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The Wonders of La Paz - A Mortal Sorcerer Actual Play

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  • The Wonders of La Paz - A Mortal Sorcerer Actual Play

    While I'm currently in the midst of running a Promethean game, it only features one player from my regular gaming group. The others have been haranguing me for something else to play, so I agreed to knock out a fairly small game to tide them over until I could get something going on a more regular basis. The Dark Eras Companion book came out with the rules for Sorcerers in it, and as an eternal lover of all things Mummy-related I decided it would be a good time to run my first ever Mortals game making heavy use of the new Ritual rules.

    I opted not to pay very close attention to the power limitations stipulated in the Dark Eras book, partly because I could balance it out by making stronger rituals harder to perform and partly because the book itself doesn't pay very close attention to the own limitations it laid out. Each of the player characters began the game with the Ritual Sorcerer merit for free, waiving the normal trait limitations that made it impossible to take at character creation (this, for the record, will not be a normal part of the setting, but an exception made in rare cases for those who have had some spectacular exposure to the supernatural). The game will also be making use of the optional rule of allowing the players to sacrifice Integrity for additional Ritual slots, which is my partway justification for giving them Ritual Sorcerer for free in the first place. Each character begins the game with knowledge of a single ritual, unique to them, that the player and I designed together.

    The game takes place in La Paz, Bolivia in 2012. A group of sorcerers have gathered in the city hoping that a new discovery by one of their number may lead them to the secret of immortality. They come from around the world, having only communicated online through the darker corners of the web before this, willing to risk a bit of trust in each other for the potential rewards on offer.

    The sorcerers are:

    Komina - Ko, as she likes to be known, is the youngest sorcerer, and the one who came into her knowledge the most recently. She is an Aymara girl, a local living in one of the slums on the outskirts of La Paz. Her brother supports her financially, working for their uncle's gang, while she is on the verge of escaping the slum through studying pharmaceuticals. She has been distracted from her studies, however, by the discovery of a strange book at the library. It detailed a ritual which could be used to bring something dead back to life. She ended up focussing on this book to the exclusion of all else for several months, sacrificing her studies and her current relationship with the assistant librarian, ultimately stealing the book for herself. Her grandmother, a stall owner at El Mercado de la Bruja, managed to procure for her the ingredients she needed. When the ritual worked, she began to look for others like her online to share her discovery with, in the hopes that she could learn more about this new magic she had entered.
    Ritual: Ko's ritual allows her to raise a small animal as an undead familiar. Its dice pools are largely based on her own Willpower, as she puppets it with her mind more than enabling it to return to life. She can sacrifice this familiar to get the bonus effect from a subsequent ritual as if a Pillar point had been spent, though she must still perform all three Elements. The Elements of her ritual are:
    -She must provide at least 3L in her own blood to the creature.
    -She must mummify and carefully prepare the familiar.
    -The ritual must be performed on sacred ground.
    If a pillar point is spent on the ritual then the familiar does not need to be sacrificed to lend its strength to future rituals, only its presence is required.

    Johannes - Johannes is another Bolivian, but he has spent little time in the country over the last few years. He was born to wealth and spent much of his life simply travelling, living the indulgent lifestyle of a playboy and occasionally taking long sojourns on his yacht. He began to delve into the occult secrets of the world more out of boredom than any other impulse, discovering strange relics and artefacts and spending vast chunks of the family fortune on their procurement. These activities led his family to cut him off and disown him, though they never did manage to reclaim his yacht. One of the artefacts he had bought turned out to be an item of genuine power, however. It was a book, containing both rituals and power of its own. It taught Johannes that dry land was an illusion conjured by desperate human minds, that the world was truly naught but Primordial Ocean, that in time the illusion would fade and the Great Drowning would begin. These terrible secrets frightened Johannes as much as they intrigued him. Aging now, approaching his sixties, he is hoping that Ko's discovery will offer some way to preserve his remaining vitality.
    Ritual: Johannes can peel away the illusion of dry land, driving men mad with their exposure to the cold ocean and never-ending night. It inflicts the Madness Condition and forces an immediate Integrity Check on all humans in the area, after the following Elements are met:
    -The ritual can only be performed at night.
    -Johannes must read from the book (note: The book itself is a low dot relic, allowing Johannes to make a scene night even in the middle of the day).
    -He must pour water on a map of the effected area.
    If a Pillar point is spent the Integrity Check is failed automatically.

