that the story didn’t need to go the way he dreaded it would. Aaron told him that the story wasn’t real, that none of it was, and that it only felt real because he believed it. And Helen drew from her knowledge in Psychology to explain why everything felt so real to him, but yet was ultimately an illusion.

            [ST NOTE: I regret not being able to transcribe every argument that was stated, there was just so much that was said to try and ease the nerves of the marauder, to convince him Sarah was alive, and that he had already returned home. There was one really memorable part, however, when Aaron got so frustrated her picked up a rock and threw it at Cthulhu (and missed) shouting “Come at me! You can’t can you? Because you’re not real!”.]

            As the three of them spoke and relaxed him, The image of Cthulhu became more and more faint, until it ceased to be an image. Sarah embraced her brother while thanking Hanson profusely

            Sarah: Once I get back to where I’m staying, I can pay you, I promise.
            Hanson: That’s ok. Right now we need to get out of here quick.

            Then he felt something, a thick rending resonance. Aaron could feel something was happening too, a tear in the local code. Hanson knew instantly what this meant; Violet Dubois was on her way.

            Hanson: Oh shit! Not now! Aaron, get us out of here!

            Aaron brought out his phone (which was no longer a moleskin) and wracked his head to try and figure out where he would bring them. His flat was out, having been compromised by the technocrats already, as was Hanson’s. Taking her to the Hermetic Chantry seemed equally dangerous, especially if Helen informed her tradition there was a marauder staying with them. The only place he could think of was his room with the Keepers.

            The space tore apart and Violet stepped through. Aaron frantically began coding. Hanson stands before her defiantly.

            Hanson: Violet, it’s ok! We’ve sorted this!
            Violet: Time’s up Hanson.
            Hanson: You don’t need to.
            Violet: Get out of the way.

            Helen rushes in front of her, but Violet simply pushes her to the ground and of the way as she walks closer to Edwin. Both Edwin and Sarah stare in fear as Violet gets closer. Hanson grabs her by the arm in an attempt to slow her. Violet, visually annoyed, turns and cuts him across the wrist, forcing him to let go. Helen, not willing to give up, grabs around her ankles.
            All the while, Aaron has been building his teleportation effect as quick as he could. Edwin, however, is becoming less able to contain his fear. Violet begins to shift, her body transforms into a strange creature, her face is contorted and lost. Helen tries to hold tight, but the body repels against her. Violet’s knife limb flails wildly, hitting Aaron.

            Aaron is able to keep his balance and maintain his effect, but decides he can’t risk another swipe. He would have to leave Hanson behind. He set it off, and the world unravelled around them as the Keepers chantry zoomed closer and closer.

            Helen looked around, she was in one of the keeper’s rooms, the upper chantry’s rooms were almost all identical. Sarah had brought Edwin to a bed and proceeded to calm him into sleep. Aaron, however, was nowhere to be found. Paradox had hit him mid-teleportation, knocking him out and sending him somewhere she did not know. She tried to relax herself, but noticed blood dripping from her nose, then her arms, and her legs, her mouth, everywhere. Blood was falling out of every pore of her body.

            Violet returned to her normal form. She turns to face Hanson and lunges at him with her knife.

            Violet: You idiot!

            Hanson dodged as best he could.

            Violet: What the hell were you doing?
            Hanson: Hold on. Wait
            Violet: That was the one chance I had! You got in my way!
            Hanson: I was trying to help him.
            Violet: Help him? Ha. There’s no helping a Marauder.
            Hanson: We were getting through to him.
            Violet: Yes, I saw. This might have been our best chance at getting close to him. And you screwed it up!
            Hanson: Ok, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.

            Violet started to calm down a bit, and catch her breath.

            Violet: That was the closest I got to him before his mind changed me. What were you thinking?
            Hanson: I had a client! She wanted me to find him for her.
            Violet: Have you seen the damage he’s caused? He’s putting us all at risk.
            Hanson: I know that… wait. Hold on a second.

            Hanson noticed something, he checked around the corner, then returned.

            Hanson: We’re surrounded. There was a Technocrat, he called for backup, and now they’re here.
            Violet: How close?

            Voice: Joe Hanson! We know you’re here!
            Violet: Shit.
            Hanson: We need to leave now.

            Violet pulled her knife up and started meditating, with a few gestures she struck the knife down, ripped a whole through space which her and Hanson leapt through. They appeared at a nondescript street.

            Hanson: Where are we?
            Violet: Somewhere nowhere near either of our homes, wouldn’t want the boys in black to follow us there. Do you know which group it is?
            Hanson: New World Order.
            Violet: Then this is worse than I thought. That Marauder has caught their attention, and if he isn’t stopped soon, all of us will be thrust in the firing line.
            Hanson: I get that… But why do you have to kill him? Can’t we find another way to help him?
            Violet: There’s no helping a marauder. Their minds are far too gone. The kindest thing to do is free them from their burdened thoughts and let their spirit renew.
            Hanson: But he’s stable now, his sister’s with him.
            Violet: Marauders are never stable for long. This isn’t the first time this has happened, has it?
            Hanson: …no.
            Violet: It will happen again, unless I stop it. If you have anything that connects to him, something or someone familiar to him, anything, the closer the better, give it to me, then I won’t need to come near him to provide the Good Death.
            Hanson: I’ll keep it in mind.
            Violet: Good…

            Violet walks away, before turning around for a moment.

            Violet: Oh, and detective.
            Hanson: hmm?
            Violet: Get in my way again, and I won’t hold back. Understood?
            Hanson: Understood.

            Hanson watched as this feme fatal walked down the road and out of sight. Without a word, he pulled out a cigarette, lit it, and made his way back to the Keepers, arriving just before midnight.
            He moves to Aaron’s room, but stops. A growing pool of blood is seeping out from under the door. Cautiously, Hanson readies his gun and enters the room.

            Helen: Hanson!
            Hanson: Helen? Is that you?
            Helen: Don’t worry; it looks so much worse than it is!

            Hanson help’s Helen to a bathroom, where she waited out her bleeding. While Helen cleaned herself off, Sarah approached him.

            Sarah: Thank you. I didn’t think I’d find him this time.
            Hanson: It’s fine. Really.
            Sarah: I will pay you. I promise, I just need to get back for the money.
            Hanson: That’s not what I’m worried about. Tell me, what are you going to do with him?
            Sarah: Well…
            Hanson: These friends of yours, the ones who were going to help him. Who are they?
            Sarah: …I can’t tell you.
            Hanson: Sarah, I’m trying to help you.
            Sarah: They’re like me, on the run. I can’t betray their trust.
            Hanson: Well, maybe I already know them, does the name Zan-
            Sarah: Detective, your help is appreciated, but I can’t talk about them. I’m sorry.
            Hanson: Hear me out at least. This chantry is home to a powerful group of witches. They might be able to help you. Their Wisewoman, as it where, is here. Her name is Granny Elm, and she’s a very powerful witch.
            Sarah: I don’t know…
            Hanson: She probably knows a way to help cure Edwin. Could you give her a go before these friends of yours?
            Sarah: I…
            Hanson: Will you talk to her at least?
            Sarah: …ok. Ok I’ll talk to her.

            My players are the most peaceful mages I have come across. Even when a technocrat is fighting them head on, they just don’t have it in them to go through with the murder. Makes me wonder what it would take to push them over the edge and take a life. Perhaps it needs to be less morally dubious, like killing a nephandi, or maybe they need to be freed of consequence first. I am also really curious about who will be the first one to kill.
            I did not quite expect them to bring Edwin with them at this point. I thought that Violet’s appearance would distract them long enough to have them either be captured by technocrats or for Edwin to escape, but alas, they were simply too efficient for that. Although, this might actually work out to be more interesting. They’ve brought a Marauder into the Keeper’s chantry, let’s hope the Tribunal doesn’t find out.

            Incidentally, I’m not sure if Helen is really a spy anymore, all things considering. If anyone has a suggestion for what I can label her as in future Cast Lists, let me know.
            Last edited by Saikou; 02-11-2017, 08:07 PM.

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


            • #66
              Session 18.2

              This one turned out to be a short session. Alfred’s player all of a sudden was called into work several hours before planned, so we only had about three and a half hours of game time.

              Cast List
              Lydia: Moon Witch
              Alfred Camlan: Excalibur Mage
              Sean “Sam” Heath: Templar Knight

              Notable NPCs Include:

              Vivian Porter: High Priestess
              Boris Mortimer: High Priest

              ---CHAPTER 18b: THE CORRUPTED PIT---

              Lydia had just emerged from the forest. The sky was starting to darken, yet remained eerily luminescent. Ahead of her a meadow stretched before her, a stream gently flowing, and a silver orb floating not too far away. She glanced back at the forest, a bit worried. Neither Alfred nor Sam had emerged… She considered returning to look for them, but something caught her eye, a bush ahead of here was moving strangely. As she closed in to investigate, she saw a head poke out from it, Sean’s head.

              Lydia: Sam! What happened?
              Sam: A lot.
              Lydia: Are you ok?
              Sam: Yes. Fine.
              Lydia: Where’s Alfred?
              Sam: …I…don’t know. He was with me…
              Lydia: Should we go back and look for him.
              Sam: No! I don’t think that’s a good idea.
              Lydia: I’ll try and look for him.

              Lydia focused her mind upon fate, scribbling runes down to try and decipher where she needed to go to find him. Alfred was in a cave by water. They walked towards the stream and followed it to the mouth of a cave.

              Alfred was in bad shape. He was badly hurt, the ground was wet, and on all sides of him were stone pushing him into a narrow tight crevasse. He tried to stand, but only managed to bump and bash himself against the stalactites. He examined the water, it flowed through a small gap by the ground, about the size of his leg, and just as narrow. Alfred called out “Sam?”

              A low growl was heard echoing from the cave.

              Sam: So, you think Alfred is in there?
              Lydia: I don’t know… maybe?
              Sam: I guess I’ll go in then.
              Lydia: I’ll stay here and keep an eye on the orb.

              Sam entered the dark cave, cautiously following upstream.

              Alfred took one of his salves from his bag and applied it to his wounds, healing them up carefully.

              Sean: Alfred?

              Alfred heard a voice echo around the cave. He called back, but all that Sean heard was a great wall of noise. Frustrated with the darkness, Alfred caused luminescent mushrooms to grow, providing a soft blue light. This light attracted the attention of Sean, and finally found his way to Alfred who was now twice his normal size and trapped within the cavern. Breathing a heavy sigh, Sean prayed for his release, and the ground slowly dissolved away, allowing Alfred to run three once more.

              Sean ran out of the cave as the clamour of noise became deafening, rushing straight past Lydia.

              Lydia: What’s going on?
              Sean: Running.
              Lydia: Should I run too?
              Sean: Yes.
              Lydia: Why?

              Alfred burst out of the cave and stretched in triumph, a great beard upon his face, his naked body glistening in the fading sun.

              Lydia: Oh my lord…
              Sean: That’s why I was running.

              Lydia lead the way towards the Silver Orb, the three of them setting of. Alfred was not forthcoming about this experience in the abyss, seeming to be more determined to put the entire experience behind him. Lydia decided not to pry.
              Soon enough, the three of them managed to get in sight of the orb again and set off once more in its direction. The travel brought them across the great planes (which none of them really noticed) and into a broken forest, filled with dead trees and an ominous haze. As Lydia continued, she began to feel a vague sense of familiarity with the location. Over time, Alfred’s size returned to his normal proportions, making travel a little awkward while his legs disagreed on the correct length.
              She remembered walking here with Boris… but the memory was not clear. In time, the orb brought them towards a passageway through the ground, leading towards a dark pit. Seeing the Orb go down, they took a moment to prepare, Alfred built a telepathic link between them, as well as mental defences, they then followed it into the depths of the darkness.

              Lydia: I think I’ve been here before.
              Alfred: When?
              Lydia: I don’t know… But I know this place is dangerous.
              Alfred: Let me have a look.

              Alfred used his link to gain greater access to Lydia’s mind, imagining it as a bookcase filled with books of life events, surrounding him pages lay in piles and floated around. Alfred picked through the books and searched at the speed of thought for one of what happened after she fell through the umbra. He found his section, but several pages had been ripped out.

              Alfred: Someone’s deliberately removed these memories.
              Lydia: Boris…
              Sean: There’s something here he doesn’t want you to see.

              Lydia thinks back and tries to recall something. Alfred sees a flurry of pages whipping around him, one of which seems to show some prominence, it described a dark snarling beast, the size of a bear with great snarling teeth. They both recognised these creatures, Lydia had been chased by one, and Alfred had peeked at them beyond the veil.

              Then they heard something, the sound of heavy breathing and slight growling, there was something in the darkness with them. Sean quietly searched with his prime sense, and saw a great deal of light prowling towards them. The beast stood just a few meters away, ready to pounce. Alfred tried to lull it to slumber, thinking it a spirit, and tried to build his effect while Sean simply enchanted his gun and shot. The beast screamed as the prime bullet short straight into its flesh, pouncing onto Sean and ripping into his body. Sean tried to fend him off as best her could jabbing his gun and shooting at point blank range, though the creature was relentless.
              Lydia started chanting for Luna to aid her, and soon her modesty scales transformed into a full set of armed scales, and her body morphed in the shape of a mythical dragon, giving her both strength and speed. While Lydia was transforming herself, Alfred released his slumber spell, found it to be ineffectual, and instead fired off a mindblast.
              Sean fell limp to the ground after the creature bit at his body. The beast then turned his attention to Alfred, who did what he could to doge the flurry of claws and teeth.
              Sean crawled towards Lydia, who now semi-dragon flavoured, quickly chanted a song of healing on to him, letting his wounds grow back to health.
              While Alfred kept it busy, Alfred took aim at the creature, and Lydia made one last request to Luna for aid in her strike, and then punched the creature.
              The Beast turned to Lydia, roaring with pain and anger, and lunged at her. Lydia’s scale kept her from falling, and she retaliated in kind with combat.
              The two of them were stuck on each other, neither one quite able to take the other down due to their strong hides. Sean persisted in his aim, and Alfred charged up another blast of overwhelming pain. But something caused him to stop. Someone was infiltrating his mind.
              Sean shot at the creature causing it to recoil in pain, close to the end of its life.
              Alfred cut off the mental link between the other two, not wanting this infiltrator to gain access to them, and concentrated hard on repelling them. The intruder started to burn away memories, Alfred lost a few points of experience.
              Sean made one more shot at the creature, knocking it unconscious as it fell to the ground.

              Alfred called out “There’s someone in my head!” Sean searched for Prime sense and saw a small form of light nestled in the shadows, he shot at it, and Alfred felt the presence immediately lift. He could recognise a Seething resonance… “Boris!”

              Sean: I’m tracking them, he’s not getting away!”
              Sean focused, and noticed a few more points of light ahead.

              Sean: There’s two of them!
              Lydia: Alex is here.
              Alfred: Master and apprentice.

              Alfred quickly caused his luminescent mushrooms to fill the area, aided by Lydia, allowing them a bit more light to see by. They chased after the light, lost it momentarily, but found it again round a corner. They stopped and stood ahead, Alfred and Lydia’s life sense told him that there was indeed someone ahead of them, Boris. Sean took the first shot.

              Alfred: Boris! We know it’s you, we know what you’re doing!
              Boris: Who comes here?
              Sean takes another shot, and Boris removes the quintessence from his gun, funnelling into his wound to heal with a couple drops of shed blood thrown towards them.
              Sean hold fire but maintains aim. Before the others act, Boris floods the pit with the light of a hundred fireflies, allowing them to see once more.

              Boris: You three?
              Alfred: Yes. Us.
              Boris: Is Vivian with you?
              Alfred: She isn’t.

              Boris looked at Sean

              Boris: You intend to kill me?
              Sean: If it comes to it, yes.
              Boris: Why have you even come here?
              Lydia: To find you and Alex, and stop you.
              Boris: Do you even know what this place is?
              Lydia: We know you don’t want us to know of it, you erased my memories and lied to us.

              Sean feels a great deal of pain in his back.

              Boris: Alex! That’s enough!
              Alex: They’re going to kill you.

              Alex calls out from behind them. They turn to face him, he throws more blood and causes pain to Lydia and curses Sean’s gun before running off into the darkness.

              Boris: Leave him!
              Alfred: He is working with Melonie!
              Boris: He would never!
              Lydia: We saw him!
              Alfred: He’s helping her, he said they had a plan to carry out.
              Boris: Is that what she’s been telling you!?
              Lydia: It’s what we’ve seen.
              Alfred: The London Tribunal has gotten involved. Because of this whole situation Camellia has been accused of being a Widderslainte, and now they have her in captivity suspended.
              Boris: Camellia…?
              Alfred: They’re blaming her for Melonie’s work.
              Boris: I… I didn’t know she was in peril.
              Lydia: Well she is, because you kept this all secret.
              Alfred: Grandfather would be disappointed.
              Boris: Your grandfather could never understand these things.
              Alfred: Your actions put her life, and all of the keeper’s in jeopardy.
              Boris: I realise that… I will have to go to the Tribunal to set things straight.
              Lydia: What are these creatures?
              Boris: The fomori. Don’t you remember? I took you here with Alex.
              Lydia: No, because you ripped out that memory.
              Boris: No I didn’t…
              Lydia: Then it must have been Alex.
              Alfred: You can’t be this blind to his actions.
              Boris: …Alex might have turned… But there must be a way to get him back. He cares for Melonie, I know.
              Sean: Enough to help her with her corruption?
              Alfred: You should have told Vivian about what Alex was doing.
              Boris: How can I? It would have hurt her even more. I couldn’t do that to her. She already felt a failure.
              Alfred: And by keeping this secret, you have destroyed the coven.
              Sean: You should have brought him before the Tribunal.
              Boris: They would have had him killed!
              Sean: They may have stopped him, and your maiden wouldn’t be in their hands.

              Beyond the way, the sounds of growling could be heard. Just within the light of the fireflies, the group could see two beasts, fomori, closing in on the group.

              Lydia: Oh no… Two of them!?
              Alfred: We don’t have time for this.

              The group prepared to face off against them, but before the first move was made, Vivian appeared behind them. It’s uncertain how much of this she had heard, but she quickly and quietly communicated with Boris telepathically. They got to work shaping the spiritual matter of the cave to cut off the path between them and the fomori. A temporary fix, but enough to all the five of them to escape back to the surface.

              Vivian: Boris. Tell them what you told me.

              Boris looked down and spoke.

              Boris: I came here with Alex to try and stop these creatures. I do not know Camellia’s plan, but Alex has learnt it involves bringing the fomori to the Heath. Lydia was with us when we first landed, but she had been attacked. I brought her back to the penumbra where I thought she would make her way to safety before returning to search the pit for these beasts.
              Lydia: Thank you…
              Alfred: Well, it seems that Alex is not as innocent as he seems.
              Helen: He just sent two of those thing after us.
              Sean: He also attacked us all, just saying.
              Boris: He only acted to help me.
              Vivian: This is not the time. I have an obligation to fulfil. We can discuss this properly with the others once we return. Then we will need to visit the London Tribunal.

              This is where our session ended.

              ---EXTRA SCENE---
              ((I can’t quite remember exactly where this part happened, it was some time after Boris removed the quintessence from Sean’s gun))

              Sean: Are you going to give me back that quintessence?
              Boris: What?
              Sean: For the gun.
              Boris: Are you asking me to enchant your gun for you?
              Sean: Yes.
              Boris: The one you’ve been shooting at me?
              Sean: Perhaps.
              Boris: No.

              I had a lot more stuff planned for this. The Umbra trail would have been a bit longer, perhaps with another spirit encounter. I would have had the Norn’s screw up more of their rolls. There would have been a bit more confrontation between Alex and the others before Boris stepped in. I also would have had them fight a few more fomori since they dealt with the first one pretty easily. The biggest change, however, was once Boris swooped in to protect Alex, I would have had Vivian arrive then and got the two of them to fight, the players would then have to figure out how to handle this, and it would have made the whole “peace” talk from the Unicorn much more relevant.

              But I had to make last minute changes to speed things up, yet still have the player’s involved. I kept a single fomori fight, and with less than an hour left, skipped to a Boris encounter and brought Vivian in as a Deus Ex Machina of sorts. Not as dramatically interesting, but at least all the plot bits were there.

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


              • #67
                19th Session

                Cast List
                Lydia: Moon Witch
                Alfred Camlan: Excalibur Mage
                Sean “Sam” Heath: Templar Knight
                Helen Walter: Hermetic Spy
                Joe Hanson: Noir Detective
                Aaron Gibson: Punk Hacker

                Notable NPCs Include:

                Vivian Porter: High Priestess
                Boris Mortimer: High Priest
                Kael: Artefact Crafter
                Mica Rose: Technowitch
                Granny Elm: Nephandic Seer

                Dr Karen Turner: Progenitor
                Lance Armstrong: R&E Scientist
                Jason Stavero: Syndicate Financier

                Edwin Phillips: Our Marauder
                Sarah Phillips: Edwin’s Sister

                ---CHAPTER 19: HER DUSTY LIBRARY---

                The sky had grown dark as the five of them set off. The Umbral night shown gradually, bathed in vivid moonlight. Almost as if each plant held its own glow. Alfred, Sean, and Lydia followed behind Boris and Vivian as they lead their way. They had been assured they were near the penumbra, and that the journey will be short.
                Alfred and Lydia could hear them talking to each other softly, Alfred tread carefully closer, trying to hear what they were saying.

                Boris: He was only trying to protect me.
                Vivian: Either way, we will have to discuss it with the others.

                Neither of the three really trusted Boris at all, and were still not so certain about him, his motives, or if he was even being truthful at all. Alfred walked close to Vivian, and tried to speak to her quietly.

                Alfred: High Priestess, We must be careful. I am not sure Boris can be trusted. He has lied to you, kept secrets from you, about Alex, about Melonie.
                Vivian: I am not pleased with his actions either, but I know that he will do what he can to protect us.
                Alfred: If you believe him, then I shall go on your advice, but I myself am not so convinced.
                Vivian: I trust him, Alfred.
                Alfred: High Priestess, The Harvest Festival draws near, if it is your wish to have the ritual at Hampstead, then I believe I have a plan for how we can restore the Heath.
                Vivian: Then you may tell us all. After we return to the Chantry, we shall gather the rest of the Keepers and discuss everything that has happened.
                Alfred: Of course.

                The forest of dead and dying trees drenched in silver light turned to a cluttered city covered in webs caught in the penumbral mists. Lydia hastened her pace, unwilling to attract the attention of the spiders that surely dwelt there. After several tens of minutes walked, Vivian had taken them upon a hill and by their familiar tree. Vivian drew a circle on the ground and led the others in a chant. Lydia dropped her scaly dragon body and returned to her normal human self as she assisted, directed by Vivian. Sean stood in the circle and waited, uncertain exactly what the others were doing, but eager to return to the world he knew.

                The passage through the gauntlet proved as painful as ever, Sean fell bloodied to the ground, though he was quickly healed by Lydia with use of her periapt. After the excitement died down, the five of them stood in the Node room of the Undergrove. Lydia was the first to gather her clothes. Alfred checked his phone. There were several missed calls both from work and from a withheld number, he assumed Lance. He also saw the message Aaron left him regarding the quintessence in the cross. More to the point, he realised that his phone worked in the Undergrove, this alarmed him. Vivian instructed the rest to get to sleep, and that they would return to discuss a plan of action in the morning. Lydia hung around for a moment in order to teach herself how to fly with her wings.

                [ST NOTE: I forgot to impose the penalties associated with long stays in the Umbra onto Sean and Alfred, Ah well, I’ll try to remember it for next session.]

                Aaron slowly came too in an unfocused haze of grey. The room around him slowly gaining a solid form. He was lying down, perhaps in a bed. He tried to get up, but the weight of his body proved too much for his arms to handle, and let himself fall back down. Someone walked over to him holding a clipboard. He tried to speak.

                Aaron: Where… where am I?
                Turner: You’re at Guy’s Hospital.
                Aaron: How…
                Turner: Try not to move. We found you unconscious on the side of the road.
                Aaron: Oh…
                Turner: What’s the last thing you remember?
                Aaron: Uh.. falling into water…
                Turner: …strange. Do you remember your name?
                Aaron: Yes its… (trying to think up a name on the spot) Nickie…Wight
                Turner: Well Mr Wight, get some rest. I’ll be back to check on you in a few hours.

                Aaron looks around but can’t see a window anywhere. None of his devices were at hand and no energy to move, he slunk back into his bed and rested uneasily.

                Hanson was, as ever, the first to wake up and began his morning routine of coffee and a cigarette. While watching the smoke, he considered Edwin, who stayed asleep in Aaron’s room. They had found him, and for the moment at least, we was safe and stable. Hanson was concerned it would not last and tried to think about what could cure him. He slipped into a dream, a strange image appeared to him. A large monstrosity with many mouths, huge round tentacle shaped legs, many eyes and a strange round mass upon which appeared a subtle face. It screamed through its many orifices, though Hanson could not tell if it was anger or pain.
                Helen awoke, changed out of her bloody clothes and joined Hanson downstairs.

                Helen: Hello Hanson
                Hanson: Are you ok?
                Helen: Yes… What are we going to do about Edwin?
                Hanson: I’ll take him to Granny Elm, once I find her. She should know what to do about him.

                Alfred and Sean arrive, followed shortly by Lydia, and the conversation shifted slightly.