    Abrah - The South African Sorcerer is a tall, lanky man, with several scars on his chest and arms a legacy of a time in his life when he thought a barroom brawl was the greatest entertainment to be found. He grew up with his father in a tribal village outside of Johannesburg, before moving to his city with his mother where he studied medicine. He returned home when his father fell ill, dying of a disease Abrah could neither diagnose nor treat. Several nights later he witnessed a nightmare near his father's grave, an impossible creature of coiled plasm and hungry maws. He tried to explain what he had seen to some of the villagers, and they gave him some garbled legends and half-remembered sayings that sent him on an Odyssey of his own, travelling up the east coast of Africa piecing together scraps of local knowledge until he had a ritual that allowed him to enter the shadowy half-world of Neter-Khetet.
    Ritual: Abrah can use his ritual to physically enter Twilight. He must first:
    -Perform the ritual at dawn or dusk. He remains in Twilight until the next dawn or dusk.
    -Drink scorpion venom.
    -Perform a lengthy chant in an unknown language, the syllables and fragments of which he mostly discovered in North Africa.
    If a Pillar point is used he may leave Twilight before the Ritual completes at any time of his own choosing.

    Bride - The enigmatic Russian is belongs to a secret cult, inducted at a young age after spending most of his adolescence living on the streets. His order considers themselves to be knights and scions of a long-lost nation, and they are quietly undergoing a digital revolution. The use of block chain technology and other secrets will allow each member of the cult to vote and participate in the governance of their cult no matter where in the world they live, but getting this technology to each member is proving difficult. Bride has come to La Paz partly to investigate immortality, of great interest to his secret society, but also to meet with his mentor Alejandro and share the new technology with him.
    Ritual: Bride's ritual was taught to him by the cult during a sojourn in India, and allows him to become like one with an object of his choosing. The Elements are:
    -He must make a Meditation roll. He adds his successes to the dice pool of any roll to use the item until his concentration is broken. To see if his concentration is broken he will need to make a roll to maintain concentration at least once a scene, usually when the target of a combat action, in the presence of a loud or sudden noise, witnessing a distressing event, or being in a contested or extended action.
    -Bride's blood must be splashed on the item.
    -Both Bride and the item must sit within a sequence of chalk symbols for the duration of the meditation.
    If a Pillar point is spent then the benefit with that item becomes permanent.

    There may be a fifth player joining us next week. Their character's plane was probably delayed flying into El Alto airport or something.

  • #2
    This is going to be great i guess im gonna subscribe


    • #3
      Session 1 - Slumming It

      Komani was waiting at the airport in El Alto as the plane arrived. Each of the others had boarded the same plane during a stopover in the USA, though they had been seated separately and hadn't spoken for the entire flight. They had a selfie Ko had sent them, allowing them to locate her on arrival. They each noted the small portable oxygen tanks on display and on sale as they arrived, they were all feeling the high altitude as they collected their luggage. The group spent some time cautiously introducing themselves, during which it became clear that Abrah had a very poor grasp on English and needed to use Johannes as a translator. When they asked Ko how they were travelling to La Paz she suggested a bus, but Bride waved that idea aside. With Ko's help he organised a taxi for the group, and they were on their way.

      Their view of La Paz was spectacular as they came over the mountains and found the city spreading down the valley below. The red brick houses of the slums rose up around them quickly on the high slopes, leading down to the wealthier suburbs and CBD in the warmer valley. The gondola system stretched overhead, allowing tourists to look down on the slums in relative safety. The taxi took them as close to their destination, Ko's house in one of the poorer districts, as it could manage, but the streets quickly became too narrow for the vehicle. They disembarked and walked.