                Lydia: Where’s Aaron?
                Hanson: He’s… We don’t really know.
                Helen: He was supposed to be with us, but he teleported away.
                Hanson: We were surrounded by Technocrats, he managed to get Helen to safety, but then… Paradox, and all that.
                Lydia: Hanson in trouble with the technocracy… is anyone surprised?
                Alfred: Do you think we should go and find him?
                Lydia: I might be able to think where he might have disappeared to.
                Hanson: Probably a good idea. There’s no telling where he’s ended up.
                Helen: Did you find Boris?
                Lydia: Oh, that’s a whole story isn’t it…

                Lydia, Alfred, and Sean proceeded to recount more or less what happened while they were in the umbra, the fomori they found in the pit, Boris and Alex, and Vivian’s arrival.

                Hanson: So Melonie’s plan has something to do with these Fomori things?
                Alfred: I believe so.
                Lydia: Anyone know how to stop a fomori?
                Sean: My gun worked pretty well. Once enchanted.
                Alfred: I saw a lot of these creatures on the Heath, I think Melonie plans to let them loose. We may need to talk to one of your (Sean’s) friends about this, perhaps they can help defend the Heath from them.

                Sean gets quiet, he has yet to return to his Chapter House since the incident on the Heath, and is not certain where he stands with his superiors after his attempt to ruin the ritual.
                Alfred gets a call from work, he glances down and quietly declines it. He is not going to deal with that right now.

                Hanson: So, the marauder I’ve been searching for, Edwin. I think he might be a part of the nephandi’s plan… Not sure how yet, but Sarah might be trying to bring him to the nephandi…
                Lydia: Who’s Sarah?
                Hanson: Edwin’s sister. She’s the one who’s got me on the case. He’s being hunted on all sides. The main reason we teleported him away was to avoid a Euthanatos.
                Lydia: That the lady we met the other day?
                Hanson: Violet Dubois. Yes.
                Lydia: And she’s trying to kill you?
                Hanson: I don’t think so. She got me away from the technocrats, so if she wanted to kill me, she’d have done it by now.
                Lydia: That’s kind of strange, I thought they wanted to kill everyone.
                Hanson: I think it’s a bit more complicated than that.
                Lydia: She wants to kill Edwin right?
                Hanson: Yes.
                Lydia: Well yeah, they want to kill everyone.
                Alfred: So, where did you say Edwin was right now?
                Hanson: Somewhere nearby… somewhere safe.

                Sarah enters the room, having just woken up. She looks around at everyone with surprise.

                Sarah: Uh… Detective? Who are all these people?
                Hanson: Don’t worry Ms Phillips, they are just friends of mine.
                Sarah: Do they all know about Edwin?
                Hanson: Yes, and some of them have been quite instrumental in helping us find him. You know Helen of course.
                Sarah: Yes… Thank you again.
                Helen: Oh, it’s fine.
                Sarah: Detective… I’m not sure if too many people should know about Edwin… What if-
                Hanson: Rest assured Ms Phillips, these people can be trusted.
                Sarah: Ok… I will need to leave him, for the moment. If I am to pay you, then I’ll need to go out and work.
                Lydia: Where do you work?
                Sarah: Wherever I can find.
                Alfred: If there’s anything you need, food perhaps, I’m sure we’ll be able to provide it for you.
                Sarah: That’s very kind, but I’ll still have to go out and get my things. I wouldn’t want anyone to find out where I’ve been hiding.
                Hanson: I understand Ms Phillips. You call me the moment anything happens, ok?
                Sarah: I will, and please keep an eye on Edwin for me. Make sure he stays calm and safe.
                Hanson: I will do.

                Hanson helps Sarah leave, pressing the tree pendant against the door for her. When he returns, he is met with Alfred’s narrow stare.

                Alfred: So… Edwin is here.
                Hanson: Uh… yes.
                Alfred: You brought a marauder here?
                Hanson: I didn’t know where else to take him.
                Alfred: Did you speak to Vivian about this?
                Hanson: We only just arrived!
                Alfred: And you think this place would be safe?
                Sean: Well, to be fair, this is a safehouse.
                Hanson: I thought maybe Granny Elm would have something that could help cure him, or at least know something.
                Alfred: yes… But what if he starts changing things?
                Hanson: We’ll just have to keep him calm, won’t we. (An idea hits Hanson) Her tea! We can use Camellia’s tea to keep him calm.
                Alfred: That could work…if we can find someone to brew it.

                Alfred gets another phone call, this time from a withheld number.

                Alfred: I need to take this one.

                Alfred walks out of the chantry, walks away from its door and towards a nearby park before answering.

                Lance: Alfred?
                Alfred: Lance yes?
                Lance: Where the hell have you been?
                Alfred: I’ve been a bit occupied, it’s difficult to bring a phone into the spirit world.
                Lance: Spirit world?
                Alfred: Across the gauntlet, I think you call it another dimension or something.
                Lance: Oh there. Shouldn’t be too hard, I’ve seen a lot of mission reports where communication between dimensions is possible. Your phone should work.
                Alfred: I don’t think technology will pass over so easily.
                Lance: Are you sure? We bring quite a lot of heavy machinery routinely.
                Alfred: well….
                Lance: Anyway, have you any update on the breaches?
                Alfred: There is something you should be made aware of. There are two nephandi who I have encountered.
                Lance: Really? Nephandi?
                Alfred: Yes, their names are Zandros and Malady, and they seem to have plans to corrupt the Heath.
                Lance: Any they’re involved with the breaches around London?
                Alfred: Perhaps. All I know is that they are working to corrupt the Heath and invite harmful spirits to the area.
                Lance: I’ll pass that over to the Progenitors, that’s more their area of concern. Right now we have our own things to concentrate on. Mr Steed has taken over the investigation. Hector is still out there looking for whatever he can find, but things are getting a little difficult for me. I’m in hospital right now.
                Alfred: What happened?
                Lance: Your friend Hanson. I was investigating another breach when he appeared, and I think he shot me. Whatever he’s doing.
                Alfred: I really don’t think Hanson is responsible for these breaches, it’s the marauder.
                Lance: Yes, we saw this marauder, and Hanson was there trying to keep us away.
                Alfred: Hanson is also looking for the Marauder. He’s on a case, trying to find him for someone.
                Lance: Well, NWO are looking for him along with the marauder, and I don’t think they’re going to be too discriminatory. If you know anything that can help us locate our guy.
                Alfred: I can assure you that the marauder is away from harm, and shouldn’t trouble you.
                Lance: So you know where he is then?
                Alfred: well…
                Lance: Alfred. Listen. We need to find this guy before the NWO do, otherwise they’re not going to stop at just him, they’ll take Hanson and anyone else who associates with him. If you want to keep you and your friends out of harm, then you need to help us get to him first.
                Alfred: I appreciate that, but for now this is all I can tell you.
                Lance: I see… Well, you still have my card, right?
                Alfred: yes.
                Lance: Let me know if you are able to tell me anything. The sooner we find this marauder and stop him, the better it is for everyone.
                Alfred: Understood. Goodbye.
                Lance: Bye.

                Lance puts down the phone and returns to a pile of papers on his lap, searching through the files and make notes on a pad. Just one bed over to him, Aaron sits. He had been listening quietly to the conversation and knew exactly who was on the other line but, not wanting to draw the wrong attention to himself, chose not to call out. Lance returned to his phone and made another call.

                Lance: Hello? Yes… No… We’re still looking… NWO are taking over, but we’ve been on the look… No sign of Esther. Let’s hope they don’t find it first…. Ok… Good… good luck with that.

                Aaron peered over at his pad of paper and saw one of Lance’s notes saying “still searching…File should be…”. This guy was obviously a technocrat of some kind and may know a little more about the file he had, and so took the chance to ask.

                Aaron: Hey, excuse me…
                Lance: Hmm?
                Aaron: They let you use a phone in here?
                Lance: Yes… I have to work.
                Aaron: It’s just they took my stuff away, was wondering why that was.
                Lance: Well… I am rather busy with my research.
                Aaron: Sorry… So what kind of work is it?
                Lance: Oh it’s just, I guess you could call it theoretical physics.
                Aaron: You mean like String Theory?
                Lance: A variation on that… (Lance starts to go in a few details on how his work differs from string theory, a lot of this goes over Aaron’s head)
                Aaron: Right… Sorry, my physics must be a little rusty. What exactly if the theory you’re working on?
                Lance: Well, it actually builds on work that was done before I started working on it. It’s the idea that, if you had all the right variables in mind, it’s possible to build an algorithm which can predict human behaviour given a set of parameters. These theories where the result of a lot of work in areas of psychology and sociology as well as a great deal of new mathematics that needed to be developed for it.
                Aaron: Right… So which parts are you working on?
                Lance: When I came in, they had only managed to set values for the variables, and had a few prototype models in development, but nothing fully formed yet. What I was able to look into was the contribution of interstellar cosmic variables. The idea is not unlike cosmology, but has a bit more basis in it. Rather than looking at the sky and saying “Leo is rising, so you’re going to lose your job” we have been able to track the specific effects that celestial bodies have on the outcome of human behaviour.
                Aaron: So it’s astrology that works?
                Lance: More or less. We’ve been developing an algorithm which tracks the position of a few select celestial bodies, and remarkably enough, if you run the numbers of a given scenario with all the variable in place, you get a fairly accurate prediction of the outcome. In short, you can predict how certain people or populations will behave based on this algorithm.
                Aaron: That’s fascinating. So how exactly does this algorithm work?
                Lance: Oh… Well… It’s still experimental, and I don’t think I can talk too much about it at this stage.
                Turner: Excuse… Mr Gibson, right?
                Aaron: Yes?
                Turner: There’s someone on the phone for you.

                Dr Turner held handed the hospital phone to Aaron. Lance became quiet and returned to his work. Aaron took the call.

                Voice: Well Mr Gibson. How are you today?
                Aaron: Who is this?
                Voice: We had an appointment today. I hope you have a good reason for missing it.
                Aaron: Does head trauma work for you?
                Voice: Shame, though I’m sure we can work something out.
                Aaron: I don’t think I’m in any position to discuss anything.
                Voice: No need to worry, arrangements can be made.
                Aaron: Look, if you want to reschedule, I should be free sometime next week.
                Voice: I should be able to send a few people to speak with you, no trouble at all.
                Aaron: Well, I don’t have anything on me, so it’s probably not going to matter.
                Voice: I’m sure we can set up something Mr Gibson. Don’t you worry.

                Aaron hung up the phone, starting to get a little anxious, he asked Dr Turner if he could go to the bathroom. She accompanied him to the door. Aaron was wearing a hospital gown. The moment he entered the room, he turned on the tap, looking in the mirror, and tried to think hard for a way to get out of there, with plenty of swearing in tow.

                Mica appeared as Alfred walked back to the Chantry, the two of them entered at the same time just as the others returned to talking about trying to find out where Aaron had gotten to.

                Mica: You trying to find Aaron?
                Lydia: Yeah… Though I should be able to do it with a few chants, it’ll be a lot quicker than the useless tech he has on him.
                Mica: Oh really… Right, come to my room. Let me show you what my “useless tech” can do.

                Mica ordered someone to get something of Aaron’s, one of the shirts from hid duffle bag, and everyone followed her down into her room in the Undergrove. She quickly explained the properties behind her Bismuth Grandmother Board and got to work, placing the shirt in a glass box surrounded by various lasers tipped with crystals, enhancing the vibration energies of Aaron’s shirt and using them to get a visual on his whereabouts (corr 2). Mica looks up at her screen. It is able to get to Guy’s Hospital, but no further. She types a few things and sets of a few more lights off, but cannot get any closer. There is a Correspondence ward over the building. At least they knew where he was.

                Lydia was actually quite impressed by Mica’s techniques, though admitted to not really understanding it, causing Mica to get a bit bashful. She wasn’t used to so many people complementing her arts. Especially since Kael was so adamant that her attempts to mechanise crystal magic were damaging, and ultimately aiding the technocracy.

                Lydia: So what’s different between this and what the technocracy do.
                Mica: Well. I’m not exactly telling everyone how they should do their stuff. I’m just doing this because it makes sense to me. The way Kael prefers it I just don’t know how to do. I can’t focus on it like he does, or feel out those energies… This just makes sense.
                Lydia: Why do you think Kael doesn’t like it?
                Mica: He says that doing this kind of thing harms the crystals, like it affects their umbral energies, messes with their vibrations. Maybe he’s right… I sometimes wonder if I’ve been learning to do things the wrong way…
                Hanson: Some folks are just set in their ways. Don’t worry about them. I for one think it’s genuinely interesting.
                Alfred: Indeed. I’ve never seen a more compelling method or practicing the arts.
                Mica: Oh… you guys!
                Lydia: It is interesting. Not sure if I can use it, but yeah. It’s interesting.
                Mica: We should probably get on to the meeting room. Vivian said she had something important to tell all of us.

                [ST NOTE: Up until this point, I’ve been treating Mica as a sort of Swiss Army Knife, able to do whatever little spells I’ve needed her to do based on plot, adding to the spheres I decided he knew with each spell. However, it’s starting to get a little silly. As it stands, she’s now has Corr. 2 Forces 2, Matter 2, Life 1, Prime 2, and Time 3. This is where I’m going to draw the line, not giving her Mind, Entropy or Spirit at all. And I might reduce her to Forces 1. That being said, I do think being a “jack of all spheres” type suits her personality well.]

                Mica lead the group through the node room. The great tree which stood at its centre was paler in colour, its leaves a more yellow hue. Mica brought them to a door on the opposite side, one that the others had not been to before. She opened it and walked in, but before the others had a chance to follow, Boris stepped out and looked straight at Helen.

                Boris: What are you doing here!?
                Lydia: She’s with us.
                Boris: Who let her in? She is a traitor to the coven!
                Alfred: I don’t think you’re in any position to judge!
                Helen: You killed them.
                Boris: She has you all fooled. She’s in league with the Technocrats!
                Alfred: Don’t go near her. She did betray us, but she is not with the technocracy. She is with the Order of Hermes.
                Boris: I know what she is, and she is not welcome in within these walls.
                Helen: Liar! He’s lying!
                Lydia: Hold on. Can’t someone use Mind magic to check if she’s lying or not?
                Boris: Yes. Let’s.
                Alfred: I’ll do it (standing ahead of Boris). You are not to be trusted. (to Helen) Helen. I need to see inside your mind to clear this up. Will you let me?
                Helen: I… I don’t…
                Alfred: You don’t want to be seen suspiciously.

                Helen nodded her head and reached into her clothes for her wand, intending to lock away certain memories. Everyone saw.

                Alfred: Helen please. Put that away. If you don’t let me in it’s going to look very bad for you.

                After seeing she had no other options, and a looming Boris overhead, she gave in and allowed Alfred access to her mind.

                Alfred prepared his ritual with a lot of poetry in chant. Ahead of him he created an illusion to make sense of Helen’s mind, an old library of books with a great deal of ornate image upon the cases. Alfred walked along the halls and spoke aloud everything he saw. He approached the bookshelf which held Helen’s most recent memories, but the bookshelf turned away, Helen was not willing to allow this memory to be read. Instead a page blew into Alfred’s face, a fuzzy photograph of Helen’s parents with a younger Helen siting with them.
                Alfred asked Helen to let him see what she was hiding, and after some coaxing gave in. Alfred found a book which detailed the events of the previous day, most notably Helen recognising the Technocratic Agent as her father, and the name “Peter”. As he read, a number of red ink stamps appeared on the page reading “Don’t know!” and “Not sure!” before the book flew out of Alfred’s hands. Alfred searched some more for any trace of technocratic links but found little, she had been raised for the most part by her grandparents and her Hermetic mentors. He then searched for the last time she saw her parents and learnt of the clearing in the Welsh forest, the fire and smoke, the screams in pain, and the horrible scared face that loomed over her with a knife, the face of Boris. Alfred had seen enough, exited her mind, and returned to the normal world.

                Alfred: (to Boris) You have some explaining to do.
                Boris: Do I indeed?
                Alfred: What they said about the knife was true. You ripped the energy from her parents.
                Boris: You have no idea what you’re talking about.
                Lydia: Then explain yourself! What did you do?
                Boris: Her parents did terrible things, We acted to settle the score.
                Alfred: Grandfather would be appalled!
                Boris: Your Grandfather was there, it was his ritual and his suggestion. You can ask him yourself.
                Alfred: Right now I’m asking you!
                Vivian: Enough.

                Vivian appears from the doorway, having apparently heard the argument.

                Vivian: I am aware of what happened those years ago. These technocrats, they have performed horrible atrocities to us, to Boris. His family were taken by them and used for their experiments. When he found them it was already too late. This ritual was done to retaliate against them and bring them to justice. I myself was not involved with the ritual, but I do not condemn it either. I’m sure you can understand why Boris would rather not speak of it.
                Lydia: You killed them then?
                Boris: They were taken care off. Done to them what they did to us!
                Alfred: You broke the Rede… “Do as you will, but harm none”.
                Lydia: How can you call yourselves Verbena? How can Verbena ever allow themselves to kill?
                Vivian: The Ascension War never ended for us, and in war mercy may very well lead to your death. The Technocracy, these Progenitors, they will stop at nothing to destroy our ways and harm our people and such acts cannot go unpunished. This was intended as a message, to show what happens when you harm one of our kind, that. When a cat is cornered, it must bare its claws.
                Lydia: I thought I was going to learn from you… But now I see I’ll have to be the teacher.
                Vivian: Peace on their terms would end us all.
                Boris: They will not cease to attack us (looking at Helen) or spy on us.
                Helen: I am not a technocrat!
                Boris: You are their progeny.
                Alfred: Her parents may have been, although this is not certain. But she was raised with the Hermetics.
                Boris: Have you learned nothing from your Grandfather? Their blood still runs through her, as may her loyalties.
                Alfred: Don’t you speak of my Grandfather. You already disregarded his advice. Remember his letter? Remember what he said about Melonie/
                Boris: His advice was to help our High Priestess… That is what I did.
                Alfred: And what of Alex?
                Boris: You know nothing of the boy.
                Alfred: He is aiding Melonie in his plan, he has fallen!
                Boris: He is my responsibility.
                Alfred: Yes. He is. And your actions have let down your responsibility to this coven.
                Vivian: Alfred! Boris is still your High Priest, and you shall not speak to him like this.
                Alfred: My apologies, High Priestess…
                Lydia: You should have brought Alex to the Tribunal.
                Boris: The Hermetics would have killed him! They care not for our ways. They, like the Technocrats, only wish to control us, have us do things under their control. They are alike.
                Helen: How dare you! The Order of Hermes is nothing like the Technocracy!
                Boris: They act to tear us apart.
                Helen: If you keep killing people, what do you expect?
                Boris: The Hermetics could have helped us with our problems. But do they? Do they even wish to hear us out? Of course not! They’d rather brush us aside until our problems become theirs, and punish us for them.
                Lydia: You could ask them for help… but then you don’t trust them, so they don’t trust you… And it just goes around in a cycle.

                Hanson: Not to interrupt or anything, but I was wondering if anyone knew how to Brew Camellia’s tea.
                Vivian: I don’t think now is the time for that.
                Alfred: Actually, this might be something we need to do. It’s for the marauder who’s been breaking tears in the gauntlet.
                Vivian: The Marauder… Where exactly is this marauder.
                Alfred: He is….here. Upstairs.
                Vivian: You brought a Marauder here!? Seriously? No. We cannot keep him.
                Hanson: I had nowhere else to bring him.
                Vivian: We’re already under suspicion for harbouring a Widderslainte…
                Hanson: I’ll handle it. I’m keeping an eye on him. If you know who can brew Camellia’s tea, I can keep him calm.
                Vivian: Yes. Do that. We can’t afford to have him running about drawing attention to us.

                Mica pokes her head out the door.

                Mica: Uh… is anyone else coming in?
                Vivian: Yes. It is time we were all informed of what was happening. There have been too many secrets.

                Vivian instructs Hanson to ask Granny Elm for the tea. The meeting is too important for anyone to miss, but they know she’d be able to see it even if not present. She can see pretty much anything she can connect to. They follow her into the room. It is fairly small with a row of seats, the same vein-like leaf pattern covers the walls, while the floor is almost entirely soil.

                Vivian stands at the head of the room and explains to everyone that Melonie has returned, and she is acting to corrupt the Heath. Mica is the only one who seems surprised by this. However, Vivian does not mention Alex.

                Vivian: The Node at Hampstead Heath has been harmed, and there are a number of bane spirits within the penumbra ensuring the corruption stays.
                Kael: High Priestess, When I went to see the node, it was indeed in a bad state, but it was not fully drained. There was still a little quintessence left within it. I think the Chorister’s ritual must have been disrupted prematurely.

                Alfred looked at Sean with a great smile. There was hope.

                Alfred: If I may, I have a plan for what we can do to save the Heath. The Chorus still has the Node’s quintessence there somewhere. Some of us, perhaps aided by Sam and maybe Joan, could get that cross holding the energy. Then the rest of us can make a start fighting back against the corruption. We’ll have to keep an eye out for Alex, and how he and Melonie will stop us.
                Boris: If I may speak for a moment.
                Alfred: …yes?
                Boris: Camellia still lies imprisoned by the Hermetics. But I think I can help. I shall go to the Tribunal and explain what has happened, so I may set her free and remove the geas placed upon you both.
                Alfred: That’s… very noble of you.
                Boris: In addition, I do not think Alex will be helping Melonie with this.
                Lydia: We’ve gone over this, we saw him working with Melonie.
                Alfred: Whether you’ll admit it or not, Alex is on their side now, and will most likely aid their evil.
                Boris: Do not think of the Nephandi as simply evil. To do so is to underestimate their potency. The nephandi have an anger within them, an active hatred for the world and a burning desire to see rid of it. Alex does not have this anger within him. I have seen him, he holds a compassion for Melonie, perhaps even pity for her fate. If he has been tricked into turning, then he can be brought back. I know there is a way. I ask that you do not kill him, give him this chance.
                Lydia: I met a unicorn in the umbra, it spoke of the fighting within this coven, and wished it would give way to peace…
                Sean: That’s all well and good, but what of these fomori? How can peace help them?
                Alfred: They are living creatures with spirits invading them. Perhaps if, for want of a better term, there was a way to “exorcise” them…
                Boris: The Fomori are in a constant struggle between themselves and the spirit which controls them. If we learned more about what, or rather, who they were before the spirit inhabited them, we could help them in their struggle.
                Alfred: So this is our plan, while Boris heads to the Tribunal, some of us shall attempt to retrieve the stolen quintessence, and the rest will try to combat Melonie’s corruption.

                There was a general motion of agreement, and for the first time since their arrival, a feeling of unification filled the Undergrove.

                Aaron emerged from the bathroom, the vague semblance of a plan in mind.

                Aaron: Doctor? Will I be able to leave soon?
                Turner: I’m afraid not. We need to keep an eye on you.
                Aaron: But I have an appointment to make.
                Turner: We’ve made arrangements for your appointment to be made here.
                Aaron: I don’t consent to this, you’re keeping me here against my will.
                Turner: Until we’re sure you can be discharged, then we have to ensure your safety.
                Aaron: You don’t understand.
                Turner: I assure you, we are aware of your situation.
                Aaron: …can I at least phone my mother, let them know what’s going on?
                Turner: Ok.

                Dr Turner took Aaron to a pay phone and inserted the change for him. She then went around a corner to an office while he made his call. Aaron called Hanson’s number

                Aaron: Uh… mom? It’s Nickie… I’m being held up at the Hospital. Sorry I won’t be able to pick up the rest of the Wight family. I think you may have to bring out the big guns. Right now they’re saying I have to stay. It might take a while….Love you.

                Aaron put down the phone and crept up to the office Dr Turner entered, she was on the phone and could make out part of the conversation.

                Turner: here, yes. I think Mr Stavero is sending people.

                Aaron’s eyes narrowed. He had to get out of there fast. He got back to the ward and started looking around for his things. Lance was fully engrossed by his work and did not look up once. Though Aaron couldn’t find his phone, he did find his laptop and a set of blue scrubs. He snuck into the hallway and found a supply closet to hid in while he changed and booted up his laptop. Teleporting proved to be futile as there was some kind of Correspondence block on the entire hospital, instead he settled for Forces, increasing his speed so he may outrun anyone who found him.

                After messing around with his personal kinetic code, Aaron left the closet and left. The hospital had a labyrinthine layout which made it very difficult to keep track of where he was, and the first elevator he found only brought him as low as the 19th floor. He was further from the ground than he thought. While walking across another corridor, trying to pretend he was supposed to be where he was, two men in suits started walking to him. Aaron hid behind a corner and waited, but one of them took notice and alerted the other. Aaron ran quickly around a few corners and into room on the side, easily losing them as the men ran on.

                Man: Hello doctor?

                Aaron looked behind him, the room he entered was not as empty as he thought.

                Aaron: Oh… hi… wrong room…

                Aaron got himself out, found a stair well and went as far down as he could, exiting on an indoor balcony overlooking the hospital café. Another man in a suit just ahead of him “Hey” they called out “Stop!”. Aaron ran at full tilt, losing control of his speed and tumbling over the edge of the balcony. Aaron caught himself and continued running down the corridors towards anything that resembled an exit. Finally, he jumped out into the open air. He was still on the Hospital Grounds, but freedom was in his sights. He continued running at full speed away from the area, when a guard ahead of him pulled out a gun and fired.
                Aaron narrowly pulled his head away from the bullet and ran right by him calling out “Nice shot Technocucks!” He ran out to the road in laptop in arms wearing stolen scrubs. His speed began to return to normal as he looked about the roads in confusion, he had no idea where he was, but at least it wasn’t back there.

                Hanson left the group as they walked into the meeting room to discuss, and approached Granny Elm’s room. He knocked on the door.

                GE: It’s Brewing.

                A moment passed, and Granny Elm emerged with the tea in hand.

                Hanson: Hello. Thank you. You know what this is for, yes?
                GE: I believe so. The marauder you brought with you.
                Hanson: Yes, I was wondering if you knew if there was a way to help him, to cure him.
                GE: It is possible. But for now I must focus my attention on more pressing issues. The Heath and our own node.
                Hanson: I see… Well, thank you.

                Hanson went upstairs and to Edwin. He was awake and moving around.

                Hanson: Hey… Edwin? You ok?
                Edwin: I can’t find my book… It’s should be here.
                Hanson: What book Edwin?
                Edwin: It was taken… I remember yes, it was taken by that cultist!
                Hanson: There was no cultist Edwin, do you remember me?
                Edwin: You?
                Hanson: I’m Detective Hanson, I was hired by your sister to find you.
                Edwin: My Sister? That’s not possible. She’s dead… She was in the crash. I saw the water pouring in, she couldn’t get out!
                Hanson: No. She’s alive, she was with us just a moment ago. Do you remember?
                Edwin: I…yes… Yes of course. Of course. She was. I saw her. She was here.
                Hanson: Ok… now calm down. I have some tea for you.
                Edwin: I need a newspaper.
                Hanson: Edwin.
                Edwin: I need a newspaper. I’ve been having…dreams. Very strange dreams.
                Hanson: What kind of dreams?
                Edwin: Of great alien landscapes… I was in a ship… but the water disappeared and I was left to cross a barren landscape, the ground was black and the sky was still. I remember walking… I walked for what felt like hours before I saw anything… A cliff. A great cliff in that went down a thousand metres. Something was down there.
                Hanson: Edwin. Get a hold of yourself.
                Edwin: I have to see a newspaper, I have to know if others had seen what I’ve seen!
                Hanson: Drink your tea!
                Edwin: Get me a newspaper, please!
                Hanson: Ok. I’ll get your paper, but promise me you’ll drink this.
                Edwin: Fine.

                Hanson left the room and looked around from a newspaper lying around the chantry before returning. When he got back, the room looked markedly different, much less modern. The furniture had shifted, as did Edwin’s clothing. Hanson looked at the year printed on the paper, it read “1928”. He pulled out his phone, and sure enough it was now a notepad. Hanson started to worry.

                Hanson: Edwin… Are you ok?
                Edwin: You have my paper?
                Hanson: Yes.

                Edwin takes the paper, and starts to read through it with anxious energy. He brings out a pen and starts circling parts of it. Hanson looks down at the tea, it’s been barely touched.

                Hanson: Edwin… You need to calm down.
                Edwin: Just as I thought… Others have had these dreams, similar to mine. All over the world!
                Hanson: Edwin! Listen to me. None of this is real, do you remember what we talked about yesterday?
                Edwin: I… what do you mean?
                Hanson: Do you remember Sarah? Your Sister?
                Edwin: My sister… She’s been dead years ago. She was jostled by a cultist.
                Hanson: Edwin. Get a hold of yourself! You need to calm yourself, because the more you think about this, the more it happens. None of this is real, ok? You need to calm yourself. Ok?
                Edwin: I… ok….
                Hanson: Drink your tea!

                Edwin sat back down in his chair as Hanson slowly made his way to the door, not leaving until he saw Edwin grab the cup and take a drink. Hanson waited a while at the threshold and watched but Edwin did not relax his movements. Not wanting to risk his escape, Hanson pulled out his hipflask and started building an intense feeling of sleep. It took a lot of drinking, and more than a little concentration, but once it set off, Edwin slumped into his seat and fell into a deep dream. Hanson didn’t feel good walking away from him, but did not know what else he could do.

                The plotlines are converging! My player’s schedules are becoming a bit more predictable, which means hopefully I won’t need to do quite so many split sessions. Or if I do, they won’t be last minute.

                I predict the next session taking place either at The Tribunal, The Heath, The Umbra, or on the Streets of London depending on who is available this week.

                Just so everyone is aware, I have finally figured out:
                a) What the Malfean’s are actually trying to do.
                b) What the heck the Esther file is and what it actually refers to.
                c) How Lydia’s familial problems tie into all of this.
                d) What Aaron’s VA buddies were trying to achieve when trying to take down The Stream.

                I had a number of ideas for possible things they could do and mean, but until now they’ve been pretty floaty, sometimes changing just as quickly as I think about them. I might change a few things here and there if it feels appropriate, but it’s more going to be minor alterations rather than massive plan overhauls. Only took about 19 sessions before I knew what the plot of this chronicle would be… What’s that? About 6 months’ worth of game? Barely any time really.

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


                • #68
                  20th Session

                  This turned out to be a pivotal session for a lot of the characters that were here today. Lots of character development here.

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

                  Notable NPCs Include:

                  Vivian Porter: High Priestess
                  Boris Mortimer: High Priest
                  Mica Rose: Technowitch
                  Granny Elm: Nephandic Seer

                  Tribunal Staff
                  Erasmus Crowthaw: Hermetic, Seat of Law
                  Exarch Timothy Richard: Choristor, Seat of Morality
                  Anil Mishra: Euthanatos, Seat of Justice

                  Edwin Phillips: Our Marauder
                  Sarah Phillips: Edwin’s Sister

                  ---CHAPTER 20a: WAS IT WORTH IT?---

                  Aaron ran down the busy streets, wearing nothing but a pair of scrubs, carrying only his laptop. He turned a few corners but realised he was getting nowhere. He stopped, checked a street sight, hid round a corner, and turned on his laptop so he could find out exactly where he was, and where the nearest underground station was. He noticed a message on his Chat client from someone called Be4ker, but ignored it for the moment. A quick moment on Google Maps and he found himself a station. Now all he needed was some money. He quickly typed in some code and pulled his bankcard out of his desk at home and into his hand. He could feel the paradox flowing over him… it was making him nervous. Aaron spied a man in a suit walking by so quickly made tracks to the station. Except his card didn’t work. “oh no…” He knew in that moment that this Stavero guy must have frozen his account. With little other option, Aaron hid himself in a bathroom stall and recoded his surroundings to his room at the Keepers Chantry. He could feel the buzz of static emit around him as the world formatted around him.

                  He looked around, there was blood all over the floor, his bag looked like someone had rummaged through it, and Edwin was sitting on a chair, face on a desk with an empty cup by his hand. Aaron crept up to him and confirmed he was actually asleep. Then he heard a sound, someone was on the other side of the door. It sounded like Hanson.

                  Hanson was trying and failing to make a call to Sarah. He wasn’t comfortable with Edwin being left alone without her around to keep him anchored in reality. Aaron emerges from the room and talks to Hanson.

                  Aaron: Hey… What I miss?
                  Hanson: Oh Aaron! Hi. Everyone’s downstairs arguing. I managed to get Edwin to sleep though.
                  Aaron: Good… I ended up at Guy’s Hospital which, by the way, is a Technocratic stronghold. I only just got out but now I don’t have my phone or any of my things, except this (holds laptop). Oh yeah, and they froze my account. So not only am I homeless, but penniless too.
                  Hanson: Wow… I think the keepers will let you stay here for a while if you ask. We’ll need someone to keep an eye on Edwin until Sarah leaves.

                  It’s at this point that Granny Elm appeared from the stairwell.

                  GE: Thank you Detective Hanson. I shall be keeping an eye on Edwin for now.
                  Hanson: Oh good. Thought I was on my own with him.
                  GE: Now, we can’t have a marauder left unwatched, can we?
                  Hanson: Actually, there was something I’d like to ask. What exactly can we do about him?
                  GE: Do about him?
                  Hanson: Like, cure him.
                  GE: Curing a Marauder… Very difficult, if even possible. Marauders by their very nature are too far gone in their quiet to be brought back for long. Each one is different, but the only ways I can think would be to go into their mind and deal with things directly, or find an environment which can suit their delusions well enough for them to work through them.
                  Hanson: Hmm… Could anyone in the chantry help?
                  GE: Perhaps, though we would need to restore our node first.
                  Hanson: Of course…

                  Helen rushes up the stairs

                  Helen: Hanson! The meeting is finished, and Vivian is taking Boris and Mica to the Tribunal! I’ll be going with them.
                  Hanson: Taking Boris huh… I’ll go too. I want to see what he has to say.
                  Helen: What about Edwin.
                  GE: I’ll be watching him.
                  Hanson: There’s something I need to ask Boris before he goes.

                  Hanson finds the group downstairs and found Boris just as everyone was leaving. He stopped him and asked if he knew someone named Sarah Phillips, particularly because she seemed to know him. But he did not. The name was not familiar.

                  [ST NOTE: I can’t remember exactly when it happened, but there was a moment when Helen was left alone in the room with a sleeping Edwin, and she was noticeably uncomfortable being around him. I had Edwin stir a little in his sleep, and that was enough to make the jumpy Helen on edge].

                  Helen sent a message to Eve that they were coming, and the five of them set out to the London Tribunal.

                  Aaron stayed behind, still rather battered from the paradox burn and needing a moment to rest. He ducked in to the room with Granny Elm watching Edwin to speak to her.

                  Aaron: Hey, do you mind if I ask you something? What do you know about Astrology?
                  GE: Astrology? It’s the belief that one can look at the stars for a way to determine our fate. Depending on who you ask, our fate is written in the stars, or the stars have an effect on us, as though their spiritual influence guides our actions.
                  Aaron: Right… Well, the reason I ask is I think I’ve found out what the Esther file is. It’s an attempt to make astrology make sense in a scientific way, I think. It does it by tracking a star and seeing how it relates to human behaviour.
                  GE: I see… Well, I can’t say I know much about the way these tracking things work. But if you learn of a specific star, do let me know of it.
                  Aaron: Sure.

                  Aaron takes his bag and finds another room in the chantry where he can shower and finally change out of the scrubs.

                  The Hermetics stood by the Tribunal hall north of Temple awaiting the keepers wearing their armoured robes.

                  Lydia: What’s going on?
                  Hermetic: You are held under suspicion of harbouring a widderslainte.
                  Lydia: That’s not possible. I don’t have an abode, so I can hardly harbour anything can I?

                  Ignoring her, they took Lydia, Vivian, Boris, and Mica inside, took off any and all personal belongings and submitted them each to separate questioning.

                  Gustav: State your name
                  Lydia: Lydia
                  Gustav: What is your affiliation with the keepers?
                  Lydia: I am an initiate.
                  Gustav: What do you know of Melonie?
                  Lydia: She saves my life. But then she tried to kill Vivian, so I’m not sure if I can hold to what she made me promise.
                  Gustav: What did you promise?
                  Lydia: Not to interfere with her and the High Priestess.
                  Gustav: What do you know of the Camellia?
                  Lydia: She’s the Keeper’s maiden, but I don’t know her very well.
                  Gustav: And of Boris?
                  Lydia: I think he’s confused… I can’t say more than that. He’s very secretive.
                  Gustav: Who is Alex?
                  Lydia: He is Boris’s apprentice.
                  Gustav: Do you trust the High Priestess Vivian?
                  Lydia: I do. Yes.

                  Lydia was taken to a cell and held there for a while. Within an hour, the Tribunal hall was filled with audience, and the four Verbena were taken into the centre where they would stand before the three benches. All were asked to stand, the precession of Judges began along with the call of their names, and the Tribunal began in earnest.

                  The proceedings began with Gustav going over all the evidence that they had again. Though it seemed Lydia had a comment to make on each.

                  Gustav: A report submitted by Aileen Davina Freya declairing the suspicion of the maiden being a widderlsainte.
                  Lydia: So a bit of paper that said “I think they’re a widderslainte” Anyone could write that. It doesn’t really mean anything does it?
                  Gustav: …And two letters, written-
                  Lydia: So there are letters that say she’s a widderslainte, how exactly is that proof? Also, how would they tell they were a widderslainte anyway?
                  Gustav: The letters clearly state that both the High Priest and Priestess were aware of the Coven’s Maiden and her nature.
                  Lydia: And they kept them around? How stupid would anyone be to keep letters like that around? Also, why would a Verbena write letters? It’s so much safer and quicker to use a Spirit!
                  Crowthaw: This was the evidence presented at the last Tribunal. If you must dispute it, at least wait until they’ve finished recounting it first!

                  The crowd was growing tired of Lydia’s constant interruptions, and their restlessness was beginning to show. Lydia stayed quiet as the letters were read aloud.

                  Mishra: Who were these letters sent to?
                  Boris: They were sent to me. And they are both part of the same letter.
                  Crothaw: And who do they refer to?
                  Boris: Our maiden at the time, Melonie.
                  Exarch: So you were aware of her nature?
                  Boris: We were, though we questioned it for a time.
                  Crothaw: We were aware of another named Alex who was assisting Melonie. Do you know of him.

                  Boris stays noticeably silent.

                  Crothaw: Very well… Lydia, step forward. Tell us what you know of Melonie.
                  Lydia: You want me to say what I already said at the hearing?
                  Crothaw: If you could repeat it for the court.
                  Lydia: Well, she saved my life, and I made a promise to her.
                  Crothaw: What was the nature of this promise?
                  Lydia: I promised not to interfere with her and Vivian.
                  Gustav: Were you aware of her nature?
                  Lydia: Not as the time of making the promise, but when they started fighting, I was aware.
                  Gustav: And did you keep to your promise?
                  Lydia: Well, I didn’t get involved myself.
                  Exarch: Then she admits, she abided by a promise made with a nephandi.
                  Crothaw: Are you aware of the protocols?
                  Lydia: No?
                  Gustav: The 6th protocol given by the council and upheld by the London Tribunal: “Conspire not with the enemies of Ascension”.
                  Lydia: I didn’t conspire with them.
                  Exarch: Did you not say you kept your word to her.
                  Lydia: I did, but-
                  Exarch: Then she acted to aid their efforts.
                  Crothaw: It would certainly go against the letter of the law.

                  There is a bit of an uproar in the crowd, with some calling her guilty of conspiracy. Anil Mishra calls for order before speaking.

                  Mishra: The nephandi are deceitful by nature, they arm themselves with lies and trickery. Can anyone of us ever really know if we have not aided their efforts inadvertently? If we were to condemn every mage who made promises to them without awareness of their actions, we would have to prosecute every one of you. She cannot be condemned for what is essentially an innocent act.

                  The discussion turned back to Melonie, Mica and Boris told the Tribunal about their involvement with her. That she was suspected and then left. However, Boris still did not speak of Alex. Lydia tried to push the issue.

                  Lydia: Boris, What about what Alex did? He was helping Melonie.
                  Boris: That’s a lie!
                  Lydia: I saw him! Don’t you remember the fomori?

                  There was a bustle of worried chatter at the mention of fomori, some even questioned whether or not fomori were “just a myth”. Order was called with a bang of the gavil, and a full second in which no sound can be made.

                  Lydia: You were there. We were in that cave when he came and attacked us, he sent more of those things after us. Tell them.
                  Boris: He would never help her. He was just helping me find out what Melonie was up to.
                  Helen: He’s lying!

                  Helen stood up and the attention of the Tribunal flew to her.

                  Helen: He’s only trying to protect his apprentice!
                  Crothaw: Alex is your apprentice, yes?
                  Boris: He is, but.
                  Helen: He’s helping Alex, and Alex is helping Melonie. They are all tied together!

                  Another burst of discussion is pushed out. Order is called once again and Lydia speaks above it.

                  Lydia: Helen, you can’t speak on this. (to the judges) Her view is biased. She has a personal vendetta against him. Boris killed her parents.
                  Helen: I assure you, I am being completely objective in how I view this.
                  Lydia: But you can’t be objective, you’re involved.
                  Helen: I am only going on the evidence. His apprentice is helping the nephandi, he is protecting his apprentice, so he is also protecting the nehpandi.
                  Crothaw: Lydia, do you mean to question the integrity of a member of the Order of Hermes?
                  Lydia: Do you have parents sir?
                  Crothaw: Excuse me?
                  Lydia: Do you? Are they still alive?
                  Gustav: The nature of the Adeptus Major’s parentage has no bearing on this hearing. This line of questioning should not proceed.
                  Crothaw: What exactly are you trying to do here?
                  Lydia: I only want to ensure the High Priest gets a fair trial.
                  Exarch: She has been disruptive from the very start. She has no respect for this tribunal, or its process!

                  There is a small roar of agreement from the audience. Once again order is called.

                  Crothaw: If you interject again with such impertinence, you will be held in contempt and lose the right to speak in this tribunal.
                  Gustav: The last piece of evidence is this knife. Do you recognise it?
                  Boris: I do.
                  Gustav: Who does it belong to?
                  Boris: It belongs to us.
                  Gustav: Where was it kept?
                  Boris: I keep it in my drawer.
                  Gustav: It holds a dark resonance that is associated with the rending of quintessence from an unwilling participant several times, first dating back to about three years ago. Are you aware of how this may have happened?
                  Boris: I am…
                  Helen: Was it used by you? Did you use it on-

                  Eve casts a glares at Helen, causing her to hold her tongue.

                  Boris: If I may speak. I have a request. Please, allow me to take the full responsibility of what has happened here, of Melonie and her crimes, and of the way it was handled. I only ask that you free Camellia, our Coven’s Maiden, for she is innocent. And lift the geas that binds our High Priestess for she only acted out of limited knowledge.

                  Lydia starts getting the urge to speak. Her Bard’s Tongue writhing with words so clearly in her mind. She clamps down and supresses it for the moment.

                  Crothaw: Unless anyone has something to say to this. We shall take a break to discuss and then reconvene after 20 minutes.

                  The gavel is banged a final time and the doors are opened. The Verbena are taken to a shared cell while the others are free to talk outside. Eve approaches Helen.

                  Eve: You got very close to being undone. If the tribunal question your motives the entire case is lost.
                  Helen: I know.
                  Eve: Be careful. If you want to be admitted into the Order, this needs to go through.
                  Helen: I understand. I’ll be careful.

                  Hanson receives a call from Sarah.

                  Sarah: Hanson, you called me?
                  Hanson: Yes. I wanted to make sure you were ok.
                  Sarah: Sorry. I’m back in the place I’m staying at. I’ve had to be careful, there are those men in suits everywhere.
                  Hanson: I understand.
                  Sarah: I’ve got your money by the way. I should be able to pay you soon.
                  Hanson: Just stay safe Ms Phillips.

                  Aaron wakes up in a bed having recovered a little from the burn. He gets up and walks about the chantry, looking to see if anyone was around, and opened the door to his previous room. Granny Elm was not inside. He turned and saw Edwin still on the chair, eyes open with a confused expression on his face.

                  Edwin: Hello..?
                  Aaron: Uh… hi.
                  Edwin: I know you… I think… I’ve seen you before…
                  Aaron: Yeah. We’ve met a few times. I’m Aaron.
                  Edwin: Yes…. Aaron…
                  Aaron: You ok?
                  Edwin: I’ve been having dreams… Strange dreams… Bizarre landscapes which go on forever… horrible creatures that live beneath the waves, slowly rising. It felt so real…
                  Aaron: Well, it isn’t real. Remember that.

                  Aaron quickly looked around to see if anything was changing… But so far things seemed normal.

                  Edwin: I also saw a car in the waves… I was in a car. We had crashed, it was filling up with water. I saw her face, she was there. I got out but she didn’t… I think… My sister. Yes. My sister.
                  Aaron: Sarah?
                  Edwin: Yes. Sarah.
                  Aaron: Sarah isn’t dead.
                  Edwin: But I saw her die. She was there, I saw her.
                  Aaron: She’s alive. She is! Don’t you remember? She was here.
                  Edwin: I… But I saw her die.
                  Aaron: What’s the last thing you remember, do you remember yesterday?
                  Edwin: Yesterday? I was… I was on a ship… We were sailing somewhere…
                  Aaron: See. That was a delusion.
                  Edwin: What’s happening?
                  Aaron: You’re sick, Edwin. You have trouble telling real from not.
                  Edwin: I… don’t know.
                  Aaron: Do you remember the technocrats? The men in suits that were coming for you?
                  Edwin: I do… but that has to be a delusion to right? That kind of paranoia is usually what people imagine when they’re not well…
                  Aaron: Actually, that happened. I managed to get us away from it though.
                  Edwin: What if, what if you’re not real?
                  Aaron: You want to pinch me?
                  Edwin: But I felt the wind and the water of that ship. I could smell the sea.
                  Aaron: Yeah… Sensory stuff like that can all be part of the delusion.
                  Edwin: So what good would pinching you do?
                  Aaron: I uh… I don’t know what to say.
                  Edwin: Was anyone real? That FBI agent?
                  Aaron: You mean Hanson? He’s real… Believe me about that.
                  Edwin: What if none of this is happening… What if this is all part of the dream I’m having… I don’t know. I just don’t know!
                  Aaron: I don’t know either…

                  Edwin started to fall asleep right in front of Aaron, drifting his head down and to the ground. Aaron looks behind him and sees Granny Elm standing.

                  GE: You should be careful when speaking with a marauder. They have a way of shifting other’s minds.
                  Aaron: I guess…
                  GE: Leave him with me, I’ll make sure he stays asleep.

                  Aaron returned to his new room and lay down on the bed in contemplation. All this time, they’d been thinking of Edwin as either an obstacle or an objective. This was the first time Aaron started to think of him as a person, confused and lost.

                  Lydia sat in the cell with Vivian, Mica, and Boris. For a while there was silence and an atmosphere of high tension, broken only when Lydia spoke.

                  Lydia: Why did you give yourself up?
                  Boris: I had to. To protect the coven, to bring Camellia back.
                  Lydia: Why couldn’t you just tell them about Alex?
                  Boris: They would kill him if they knew!
                  Lydia: Knew what? That he was helping Melonie
                  Boris: He was not helping her. He was helping us.
                  Lydia: It didn’t look like it when he sent those things at us.
                  Boris: When Melodie left, Alex was the only one she’d speak to. While many left the coven and Vivian focused her attention on other things, Alex kept an eye on her, letting me know what she was planning.
                  Lydia: You could have told them that!
                  Boris: They would have killed him! The Hemetics would see this as conspiring with the nephandi.
                  Lydia: How do you know he isn’t?
                  Boris: He may have some affection for her, but he wouldn’t turn. I know he wouldn’t.
                  Lydia: And if he has turned?
                  Boris: There must be a way to reverse it. He does not have the hate in him.
                  Lydia: So instead of telling anyone about what you were doing. You sent of your apprentice to spy for you on someone who would taint him. So that’s why you’re handing yourself in, it was your fault!

                  Lydia is struck from behind. She turns and sees Vivian has just hit her. She makes a move to hit back but is blocked by Vivian.

                  Vivian: Don’t you dare speak in such a petulant way to your High Priest!
                  Lydia: I didn’t mean it that way…
                  Vivian: No…
                  Lydia: You would hit your student?

                  She lets go of Lydia’s hand.

                  Vivian: This has been stressful time for all of us. Our coven is in peril.

                  Lydia decides to let go of the words in her mind, and lets them be stated.

                  Lydia: There is a traitor among the Keepers. As long as they live, the coven shall fall.

                  Vivian looks at Lydia with a look of disbelief and disgust and turns away to speak with Boris. Lydia turns herself, unsure exactly what her own words meant. Mica approaches.

                  Mica: You ok? I looked like she hit you pretty hard.
                  Lydia: I don’t know anymore…
                  Mica: I’ve been in this coven a while. It’s not the first time we’ve had problems. When Melonie left a lot of others left too because of what Vivian did about it. Some called her too weak, others called her too heartless. I never really knew the whole story before, which is why I didn’t say much out there. I wouldn’t leave. I wouldn’t know where to go. You’re not thinking of leaving too, are you?
                  Lydia: I won’t leave.
                  Mica: Good… Because if everyone did leave, there’d be no coven so help.

                  In time, everyone is called back in to the Tribunal hall, where the final verdict was discussed.

                  Gustav: The Verdict of the Seat of Law
                  Crothaw: High Priest Boris. As you were aware of a nephandic plot being carried out and made little attempt to involve the Tribunal, while protecting someone who may be involved in this plot. The London Tribunal finds you guilty of Conspiring with Enemies of Ascension.
                  Gustav: The Verdict of the Seat of Morality.
                  Exarch: Although his actions have been secretive and suspicious. That he came forth and accepted responsibility should not go unnoticed. Though he must be punished, leniency may be shown.
                  Gustav: The Verdict of the Seat of Justice.
                  Mishra: Under different circumstances, the seat of Justice would have no issue with sentencing the accused with immediate incarceration. However, a lesser sentence may be more appropriate in this instance. We open it up to the floor to discuss how deserving of leniency the High Priest is.

                  The Audience began their somewhat disorganised debate, with Helen and Hanson taking opposing sides.

                  Hanson’s argument was that Boris, while at fault in the way he conducted himself. He didn’t actually do anything to aid the nephandi. Plus, he would be in the best position to aid in the search for Melonie and Alex, as well as dismantle their plan. And as long as he was willing to do this, he would still be of more use kept around.