      The foreigners were quick to note that Ko's neighbourhood appeared to be on edge. There were groups of young men sitting or standing on street corners, and there were few other people in evidence. Graffiti and gang signs were everywhere. Ko seemed relatively at ease, however, even waving to a few of the men they passed. At last they reached her home and she led them into the small house she shared with her brother. As the others gathered around, she opened her bag and revealed a mummified Hoatzin. The sorcerers gathered around, Bride and Abrah in particular examining it closely to try and work out if there was any sign of life, or free will at least, inside the creature. They were disappointed, and Bride openly questioned why he'd even bothered to make the journey here.

      As they were talking, Ko's brother returned home. He strode through the door in an obvious hurry, heading somewhere with purpose, but froze when he saw the guests. Ko had flipped the bag's covering over the Hoatzin's head with easy grace when she head him come in, and his attention was all on the three older men his sister was entertaining. They had a hurried conversation in a mixture of Spanish and Aymara, Johannes mostly following along with the Spanish parts. The brother, Raiza, was telling her that it wasn't safe for foreigners to be here. The Fonseca family were blaming Ko's uncle for the fact so many of them were falling ill with a strange new disease. Raiza intended to gather together a few men and do something preemptively before the Fonseca's had a chance to act. Ko argued that the foreigners might be able to help. One of them was a doctor, they could let him take a look at one of the members of Ko's extended family who had fallen ill as well, to see if there were anything to be learned there.

      The other sorcerers were reluctant to be dragged into this, but they weren't quite willing to abandon La Paz. Komani had undoubtedly discovered something of note with her ritual, and if there was more occult knowledge to be gleaned they were willing to risk a spot of gang violence. Raiza reluctantly took them to the home of Kiara, one of the most gravely ill of those outside the Fonseca family. They reached her home and found it unlocked, a young woman hunched over and sobbing at the table in the room beyond. She didn't lift her head when they walked in. Ko approached her from behind and touched her shoulder. It was only then they saw her clouded, milky eyes, her missing lower jaw, her rotting flesh. And then she vanished.

      Raiza swore. The sorcerers kept their composure, though Bride and Ko were rattled. Abrah, acting as if it had been nothing, took two quick strides towards the back of the room and pulled back a curtain to reveal a body slumped half-in and half-out of the nearby bed. Raiza, shaken, told Ko that he needed to leave immediately and sort out matters with the Fonseca's. He didn't directly acknowledge what he had just seen.

      For Abrah's part, he was busy examining the body. It couldn't have been dead for more than a day, but as he checked it over he found that a rapidly developing necrosis appeared to have asphyxiated the girl by rotting her tongue in her mouth and choking her with its disintegrating remains. It was like no disease he had ever seen.

      Behind him, Abrah heard Ko begin to scream and choke. They all whirled around to find her clawing at her own neck, swinging her head back and forth. Bride tried to step closer to retrain her, but he copped a blow to the side of his head for his troubles. He was about to try again when Abrah realised he recognised some of the nonsense babble she was keening. It sounded like the words he spoke in order to enter Neter-Khetet, though not exactly the same. He yelled at Bride to hold back and wait, and Bride managed to get the gist of the meaning through Abrah's hand gestures even before Johannes collected himself and started translating. They all stood back and watched. Ko didn't appear to be aggressive, but she was struggling to make noises and her neck and throat were visibly taught and clenched making it hard for her to speak. Abrah focussed on her words, and suddenly saw a series of images in his mind. A scorpion's tail, dripping venom, and the grinding of stone on stone. Then, suddenly, Ko collapsed as if her strings had been cut.

      Both Abrah and Johannes recognised it as a possession, both having had some experience with ghosts in the past. They quickly shepherded Ko out of the room. Johannes suggested they attempt an abjuration, but Abrah instead said that he had an answer to the problem. When Ko regained her senses, remembering only dull flashes of the last few minutes, she found her jaw and neck extremely saw and tender. Abrah, through Johannes, persuaded her to take them to a market where they could get their hands on a live scorpion. It proved surprisingly easy, and before dusk they were back at Kiara's home. The others watched intently as Abrah allowed the scorpion to sting him on the arm, then killed it and began his chant.