                  Helen’s argument was that Boris had shown himself to be secretive and only willing to cooperate if it would help his own interests. That he was obviously trying to protect his apprentice, and may be lying about his actions much more than he lets on. And indeed for all they knew he could have already joined the fallen. So unless he agreed to find Alex and bring him to the tribunal himself, his word was not to be trusted.

                  Boris was asked by the Acarya Anil Mishra whether he would take his apprentice to the tribunal or not. Boris did not answer for a while, but eventually spoke a very definite “No”.

                  Helen’s side argued that this was proof that his word was not to be taken at face value, that he would rather see the destruction of the Heath than have his apprentice taken to justice.
                  Hanson’s side, however, argued that this was simply Boris admitting to his own weaknesses, that he knew he would not be able to send away his own pupil, but he would still be willing to assist in other ways, instructing us where the nephandi met, what they are planning, and when they may strike. That if he was left to run free, he was likely to return to them and assist them from the shadows.

                  The argument went on for a while, but the public were slowly warming to Hanson’s side, and just as it looked that Leniency had won, Lydia decided to weigh in by repeating her Bard’s Tongue prophecy: There is a traitor among the keepers. As long as they live, the coven will fall.

                  Crothaw: On what basis do you make these claims?
                  Lydia: I don’t know. It’s the Bard’s Tongue, I can’t control what is said.
                  Exarch: A prophecy?

                  The audience started to squabble about the legitimacy of her words, until Anil Mishra spoke out and confirmed the prophetic nature of her words. The mood changed in an instant. Accusations that Boris may be the traitor mentioned started being thrown about. Hanson backed down from his argument, no longer certain of his nature, while Helen used this fear to full effect, wining over the entire tribunal to her point of view. The Judges had heard enough.

                  Mishra: A consensus has been reached. High Priest Boris, you shall hitherto be incarcerated immediately for the foreseeable future. However, it has been decided that with your testimony and acceptance of guilt, there is not enough evidence to hold the Maiden Camellia, she shall be released to the High Priestess.
                  Boris: And what of Vivian?
                  Mishra: Her Sentence shall not be lifted. She will continue to gather up members of the Keepers for prosecution, and then be banned from leadership and exiled from London.
                  Boris: That wasn’t what we agreed!
                  Exarch: Send him away!

                  On hearing this, Helen started to get mixed feelings. She began to argue in favour of Boris being granted the right to stay with them so they might help them with the nephandi, but a stern look from Eve caused her to stay silent.

                  Vivian tried to tell Boris something as robed figures came out and grabbed Boris, taking him away from the Tribunal.

                  Croshaw: Mica Rose, step forward.

                  Having just seen what happened to Boris, Mica was very nervous.

                  Croshaw: It is the unanimous opinion of the Tribunal, given both your testimony and the testimony of others that you were the least aware of events, and are thus considered free from guilt.
                  Mica: Oh…uh… thank you?
                  Croshaw: Lydia, Step forward. As you are a new recruit, and as Boris has taken full responsibility for what has occurred, we have no choice but to find you free from guilt.
                  Lydia: Good.
                  Croshaw: However, if you ever speak up again in such a manner as you had done today within these Tribunal walls, you will lose the right to speak. This concludes the London Tribunal Hearing.

                  [ST NOTES: Two things that came up. The first was the question of why Boris wasn’t put under a Binding Oath effect like Vivian was. The answer was because they suspected him of being a Nephandi, and as such would not be affected by the confines of a binding oath on two accounts. First is that Entropy is so well studied by the Nephandi that any oath placed on them could be removed by someone within their circle without much effect. The second was that the Binding Oath assumes that the subject does not wish to suffer the misfortune that follows the breaking of the Oath. Such suffering is usually of little concern to the nephandi, and thus the spell has little power..

                  The second thing that came up is more of a funny inside. The moment Lydia said her Bard’s Tongue, Lydia’s player immediately followed up with “Plot Twist: It’s Granny Elm” to the laughter of the rest of the players. When players accidentally guess plot details by joking about them…
                  Luckily, they also threw a couple of accusations against Mica (jokingly) and then Vivian (not so jokingly) out of character, so I didn’t have to hold a poker face for too long.]

                  Vivian goes with some of the Hermetics to retrieve Camellia, while everyone else heads outside. Lydia and Mica are returned their personal items before they leave.

                  Lydia has decided that she really doesn’t like Helen anymore.

                  Helen finds Eve and stays as far away as she can from the Verbena. The guilt is far too much for her to bare.

                  Eve: Well done Helen. You did very well. With a performance like that I’m sure your induction into the order is assured.
                  Helen: Thank you…
                  Eve: Is everything ok?
                  Helen: I… Well… I thought this would feel better than it does. I didn’t mean to upend their coven.
                  Eve: Listen. If it weren’t for your actions, none of this would have come to light. These Verbena would still be keeping it all secret, and the nephandi would continue their work unchecked. You did a good thing here. Your Parents would be proud.

                  Even lead Helen inside the chantry, wanting to introduce her to a few influential members of House Ex Miscellanea. Helen went along feeling very conflicted. On one hand, she had achieved her revenge and managed to get into the order, all of her goals were where coming into being, but it all felt bitter and empty. She couldn’t help but wonder about how the coven would survive without its leaders, and the promise she made to Alfred.

                  Lydia staggered lifelessly and slowly away. Her face told a picture of shock, confusion, and loss. She ignored the crowd around her and walked an aimless path. Mica caught up with her.

                  Mica: Hey… So… That was bad wasn’t it…

                  Lydia did not respond.

                  Mica: Are you? Are you going to be ok?
                  Lydia: I try not to have personal emotional attachments with people.
                  Mica: …Is that a yes?
                  Lydia: I’m going back to my island.
                  Mica: Wait what? But… you said you wouldn’t leave.
                  Lydia: I don’t know anymore… I don’t know anything.

                  Lydia continued her slow march towards a tree where she let herself fall to her knees.

                  Hanson saw Vivian step out of the chantry with a very half asleep Camellia in tow. Camellia looked very unsteady and not at all aware of where she was or what was happening.

                  Hanson made a skype call to Aaron.

                  Hanson: Hey Aaron. Just to update you on everything. The Tribunal’s just finished and Boris has been taken to prison.
                  Aaron: Wow… That’s pretty heavy.
                  Hanson: Yeah. Good news is Camellia’s back out.
                  Aaron: Well, that’s something.
                  Hanson: Is Edwin ok?
                  Aaron: Edwin? Yeah… Edwin’s fine actually…
                  Hanson: Good, good. We should be back soon.
                  Aaron: Alright. Oh, Hanson. So Sarah’s going to be getting you some reward money, right?
                  Hanson: Yeah.
                  Aaron: Mind if I borrow some off you for a while? Just until I get my account unfroze?
                  Hanson: I think I can manage that.

                  Vivian left Camellia with Mica and went to check on Lydia.

                  Vivian: Mica tells me you are thinking of leaving the Keepers. If that is what you wish, then know that you are free to do so.
                  Lydia: I’m not going to leave the keepers.
                  Vivian: I see… Thank you. We will need as much support as we can get to hold everything together.

                  Lydia starts to cry where she sits. Vivian approaches her, crouches next to her, and tries to comfort her.

                  Vivian: When Melonie left, it was a big blow to us all. It was the first time my authority was challenged, and the first time we lost so many people. Thinking about her behaviour in hindsight it just seems so obvious now. But at the time it felt so unfair. Why should she be denied a chance at life because of how she was born? I thought that all life was equally deserving of nurturing. But when her true nature became impossible to ignore, even then I couldn’t do it. I brought her back to her village, the one where I found her, where she grew up hated by its people. I hoped they may be able to aid, perhaps they knew how to handle her. But Melonie… she did things to them, terrible things that I dare not repeat. Her actions disgusted me, and when she returned to the chantry… that’s when it all came to ahead. While Boris and I were suspicious of her, some of the other members were less uncertain. Those that thought she was nephandic left for how I was too soft on her, while those who didn’t considered my actions barbaric.
                  Lydia: I don’t understand why I’m so upset.
                  Vivian: Emotion is a part of life
                  Lydia: I consider all life to be equal. But to treat it equally I need to stay unattached. Watching and teaching. I don’t know if I can do that anymore…
                  Vivian: There is no shame in attachment.
                  Lydia: I don’t know what my role is…
                  Vivian: We are healers… This is why I stay in London and fight for the old ways to live on. If they can live here, they can survive anywhere. That’s why I want to keep the Heath vital. Keep the energy alive.
                  Lydia: The chorus, they want to keep the node out of the hands of the Technocracy. That’s exactly what we want as well. But we’re so busy fighting each other that we aren’t working to fight them. We should stop accusing each other, and start working together to try and achieve our goals. That’s the world we should be living in, no secret agendas, no distrust or revenge, just a willingness to listen and accept so we can work together.
                  Vivian: It’s a lovely world. But it isn’t the one we live in.

                  Aaron starts to fiddle about with his laptop when he notices that message from Be4ker.

                  Aaron: Hey. Sorry for the late reply. Things have been a bit crazy. I’ve been on the run and my account got frozen.
                  Be4ker: Ouch. Rubrix told me you were having some Syndicate trouble. Guess that means payment is off the table.
                  Aaron: Yeah… Sorry about that.
                  Be4ker: Perhaps there’s something else you could do though. You able to move?
                  Aaron: Sure.
                  Be4ker: Meet me here at KP9e?#d4%0%376vcjHD1127eJKLxI%%\6 this evening. We might be able to do a deal.

                  Aaron looked at the encrypted message and got to work decrypting it. It was the address of a place in Clapham. He started keying in the coordinates into his computer in preparation. All day he’d been uncertain exactly where he’d be able to go from here. With the Technocracy on his back, his home and money compromised, and no real idea on how to progress with the Esther File, he had fallen into a fairly hopeless situation. But now there was a direction for him. He had a place to go.

                  This session had such a downer feel to it by the end. I didn’t realise how sombre the mood had become until it became time to dish out experience. Everyone was really into their role, and it took them a while to snap out of it. To be fair, it was a very big deal, today’s session. A major NPC was removed from the game, and no one is all that sure about whether it was the right thing or not.
                  I’m quite proud of my players for allowing themselves to get sucked into the scene and feeling their character’s emotions. I will need to provide some reason to celebrate for them soon; otherwise they’ll be overcome with despair. Especially if some of the scenarios I have in mind play out as I expect them to.

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


                  • #69
                    Bravo! I'm a fan of this game.


                    • #70
                      Session 20.1

                      So you know what I said last week that my player’s schedules were getting more predictable and I might not need to do two sessions a week to accommodate conflicts? Turns out: nope!

                      Cast List
                      Alfred Camlan: Excalibur Mage
                      Sean “Sam” Heath: Templar Knight

                      Notable NPCs Include:

                      Kael: Artefact crafter
                      Gwyn Green: Spirit Walker
                      Granny Elm: Malfean Seer

                      Exarch Timothy Richards: Master of the Light
                      Joan Frank: Septrian in Debt
                      Jenifer Cromwell: Monist

                      Preceptor Joseph Kent.

                      ---CHAPTER 20b: CROSSING OUT---

                      The meeting breaks in the Undergrove. Helen runs ahead to speak with Hanson, while Vivian walks with Boris and Mica, getting ready to face the London Tribunal.
                      Sean sets forth to Granny Elm. It’s been far too long since he last touched base with the chapter house, and he knew if he came back empty handed, things were not likely to go well. As he approached her door, it opened.

                      GE: Hello?
                      Sean: Yes hello. I believe you have something which belongs to me.
                      GE: Ah yes.

                      Granny Elm closed the door and left Sean waiting for a few minutes, she then emerged with a very loosely bound manuscript entitled “Print Edition of New Theophanies”. Sean quickly leafed through it and recognised a lot of the passages.

                      Sean: Thank you.
                      GE: And thank you for letting me take use of it.
                      Granny Elm left soon after to head upstairs.
                      Alfred approaches Kael who is looking very worried at the node room tree.

                      Alfred: Kael?
                      Kael: The node is falling at a much faster speed than I thought it would… I’ve been trying to do what I can to help it, but it seems I’m doing little more than slowing it down.
                      Alfred: That’s what I’m here to talk about. I have a plan to fix the node. The Choristers have taken the quintessence, and I believe it is still there, and we know someone in the Chorus who might be able to help. I have a bracelet that I believe was found on the site of Queen Boudica’s burial, and may in fact belong to her. I was wondering if it would be possible to turn it into a periapt so we may move the quintessence from there and back into the node.
                      Kael: Make a periapt? That would require a great deal of Tass, and right now a great deal of Tass is not what we have.
                      Alfred: Ah…
                      Kael: Is there a particular reason you need to convert this bracelet into one?
                      Alfred: I thought it might be able to channel her power, perhaps fortifying the node. But I suppose that’s not as important as transporting the energy itself.
                      Kael: You would need a lot of energy to refill Hampstead heath. Not only for the node itself, but for the Tass that was drained in the area around it. However, I might have something.

                      Kael walks into a storage room and gather up four egg shaped pieces of smokey quartz, each one held on a string.

                      Kael: Perhaps with these, you’ll be able to hold enough of it.

                      Alfred thanked him and started placing the periapts into his satchel.

                      Alfred: There is one more thing. On my last excursion into the umbra, I fell into the Abyss and found a plant there which was long extinct. It is a Silphium.

                      Alfred takes it out to show him, though Kael obviously has no idea what he’s looking at.

                      Alfred: I’m thinking we can grow it and perhaps use it as an important bartering tool with other covens and maybe other traditions.
                      Kael: I see… Sorry. Camellia and Vivian are the ones you’d want to speak to about herblore.
                      Alfred: I understand, would we be able to grow it somewhere?
                      Kael: I’ll find a place for it in the nursery.

                      As Kael left to the Apothecary, Alfred noticed Sean was sitting in the room, gathering his thoughts.

                      Alfred: So… reckon you could have a talk with Joan about a Cross?
                      Sean: Yes… I should be able to. I have to go back to return this.
                      Alfred: I have to say again, thank you. If it weren’t for you, our node might be in worse shape than it is.
                      Sean: I only did what I thought was right.
                      Alfred: And I thank you for it. Would that more Choristers had your sense of ethics, we may not need a plan at all.

                      Alfred handed the empty periapt satchel to Sean.

                      Alfred: Here, I won’t be able to use these. If you by some chance happen to find the cross and the opportunity presents itself, they may be useful.
                      Sean: I’ll see what I can do.

                      Sean heads off, manuscript and bag in hand towards the chapter house. Kael returned just as Sean left.

                      Kael: Even with the quintessence restored, the Heath is not in a good state.
                      Alfred: Yes, I’ve seen. There are banes and fomori lurking around it. But getting the quintessence back is only the first step. Once Vivian gets back, we should gather up the Open Circle and all of us go a spiritual cleanse of the Heath. While they cleanse the mundane part, those of us who can step sideways can fight off the bane and fomori.
                      Kael: That could work, certainly.
                      Alfred: When’s the next open circle meeting?
                      Kael: This Thursday.
                      Alfred: Then that is when we should perform the ritual.

                      As Alfred left the Undergrove, he began to wonder exactly what was going on with the marauder. He headed upstairs, unsure of who is still around. Already it seems that Vivian was gone, as was Hanson. Had he left the Marauder unsupervised? What if he started acting up? That would be far too dangerous, not to mention the bad attention it would land the Keeper’s in. Starting to panic a bit he went up to Aaron’s room and started chanting. He wanted to feel out fond mind patterns to make sure Edwin was in there without accidentally triggering him into anything.

                      GE: I can hear you out there Alfred.

                      Hearing Granny Elm, Alfred stopped chanting and opened the door.

                      GE: There’s not need to worry, I’m keeping an eye on him.

                      Alfred starts to explain his plan to Granny Elm, about getting the quintessence back from the choristers, thinning out the bane in the penumbra, and having all the Keepers and any acolytes assist with the ritual cleansing. Granny Elm listened and seemed rather supportive of the idea.

                      Alfred: I think I have an idea of how we can deal with Edwin. Right now, there are two sects of the Technocracy. The Void Engineers, and the New World Order, I’m sure you know that I’ve been compromised with one of them, though I’ve been very careful about the information I give them. The Engineers, they tell me that if they don’t find Edwin first, that the NWO will be much more aggressive in their search.
                      GE: That is a concern.
                      Alfred: I think it’s best if we tell the Engineers about his whereabouts.
                      GE: You know, it might be beneficial having to sides of the technocracy fighting each other. It would serve as a good distraction, keeping them busy while we cleanse the node.
                      Alfred: That’s true… It would. And they would be able to take Edwin away from us as well…
                      GE: I would recommend you don’t tell Detective Hanson of this plan. He would not approve and may take steps to block it.
                      Alfred: Yes. That makes sense.
                      GE: Most of the others too might act to prevent this plan. I can see that. It would be best to keep it secret for the moment.
                      Alfred: Hmm… Of course. I would need a favour from them though. I’m afraid I might have made myself unemployed.
                      GE: Yes, I’ve heard. And we do thank you for sacrificing your Sleeper Life for us.
                      Alfred: This is more important. Though it does mean getting home is going to be a bit difficult. No doubt there’s some kind of patrol.
                      GE: If you provide me something of yours, I might be able to check for you.

                      Alfred goes into his bag and takes out one of his jars that had contained his salve. Granny Elm takes it and concentrates on the image until she sees something.

                      GE: There are police around your house.
                      Alfred: Police? As in Technocratic Agents?
                      GE: No… they seem to be sleepers.
                      Alfred: I see. Thank you for this. And thank you for keeping a watch on Edwin.
                      GE: It’s not a problem.

                      Alfred goes downstairs and prepares a Narrative Shift effect to make him a background character in other people’s stories, essentially making himself easier for others to ignore, and set out to his home in Camden for the first time in weeks.

                      Sean arrived at the chapter house and starts speaking to the knight on duty, telling that they wished to speak with the Preceptor. They immediately made a call and then let him through to Preceptor Joseph Kent’s Office. Sean stood waiting as Joseph Kent continued to write. He spoke after a minute, never looking up from his work.

                      Kent: Heath…
                      Sean: Yes sir.
                      Kent: You’ve not been here for a time. Why’s that?
                      Sean: I’ve been making excursions into the spirit world with the Verbena.
                      Kent: Have you indeed.
                      Sean: To keep up my cover.
                      Kent: We’ve received word from the Exarch that you attempted to disrupt their ritual.
                      Sean: Yes.
                      Kent: After I made a direct order to follow their command and assist when they need it.

                      Sean placed the manuscript on the table.

                      Sean: I have located the theophanies.
                      Kent: Where did you find them?
                      Sean: They had been taken by a Marauder.
                      Kent: A marauder? Do you know where they are?
                      Sean: …no. I don’t.
                      Kent: So you lost them…
                      Sean: I found it in possession of the Pagans, after it was taken from the marauder.
                      Kent: I am aware these Verbena are on trial for harbouring a Widderslainte. Do you think they may be harbouring this marauder as well?
                      Sean: …no… I do not.
                      Kent: …Well, Regardless, it doesn’t change the fact that you disobeyed a direct order! So, out with it! What do you have to say for yourself?
                      Sean: I did what I thought was the best way to preserve relations.
                      Kent: Preserve Relations? You rammed into a man!
                      Sean: I had to keep my cover with the Pagans.
                      Kent: At the expense of the Chorus? Where exactly do your loyalties lie?
                      Sean: With our Lord.
                      Kent: Then why have you prevented the lord’s work?
                      Sean: I do not think removing the quintessence is the Lord’s desire.
                      Kent: You think you know better than the Exarch then?
                      Sean: The site itself contains the lord’s power, I’m not sure it should be disturbed.
                      Kent: Perhaps you’ve been hanging around those pagans a bit too long… Have you learned anything about the breaches at least?
                      Sean: I believe that they are the act of a marauder.
                      Kent: The very same marauder you lost track of, yes?
                      Sean: …
                      Kent: Put your gun on the desk.

                      Sean complies with only a slight hesitation.

                      Kent: For disobeying a direct order and showing such insubordination, you are hereby being stripped of your arms and other privileges, along with a pay cut effective immediately. These privileges may be returned after you repent for a year and a day.
                      Sean: Sir. About the marauder. I believe I know where he will be. And how I might deal with him.
                      Kent: You will do no such thing. Let us know where they are and we shall try to subdue and capture them. You shall aid us in their capture and follow our commands.
                      Sean: There might be only one way to approach them, if I was to have access to a sniper rifle with-
                      Kent: Absolutely not!
                      Sean: I see…
                      Kent: You might be right though. Marauders are awfully difficult to deal with otherwise.
                      Sean: I believe the Technocracy plan to capture the marauder.
                      Kent: Well… As much as I hate to agree with them, it seems our goals align. If the Technocracy are planning to deal with the marauder, it might be best to leave them to it.
                      Sean: I don’t think-
                      Kent: If you can see the Technocracy attempting capture, then do not interfere. Getting the marauder out of the way and protecting our people and the masses is top priority.
                      Sean: …yes sir.
                      Kent: I assume you will be off to deliver this manuscript then.
                      Sean: I will.
                      Kent: Then get to it. And if I learn that you’ve acted out again. You’ll be removed from the Order, no longer a Templar knight, your fate placed under the control of Exarch Timothy Richards. Do you understand?
                      Sean: Understood. Lord Preserve us.
                      Kent: Lord Preserve us.

                      Sean left through the door and noticed a lot of other Brothers gathered by listening in with a slight smirk on their face. Sean ignored them and made his way out, not daring to try and enter the chapel. Manuscript in hand, and with no gun to hand, he made his way towards the Heath.

                      Alfred approached his house and noticed the car with police keeping a lookout for him. His effect ensured he would not be noticed as he walked down the side and started climbing the fire escape. His apartment window was locked, though peering through the window he could see that things were in disarray. Cups and bottles had been knocked to the floor and there was what looked like broken glass. Alfred was concerned, he recalled the rat spirits he allowed to stay in his home and immediately took out his runes and worked on thinning the gauntlet enough to peer into it. He heard the drunken chants of Que Sera Sera sung in a great chorus. Through the window he could see a great number of rats drinking out of the bottle, singing loudly, and generally contributing to the mess. “Not the mead…” Alfred thought “That’s supposed to be for the Wine Harvest!”

                      A small rat drunkenly sauntered by the window, Alfred furiously tapped on the glass. The Rat looked over. Alfred gestured to open the window. It took a bit of time for Alfred to direct the Rat spirit to help him open the window with a lot of pointing, and gesturing, but eventually the window opened and Alfred entered to see the full state of his flat. There were a great number of rats in every corner. Some were feasting on whatever they could find, others were playing games amongst themselves. By his fridge he saw a number of rats stacked on top of each other looking through the various shelves. Alfred looked at the mass of spirits. He wasn’t in the spirit realm, only pushing his senses into it, and thus could walk through them without any trouble. He walked up to the counter and decided to be kind to the Rat spirits, and brought down a drink for them to enjoy to a raucous applause. He went to his bedroom to gather his things, on his bed a number of Rat spirits lay fornicating. As distracting as this was he focused his attention and went to the drawer and opened it. A rat spirit lay inside.

                      Rat: Hey, do you mind? Trying to sleep in here.
                      Alfred: Sorry, I won’t be a moment.

                      Alfred reached inside and took the stolen bracelet. He decided then to turn off his spirit sense and see his apartment in the mundane world. The noise was gone and things at first seemed more manageable. There was a stale smell in the air and a warm clamminess about. Anything he touched seemed unpleasantly moist and slightly sticky. He moved about the place gathering as many important things as he could. The Rats could have this place, it was no longer safe for him to stay here. He gathered the important books from his library and took as many clippings from his herb garden as he could into bags. Along with clothes, tools, and a box of money kept under his bed, he grabbed a bottle of mead to bring with him. He felt a sense of disappointment in the room as he took it, that Rats were probably not too happy about this.
                      Rushing downstairs to the letterbox he quickly leafed through all the mail. Anything like bills and notices he left behind, and instead took two letters from his grandfather, one he had read and one which had arrived a few days prior; as well as a letter which bore what he recognised as the Technocratic Logo. Through the letter box, he noticed the policeman exit the car and approach the door. Alfred rushed back upstairs, threw open the window, chuck his bags out and then paused, thinking about the rats. He opened a bottle of mead and poured it out into a dish as an offering for the spirits, he could feel the mood of the place lift. The door buzzer went off followed by the sound of calling which prompted Alfred to make good his escape.
                      He jumped onto the fire escape and made a lot of noise doing so. Carefully he tried to clamber down but it was too late. The policeman’s attention was drawn just as Alfred had reached the ground.

                      Police: Sir? Are you Alfred Camlan?

                      Alfred quickly tried to act like he was a homeless drunk, but it failed utterly, he heard the sound of cutting thread, and instantly he knew the game was up.

                      Police: Going on a trip are we?
                      Alfred: Well…
                      Police: If you would come with us.

                      Alfred was panicking, the last thing he needed right now was to be taken by the police while holding a stolen object. He had to escape and was having a hard time thinking of how to do it. As the policeman drew closer, he grabbed the periapt that he worse and tried to channel as much energy into himself as he could while chanting like a madman. The policeman wasn’t entirely sure what to make of this. Alfred had already lowered the gauntlet. He was planning to push himself through it before we was taken out of range. The sleeper present made this a particularly difficult endeavour, though his uncertainty on how to approach the guy gave Alfred the much needed time, and just as the police officer stepped in to grab a hold of him, Alfred managed it, pushing himself through along with everything he carried and wore. There was a great cheer. He looked up at his apartment window where a small audience of rats had been watching. From the policeman’s perspective, Alfred had just disappeared before his very eyes.

                      [ST NOTE: So, Spirit 3 effect, vulgar with a witness, and definitely a case of fast casting. It’s a good thing he had that periapt on him otherwise this would have been an absolute disaster. Incidentally, his botched the first roll. I rolled backlash for both the botch and the vulgarity, and only got a measly 3 points of backlash. It’s the worst roll I’ve done for a w while (mostly 2s and 3s). Alfred’s player was not too pleased about this, now his has about 15-16 points floating about his head, not to mention the paradox his periapt has absorbed.]

                      Alfred checked through his things to make sure they all went through, but something was missing, one of his Grandfather’s letters. He pulled them out, but he only had the new one. He read it:
                      “Dear Alfred

                      I can’t tell you how pleased I am to hear of your adventures in the Spirit Wylds. Your excitement brings back so many memories of my own first few embankments. I dare say you have experienced more in your first trip than even I had at your age. Back then, though, the Gauntlet was much less rigid, and there was no Storm within it. It was a time when nature bled between the boundaries of worlds and those with the correct spiritual ties could explore freely, and rediscover how the world had been in ancient times, and could have been today. The days of free passage seem so very long ago now… I fear the boundaries between these worlds will become ever more distant as long as those Technocrats are able to further their terrible goals.

                      You should not be ashamed of protecting what little pockets of nature there are in the world, even if it means letting blood. They would do the same to you given half the chance. I recall what they had done to the family of your High Priest. It was during the Summer Equinox, a time of high celebration, when they came for them. While they fought back as best they could, they were not prepared for combat, and many were killed, while others were taken prisoner. Boris was not much older than yourself at the time. We searched hard for them, but found them far too late. Their scientists had already perverted their bodies, transforming them into painful affronts to nature, part human, part metal. In our absence, however, the node we had been protecting was lost. They had built great walls around it and used the nodes energy to power the very atrocities they were inflicting upon us. You see, Left unchecked, these progenitors would uproot your Heath, drain it of all that they could find use for, and use it to begin the cycle of destruction again. To allow a technocrat leniency is to give them another chance to ruin you. In many ways it might be better to allow the Bane to grow and reclaim the land. At least then it would be back in the hands of the spirits.

                      But no, Even as I write it, I cannot even pretend this would be beneficial. The Wyrm is not a spiritual force that should be encouraged, the Heath will need to be properly cleansed of both Technocratic and Wyrm influence if it is to be restored. Just as the spirits affect nature, so too does nature affect the spirits. Performing rites on the land can heal a corrupted space, just as dispelling the banes may restore control to the Naturae. I am quite concerned to hear of what has become of the Keeper’s Maiden. Your High Priest did speak with me about his concerns over her, He always was far too compassionate for his own good. Nature is built upon survival, and while compassion is an admirable trait, if it comes at the cost of you and yours, then it’s at the cost of your own survival. A leader looks after their own, first and foremost. I recall your High Priest telling me of how they found the Widderslainte in a village, perhaps they may know more about how to handle her.

                      Your wish to search for Queen Boudica reminds me very much of a similar quest I took in years gone by. The Search for the Green Fairy of Ireland, the Legendary Oracle Artermisia. I once thought that if I sought her council I may be able to gain insight to where or when our Great King may return. But we never did find her, and now the Storm is in place, the time to find her may have passed for me. Now that you have walked the Spirit Wylds yourself, I think the time has come that I tell you more about this quest. Perhaps when you come to celebrate Mabon with us next week?


                      Alfred put it away, and walked through the umbral shadow of Camden, around the Patern spiders and towards the Keepers chantry laden with his bags. He could not believe how close that was, and just how lucky he had been in his escape.

                      Sean arrived at Hampstead Heath. There was a chill in the air, but outside of that nothing seemed too untoward to him, except that there was now a large white marquee on the side. Sean approached it to investigate but was ushered away by someone, explaining that is was “not for public use” and that there was “scientific work” being carried out. Sean turned and left, not sure he wanted to risk what that implied. He made a prayer and sensed the prime of the area. He could feel the node, much weaker than usual but in the same spot he expected. Only a tiny sliver of God’s radiance remained within it. He looked back at the marquee and saw a dull glow. There was quintessence there too but it was distinctly godless. Sean decided to get the hell away from that tent.

                      As he approached the chantry, he found Jennifer Cromwell.

                      Jennifer: You.
                      Sean: Hello. I have to speak with the Exarch.
                      Jennifer: You’re the one who tried to disrupt our ritual.
                      Sean: Yes… I have a manuscript to return to him.

                      Jennifer stops as he shows her the papers and leads him towards the Exarch’s office. Sean knocks on the door and braces himself.

                      Exarch: Enter!

                      Sean enters with cautious confidence.

                      Exarch: Ah… You. Your commander told me you’d be coming.

                      The Exarch seemed to be busily going over a number of documents, though Sean didn’t give them a good look.

                      Sean: Pardon for interrupting your work. While coming here I noticed what seemed to be a group of technocrats at the base of the Heath.
                      Exarch: Yes. The Progenitors. We are keeping an eye on them. Since you interrupted our ritual there is still a bit of energy left in the node that they are eager to scout. Had you let us drain the node as planned, they would have lost interest and moved on.
                      Sean: I see…
                      Exarch: What exactly was going through your head?
                      Sean: I was …
                      Exarch: Yes?
                      Sean: I was uncertain that the quintessence should be moved from this place.
                      Exarch: The One provides this essence, it is there to be used.
                      Sean: I did not think this was God’s will.
                      Exarch: Not God’s Will? The will of the One was what we were invoking with our song. Our ritual was a direct request for The One to allow us to transport its divine influence away from this land.

                      Sean gave up the debate, uncertain of his own position anymore, and instead returned the manuscript.

                      Sean: This is what you requested I bring back.

                      The Exarch looked through the paper.

                      Exarch: …there’s a few pages missing… a passage of Deuteronomy… and a list of authors… I suppose this will do though. At least you were able to do something beneficial. No doubt your own commander will be delivering you punishment for you actions.
                      Sean: Yes sir.
                      Exarch: Right. Be off then. Oh and one more thing. I have been informed that if you screw up again, you will be kicked out of the Order and placed under my authority.
                      Sean: I have been made aware.
                      Exarch: Good. You are dismissed.

                      Sean hastily leaves the room but stays in the chantry for a moment. He looks for a chapel in which to pray. The one he finds is a large room filled with all kinds of objects around the walls. Some encased in glass. A great number of things placed upon the altar. Joan, he sees, is praying at the front, causing him to stay. Not wanting to disturb her, he sits patiently and waits. A familiar voice appears in the back of his mind.

                      Voice: How do you judge yourself?
                      Sean: …by my actions.
                      Voice: And what have your actions been?
                      Sean: To serve the will of the Lord.
                      Voice: You seem conflicted.
                      Sean: I am trying to get the right result out of this.
                      Voice: What good is achieving the right result if evil must be employed to get it? The actions must be good in themselves in order to hold merit.
                      Sean: …thank you. That’s what I needed to hear.

                      The Voice fades, and Sean has new resolution. He needs to do what he believes is right even if it results in bad outcomes for him later down the lie. He needs to help return the quintessence back to the node. He gets up and talks to Joan just as she’s about to leave.

                      Sean: Joan, hello.
                      Joan: You… you were at the ritual.
                      Sean: Yes, I’ve come to talk about that. You made a promise to someone.
                      Joan: Wait… walk with me.

                      Joan leads Sean outside of the chantry and the two of them walk about the Heath for a while.

                      Joan: We can’t talk about this in there. If anyone hears this… I swore my word I would help your friend to return the quintessence. I know where they’ve taken the cross, but no one can know of my involvement.
                      Sean: I understand. I too have been reprimanded for what I did. But I have resolve.
                      Joan: I’m not quite so ready to lose everything I have for this. But I have to help. I must return or they will question my absence. Meet me in a few hours at the sight of the node with your friend.
                      Sean: I shall.

                      They parted ways, her to the Choristers’ chantry, and Sean towards the Verbena’s.

                      Alfred pulled himself out of the penumbra at the tidy node not far Churchill Gardens with all his stuff in hand. He made his way to the keepers and allowed himself into one of the rooms and put down his things, quickly changed his clothes and waited in the communal kitchen area just as Sean arrived. Immediately Sean can feel the intense amount of Paradox that Alfred possesses, feeling to him as positively ungodly. Alfred himself seemed to be fairly uncomfortable about it himself.

                      They discuss their various plans. Alfred tells Sean of his idea to cleanse the node and fight the bane, trying to describe it in as Christian a way as he can gather, since he is aware that Sean considers the entire spirit realm to be Hell. Along with this, he explains the idea to use Edwin as a distraction for the Technocracy. Sean shows disapproval regarding the Edwin bit, unhappy with giving up anyone to the technocracy as a matter of principle. Sean tells him of Joan and that, while willing to meet up and assist in returning the quintessence, she must do so secretly. Alfred is interrupted by a phone call from an unlisted number. Alfred gets up and takes the call.

                      Alfred: Lance?
                      Lance: Alfred hello. I have to ask you something.
                      Alfred: Yes?
                      Lance: Do you happen to know someone called Aaron?
                      Alfred: …no…can’t say I do.
                      Lance: (sensing a lie) Well, we have his phone here. If you happened to know him it could be good to give it back to him since communicating with him.
                      Alfred: I see… I do have some good news about the marauder though.
                      Lance: The Marauder!?
                      Alfred: I think I know where he might be, he’s likely to be at Hampstead Heath this Thursday, I’ll call you later when I learn more.
                      Lance: That’s very good. Hopefully I’ll be out of here in time to follow that up. Anyway, so back to this Aaron person. Someone from within the Union has been trying to contact him, they think he has something which I need to get back.
                      Alfred: I’m not sure I can help you.
                      Lance: This would be so much easier to explain in person. I’m still at Guy’s hospital at the moment, would you be able to stop by?
                      Alfred: No.
                      Lance: It would make things a little easier.
                      Alfred: I’m afraid I have too many things to attend to here.
                      Lance: I see… Well, let us know if you find this Aaron guy.
                      Alfred: Lance, there is a favour I need from you. I’m in a little trouble with the police and with work at the moment. If this can be taken care off in some way then I’ll be willing to come and meet you.
                      Lance: Really? I can do that. It may take a couple of phone calls.
                      Alfred: Also, I am willing only to speak with you. Not with anyone else, not with the New World Order, just you.
                      Lance: Ah… I’m not sure that will be possible. The NWO would be the people I need to contact to get this favour done for you, and they aren’t going to be happy about any unmutual activity. They’ll want to know what we’re talking about.
                      Alfred: I can’t talk with Mr Steed. He scares me.
                      Lance: I’m not sure what I can do about that. They will do anything to listen in, I’m not sure it’s negotiable.
                      Alfred: Fine. Fine. We can meet tomorrow at the Hospital.
                      Lance: Sure, I’ll make a few calls and set it all up.
                      Alfred: Thank you.

                      Alfred returns to the kitchen.

                      Sean: We should probably go meet with Joan soon.
                      Alfred: Yes… But first I need to get an effect running. The police might be looking for me.

                      Alfred intends to go to the Undergrove to perform his Narrative Shift at its node, not wanting to accidentally have his paradox explore in his face. He knocks on the door and Gwyn steps out. Alfred stares in mirthful surprise.

                      Alfred: Gwyn!
                      Gwyn: Alfred! Good to see you.
                      Alfred: When did you get back?
                      Gwyn: Only just a moment ago. I stopped by your Grandfather before returning.
                      Alfred: Grandfather said he knew you, did you work under him?
                      Gwyn: Under him? I worked alongside, mostly to help guide him through the spirit world.
                      Alfred: He did say you were a renowned Spirit Walker. How is he?
                      Gwyn: He seemed well. Was adamant for some reason that you would be joining them for the Mabon ceremony
                      Alfred: ah…
                      Gwyn: Though I explained to him you were mostly likely going to stay with the Keepers, since attending these festivals is one of the rites of initiation.
                      How are the other two?
                      Alfred: That other two… Lydia has been settling in ok. She’s been having a bit of a hard time with some of the spirits, she even lost her necklace to one of them. Helen has turned out to be a much bigger problem. She was not a Verbena, but rather a Hermetic spy. She betrayed us all and has caused Camellia to be arrested and kept captive, and the rest of the coven are all required to speak at the London Tribunal. Her actions may have harmed our efforts quite staggeringly.
                      Gwyn: I see… Her story didn’t make much sense… If only I checked more thoroughly. I can’t help thinking that it’s me to blame for the state of things.
                      Alfred: You couldn’t have known, we were all fooled by her actions. Besides, we have a bigger problem to focus on.
                      Gwyn: Yes. Kael has been updating me about the Heath, not a good sign. Still, he tells me you have a plan for it.

                      Alfred details his plan to him, explaining Joan’s role as the “inside woman”, the periapts they obtained, as well as the involvement of Melonie and Alex.

                      Gwyn: I never thought it would come to this… She will need to be stopped.
                      Alfred: That’s a point… Melonie probably won’t be standing idly by while we attack her “pets”. She’s likely to be there.
                      Gwyn: We’ll deal with that as it rises. For now, let’s deal with part one of your plan.
                      Alfred: We were just setting out to the Heath now.
                      Gwyn: I can take you there directly if you wish.

                      Alfred calls Sean and the three of them head towards the node room of the Undergrove. Gwyn started drawing a pentagram on the floor with a long staff. Noticing the quizzical looks Sean was giving it, he started to explain what a pentagram was and how it wasn’t in the least bit demonic. As Gwyn finished, ground within the circle changed from the rooted floor of the node room to patch of grassy field. Gwyn invited the two of them to step onto the new ground. Once they stood upon it, the world beyond the circle warped and twisted, changing into a field with trees and an open sky. They now stood on the grass of the Heath, at the centre of the node.

                      Already Alfred can feel a difference in the atmosphere. Compared to the wild and lively taste the air had about it, the grass was a bit duller, and the trees were losing their leaves prematurely. Even the sky seemed greyer and less crisp.

                      Sean: Joan may be here any moment. I think it’s best if you two hide.
                      Gwyn: I’ll take a look around the Heath, assess how far this corruption has spread.

                      Alfred found a bush to hide behind and waited. During this time, Alfred decided to take out his runes and meditate while handling them, hoping he may consult with Excalibur.

                      Excalibur: Speak
                      Alfred: It’s been a while.
                      Excalibur: It has.
                      Alfred: I was wondering what you thought of the plans so far.

                      Excalibur did not speak, but Alfred got an impression that his avatar was generally approving of the tactics he had in mind.

                      Alfred: Well… it’s nice to know I’m on the right lines.
                      Excalibur: It is not the planning, but the acting you must take on. Many can make a plan, but have it come to naught. Plans are made real only through action.
                      Alfred: It’s a start, ok? I have to start somewhere.
                      Excalibur: Hmm.
                      Alfred: Do you know anything more about how to proceed with the family quest?
                      Excalibur: The Marauder.
                      Alfred: What about him?
                      Excalibur: He may know more than he is aware.
                      Alfred: How could I possibly learn from him?

                      Excalibur said nothing, and Alfred knew what was meant.

                      Alfred: Go inside the mind or a marauder? Surely not! It would be far too dangerous.
                      Excalibur: The most dangerous path can hold the greatest bounty.
                      Alfred: It can also hold nothing.
                      Excalibur: However you chose to act, you must act.

                      Excalibur fades and leaves Alfred alone with his thoughts. Moments later Joan emerges and walks to Sean.

                      Joan: Where’s your friend?
                      Sean: He’s here. (calling) Alfred!

                      Alfred stands up.

                      Joan: The Exarch is currently at the tribunal and will not return for a number of hours.
                      Alfred: Sean tells me you know where the node’s essence is held.
                      Joan: I do… But to take you to it, knowing full well what you plan… It’s very risky.
                      Alfred: Perhaps it is too soon. They might be expecting this. Maybe we should wait until he is out again.
                      Joan: Are there more members of your cabal who have yet to be seen by the Tribunal?
                      Alfred: There’s a few of us.
                      Sean: That would be a solution, cause another Tribunal, forcing him to leave at a later time.
                      Alfred: But it would have to be Gwyn and Kael, and we need Gwyn to take teleport us out, and Kael would be handy for moving the quintessence.
                      Sean: So, no waiting then?
                      Alfred: I don’t think we can afford the time of waiting for the tribunal to conclude.
                      Sean: I see.
                      Alfred: Joan, if you would take us to where the cross was taken, we can do the rest.
                      Joan: Understand that what you ask of me is treason. No one can know of my involvement.
                      Alfred: We will not reveal you.
                      Joan: And if you are found out, no mention of my name.
                      Alfred: Yes.
                      Joan: Then we must go quickly.
                      Alfred: We need Gwyn first. He will be able to teleport us out of there quickly.
                      Joan: Find him quickly, the longer I am away, the more dangerous this becomes.

                      Alfred, desperate for a quick solution, pushed his senses into the spirit world to find a messenger. What he saw shocked him. The ground of the Heath had darkened significantly, the sky was thick with mist, and all about was a general feeling of staleness. Before him a H’ruggling crawled past, the memory of its terrible smell was enough to make him gag. Beyond the trees, Alfred could just about see a flash of fur and a glint of the red eyes. Melonie’s fomor were around. At the centre of the node was a small point of normality, where the grass grew normally and the air still looked fresh. Alfred notices a Rogue Raven nearby.

                      Alfred: Excuse me?
                      Raven: What’s this?
                      Alfred: I need to request a favour.
                      Raven: Do you indeed?
                      Alfred: Yes. I might be able to provide you something in exchange.
                      Raven: What do you have?
                      Alfred: What do you want?
                      Raven: Any good at cards?
                      Alfred: You want to play now?
                      Raven: Yeah. Why not?
                      Alfred: I don’t have the time.
                      Raven: Ah, well then forget it.
                      Alfred: Are you sure there isn’t something else I could provide you with?
                      Raven: Hmm… How about this. Let’s say you promise me a favour.
                      Alfred: what kind of favour?
                      Raven: Whatever I might need.

                      Alfred was uncertain on this deal.

                      Joan: I really have to return, if you cannot find your friend, perhaps we must do this without him.

                      Alfred: Ok, fine. I’ll do you a favour.
                      Raven: Whatever I want?
                      Alfred: Yes, fine.
                      Raven: When I ask for it?
                      Alfred: Yes.
                      Raven: Alright, what do ya need?

                      Alfred described to him what Gwynn looked like and asked him to send the message to return to the node immediately, for they were ready to leave now. The raven jumped into the air, flew about 5 yards to where Gwynn just emerged from the trees, and shouted the message at him “Oi, you. Come back to the node, they’re about to go. Right, job done. (to Alfred) See you later!” And then it flew off.

                      Gwyn: Did anyone else feel a strange spiritual presence?
                      Alfred: I think I just got scammed by a raven…
                      Joan lead the three of them into the chantry, instructing them to keep their heads bowed as they walked. She made many turns and looked more and more nervous with each corridor passed, until she arrived at a large set of doors. Sean recognised this as leading towards the chapel.

                      Joan: It’s inside there. It’s Tuesday, so the chapel shouldn’t be in use. I’ll stay by the doors and make to open them if someone comes in. I’ll do my best to stall, but if they see you, I cannot help you.
                      Alfred: Thank you so much for what you are doing.
                      Joan: Remember, I’m not here. I’m not doing anything.
                      Alfred: In which case, thank you for what you are not doing.

                      Joan opened the door and allowed the three of them in before closing it behind them. Gwyn could feel a tight Corr. Ward over the chapel, and so got to work trying to temporarily punch a hole through it. Alfred and Sean began searching for the cross. Sean sensed out Prime, hoping to be lead to the largest source of light, but the whole room shown like a fire. Almost every object they could see held some amount of quintessence within it, Sean was dumbstruck on where to start.
                      Alfred instead chose to focus in on the resonance of the Heath, the Wild sense of dynamic emotion which made its power so effective at fighting the forces of the Wyrm. Lacking Correspondence himself, he was limited in his scope. Sean did his best to point out the brighter points and together they looked around the room.

                      They soon noticed that a large number of these objects also contained Wild resonating quintessence. They supposed that the Chapel may be some kind of site of “purifying” the quintessence taken from various sources, including the node. Alfred could sense varying degrees of presence, with some being taken over almost entirely but a different type. They began to wonder, if most of this quintessence was taken from the Heath, if it really mattered that they took the exact ones obtained from the Heath a few days ago, or if any of these would do. Though Alfred was somewhat concerened that the longer they were in the chapel, the less potent it would be. In time, the two of them found two crosses in a glass case by the altar. One was gold, and the other black.

                      While this was happening, Gwyn had managed to temporarily fade the ward and was now working on the escape plan. He dropped some seeds on the ground and made them grow into the shape of a pentagram.

                      Alfred an Sean mused over these two crosses. The Golden cross was definitely the cross Alfred recalled seeing, but Sean could see the Black cross held a great deal more quintessence. Though Alfred could sense there was another resonance lurking within the black cross, and not one he was able to fully feel. Eventually they decided on the Golden cross.
                      They discussed the viability of transferring the quintessence into the periapts, but considered this would take far too long and gave too much chance for failure. Instead Sean suggested they took the cross directly, reasoning that, with so many objects in this room, it would be unlikely that its absence would be noticed right away, and indeed its absence may be explainable if others within the chantry have access to the chapel and need of its use. Sean considered turning his shirt into a duplicate cross, but realised the choristers would be able to notice this far too easily, and would create more suspicion than it would dispel.

                      The doors heaved slightly, and they knew their time was short. Sean started praying furiously for assistance and pressed his hand against the glass. He pushed through as though the glass was made of toffee and grabbed the cross, pulling it out slowly, allowing the glass to resettle. The doors banged again, and Gwyn began his spell, turning the pentagram to grass. The two of them ran to the grass and the effect was unleashed, bringing them back to the Heath. In Gwyn’s absence, the pentagram forming plants reverted to seeds, leaving little suspicious trace.

                      Alfred: Well, Joan has fulfilled her oath. And now we have it back.
                      Gwyn: But I don’t think we can return it’s quintessence now. The Heath is overrun with malevolent spirits who would simply take it for themselves.
                      Alfred: This is where the ritual cleansing comes in.
                      Sean: We could try and thin out some of the numbers now.
                      Gwyn: By going into the umbra?
                      Alfred: I don’t think so, I am in no condition to fight.

                      As Alfred said this, he could feel a prod in the back of his mind. Excalibur did not take too kindly to this.

                      Gwyn: Then perhaps we should return to the Keepers chantry with the cross.
                      Sean: Yes, preferably before anyone sees us with it.

                      A moments preparation and off they went again, teleporting behind a building in Churchill Gardens.

                      It interests me just how much of the dynamics in this game have been shaped by the one thing none of us have any real control over. My player’s Schedules. I as StoryTeller am in a pretty privileged position of having the most flexible schedule of us all, while my players run the gamut of predictable Weekday 9-5 style jobs, to “I’ll know if I have work on Sunday by this Saturday”. This gives me the unique ability to have enough time to plan and ensure that everyone gets at least 1 session per week. I feel this is important in order to keep people from feeling they’ve been left behind and no longer have an impact in the story.
                      I know there are other ways to ensure people still feel involved, and I may explore some of these options, but considering they were all pretty new to mage when we all started, I knew we needed to give them all a good level of exposure to the game and its rules in order to stay afloat with everyone and everything else.
                      This has led to a few recurring duos cropping up such as Helen and Hanson, and Alfred and Sean, while Lydia has had the most solo sessions of the entire group. This has had a knock-on effect on the story and the way things are proceeding. The two characters within a duo trust each other more-so than they do the other characters, while Lydia has must less trust for almost anyone. I knew from the offset that my players would probably have schedule difficulties; that’s one of the reason I’ve put so many different plot threads, ensuring the two sessions didn’t step on each other’s toes, though it has led to a few narrative consequences because of scheduling.
                      For one, Helen was much more involved with Edwin’s story than the Keeper’s story, while Alfred and Sean have had the least contact with Edwin out of everyone, and thus they both have very different opinions on how to treat the Marauder.

                      The other thing to note is that I’m making up this narrative as I go along. Sure I have a number of events, character, and set pieces planed, but for the most part they are moulded around the story as it is so far. I can’t help but wonder how different the story would be at this point had everyone been free on Sundays, or if Alfred and Helen had formed a duo.

                      As the ST, I need to put on a front of assurance and control, to make them feel that there is a well thought out story going on for all six of them which keeps each one as the central protagonist. I need to pretend that any on-the-fly decisions were actually carefully planned narrative points, and ensure that no one detail is brushed aside if it becomes interesting to the players. The Esther file is a really good example of this, that whole thing was born of nothing, it wasn't even a part of the game until 5 sessions in, and now it may become the main mystery for the second half of the Chronicle.
                      I’m sure this is nothing new for STs to experience, but it’s interesting to me none the less.