      (Note: I think I got Abrah's ritual wrong in the preceding post, he needs to be stung by and then kill the scorpion, not just drink its venom).

      They watched as the sun vanished, and shadows began to wrap around Abrah's limbs. Shadows appeared where no shadows could possibly, physically be, winding around his body. In their wake there was... nothing, just empty space, until Abrah was gone.

      Abrah opened his eyes in Neter-Khetet, orientating himself by the great glowing mountains to the East and West. He looked around the hazy, shadowy version of Kiara's home and spied her ghost pacing back and forth nearby, ignoring him. He walked up quietly behind her, but just as he lunged she stepped out of the way, and his knife sailed past. She turned, hissing, and a dance began in the shadow world. Kiara's attacks were wild, uncoordinated, flailing at empty air as Abrah moved around her. With every failed strike he cut and sliced and opened another small wound in her disintegrating body. At last she threw herself at him, arms outstretched. He stepped calmly into the attack, grasped the top of her head in one hand, and drove the knife up through her damaged throat. Her body wavered, and disintegrated into a puddle of fetid water.

      The others, not knowing how long Abrah's ritual would last, eventually left to make their own plans for the night. Ko reluctantly agreed to put Johannes up, but Bride simply requested an escort to the edge of the slum. He had arranged accommodation elsewhere in the city.

      Bride went into the inner city after leaving the others. His mentor, Alejandro, lived in the downtown area. He found it difficult to navigate, however. There were ongoing protests by indigenous groups against new government policies, and tents and police barricades warred for space in the streets. He mostly avoided violence as he passed through the barricades, and found himself on Alejandro's doorstep.

      Alejandro was younger than Bride, perhaps by as much as a decade. He couldn't be older than his early twenties, a gorgeous young man with bronze skin and an easy smile. He threw open the door and welcomed Bride inside cheerily. Bride noticed the anachronistic styling of the furniture, most of it from the 1970s, with framed black and white pictures of La Paz, alongside artefacts from around the world. There were several carvings from Vanuatu and the Philippines. He noticed, too, the ring worn like a wedding ring on Alejandro's hand. It was delicate gold shaped to look like interlinking chains woven around his finger. Bride chose to make no comment.

      He and Alejandro passed the hours reminiscing about their time together, several years ago, when Alejandro had inducted Bride into the Nomad Knights of Theodosia. Then they got down to business, with Bride taking on the role of the teacher. Alejandro's understanding of digital technology was nothing compared to Bride's, but Bride quickly had him set up to be able to access the Knights' network and voting systems. While he was doing this, Bride passed on what he had learned today. Alejandro was concerned, claiming he didn't know anything about the strange goings on in the slums, nor about the presence of magical texts in Bolivia's public library system, but promised that he would investigate both. Bride eventually retired for the night, heading for a safe house elsewhere in the city.

      Abrah was standing outside of Ko's home as the sun rose. He emerged from Neter-Khetet as the light touched him, beginning with his head and sweeping down his body. He hadn't slept the night before, his stomach was cramping terribly from the venom, and he was sweating heavily as he knocked on the door and walked in. Ko was already up, concerned that her brother hadn't returned the night before, and annoyed at Johannes for helping himself to porridge. They agreed to help Ko track down her brother.

      Bride arrived while Ko had an argument with her uncle over the phone, with him refusing to tell her where her brother was at. She left the house, the others tagging along behind her, and tracked down one of her brother's friends. He'd been told by her uncle not to say anything, but he caved quickly and told her that they were going to pay visits to a couple of houses over in the Fonseca's neighbourhood. He gave her a few addresses, and off they went.