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


                      • #71
                        Session 21

                        This one was a really roleplay heavy session; especially at the beginning when Alfred’s player didn’t arrive until a few hours in and I ended up stalling for time until he got here. There was a lot of talking between the characters, and so I may have muddled a few of the events or combined several segmented conversations into one. However, I’m very certain about Who said What with Whom, even if When and Where isn’t exactly in the right place.

                        Also, full cast.

                        Cast List
                        Lydia: Moon Witch
                        Alfred Camlan: Excalibur Mage
                        Sean “Sam” Heath: Templar Knight
                        Helen Walter: Hermetic Spy
                        Joe Hanson: Noir Detective
                        Aaron Gibson: Punk Hacker

                        Notable NPCs Include:

                        Vivian: High Priestess
                        Camellia: Maiden
                        Mica Rose: Techno Witch
                        Kael: Artefact crafter
                        Gwyn Green: Spirit Walker
                        Granny Elm: Malfean Seer

                        Sarah: Edwin's Sister

                        ---CHAPTER 21: HIGH SPIRITS---

                        Helen walks with Eve into the halls of the Chantry. She had just played a crucial role in capturing and putting away the man who killed her parents. As she and her mentor sat down in front of three Hermetic mages, two from House Quaesitor and one from House Jerbiton, all of whom sang her praises for the “brave act” she had committed, it all felt numb and lessened.

                        Bartimaeus: Well, Aileen, you gave a very spirited argument.
                        Gustav: Yes, the Order would me remise to lose someone as articulate as yourself.
                        Eve: Aileen has always been a very promising student. Her dedication to learning the Arts is uncontested.

                        Helen was not used to people using her craft name. She liked it, made her feel more like a full member of the Order.

                        Alexis: There is one point, however. We still have the widderslainte to look for.
                        Bartimaeus: That is a concern. Tell us Aileen, do you think the verbena would try and kill the Widderslainte, Melonie, once they find her?
                        Helen: …I think so.
                        Alexis: Yes, we can’t allow them to do that. This would only create a widderslainte.
                        Gustav: Try to keep an eye on them, see where they go when they hunt for this nephandi. Then make sure they don’t kill her. Instead, try and subdue her and use this.

                        Gustav hand’s Helen a wooden Seal of Solomon

                        Gustav: Call into it and we will come to take her away for the Gilgul rite.
                        Helen: I understand.
                        Bartimaeus: Good. Once this business of nephandi is laid to rest, we can focus on more important things like organising your ceremony and getting you a proper True Name.

                        Hanson and Lydia were walking back to the Keeper’s chantry. Ahead of them leads Vivian who supports a rather shaky Camellia. Mica walks awkwardly behind as Hanson and Lydia argue.

                        Lydia: How is any of this fair?
                        Hanson: That’s the law, just as screwed up as it is for sleepers.
                        Lydia: The Tribunal has no Verbena representation. Boris didn’t have a fair trial, Helen had it out for him from the start. He shouldn’t be in prison.
                        Hanson: To be fair, they tribunal was going to show him leniency until you spoke out your prophecy. Telling everyone one of the Keeper’s was a traitor.
                        Lydia: That might not have been Boris though. We don’t know who that prophecy refers to.
                        Hanson: Saying things like that spooks people, you know.
                        Lydia: We have to break him out or something.
                        Hanson: You mean, break him out of a Hermetic prison?
                        Lydia: Why not?
                        Hanson: Do you have any idea how stupid that is?
                        Lydia: I’ve broken out of jails before.
                        Hanson: Sleeper jails. This is a whole different thing. They would know how to deal with magic.
                        Lydia: We still need to try. He can’t leave him to serve a sentence imposed on him by an oligarchy.
                        Hanson: Also, it’s going to be pretty obvious it was us. Think about it, if just after their High Priest is taken away, who’s the most obvious group that’s going to try and do something?
                        Lydia: So? We could probably take them.
                        Hanson: Really!?
                        Vivian: We will not be trying to break Boris out. To do so would do nothing but provoke retaliation.
                        Lydia: I’m sorry High Priestess.
                        Vivian: We will return to the chantry and prepare. It is the night of the Autumnal Equinox. We have a ritual to perform.
                        Lydia: Can I ask you. How precise is the wording of a prophecy usually?
                        Vivian: You are worried about the one you had? Personally, I think it refers to Helen.
                        Lydia: Though she wasn’t in the Keeper’s when I made the prophecy, was she?
                        Hanson: She was technically a recruit. It’s hard to tell with prophecies.

                        Once they arrived, Camellia broke away from the group and rushed upstairs. Lydia became concerned.

                        Lydia: Is Camellia ok?
                        Vivian: No. Whatever the Tribunal gave her to keep her sedated has had a lingering effect. Plus it’s been a while since she’s had her tea. I suspect things are becoming more than she can cope with at the moment.

                        Deciding it wasn’t really his business, Hanson went up in order to check on Edwin. He was relieved to see that Granny Elm was still keeping an eye on him, and that nothing seemed to have changed. When Camellia reached one of the rooms, she ran inside and slammed the door behind her. Lydia followed but the door was locked. She tried to call but Camellia did not respond.
                        Aaron poked his head out after hearing all the noise and saw Hanson.

                        There was a brief recap of what had happened at the tribunal, followed by a discussion about Edwin.

                        Aaron: So, you know what we’re going to do about him?
                        Hanson: I’m going to wait around for Sarah to get back in touch.
                        Aaron: I see…
                        Hanson: He’s under Granny Elm’s watch, he should stay safe.
                        Aaron: Yeah, a powerful mage like her would be able to keep him in place.
                        Hanson: Anyway, I’m going to speak to Vivian about him.
                        Aaron: Wait a minute, hold on. I’m still waiting on you for money. Remember? The Technocracy froze my account. I did help you out with your case, I should get a cut.
                        Hanson: I think what’s going to have to happen is once I get this money, I’ll find a good casino somewhere and Entropy ourselves a little extra
                        Aaron: Sounds good.

                        Right where they stood, a door opened up right into Aaron’s face. A girl stood there, one that neither of them had seen before. Genevive.

                        Lydia returned downstairs and spoke with Vivian.

                        Lydia: Vivian, what was Camellia like before she started with her tea?
                        Vivian: She was a very capable student, focused and diligent, especially interested in the healing rites.
                        Lydia: What happened to her?
                        Vivian: I cannot say. There came a point where she couldn’t concentrate on anything, she found herself stricken with grief beyond her ability to cope.
                        Lydia: And so she started drinking.
                        Vivian: It’s only a herbal tea. It allows her to relax and saves her from her grief
                        Lydia: It’s still substance abuse. She can’t function without it.
                        Vivian: She can’t really function with it either.
                        Lydia: That’s exactly my point. She’s going to be your successor. Aren’t you worried about this?
                        Vivian: I am. And I’ve tried to speak with her about it on multiple occasions, but she doesn’t listen to me anymore. She takes her tea, but at some level I cannot really blame her.
                        Lydia: why?
                        Vivian: Her grief, whatever its cause, must be very great indeed. If you can choose to avoid feeling it, then would you ever choose to be sad?
                        Lydia: Yes! Sadness is an important emotion which must be felt. Without sadness, how can one feel joy?
                        Vivian: I know. And I agree… but I can’t get through to her anymore.

                        Gen: Who are you?
                        Aaron: Who are you?
                        Gen: Genevieve. One of the Keepers.
                        Hanson: Hi. Hanson, Joe Hanson. And this is Aaron.
                        Gen: You two the new recruits Gwyn was talking about?
                        Aaron: Recruits? Us?
                        Hanson: No, we’re just staying here.
                        Aaron: We help out a bit while staying in hiding.
                        Gen: Oh, alright. So Vivian and the other keepers aren’t back yet.
                        Hanson: Actually, she is. She and Mica.
                        Gen: Mica’s here!?

                        Genevieve left down the stairs. Hanson and Aaron followed. Her arrival interrupted the conversation between Lydia and Vivian. Mica looked up and the two of them ran to each other and embraced, incredibly happy to see each other.

                        Mica: When did you get back?
                        Gen: Just a while ago with Gwyn
                        Mica: Gwyn’s back!?
                        Gen: Yeah.
                        Vivian: This is very good news. We may have a celebration yet.
                        Gen: Who are you?
                        Lydia: Me? I’m Lydia.
                        Gen: Lydia… Hang on, I know you. I went to one of your lectures. You were talking about the Wyck, right?
                        Lydia: Yes. I was. I think I remember you too.
                        Gen: That was really good stuff. I wanted to hang around afterwards, but you were already gone.
                        Lydia: Yes, I had a number of lectures on that night, I hope you could understand.
                        Gen: It’s fine, I’m a bit of a nomad myself.
                        Vivian: Is Gwyn with you?
                        Gen: No, he had to help someone called Alfred with something?
                        Vivian: I see. Mica, could you wait here for him.
                        Mica: I can. Sure.
                        Vivian: The ritual will take place on Regent’s Park. We must prepare.
                        Gen: Come on, let’s start getting things ready.

                        Genevieve and Vivian took Lydia down to the Undergrove where Kael was already getting to work gathering up supplies. Vivian started assisting while Genevieve explained to Lydia exactly what was going on.

                        Gen: So. You ready for the Mabon festival?
                        Lydia: Maybe. This is the first time I’ve done it outside of my island.
                        Gen: It’s a load of fun. First we make the shrine with candles, wheat, wine, cider, that sort of thing. Then we all stand and begin the calls to the spirits. Then the wine is blessed and passed around. And after that there’s a bit more ceremony stuff before we bid the spirits well and after that it’s party time!
                        Lydia: Wow, how can I help.
                        Gen: I think everyone’s gathering stuff right now, so we can do that. I’ve been away for quite a few months, so as long as nothing’s changed, the wine should be around here…

                        Upstairs, Sean arrives.

                        Sean: Hello, is anyone about?
                        Mica: Hello?
                        Sean: I need to speak to Vivian, it’s fairly urgent.
                        Mica: Why? What’s it about.
                        Sean: It’s about this.

                        Sean takes out the golden cross containing the Heath’s quintessence. Mica stares at it a little awestruck.

                        Mica: You… How did you?
                        Sean: Alfred, Gwyn and I managed to get back We have to act quickly in order to return it. Already the Progenitors are on the Heath.

                        Still amazed that the cross is here. Mica thanks Sean profusely for returning it, and goes downstairs to speak with Vivian. Sean spends little time waiting around and climbs upstairs in an effort to retreat to hi room quickly.

                        Helen, having finished her meeting with the other Hermetics, stands outside the chantry. Her thoughts return to a few days ago, and whether or not her father is as dead as she thought. She decided to call the only person she felt she could trust. Someone who might be able to help

                        Helen: Hanson, where is everyone?
                        Hanson: Most of us are over here at the Keepers.
                        Helen: I’m not sure if I should go there.
                        Hanson: Difficult to say.
                        Helen: What are you doing right now?
                        Hanson: Waiting for Sarah to get in touch.
                        Helen: I have something to ask.
                        Hanson: What is it?
                        Helen: Do you know where the Technocratic bases are?
                        Hanson: Which one?
                        Helen: The one in London.
                        Hanson: There are a lot… The Obvious ones would be the Shard and at Guy’s Hospital, though there’s also MI5, the pretty much any building owned by Imperial University. And that’s not including some of the more hidden ones like the base underneath Greenwich.
                        Helen: I see…
                        Hanson: Why do you ask.
                        Helen: I was wondering if it was possible to break in.
                        Hanson: Hold on! What!?
                        Helen: Just to look around.
                        Hanson: Do you realise what you’re asking? They will not let you just “look around”. That sort of thing will get you captured, maybe even killed. Why do you want to go there at all?
                        Helen: It’s… complicated. Can I tell you in person?
                        Hanson: Ok, though we’ll have to meet at Churchill Gardens.

                        Hanson returned to the room with Edwin and Granny Elm, wanting to stay as close to Edwin as he could.
                        Sean arrives upstairs just as this conversation ends and briefly warned Hanson of the Progenitor presence on the Heath.

                        Sean: The Technocrats are close.
                        Hanson: We’ll have to deal with that then. Not sure how.
                        Sean: It may be because the node is not fully drained, so once we restock it, they may spring into action.

                        Sean retreated to his room where he intended to stay. He absolutely needed to keep a low profile for as long as the cross was in his possession, lest her be turned over to the Exarch. For now, he worked on figuring out a way of obtaining a new gun, perhaps through divine consort.
                        It was at this time that Alfred and Gwyn finally arrived. Gwyn spoke with Mica and the two of them went down to the Undergrove to speak with Vivian. Alfred instead went upstairs to check on Edwin.

                        Alfred: He’s still stable then.
                        Hanson: For now.
                        Alfred: Good… Do you happen to know where Aaron is?
                        Aaron: What’s going on?
                        Alfred: Aaron, just the man I need to see.
                        Aaron: About what?
                        Alfred: I believe there is a certain technocrat that you have had dealings with.
                        Aaron: What are you saying? I can neither confirm nor deny anything.
                        Alfred: I’m talking about Lance.
                        Aaron: Oh, Lance… Yeah… Nice guy, talkative. Told me quite a lot of stuff he’ll probably get in trouble for.
                        Alfred: Yes, he seems to remember you, and he wants to meet with me at Guy’s Tomorrow.
                        Aaron: Ah, well, if you’re going there, then could you look around for my phone? I had to escape and couldn’t take it with me.
                        Alfred: That’s actually one of the things he wanted to talk about. Apparently someone within his organisation is eager to speak with you about something you’ve taken.
                        Aaron: Well they’re wrong.
                        Alfred: Lance seems to think you’ve taken something he’s been working on, and a number of technocrats are looking for it.
                        Aaron: Well if they ask, I haven’t. Got it?
                        Alfred: What have you been doing?
                        Aaron: Have you heard of something called, the Esther File?
                        Alfred: Only in passing, I don’t know what it is.
                        Aaron: Trust me, the less you know the better.
                        Alfred: I see…
                        Aaron: Don’t promise them anything!

                        Alfred lowered his voice and pulled Aaron slightly away from where Hanson might hear him.

                        Alfred: Well, we have another problem, this one about Edwin.
                        Aaron: go on.
                        Alfred: Lance is a Void Engineer, and has been assigned to capture Edwin. Though now it’s not just him that’s searching, it’s also agents of the New World Order, and Lance is terrified of them. Currently they all think that Hanson is involved with this, and so may be searching for him as well.
                        Aaron: Figures.
                        Alfred: There’s a chance that if we gave Edwin up to them, then the New World Order might call off their search.
                        Aaron: That really doesn’t sit well with me. You’re treating Edwin like a problem that needs to be solved. He’s a person.
                        Alfred: I know, and it really pains me to think of someone in this way. But we have to keep in mind what the New World Order are likely to do. We’re talking about Pogrom level stuff here.
                        Aaron: Hmm…
                        Alfred: We still need to cleanse the node, but no doubt the Technocrats will try and stop us. If they know Edwin is there, then both the NWO and the Engineers would be preoccupied with obtaining him and might even slow down the Progenitors.
                        Aaron: Hanson seems certain there’s a way to cure him… But mages have been trying to cure Marauders for centuries… I’m not sure what hope there is for him. It still doesn’t feel right, but it might actually be that death is the kindest thing for him.
                        Alfred: Exactly, but he can still have a chance to contribute in a positive way before he dies.
                        Aaron: Maybe.
                        Alfred: There’s one more thing…

                        Alfred took a look around and then quietly slipped out the letter with the Technocratic Emblem on it. Aaron immediately pushed it back.

                        Aaron: Not here. Come with me.

                        He quickly led Alfred into his new room and closed the door behind them. Alfred opened the letter and read it. It was a confirmation of Alfred’s status as an informant for the Technocratic Union, at the bottom of which was a cheque for £150.

                        Aaron: Burn it.
                        Alfred: What?
                        Aaron: Burn it now.
                        Alfred: All of it?
                        Aaron: Keep the cheque if you want, but you have to get rid of it.
                        Alfred: Uh… ok.

                        Alfred threw the letter into a bin and was about to light it.

                        Aaron: No not here!
                        Alfred: I though you wanted me to burn it.
                        Aaron: Not here!
                        Alfred: Why do I need to burn it?
                        Aaron: Can’t be too careful. You especially don’t want your Verbena friends thinking you’re their traitor. Do you?
                        Alfred: I already informed Vivian that I’ve been compromised by the Technocracy.
                        Aaron: Well, still you probably don’t want a document like that hanging about.
                        Alfred: I’ll dispose of it later then.

                        Alfred notices that Aaron is in pain.

                        Alfred: Something wrong?
                        Aaron: It’s just my shoulder. I got grazed by a bullet in a gun fight with a Technocrat.
                        Alfred: I might be able to help with that.

                        [ST NOTE: In case I didn’t mention it earlier, Alfred got up to Life 3 in the previous session. This will be the first time he uses it.]

                        Alfred took a pot of salve and applied it to the wound, healing it in an instant, and inadvertently transferring it to himself. Alfred screamed in pain.

                        Aaron: Is everything ok?
                        Alfred: This is the first time I’ve healed anyone… I don’t know!

                        As paradox set it, blood gushed from his arm as though it was newly shot, and then quickly scabbed over creating a painful scar.

                        Aaron: uh…wow… Thanks.

                        There was a knock at the door, Vivian entered.

                        Alfred: High Priestess.
                        Vivian: Alfred. Gwyn told me you returned. Thank you for all you have done.
                        Alfred: I was only doing what needed to be done.
                        Vivian: We will be getting ready to leave. We’ll be heading to Regents Park soon.
                        Alfred: I shall be with you as we leave.
                        Vivian: And you, Aaron. You are more than welcome to join us.
                        Aaron: Thanks for the offer, but I’ve already got plans tonight.
                        Vivian: I understand.
                        Aaron: Can I ask. Is it ok if I stay here for a while? The technocracy know where I live, so I’m effectively penniless and homeless.
                        Vivian: Of course. As long as you continue to help us, you may stay as long as you need.
                        Aaron: Cool. Thank you.

                        As Vivian left, Alfred turned to Aaron.

                        Alfred: You have a meeting then?
                        Aaron: Yes, and I should be heading out there soon.
                        Alfred: Something to do with this Esther file?
                        Aaron: Can’t say too much about that.
                        Alfred: Are you sure?
                        Aaron: Ok… There’s a prophecy about it. “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.”
                        Alfred: Death Spiral?
                        Aaron: That’s all you’re getting. Now if you excuse me.

                        Across the hall, while all of this was going on. Sean was seeing to what extent he could contort God’s will into physical objects. He began a long ritual of praise and prayer asking for his Lord to grant him permission to use his divine spirit and turn into physical form so he may protect himself and those around him, and in this way continue to carry out his work. He focused the warmth of presence he felt within and conjured into shape. Having severed a number of tours in the military, Sean was very well accustomed to the components of a gun and was more than a little familiar with the shape of each part, however this was the first time he’d tried to conjure one into being before. He decided to start of small, beginning with the barrel, the simplest part. An hour worth of focus and prayer and before him was the barrel, produced of flighty quintessence, made of solid steel. Just as he finished up, Vivian arrived at the door, knocking.

                        Vivian: Hello, Sam?
                        Sean: Evening.
                        Vivian: Gwyn has told me of the trouble you’ve gone through in order to return the Heath’s power. You have the cross they kept it in?
                        Sean: I do yes, it’s here.

                        Seeing it, Vivian’s face changed a touch, to light shade of hope. Perhaps things weren’t as immobile as they had seemed.

                        Vivian: I cannot tell you how thankful I am for this. You have done this coven a great service.
                        Sean: I only did what I thought was right.
                        Vivian: We are about leave to Regents Park in order to commemorate The Wine Harvest, and we would be very grateful if you were to join us in this time.
                        Sean: Thank you for the offer, but I am afraid I will have to decline.
                        Vivian: Are you sure? It would be a way for us to show our gratitude for what you have done.
                        Sean: I appreciate this, but I think it would be best if I was to remain here for the time being.
                        Vivian: Very well. You are certainly welcome to stay here for all you have done to help us.

                        Vivian left and wondered over to the room with Granny Elm and Hanson.

                        Hanson had just received a text from Sarah, She was on her way back to the keepers and trying to avoid being followed. Like Sean, he too refused Vivian’s offer to join them for the ritual, stating that he was waiting for someone. And so, Hanson and Sean stay at the chantry while Vivian takes the rest to Regent’s Park, all of them carrying various tools and instruments.
                        Before they leave, Camellia exited her room, looking as calm as ever. She had obviously been drinking her tea.

                        Aaron looked at his watch, it was time. He took out his laptop and adjusted his coordinate values to match the Clapham address. He stood in the quiet street and slowly made his way to the door, and knocked.

                        Be4ker: Yeah?
                        Aaron: Hi… We talked over skype, I’m here for the VR stuff.
                        Be4ker: Password?
                        Aaron: …can you just let me in?
                        Be4ker: Close enough.

                        The door was opened, and Be4ker led him downstairs to a fairly small living room space in the basement, where he saw Rubrix.

                        Rubrix: Hey there Bus boy! Been a while.
                        Aaron: Yeah, I guess it has in meatspace it has. You been ok?
                        Rubrix: Been going. Lots of stuff to keep track of.
                        Aaron: I bet. By the way, I’ve changed the name.
                        Rubrix: Oh yeah, what was it again?
                        Aaron: Theseus.
                        Rubrix: Right, Theseus. So, you met Be4ker then?
                        Aaron: Sort of.
                        Rubrix: Good guy, always rely on him in a pinch. Has a great array of hardware.
                        Be4ker: I keep pods.

                        Be4ker walks into another room, prompting Aaron to follow. What he sees are what look like three sensory deprivation pods, two of which are open. Instead of water, Aaron could see a lot of circuitry with a space to lie down inside.

                        Aaron: Wow… That’s a lot more involved than I was expecting.
                        Be4ker: It’s what I’ve got.
                        Rubrix: You remember Eskim0e? One of the guys that helped pull you out of the sewer.
                        Aaron: Yeah, I remember him.
                        Rubrix: Well, that’s the guy in that pod. I’d take him out to say hi, but he’s a bit tied up right now.
                        Be4ker: Once they’re in the pod, they’re in the pod. Consciousness gets plugged directly into the digital web. Cracking them out manually is possible, though not recommended. Best to let them jack themselves out.
                        Aaron: I see…
                        Be4ker: How often have you been in the Digital Web?
                        Aaron: Me? Well, never actually.
                        Be4ker: Never!? (looking at Rubrix) What are you teaching these people?
                        Rubrix: I good time never came up. Plus, I had to make sure he could handle it first.
                        Be4ker: Can you?
                        Aaron: I think so.
                        Be4ker: Good start. Now your buddy there already told me of your funds problem.
                        Aaron: Yeah. Technocrats raided my place and money might be a problem for a while.
                        Rubrix: Why’d they go after you?
                        Aaron: I think I might have found something big. You showed him the Esther File?
                        Rubrix: Yeah I did.
                        Be4ker: I had a look at it, not sure what it is though.
                        Aaron: Well, I think I’ve got a better idea now. It’s something the technocrats are working on. So, you no Astrology?
                        Be4ker: The technocracy are doing astrology?
                        Aaron: I know. I know, hear me out. It’s some kind of algorithm thing which tracks the coordinates of these stars in order to get a predictable model of human behaviour. Basically they’re taking astrology and putting it through the ringer to make it more science based.
                        Rubrix: Sounds just like the black hats. Take something from the mystics and rebrand it so feels more “acceptable” to them. Though it does make sense with a few things we’ve found.
                        Aaron: What have you found?
                        Rubrix: Right… I think it’s time we let you know exactly what we’ve been up to. So, you remember the day of the blackout?
                        Aaron: Yes?
                        Rubrix: Well that blackout was just meant to be a localised power out; a distraction, something to keep the Technocrats busy while we dived in to their Servers. You definitely overachieved on that front.
                        Aaron: Yeah… I guess so.
                        Rubrix: While the power was down, we were able to find where they kept The Feed and hacked into it, placing all kinds of programmes and backdoor entryways while we could. See, we put a bunch of obvious ones all around as decoys, while also hiding much more subtle bits of code. With luck, we put just enough fake hacks in there for them to feel as though they cleaned up.
                        Aaron: Nice!
                        Rubrix: While we were there, we did see a few things that hinted about an algorithm of some kind. Something really secret, could be to do with this file.
                        Aaron: Well, all I know is that the technocrats are really keen on trying to get it back. There’s a guy, Jason Stavero, he wants to meet with me about it.
                        Rubrix: Stavero… Yeah… We know about him. Hard guy to trace. He’s a syndicate member, has a number of businesses, though it’s hard to keep track of his transactions. Either he’s goes by a load of different names or has a complex set of shell companies, but following him is a challenge.
                        Aaron: I already know about Dent and Ford Constructions.
                        Rubrix: Well, he’s got a bunch more, how many we can’t really say.
                        Aaron: Why would he be interested in the Esther File.
                        Rubrix: That’s what we’d like to know…
                        Be4ker: Didn’t you say he had a meeting with you?
                        Aaron: Yeah, but I’m not going to it.
                        Rubrix: That could be useful actually… If you went in, maybe you could find something, or plug in a USB so we could look around.
                        Aaron: So, go into the meeting to trick him?
                        Rubrix: It could work.
                        Be4ker: It would also be a good way to pay for the VR stuff you came to buy.
                        Aaron: Well, if it’s something like these pods, I’m not sure where I would put it.
                        Rubrix: Oh yeah, he’s been staying at his Witch Girlfriend’s place.
                        Aaron: Not my girlfriend.
                        Rubrix: Hey, whatever you guys call yourself. Not gonna to judge.

                        The closed pod opens, and slowly sits up.

                        Eskim0e: Woah! It is Digital down there!
                        Be4ker: You make that joke every time.
                        Eskim0e: And it never gets old!
                        Rubrix: You’re back, Theseus here was going to get his first taste.
                        Eskim0e: Theseus? Oh him. He’s the one with that Witch girl, right?
                        Aaron: Not a girlfriend…
                        Eskim0e: Those Verbena types, loads of fun. Especially when they start asking you to come to rituals if you know what I mean.
                        Rubrix: Oh yeah. I bet.
                        Aaron: Yup, all about those blood orgies.
                        Eskim0e: Hey, not so big on blood, but I’m all about the rest of it.
                        Rubrix: If she ever asks you to one of these rituals, you know you’re in for a great night.
                        Aaron: Actually, they’re having one of their rituals now.
                        Eskim0e: And you didn’t go?
                        Aaron: I had to come here.
                        Eskim0e: What’s wrong with you. You’re probably missing out on all kinds of fun stuff.
                        Be4ker: He’s here to try out the VR.

                        As Eskim0e stands up, he gets a bit wobbly on his feet.

                        Eskim0e: right. Well… I need to lie down for a maybe 2 hours or something. The Web really takes it out of you. See you round.
                        Aaron: Actually, there’s something I’d like to ask you.
                        Eskim0e: Two Hours!
                        Be4ker: Let me just get things set up.
                        Aaron: So, Rubrix. I know I haven’t really been all that involved with the team offlate.
                        Rubrix: It’s cool, you had your girlfriend to take care of.
                        Aaron: Not…never mind.
                        Rubrix: I mean, there are a few of us who weren’t really happy about the whole London wide blackout thing. A bit sloppy.
                        Aaron: Yeah, I know T-JatZ was pretty pissed about it.
                        Rubrix: She would be. That sort of thing really ticks her off.
                        Aaron: T-JatZ is a girl?
                        Rubrix: Yeah… what you thought we were all guys?
                        Aaron: I guess I never thought about it before…
                        Rubrix: Well anyway, that’s part of the reason I’ve been keeping you away from the Digital Web. A lot of people got disconnected during that black out. Only reason this place didn’t was that it has its own generator.
                        Be4ker: The amount of power these things need is ridiculous. Just plugging it into the mains would tell those black hats exactly where we were.
                        Aaron: Ah, right.
                        Rubrix: You do not want to enter the web with that kind of a reputation. Reputation is everything down there. But now you got that Esther File, and you’re going to help us get some info on what Stavero’s up to, this could turn things around.
                        Aaron: Thanks, I really appreciate it.
                        Be4ker: Ok, just sit inside.

                        Aaron makes his way to the pod and lies down, the seat is surprisingly warm. Be4ker pulls the door close on him, and Aaron is plunged into darkness… He starts to feel the walls around him push against him. Brief flashbacks of the sewer jump across his mind, the smell, those ugly creatures dragging him across the narrow pipes. A great surge of fear passed through him and before he could contain himself he was banging on the inside of the door screaming to be let out. The door opened.

                        Be4ker: I didn’t even turn it on yet!
                        Aaron: (between heavy breaths) Sorry… I just… I couldn’t…
                        Be4ker: You ok?
                        Aaron: I’m fine… I forgot to tell you. I’m a bit claustrophobic…
                        Be4ker: (to rubrix) Where do you find these guys?
                        Aaron: I think I need to rest a bit.
                        Rubrix: Sure, take your time.
                        Aaron: Sorry about this. Give me a bit and I can try again.
                        Be4ker: I’ll have a dig around. I think I might have an old VR Head set lying around somewhere.
                        Aaron: Sure…

                        Aaron went back to the sofa and lay down, trying to calm himself as much as he could. This was not the kind of impression he wanted to make.

                        I've gone over the character limit for forum posts.
                        I thought this one took longer to write...

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


                        • #72
                          The Keepers started setting up their shrine near the trees away from any path at Regents Park. Upon the shrine they had placed two candles, several bottles of wine, cider, and mead, a number of apples, and a few reefs of wheat. Alfred could see that the shrine had quite a few empty spaces, as though they had intended for more, but had not the time to prepare. Vivian approached Alfred with a sorrowful look in her eye.

                          Alfred: High priestess?
                          Vivian: There is a part of the ritual that Boris normally enacts, though as you know he will not be present today. I was wondering if you would be able to stand in.
                          Alfred: uhhh….
                          Vivian: There’s no need to worry. After the blessing of the wine, we enact the story of Mabon, of the goddess who searches in the underworld for the god. Would you be able to enact the role of the god?
                          Alfred: This is… uh, a great honour. Are you sure I am right for it?
                          Vivian: Think of it as part of your initiation, and a good way to test your merit.
                          Alfred: Then I suppose yes, I shall.

                          As the sun set and the sky turned to twilight, Vivian stood and called everyone to stand with her in a circle. She nominated four of them to call the quarter spirits to ensure their influence be felt, and the circle remain protected. Genevieve called the Eastern spirits of the Air, Alfred the Southern spirits of Fire, Lydia the Wester spirits of Water, and Mica the Norther spirits of the Earth.
                          Vivian then called on the grace of the Goddess to whiteness their actions and lend of light, after which Gwyn called for the presence of the God of the Harvest. The candles were lit, and a prayer of thanks was given for the bounty placed upon it.

                          Kael handed Vivian a bottle of cider, which she offered up as a sacrifice for the spirits, pouring it into the open field. Kael handed glasses of cider out to everyone from the blessed bottle as more thanks was given.

                          Vivian: Now is the passing of the year. We must remember all that has happened before us, meditate on its teachings, and prepare ourselves for the darkness which follows. Mabon is a time of balance, of light and of dark, for neither one can exist without the other. Though the dark brings with it uncertainty and sadness, it always holds within it the promise of light once again. Blessed be the spirits.

                          The coven repeated the last sentence and drank from their cups, Quintessence flowing from their glass directly to their avatar.

                          Gwyn stands within the circle and begins his recitation of the story.

                          Gwyn: The Great God of the Harvest is dead. His sacrifice of the light has brought us this harvest, and now he stays in the underworld, lost until that time when darkness will fade. The Goddess, his Goddess, has ventured through the darkness in search of him.
                          Vivian: My God. Where are you?
                          Alfred: I am here, my love.
                          Vivian: You sound so distant, so cold.
                          Alfred: Will you not join me?
                          Vivian: I cannot… there is so much left to be done.
                          Alfred: We shall meet again.
                          Vivian: We shall… but not here.
                          Alfred: Will you not stay with me a while longer?
                          Vivian: I am needed in the light. As much as I would prefer it, I cannot stay.
                          Gwyn: The Goddess leaves and returns to the realm of the light. Separated from her love she grows in age and wisdom, transitioning from Mother to Crone.

                          Vivian walks away as Gwyn speaks, towards the shrine, slowly but deliberately. She places her hand to one of the candles and extinguishes it with her fingers.
                          There is a pause and a cold wind blows over the scene. The silence lasts long enough for everyone to reflect upon what they have witnessed. The silence is broken only as Vivian turns and speaks.

                          Vivian: Leaves, fall; flowers, away; Lengthen night and shorten day; Keep us warm and next to thee…
                          …Till light again can comfort me.

                          The circle repeated her words and took another drink.

                          As Vivian and Gwyn bid the God and Goddess thanks and farewell, Alfred and Lydia began to feel the presence of something. They both quickly made a chant to grant them a peek into the spirit world. They were all surrounded by spirits. As Genevive bid the goodbye to the Eastern spirits, he could see the spirits bow and disperse into the air. Alfred spoke out to them directly, with thanks and farewell and watched the Southern spirits bow and disperse as flames. Lydia did the same and watched the Water spirits bow and flow away. At the same time, Mica’s Northern spirits bowed and became one with the earth.

                          The ritual was over and the bottles were coming, the mood was lifting, and musical instruments were being produced. Gwyn took Alfred aside.

                          Gwyn: Very well done Alfred. Your grandfather would be proud.
                          Alfred: Thank you.
                          Gwyn: Incidentally, when I paid him a visit we gave me something to give on to you, think of it as a present.

                          Gwyn took out Alfred’s drum, a drum he had left with his family and one which he did not expect to see. Excitedly he started to tap out a beat and rhythm. Gwyn took a fiddle and Kael a flute, and the three of them played music. Lydia joined in the music with song as the others laughed and danced, already a little intoxicated.

                          Genevieve and Mica were dancing up a storm, with Lydia joining in. Camellia was content to watch with a vague grin on her face. There was a jovial mood in the air as the coven enjoyed this one moment of celebration. However, Lydia noticed that Vivian was the only one not taking part in the festivities. She stood by the shrine looking down at the candle.

                          Sean, happy with his gun barrel, now wanted to try and call forth something a bit more complicated; the trigger and breech mechanism. He began his ritual as before, calling forth the favour of the Lord to bring what he had to mind in physical reality. However, after a few hours of concentration, his attention we beginning to give, and the entire effects blew up in front of him. Raw quintessence spewed forth from his hands, burning away the skin as the pure fury of the lord’s desire escaped his grasp and dissipated into the air. Sean waited for a moment, eyes closed, until he was sure the torment was over. Before him were no new parts. Perhaps he had reached the limit of what the Lord would allow. He looked down at his burnt hands, but something was strange with them. Where he expected there to be some kind of burnt scarring, there was metal, his hands had smooth steel embedded in his palms and fingers.

                          Sean: That’s going to make things awkward…

                          Helen arrived at the Keepers, and stood at the door. Unable to enter, she called Hanson.

                          Helen: Hanson? Is anyone around?
                          Hanson: Only Granny Elm.
                          Helen: Can you let me in? I don’t have a necklace anymore.
                          Hanson: Give me a moment, I’m coming down.

                          Hanson hangs up the phone and speaks to Helen by the door.

                          Hanson: So. Why on earth do you want to break into a technocratic base?
                          Helen: I think I saw my father with the technocrats.
                          Hanson: …oh.
                          Helen: I’m not sure though.
                          Hanson: Well, you can’t just break into any old base asking around for your father.
                          Helen: I don’t know what else to do.

                          An idea formed in Hanson’s mind. This could prove to be an interesting case.

                          Hanson: I might be able to look around, ask my contacts, see if I can find him.
                          Helen: Really?
                          Hanson: It’s my job. Of course, I can’t do it for free, but I might be able to give you a discount all things considering.
                          Helen: That would be really good!
                          Hanson: Ok, so to start with, tell me everything you know about him.
                          Helen: His name is Peter, Peter Walters
                          Hanson: What was his profession?
                          Helen: He was a policeman.
                          Hanson: And when did you last see him?

                          Helen told Hanson about the night in Wales, where she went camping with her parents, how they disappeared in the night, and when she saw them tied up at the stake, surrounded by fire.

                          Hanson: Any time after that?
                          Helen: I don’t know… But I think I saw him, the man who was trying to get Edwin a few days ago.

                          Hanson began to wonder if he had inadvertently shot Helen’s father.

                          Hanson: I’ll see what I can do with this, and I’ll be in touch.
                          Helen: Thank you. After everything, I wasn’t sure if I could come back here.
                          Hanson: They were really upset with you.
                          Helen: I have to do something to try and make it up to them.
                          Hanson: I think the best thing to do is talk to them.
                          Helen: Where are they right now?
                          Hanson: They’ve gone to Regent’s Park, though I’m not sure if now is the best time, you might want to leave it.

                          Hanson gets a phone call, it’s from Sarah.

                          Sarah: Detective, I don’t think I can come back right now.
                          Hanson: What’s happening?
                          Sarah: I’m being followed.
                          Hanson: Are you sure?
                          Sarah: I’m certain. Someone’s following me, and I don’t want to lead them to Edwin.
                          Hanson: I understand, Ms Philips.
                          Sarah: I can’t stay on the phone long, they might hear me.
                          Hanson: There’s a bar near not far from Pimlico, meet me over there and we’ll figure something out.
                          Sarah: Thank you.

                          Hanson looks up and see’s Helen walking off.

                          Hanson: I’m heading to a bar to meet with Sarah, you’re welcome to join us if you want.
                          Helen: I’m sorry, I need to speak to Vivian.
                          Hanson: Helen… I don’t think that’s a good idea. I said you should wait first, Wait.

                          But Helen had already gone.

                          While the others danced and played music, Lydia went to check on Vivian.

                          Lydia: High Priestess? Is everything ok.
                          Vivian: Everything’s fine. Please enjoy the celebration.
                          Lydia: Why don’t you come and enjoy it with us?
                          Vivian: It’s… difficult.
                          Lydia: What’s wrong?
                          Vivian: This may be my last Mabon festival as High Priestess…
                          Lydia: There will be others, surely.
                          Vivian: The Hermetics have placed a geas upon me. Once every member of the Keeper has been seen, I am to leave London, never to return, and never again may I lead a coven.
                          Lydia: They can’t do that.
                          Vivian: They already have.
                          Lydia: We should challenge this! Get the support of other covens and try to fight it.
                          Vivian: I’m not sure how much good that would do. If anything it may land our group in greater trouble, already Boris, our High Priest has been taken from us.
                          Lydia: But you can’t go, without Boris and yourself, what will happen to the Keepers?
                          Vivian: Camellia will have to take charge as our new High Priestess.
                          Lydia: Camellia? Are you sure she’s ready for this?
                          Vivian: I share your concern, and I too worry about her.
                          Lydia: I don’t think she’ll be able to do the job with her head clouded by that tea.
                          Vivian: She will need help. Perhaps she needs someone with your vision to guide her so she may deal with her problems.
                          Lydia: I would need to train the new High Priestess?
                          Vivian: We have trained her, but she needs help to realise her training.
                          Lydia: I’m not sure if I can do it. Not without your guidance.
                          Vivian: Just because I am exiled, does not mean I cannot give advice.
                          Lydia: I should start studying Correspondence magic then.

                          Alfred notices that Camellia is sitting alone on the grass, and in his fairly inebriated state, decides to talk to her.

                          Alfred: Hey Camellia!
                          Camellia: hello.
                          Alfred: Why aren’t you dancing?
                          Camellia: I prefer to sit. I’ve enjoyed watching you have fun though.
                          Alfred: Here. You should have some of this. It’s mead, and I made it.
                          Camellia: Thank you.
                          Alfred: You know… You’ve got nothing to worry about. You’re a v…very capable mage.

                          Camellia drinks with Alfred, and in time he encourages her to dance with him; the vague glow of the few remaining candles and the faded shine of the half-moon providing a small amount of light for them to see by.

                          From a distance, Helen approached. She was apprehensive, afraid of what they might say of her, but certain that she was doing the right thing by coming back. She braced herself as she approached Vivian and Lydia.

                          Lydia: What are you doing here?
                          Helen: I’ve come to apologise.
                          Lydia: A little late for that. Don’t you think?
                          Helen: I’m sorry.
                          Lydia: The coven’s already lost its leaders because of you. They accepted you into their chantry, and you singlehandedly tore them apart.
                          Helen: …I deserve that.
                          Lydia: I don’t think you should stay here too long.
                          Helen: Yes.. I should go.
                          Vivian: No. Let her stay. She should see exactly what she’s had a hand in ending.

                          Helen watches the group dancing in merriment against the darkness.

                          Helen: I want to help. I want to make things right again.
                          Vivian: I’m sure you do.
                          Helen: I’ll try to get Boris back for you.
                          Vivian: Don’t make promises you cannot keep.
                          Helen: Actions speak louder than words.
                          Vivian: Then I expect you to sing.

                          Vivian starts to dance, very aggressively. Helen backs away but Vivian grabs her and pulls her into the centre of the ritual space. Lydia joins in the dance, and soon attention is drawn to the pair of them, with Helen awkwardly uncertain on how to proceed. Helen looks for her first chance to retreat, but is stopped by a very drunk Alfred.

                          Alfred: Helen! You really screwed things up! Come and have a drink!
                          Helen: Oh… I was actually.
                          Alfred: You have to have a drink. It’s the wine harvest!
                          Helen: I don’t… usually drink.
                          Alfred: I made it myself. It’s mead, really sweet, you’ll love it.

                          Helen, feeling somewhat cornered, takes the bottle that Alfred passes to her. Having never drunk alcohol before, the strong scent caught her off guard, causing her to cough from as little as a sip.

                          Alfred: Come on, you need more than that.
                          Helen: I really should be going.
                          Alfred: Hey, you made a promise to me. You said you were going to help the Heath. We got business, so you should stay.
                          Mica: You!

                          Mica appeared, standing with Genevieve and staring right at Helen.

                          Mica: You have made this the worst week ever!
                          Gen: She the one that got Boris arrested?
                          Mica: Yeah. That’s her.

                          Genevieve staggers over to Helen and makes to punch her in the neck. Seeing this, Lydia imidiately intervenes, pulling Genevieve away and keeping away.

                          Lydia: There’s no need for that. This is a celebration, not a fistfight.
                          Gen: Do you know what she’s done?
                          Lydia: Yes, I do. But still, hurting her won’t solve anything. Vivian has allowed her to stay, so she should be welcomed.
                          Mica: She lied to us.
                          Lydia: She did, and she’ll have to live with that until she finds a way to resolve it.
                          Alfred: You haven’t had enough to drink, Helen. Come, this will lift your spirits.

                          Helen sits and drinks with Alfred, it isn’t long before she starts to get sleepy.

                          As the night grew on, everyone started to fall asleep, lying on the grass. Helen slept near Alfred and Camellia, while Mica slept alongside Genevieve. The only ones awake were Vivian and Lydia. Lydia gazed up at the half moon and heard Luna’s voice.

                          Luna: You have done well.
                          Lydia: Thank you Luna.
                          Luna: I think the time has come for you to know more about yourself.
                          Lydia: What do you mean?
                          Luna: I know you’ve wondered about your past. Though soon you may have all your questions answered.
                          Lydia: What should I do?
                          Luna: Speak with your uncle, he will tell you much.
                          Lydia: I still think he might actually be my father.
                          Luna: All the more reason to speak with him.
                          Lydia: Thank you.
                          Luna: Be aware, dark times are coming.
                          Lydia: Dark times?
                          Luna: There is danger lurking in the shadows…
                          Lydia: What kind of danger?
                          Luna: Lurking in the shadows.
                          Lydia: Is that it? Nothing more specific?
                          Luna: Lurking in the shadows.
                          Lydia: Is it something to do with the Keepers? The Traitor? The Fomori?

                          Luna’s voice echoed on and faded out. Darkness crept over Lydia, now more confused than ever.

                          Aaron was ready for round two. Be4ker managed to dig out an old pair of VR goggles and gloves he had lying around somewhere.

                          Aaron: Thanks man.
                          Be4ker: It’s cool. These are pretty old, I mostly focus on the pods.
                          Aaron: Yeah, well it’s probably for the best. I wouldn’t really know where to keep one of those things.
                          Be4ker: I get that.
                          Aaron: By the way? Would it be possible if I could put up here for a few nights? Just until the heat runs down.?
                          Be4ker: Aren’t you staying at your girlfriend’s or something?
                          Aaron: *Sigh*… It’s not the most well equipped place, let’s put it that way.
                          Be4ker: Well, sorry, but I don’t have the space for roomies. It’s not just Rubrix and his gang that uses these machines. I’ve got people coming in and out from all over, and I’ll always need space for parts, repairs, and upgrades, you know?
                          Aaron: Ah well… worth a shot.
                          Rubrix: So, Theseus, you ready to get in?
                          Aaron: You bet.
                          Be4ker: Right, I’ll just get Rubrix sorted first.

                          Rubrix gets into one of the pods and closes it, while Be4ker operates a control panel. The pod comes to life, glowing blue and then green.

                          Aaron: So, you coming with us?
                          Be4ker: Kinda, but not really. I don’t dive into the Web myself, I just keep and maintain the equipment. I’ll be able to keep an eye on you two from here though.

                          Aaron puts on the goggles and gloves and waits. To begin with there is just darkness, but soon a large string of code flashes across his vision. Before he knows it, a room loads into view, white and square, with a figure dressed in black in front of him.

                          Rubrix: Welcome.
                          Aaron: Uh.. wow.
                          Rubrix: Pretty neat eh? First thing you’re going to want to do is code yourself an icon. Unless you don’t mind being a featureless grey blob.

                          Aaron started coding in his Icon, making himself look like a man in a suit with a red tie and a green head.

                          Rubrix: Ok… That works I guess.
                          Aaron: Yeah… I really like it.

                          [ST NOTE: At this point, I went over a few of the “rules” of Digital Web such as the “one rank higher” thing with Prime, Forces and Correspondence, Whiteout, That physical things use mental stats, and briefly touched upon Derezing and to avoid it. It’s all stuff that’s covered in Digital Web 2.0’s rule section (as well as in M20)]

                          Rubrix: So, where would you like to go first?
                          Aaron: I’ve always wondered what 4chan was like from the inside.
                          Rubrix: Oh, I don’t think you’re quite ready for 4chan. That place is not time for newbie spinners.
                          Aaron: Ok… well, let’s try google then.
                          Rubrix: That, we can do.

                          Rubrix took Aaron into a conduit, a doorway leading off down a corridor. When Aaron emerged, everything around him was completely white and intensely bright. The only notable feature was a colourful logo before him.

                          Rubrix: Here we are.
                          Aaron: Wow… So, how do I search for stuff?
                          Rubrix: Just call it out.
                          Aaron: Ok… “Which are better, Millipedes or Centipedes?”

                          There was a rush of activity as out from beyond the light, a series of doorway conduits rushed towards them, hundreds, maybe thousands of them., all approaching from all angle forming an incomplete shell of a sphere around them. Each one had a little window giving you a taste of what lay behind them.

                          Aaron: Wow… So do I just pick one to go through?
                          Rubrix: You could, but things are way more interesting if you don’t. Follow along.

                          Rubrix stepped into the void and moved past the conduits and into the white space. Aaron followed as they travelled into to, what felt like featureless space. As they moved further into the void, Aaron noticed the logo became hazier, as though there was a strange fog covering the entire room. Within the fog ahead of him, he swore he could see something moving, something watching them.

                          Aaron: What’s that?
                          Rubrix: Those are number of Google progs, search algorithm bots, surveillance and the like. They keep track of what gets searched for, and who goes where. Most sleeper users aren’t even aware that they exist.

                          As they get further away, shapes begin to emerge from the fog. What seemed like a spherical edge soon make more jagged and less polished. Cracks were formed in the wall and pieces would stick out in odd angles.

                          Rubrix: This is the edge covering the Search Engine. From here it’s possible to look into the machinery itself. Though if you head through these cracks and kept going, you’d reach the rest of google. Gmail accounts, Google Docs, Google’s own internal servers, even Youtube.
                          Aaron: Wow…
                          Rubrix: We won’t be doing that just now. As you can imagine, security is really tight around here. So if you’re not properly suited up, you’re going to be in for a bad time. Besides, all of this is just part of the Grid sections.
                          Aaron: Grid sections?
                          Rubrix: Yeah, the part of the web that the Sleepers have access to, or bleaters as some call them. That stuff only touches the surface. There’s a whole avenue of Deep web most people don’t even know about. And that’s where I’ll be taking you.

                          As ever with the larger session, making sure everyone got equal focus was the biggest challenge. Today’s casualties were Sean and Hanson. I was intending to do his bit at the bar, but I ended up spending much more time on the ritual than I had anticipated.
                          So, I’m trying to reign in all the plotlines towards a similar thread, and then the 2nd story (season, if you will) shall come to a close. I hope it won’t take more than 3 chapters to round things off, but things have been elongated beyond what I expected already. After this, a new story will begin following an in game 2 or 3 month gap.

                          After that, it’s really up in the air how the third story shapes up, and whether or not we need a fourth.
                          I’m not sure yet, but I may have a Hard Deadline to finishing the entire chronicle by the end of August. I’ll know more about how achievable this is around June.

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


                          • #73
                            Originally posted by Saikou View Post
                            My players are the most peaceful mages I have come across. Even when a technocrat is fighting them head on, they just don’t have it in them to go through with the murder. Makes me wonder what it would take to push them over the edge and take a life. Perhaps it needs to be less morally dubious, like killing a nephandi, or maybe they need to be freed of consequence first. I am also really curious about who will be the first one to kill.
                            I did not quite expect them to bring Edwin with them at this point. I thought that Violet’s appearance would distract them long enough to have them either be captured by technocrats or for Edwin to escape, but alas, they were simply too efficient for that. Although, this might actually work out to be more interesting. They’ve brought a Marauder into the Keeper’s chantry, let’s hope the Tribunal doesn’t find out.

                            Incidentally, I’m not sure if Helen is really a spy anymore, all things considering. If anyone has a suggestion for what I can label her as in future Cast Lists, let me know.
                            One of my mage characters was a guy who wouldn't kill, even though he thought he should be able to. He even developed a method of hitting opponents with box jellyfish toxin. When he did use it on people who kidnapped him, I realized "this well adjusted, romantic, optimistic, former deskworker given the power of the gods, sort of guy wouldn't just leave them to die." So he cured them and ran off.