      It was quieter there than in Ko's neighbourhood. There was no one on the streets at all. They reached the first building to find the door had been forced. There was a body slumped against the far wall, its head and torso almost completely rotted away, staining its clothes. Then, with a heavy thud, a hand reached up over the edge of the table in the middle of the room and a withered, desiccated creature hauled itself into view. Its one eye flickered between them, its mouth peeling open into a frozen grin. It lunged at Abrah, plunging its hand into his chest, and he felt his mind blur as something vital was pulled from him. The others backed up, not sure what to do, as the creature turned on Johannes and grasped his head in its hands. He felt babbling voices fill his mind and dropped to his knees, trying to keep control. Abrah took advantage of the distraction though. He had realised during his long wait in Neter-Khetet for his ritual to end that the "illness" was actually some form of poison. He was sure it had been delivered through water, and it was no great leap of the imagination to suspect that the ghost might have a weakness to that which had killed it, particularly given Kiara's final moments. He raced for the bench where there were several bottles of water laid out already, snatched one up, and turned back on the ghost. He threw the water over it. There was one final howl, and the ghost vanished.

      Johannes was breathing heavily, rocking back and forth, but none of them were hurt. Abrah took a deep breath, unable to say anything to the others until Johannes recovered, and just shrugged.


      • #4
        Ok, sadly we've had some scheduling issues cropping up. There was no game last week, and there probably won't be a game this week either. Hopefully we'll have everyone in one place next week.


        • #5
          Session 2 - The First Encounter

          We picked up right where the last session left off, with Johannes overwhelmed by the raging voices in his mind. He took off running, Bride close on his heels, while the other two stayed behind to look over the building. Unfortunately, in the slum's winding streets, Johannes and Bride were quickly split and separated. Johannes ended up lost somewhere in the slum, confused as to where they were and how they got there. Bride stumbled into a small square framed by tall buildings on every side to be confronted by a group of half a dozen men. Three of them were armed, one with a gun, the others with makeshift blades. There was a fourth man, larger than the others, who was unarmed and appeared to be in charge. Kneeling in front of them were two men with their hands tied behind their backs, including Ko's brother, Raiza. The men were startled by Bride's appearance and immediately began shouting at him in Spanish, pointing the gun in his direction. He raised his hands slowly, trying futilely to communicate with them in English.

          Ko and Abrah did a bit of digging at the house and found a talisman Ko recognised as belonging to one of Raiza's friends. Then Ko called Bride, intending to ask him where he was.

          Bride's phone ringing startled everyone in the square. Then the big, unarmed man came up to him and reached into his pockets, removing the phone. Up close Bride noted that this man had arms covered in tattoos, failing to obscure He answered it in Spanish, "Who is this?"

          Ko was startled to hear a different voice on the line. She gave her name, and asked if her friend was there. The man on the other end was silent for a long time. At last he said that she would need to go to an address elsewhere in the slum, to explain what outsiders were doing here, lest her friend be judged. Just before he hung up, Ko heard raised voices on the other end.

          The drama was caused by Johannes now stumbling into the same scene. The armed men were getting rattled, apparently not expecting so many intruders. Johannes raised his book and opened it, plunging the scene into darkness. The armed men fled, leaving only the big man holding Bride's phone. His expression was impossible to make out in the darkness, but they saw him toss the phone to one side and walk up to Johannes. He held out a hand, and told Johannes to hand over the book. A short back-and-forth followed, in which they each intimated that the other didn't know what they were getting themselves into. Bride took advantage of the distraction to cut Raiza and the other bound man loose. Then they all attacked as one.

          Their target turned out to be more nimble than he looked. He dodged their attacks and seized Johannes, attempting to wrest the book away. Bride managed to stab him in the side with the small blade he carried, but the man ignored the bleeding wound in his side. He was able to break Johannes' grasp on the book and started to push through them when Abrah and Ko burst into the courtyard. Seeing himself surrounded, he intoned an impossible word, sending reverberations thundering through the air. Then long, insectile legs began to pull themselves from his mouth, and scarab beetles suddenly filled the air of the courtyard.

          Raiza's companion, who Ko recognised as her ex-boyfriend Raul, fled. Everyone else through themselves prostrate upon the ground, begging for their lives. All save Abrah, who appeared immune to the fear. He lunged forward with his knives, but couldn't land a blow. He was pushed out of the way and the big man walked away, the scarabs obscuring the direction he took. When they dissipated the sorcerers struggled back to their feet. Johannes took off after their attacker, desperately racing through the streets, but only succeeded in getting himself lost again and requiring Ko to find him and lead him back to her home.