                            On the other hand I've played characters who would kill ruthlessly if you got in their way, his only real concern being that he wouldn't want others to think badly of him or the deaths to be traced back, so he arranged for quiet deaths and for others to do his dirty work.

                            A funny thought comes to mind for me though of a mage who can't kill people but ends up doing things of dubious morality to enemies: Like doc savage lobotomy or sending them into stasis in a dimensional elsewhere.


                            • #74
                              I played a PC who was a former NwO assassin turned ecstatic hippy who swore off killing after he converted. (Think Jason Bourne became a pot head),
                              he could really screw people up in a fight but took great pains to not kill anyone.

                              I wouldn't try and make a situation where the mages have to kill anyone, after playing years of hack and slash games it's actually pretty cool to play something where you don't have to kill anything to get xp or move the plot along.


                              • #75
                                Sorry about how long this one took to come out. We actually had the session over two weeks ago, but due to real life things getting in the way, I didn’t have the time to write it up properly.
                                Considering that and how lengthy the previous post was, I'm going to try and make an effort to make these accounts a bit more brief.

                                Session 22

                                Cast List
                                Lydia: Moon Witch
                                Alfred Camlan: Excalibur Mage
                                Sean “Sam” Heath: Templar Knight
                                Helen Walter: Hermetic Spy
                                Joe Hanson: Noir Detective
                                Aaron Gibson: Punk Hacker

                                Notable NPCs Include:

                                Vivian Porter: High Priestess
                                Camellia: Coven Maiden

                                Virtual Adepts
                                Rubrix: Aaron’s mentor
                                Be4ker: Tech guy

                                ---CHAPTER 22: THE MORNING AFTER---

                                The night was growing dark, with a cigarette in hand and a lot on his mind, Hanson wondered towards the bar where Sarah would be. The Edwin case was by all accounts completed, but it still felt very much lacking in conclusion. Hanson knew that if he let Sarah go this wouldn’t be the end of it. Edwin might act up again and this time they may not be around to help them escape the technocracy. Then there was the question of Sarah’s “friends”… He had a big suspicion that they were actually Melonie and Alex appropriating her trust. At this stage, there wasn’t really a lot of options for Edwin. The Technocracy were after him, the Hermetics were after him, the nephandi, pretty much everyone was chasing him down, perhaps Dubois had a point… Still though, there was one thing they could try, one thing that might have a chance at curing him. Going straight to the source of the problem and taking a look into his mind. Hanson knew it was risky beyond all belief, entering the mind of a marauder just begged for trouble, but what other choices were there?

                                Hanson sighed as he threw the cigarette to the ground and entered the bar. It was dark, much darker than it should have been from the windows seen outside. Hanson hovered his hands around his gun and carefully trod around, he could hear activity in the back. As he walked towards it he heard a voice that very familiar.

                                Voice: Freeze.

                                The presence felt alien yet familiar all at the same time, as though he had been in its company before.

                                Voice: Why’d you do it?
                                Hanson: Myers? Right? Don’t do anything too hastey.
                                Voice: Don’t play games Myers, come on, tell me why you did it.

                                Hanson turned his head towards the voice and sow his own face, his own body holding a gun at him. A quick glance in a reflection and Hanson could tell he was no longer his own self, he had morphed into the man he killed, Myers.

                                This was Hanson’s 2nd attempt at a seeking. This time around he had to demonstrate empathy for Myer’s killings or else be shot by himself asking for reasons why he shouldn’t shoot him dead where he stood. One question that was pressed was “do you regret it?” to which he answered “Yes, but at the same time, no.” and “What makes you different from the murderers you killed” “They were causing so much suffering, and courts let them run free, it was the only way to stop them” Once empathy was established the scene shifted. Hanson became himself again and was instead being held at gunpoint by Violet. She asked him a similar question, what made him so different from Myers. Hanson acknowledged their similarities, and expressed regret for how he turned out, and then asked what Violet would have done had he not shot the man. Violet did not respond. She dissolved away and ahead of Hanson was a gun with a bloodied trail leading away, and a door opening into light. Hanson chose to leave the gun and walk towards the light, thereby resigning himself to a state of change.

                                [ST NOTE: And thus Hanson gained his 4th point of Arete. This was the first time I’ve done a seeking midsession, and everyone except Hanson’s player had no idea what was going on. It was quite fun watching them guess. Someone thought this was all Violet’s doing in order to make a point, other’s thought it was something Quiet related. In the end it made the few players who hadn’t bought an extra Arete point really eager to experience a Seeking for themselves.]

                                Through the light, Hanson steps into the bar, behind him the streets lay as though nothing had happened. He went over to a table and sat waiting for Sarah to enter, which she did before the hour was up. He went up to her, still cloaked in his Perception filter.

                                Sarah: How do you keep sneaking up on me?
                                Hanson: Trade secret. You ok?
                                Sarah: I’m being followed. I’m sure of it. I’m not sure where they are, but I know they’re there.
                                Hanson: Guys in suits?
                                Sarah: I don’t know… Maybe.
                                Hanson: I usually throw on a perception filter when I’m being followed.
                                Sarah: What’s that?
                                Hanson: Bit of a Mind trick. Makes it so people don’t pay attention to me as I walk by, makes it easier to blend in to a crowd an such like.
                                Sarah: Is that how you’ve been catching me by surprise every time we meet?
                                Hanson: Yeah. I’ve been using it a lot lately.
                                Sarah: Oh my… What if, what if they’re using that too? What if they’re in this bar right now and I just haven’t noticed them?
                                Hanson: That is a concern yes…
                                Sarah: What do I do?
                                Hanson: Just stay close to me. If they were here, they would have taken you buy now.
                                Sarah: I’m not sure I can go to Edwin right now, not when I’m being followed. I’d lead them straight to him.
                                Hanson: I understand… Listen, there’s something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about Edwin. Do you know what might have triggered all of this?
                                Sarah: I… Triggered?
                                Hanson: Why he started acting up?
                                Sarah: I wouldn’t know. Probably that power outage. Usually he’s ok on his own, maybe a bit confused though generally ok. Well, usually. But now I have people who can help
                                Hanson: These people… I think I know who they are.
                                Sarah: I’ve told you before, I can’t talk about them. They trust me, I can’t betray that.
                                Hanson: Are you sure you can trust them?
                                Sarah: They’re like me, on the run, chased from all sides. They understand what I’m going through.
                                Hanson: When did you meet them?
                                Sarah: A few months ago, it was in Birmingham.
                                Hanson: Birmingham… Wasn’t that another time when Edwin lost control?
                                Sarah: Yes… They said they had friends here who could help. I can’t say much more about them.
                                Hanson: I’m not sure if I can trust them.
                                Sarah: You don’t have to detective, once I’m with Edwin again, I can leave and you need not worry about us.
                                Hanson: Just promise me this. If you’re going to see them, I want to meet them first.
                                Sarah: I’m not sure.
                                Hanson: I want to meet them before they do anything to Edwin. I have a suspicion of who these people are, and I’m don’t think they have his best interest at heart.
                                Sarah: I’ll talk to them about this… That’s all I can promise.
                                Hanson: Ms Phillips, I believe I have a plan of how I can help Edwin. I think I can peer into his mind and try to fix things from within.
                                Sarah: Is that like what you did to me?
                                Hanson: That was more of a mental link, a shared network of ideas. This would be a bit more intense.
                                Sarah: If you think this would help, then ok.
                                Hanson: Thank you.
                                Sarah: I’m a bit afraid of leaving on my own. Do you have anything I could defend myself with?

                                Hanson recalled the Technocrat’s gun he had in his coat, thought about it for a while, and then reached for his own revolver.

                                Hanson: Tell me, you ever used one of these before?
                                Sarah: Not really… But how hard can it be?
                                Hanson: Be careful with this.

                                Hanson hander her his revolver, electing to keep the technocratic gun for himself.

                                Sarah: Thank you detective.

                                Hanson walks out the bar and ensures the coast is clear before watching Sarah leave from the shadows. Somewhere overhead he felt a familiar resonance and the glint of a knife. Dubois was around, perhaps she was the one following her. Maybe to get to Edwin through her… Time was running out.

                                Aaron, still in the Digital Web, decided to have a play around with his icon, this time changing it into a silver android with orange Tron-esque lines running from it, though still wearing a suit. Rubrix approved a bit more of this design.

                                Rubrix uncovered a keyboard on his arm and began typing things up, in a flash the two of them found themselves in a blue room with neon cyan lines going off in all directions. Around were tables, chairs, and all kinds of things taped to the wall.

                                Aaron: What’s this now?
                                Rubrix: I just transported us to our base of operations, as it were. That’s another thing about the Digital Web, you’ll find your magic is a heck of a lot simpler to pull off. Anyway, this is where we meet, store stuff, and get things figured out.
                                Aaron: Cool…
                                Rubrix: As you probably guessed, there’s more to the web than just what most sleepers see on the screen. Google, all the big websites, that’s what we call part of the Grid Sections, areas that were made to keep the sleepers occupied while we dealt with the big stuff. Of course that side of the web has exploded into what it is today.
                                Aaron: So we’re in the deep web then?
                                Rubrix: That’s one way to put it. The deep web is just all the bits that you need a bit more knowhow to get to. Very few of the normal lot get to these parts, though you’ll find a number of would be hackers trying their hand at it anyway.
                                Aaron: But from here you can access all kinds of stuff, right?
                                Rubrix: Oh yeah. Though you need to know where to look, and what to look out for. There are all kinds of attack progs in place designed to stop our kind of work. Actually, I think it’s better if you saw it yourself first hand.

                                Rubrix leads Aaron away to a room, telling him there’s going to be an attack Gemoid in there, and he could have a chance to face off against it and see how he fares up. The room itself is black with a blue grid, fairly large and reminiscent of an old scifi book cover. Up ahead, Aaron noticed something load into being, a strange mass of oscillating cubes and cones shifting itself in a menacing way. It made its way to Aaron and struck hard. Aaron quickly adjust himself, coding for himself a gun program to fight back with, though the geomid seemed unbothered. After another couple strikes, the program stopped and held its position, massing together a great number of particle effects as though it was charging something big. Panicked, Aaron decided to draw from the electrical energy of the web itself and strike the thing in a direct single attack, but as he let it loose, everything ground to a hault. The walls twitched, and his icon began to stutter and freeze. He pushed through with as much will as he could, but all around him the room was beginning to break apart into a pure white void. The next thing Aaron knew he was looking at the ceiling next to Rubrix’s icon.

                                Aaron: Wha…
                                Rubrix: Tried to fire electricity at it, didn’t you?
                                Aaron: What just happened?
                                Rubrix: Whiteout. It’s when the system crashes, happens when you overload it with electrical chaos.
                                Aaron: What happened to me?
                                Rubrix: Relax, you’ve just been de-rezed. Kicked out of the simulation and back here. You aren’t the first and I doubt you’ll be the last. But the point is, try not to cause whiteouts, bigger ones can corrupt the web, and you really don’t want that kind of reputation following you about.
                                Aaron: Why didn’t you warn me about this before I went in?
                                Rubrix: This way, you’re not going to forget it, are you?
                                Aaron: You really could have just told me…
                                Rubrix: Where’s the fun in that? Anyway, we gotta go. I organised a meeting with a KiBo, and it’s about time we got there.

                                Rubrix led Aaron down a corridor and towards a door, a conduit, through which Rubrix took him through a strange digital landscape, filled with all kinds of character from androids, to walking memes. Rubrix spoke to Aaron as he moved.

                                Rubrix: Now, something I have to warn you about this guy. He’s a bit of a weeb.
                                Aaron: ok…
                                Rubrix: And he practically lives in his own restricted section, meaning we’ll need to play buy his rules if you want to get in.
                                Aaron: And that means… what exactly?

                                They arrive at a door, the conduit they had been walking towards. Rubrix types a few lines into his arm keyboard and recodes his icon into an anime high-school girl.

                                Rubrix: You too.
                                Aaron: What?
                                Rubrix: It’s a restriction zone. You can’t get in unless you look the part.
                                Aaron: You couldn’t have picked anyone else?
                                Rubrix: Not this quickly. Besides, this guy is good. He’s got quirks, but he knows his stuff.
                                Aaron: …Fine.

                                Aaron swallows up his pride and starts to recode his own icon to look more like something out of sailor moon, short skirt and everything. All said and done it was a pretty good likeness, all except for the unamused and somewhat humiliated scowl.

                                Aaron: He better be good!

                                They entered the door and into a sunny saccharine landscape. Just away off was a number of landmarks including a highschool, a stage, and a bath house to name a few. Before them smaller building with a number of anime styled girls swooning over a single guy.

                                Rubrix: Just so you know, he calls himself Tenchi.
                                Aaron: Of course he does.
                                Rubrix: And stay alert, some of those girls are programs.
                                Aaron: Wait… only some of them!?
                                Tenchi: Welcome ladies, and welcome to our paradise!

                                Tenchi approaches them with a few of the girls following behind whispering to themselves.

                                Rubrix: Tenchi-san, thank you for agreeing to help us.
                                Tenchi: It’s not a problem, I’m always willing to help ladies in need. Is this the one you told me about?

                                Tenchi turns his attention to Aaron with a smile and a bit of mangled Japanese which sounded like “WOO! Sugoi Kawaii Dayo ne!”
                                He stared at Aaron’s icon’s chest unwaveringly.

                                Aaron: Hello… senpai… I was just wondering, could you help me find some information.
                                Tenchi: What are you looking for?
                                Aaron: Information about someone called Jason Stavero.
                                Tenchi: Why don’t you follow me to the back room and we’ll see what we can do.

                                Tenchi walked away gesturing for him to follow. Aaron looked back at Rubrix with slight desperation.

                                Aaron: Seriously! Anyone Else!
                                Rubrix: Just stick with it, you’ll get what you want.
                                Aaron: If anything happens, I’m holding you personally responsible!

                                Aaron entered the room and was alarmed to see a large bed, he stood by the door, ready to escape.

                                Tenchi: So, you’re a cute one aren’t you.
                                Aaron: Uh… thank you…senpai.
                                Tenchi: You want some information?
                                Aaron: Yes.
                                Tenchi: Well, first I’ll need you to do something for me.
                                Aaron: …What exactly do you have in mind?

                                Aaron was seconds away from getting the hell out of there.

                                Tenchi: Nothing to much, just a dance.
                                Aaron: …seriously?
                                Tenchi: Go on. Make it fun!

                                Bouncy music started playing and Aaron had to hold himself from storming out. While Tenchi clapped his hands to the beat, Aaron gave in and resigned himself to dance as best he could. It was the longest few minutes of his life.
                                Satisfied, Tenchi walked over to a computer terminal to look for information and eventually came back with a file containing a lot of information on Jason Stavero. Aaron looked through it eagerly. Jason Stavero is a Technocracy Financier connected with a large number of companies including Ford and Dent Construction as well as a number of other things within industries as diverse as marketing and IT consultancy. He has a great number of aliases, and his involvement with this companies ranges from consulting director to executive investor. Leafing through it quickly, Aaron also noticed a face he recognised. The thug from the train who tried to fight him for his seat two weeks ago.

                                Aaron: This is… actually pretty good.
                                Tenchi: Anything else you need?
                                Aaron: Has Rubrix told you about the Esther File?

                                Aaron then proceeded to recount what he had found out about the file. Intrigued, Tenchi moved to his computer to check a few things. Aaron looked through the shelf of books around the bed, and instantly regretted it. There were a great deal of pornographic comics. Tenchi returned saying he didn’t know much about the Esther file, but would be happy to give it a look over if he had a link to it. Aaron quickly returned to Rubrix to obtain the link, manifest as a single chain link ring.

                                Tenchi: Thanks, I’ll try to take a look at this, it’s on a shared dropbox then right?
                                Aaron: Yeah, let me know if you can get anything else out of it. I better get going anyway.
                                Tenchi: You sure you want to go so early? You don’t want to hang around for a bit?
                                Aaron: I really do have to.
                                Tenchi: We’re putting up an Idol dance show in a short while, could you someone that moves like you on the stage.

                                Aaron had just about reached his limit, so did his best impression of a Tsundere type character and got the hell out of there.

                                Rubrix: Got what you needed?
                                Aaron: Just go! Now!

                                Once gone, the two of them quickly returned their icons back.
                                Before returning back to the base, Rubrix gave Aaron a quick tour around a few of the important parts of the Digital Web, specifically highlighting the Spy’s Demise, a neutral leisure spot which Rubrix personally can’t stand, and the Open Marketplace, where spiners from all over meet to trade, make deals, and bartar on just about anything and everything. Tass, programmes, services, elicit materials, all of it was somewhere in this near infinite flea market.
                                They then return to the blue room where they talk a bit more about the plan.

                                Rubrix: So, you’ll be meeting with this Technocrat to discuss things then?
                                Aaron: Yeah, and you want me to use that to hack into something?
                                Rubrix: The idea was we would be hanging out in a digital USB stick, and you’d plug us in so we could take a good look at his personal files.
                                Aaron: And how would that work exactly?
                                Rubrix: At some point during the meeting, plug us in and we’ll look for what we can.
                                Aaron: And how do I get out of there?
                                Rubrix: Not sure yet.
                                Aaron: What kind of plan is this?
                                Rubrix: One that we figure out as we do it.
                                Aaron: What?
                                Rubrix: Not everything can be planned out ahead of time. Sometimes you have to take things as they come.
                                Aaron: Sound’s like a pretty bullshit excuse for not thinking things through.
                                Rubrix: Well, that’s all we got.

                                Soon after, Aaron takes off the goggles and logs out from the web, with a fresh headache and a series of aches.

                                Be4ker: You all done then?
                                Aaron: Yeah…
                                Be4ker: First time is always fun.
                                Aaron: That’s one way to put it.
                                Be4ker: I noticed you were doing this strange dance, what was that about?
                                Aaron: Let’s not talk about that.

                                Rubrix emerges from the pod, and the three of them discuss their bare bones of a plan a little longer.

                                Aaron: So, seeing as I have no real escape route, is there anything I can have, say a gun or something, which I could use to defend myself?
                                Rubrix: A gun would probably be a bad idea, especially if you’re walking into a secure Technocratic base.
                                Be4ker: Hold on, I think I might have something. Not long ago a Bond style spy type traded in, I think it was a pencil, for a go on these machines. The pencil itself was actually a gun, I’ll see if I can find it.

                                Aaron looked at his watch and saw it had turned 1 am. Time just flows away in the web. Be4ker returned.

                                Be4ker: Turns out it’s a stylus.
                                Aaron: How does this thing work?
                                Be4ker: Hit it hard at the back. Be careful, it’s a single use weapon, though I have a couple of refill packs here.
                                Rubrix: Fill it full of lead.
                                Aaron: Ha… So, you mind if I crash here tonight?
                                Be4ker: Go for it. We’ll contact you tomorrow.

                                Alfred and Helen wake up on the grass at Regent’s Park. The sun is slowly rising over them. Alfred shields his eyes away, the drumming in his head matching the night before. Helen was a bit more confused in her waking, slowly recalling just how she ended up on the ground of a park.

                                Alfred went to a fairly hungover Mica to try and get his periapt refilled, though this was beyond her capability, suggesting he should speak to Kael. He then moves over to Vivian, who has been alert and awake all this time.

                                Alfred: High Priestess?
                                Vivian: You’re awake.
                                Alfred: And you?
                                Vivian: I have not slept. I needed to keep watch.
                                Alfred: I see…

                                The speak a bit about the plan once again; To conduct a ritual cleansing on the Heath with the open circle acolytes.

                                Vivian: One of us will need to stay behind and conduct the ritual, while another keeps the acolytes safe. A group of us will need to head into the penumbra and directly combat the fomori Melonie has placed.
                                Alfred: Gwyn will need to come with us into the spirit world, surely.
                                Vivian: He will be able to make us a portal to enter and exit from, though we will need someone to guard it, and that may be where Gwyn will stand.
                                Alfred: I will be willing to fight the fomori on the other side.
                                Vivian: Good… We will need to do anything we can to protect the ritual.
                                Helen: Is there any way I can help?
                                Vivian: You… You were once training as an initiate weren’t you. As part of your initiate training, you would have been required to venture forth into the spirit realm where you may fight with us at the front.
                                Helen: Oh… Uh… I’m not sure
                                Vivian: You said you wanted to help, did you not.
                                Helen: …I will do it.
                                Alfred: Is there a chance that Melonie and Alex will be there?
                                Vivian: Melonie, yes, it is not like her to let her plans fall apart. She will come personally to defend against anyone who tries to stop her.
                                Alfred: What will we do about her?
                                Vivian: Leave her to me.

                                Helen felt the seal in her pocket and remembered the requests of her superiors.

                                Helen: What are you going to do to her?
                                Vivian: I’m going to right a long overdue wrong.
                                Helen: You’re going to capture her?
                                Vivian: No. She must not be allowed to go on.
                                Alfred: High priestess, perhaps it would be better to take her captive.
                                Vivian: I must end her reign of corruption. Letting her live has already done this much damage. I cannot let it continue.
                                Alfred: If we bring her before the Hermetics, we could convince them to remove the geas from you.
                                Vivian: We cannot rely on their benevolence. The hermetics seek our removal as much as they do the nephandi. I shall take care of her myself.
                                Helen: Are you sure?
                                Vivian: If this will be my final act as high-priestess, it will be to clean up the mess I caused.
                                Alfred: I understand. There is, however, one more point I’d like to breach. The technocracy. I think I have a way to distract them. They are looking for the marauder, in fact different factions within the technocracy are competing to find him first. I think I can tell them to come and get Edwin and will be so busy fighting amongst themselves, we’ll have the time we need to complete the ritual.
                                Vivian: So you will bring the marauder to the Heath?
                                Alfred: Yes.
                                Vivian: Then you must be careful not to allow him to enter into the penumbra. I do not know what might happen if a marauder such as this was allowed to cross.
                                Alfred: I am aware. We will do what we can to keep him away.

                                They head towards the Keeper’s chantry along with a few of the others. Vivian stays behind to keep watch of the still deeply sleeping Lydia.

                                Sean, meanwhile, had been staying in the chantry. Having directly gone against his superiors, he was trying to keep a very low profile. If the knights knew about the cross he stole, there would be no second chances. For better or worse, he was to hide from his own order.
                                He spent the morning in quiet meditation. In order to show his gratitude, he made Granny Elm, who still watched over the sleeping Edwin, some eggs for breakfast.

                                Alfred and Helen were walking back with Kael, Gwyn, and Camellia. Camellia was a little drowsy, though was fresh out of tea. Alfred took Helen aside and asked her to keep an eye on Camellia, to make sure she didn’t go to have her tea, that they needed her to be clear headed before the battle. When they arrived, Alfred and Helen found both Hanson and Sean, and they spoke about their idea to go into Edwin’s mind and find out exactly what was going on to him. Alfred did not have much time, as we was due to meet with Lance soon, so if they did anything, they had to do it now.
                                Reaching Edwin’s room, Granny Elm was nowhere to be seen. Rather than question her absence, they took this opportunity to prepare their ritual.

                                In the excitement, Helen realised she had forgotten to check on Camellia, so she ran downstairs and saw her already relaxed and calm.

                                Helen: What are you doing?
                                Camellia: Hello Helen. Just having some tea.
                                Helen: You shouldn’t.

                                Helen tried to take the kettle away.

                                Camellia: Would you like some?
                                Helen: No, and neither should you.
                                Camellia: Then why are you taking the kettle?
                                Helen: You shouldn’t be drinking this.
                                Camellia: Ok.

                                Camellia went to the cupboard and took another kettle out. Helen again tried to take this away.

                                Camellia: I don’t think stealing kettles is a very good idea. I think Vivian is already upset with you.

                                Helen returned upstairs a bit defeated, it was obvious from Camellia’s tone that she had already fallen under her tea’s influence. Having reported her failure, the group decided to focus instead on the sleeping marauder, and the trip inside his mind.

                                So, this ended up being a session of “doing all the stuff I didn’t have time to do properly last session.
                                A couple of things got lost while flipping between players. I was hoping, for example, that Hanson would have a chance to talk to Violet before the end of his scene, but it completely slipped my mind until it had already passed and he wasn’t really up to doing a flashback scene to include it in. I think people are getting a bit aware of just how much time everything takes, already joking that the Heath encounter, set to take place in-game tomorrow will probably take 20 more sessions to get to and finish. Boy I hope not.

                                I feel as though Aaron’s player wasn’t all together thrilled with what I thought up for the Digital Web bit. Everyone else found it hilarious, though I got more of a “suffering through it” vibe from him. I’m not all too sure what he expected a Digital Web adventure would include, but I doubt it was quite this. Things not playing out as they expected to seems to be a running theme for my players regarding the story, not so much in terms of things not going as planned, but rather in a sense of “this was so much cooler in my head” kind of way. While Alfred’s, Helen’s, and Sean’s players seem to be pretty happy with how things are going, Hanson’s and Aaron’s are showing signs of frustration. I’m not sure if that’s just because they’re getting bored with their characters or are disappointed with the stuff I’m giving them to do. Either way, I’ll have to keep an eye on this.

                                Already they’ve been batting about ideas for new characters to play while retiring these ones. If they chose to do that, I’ll just have to play it out and adapt the story around whatever they come up with. Why force them to stick with a character they aren’t having fun with?

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