          There they found Raiza, who seemed similarly shaken by the experience. He was able to tell them that the big man was Marcelo, known to be one of the leaders of the rival gang, and confirmed that he lived at the address they had been given over the phone. Ko revealed to him her undead Hoatzin familiar, which he took remarkably well all things considered. He started muttering about witchcraft and left the house shortly afterward, but he eventually returned a few hours later. At Bride's request Ko arranged for a new weapon to be delivered for him. She taught her ritual to Abrah and Bride, and in turn studied Abrah's so that they could be better prepared in future. Bride attempted to scan and look for information on her book online, to see if he could trace his source, and found that beyond the one working ritual the book was filled with plagiarised material from other sources. It appeared that the one working spell had been camouflaged among a great morass of worthless misinformation.

          That night, Johannes and Abrah were afflicted by nightmares. Johannes suffered the price for invoking his book's power, assailed by visions of the unreality of the world. Abrah, meanwhile, found himself in a strange, Inca-like garden, stone tiers running up the side of the mountain. The gardens were filled with pale flowers and populated by people wandering aimlessly, and Abrah found that the more closely he looked at them the more obvious it was that they were dead. He spotted the shade he had destroyed with water approaching him, a man he had learned from Raiza had been called Amiel, who reached out with clawed hands and gripped Abrah's head. The claws burrowed deeper and deeper, causing Abrah to cry out and spasm, waking the others. They tried to wake him, but were unable. Eventually he drifted off into a deeper, more restful sleep, and the others began to relax.

          The next morning they resolved to return to Marcelo's address. They moved through the streets of the slum carefully, Bride carrying a duffel bag containing a new gun. They reached the street they had been instructed to find and found it deserted. They sent Bride and Raiza to keep watch, and Johannes to peek inside. He was able to see a small living area, much like Ko's, and only a middle-aged Aymaran woman inside. Together, the sorcerers approached the door and knocked.

          To Ko's shock, it was her mother who answered the door.


          • #6
            Wow i love this i want 2 play a sorcerer fame like this my ritual would let me see the future can't wait till this is done so we can do a post by post


            • #7
              Oooh, do you have a play-by-post sorcerer game lined up? That's really cool.

              So looking back on it, this session was driven almost entirely by failures and dramatic failures. Abrah's player mentioned to me a few days afterwards that he didn't roll a single success all session. That's pretty entertaining.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Azahul View Post
                Oooh, do you have a play-by-post sorcerer game lined up? That's really cool.

                So looking back on it, this session was driven almost entirely by failures and dramatic failures. Abrah's player mentioned to me a few days afterwards that he didn't roll a single success all session. That's pretty entertaining.

                Considering it sounds like they went up against a Mummy, I'd say they still got off fairly easily.

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


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Vent0 View Post

                  Considering it sounds like they went up against a Mummy, I'd say they still got off fairly easily.
                  Abrah has the Witness merit, so he's OOC positive that it wasn't a Mummy (IC he has no idea what he just ran into, he's never met a Mummy before to know that he has a special Mummy sense to trigger). At least in person. The leading OOC theory is that they went up against a Sadikh borrowing his master's Utterances.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Vent0 View Post

                    Considering it sounds like they went up against a Mummy, I'd say they still got off fairly easily.
                    I was under the impression that Marcello was a Sadikh, considering he bled when Bride stabbed him.

                    EDIT: Yeah, what he said.


                    • #11
                      So i meant with you if you have the time we can do a post by post


                      • #12
                        Ah, ok, that makes sense. I'm afraid that I don't particularly like play by post. I did a fair bit of it when I was younger, but I have a real hard time maintaining any kind of commitment to it. Face to face is a lot easier. That way I have friends guilt tripping me in person into running two games at once when I already have a fair amount on my plate

                        Once this wraps up I already have plans to try my hand at Shadowrun, and I have a Werewolf game set in North Ireland during the Troubles in the conceptual stages.


                        • #13
                          Session 3 - Keeping it in the family

                          The screaming match left Johannes and Abrah bemused. Ko and her mother had stared at each other in shock for a few seconds. They had started to talk to each other in Aymaran, but the talking rapidly devolved into shouting. Unable to follow the conversation, they could only really stand there until Ko threw her hands in the air and backed off a short distance, keeping her back to her mother.

                          Johannes was then able to break in, speaking Spanish, and was able to strike up a short conversation. He determined that Ko's mother, Keila, lived in this house. She was married to Marcelo, which came as news to Ko.

                          As if summoned by his name, Marcelo entered the house through a rear door and approached them. He didn't seem to recognise any of the characters from the day before, and was apparently a little bit amused to be introduced to his stepdaughter. Ko reluctantly rejoined the conversation, and told her mother that she was accompanying Abrah, a doctor looking into the disease. Marcelo was demonstrating signs of infection, he certainly had a hacking cough, and they agreed to let the sorcerers inside to check up on him.

                          Abrah's examination found evidence that the poison was at work. It looked to be operating slowly, much more slowly than the dead bodies they had found, but there were signs of rapid damage being done to Marcelo's system in the recent past. Abrah compared him to Keila and found that she, too, was suffering from the poison, but she bore no signs of any of the rapid damage that Marcelo had suffered. Johannes struck up a conversation with Marcelo during this, trying to determine what had happened to his book. Marcelo claimed he didn't remember ever meeting Johannes before, let alone stealing from him.

                          The sorcerers returned to the area later that night. They had determined by analysing the streets of the slum around Keila's residence that it had been organised to direct occult energies to a location hidden behind the home, perhaps even buried in the mountain. Ko had sent their familiar to investigate, and had found a tunnel leading into the mountain. She asked Raiza to mount a distraction for them. Eventually, though they heard and saw nothing to indicate what the distraction was, they saw Marcelo rush out of the house and head off into the darkness. They took the opportunity to dash across into the house. They didn't encounter anyone, and soon they were standing on the threshold of the mountain tunnel.

                          The tunnel ended in three doors, which they explored in turn. Each room was lit by torchlight, but apparently devoid of inhabitants. They found African and Haitian artefacts, many of them the product of the slave trade. The right-hand room contained a large mural that appeared to have been raked by claws at some point in the past, defacing it and making it hard to pick out the details of what it was depicting. In the final room they found a large sarcophagus, which Abrah wanted to open. The others disagreed, and Ko ended up pulling a gun on him and ordering him to step away.

                          As they were circling pack, passing through a strange circular room covered in some variation of Egyptian hieroglyphs, they saw a humanoid figure standing in the corridor ahead. It immediately began to move towards them. Johannes felt that this was the individual who had stolen his book. He seated himself on the raised dais in the middle of the room and steepled his fingers. At the sight the figure began to pick up speed, the torches flickering and going out ahead of it. It entered the room, ignoring Ko and Abrah, and struck Johannes in the jaw with a blow that lift him clean off of the dais and onto the floor.

                          This close, they could see the assailant was a woman who appeared to be in her late thirties, maybe early forties. She was of Mediterranean appearance, dressed simply in jeans and a singlet, with the straps of a sports bra visible underneath. She seized Johannes by his throat and lifted him clear off the ground with a single hand. In strangely accented Spanish she demanded to know who they were, and why she should not kill them on the spot.

                          Ko saved them from immediate retribution. She said she was Keila's daughter, and the woman turned towards her.

                          "You claim to be my high priestess's daughter?"

                          Ko filed that away for later, and apologised for the trespass. The woman seemed to relax and ordered them to leave. Ko asked for her name, and was told:

                          "I am Khem-Ashidar, the Carnal Vizier."

                          The other sorcerers made for the exit. Abrah, who had been left out of the Spanish conversation, stayed where he was. Khem-Ashidar turned her attention towards him, her expression darkening, he took a wild stab based on what he'd seen in the tomb and spoke to her in the language he had been slowly piecing together for use in his ritual.

                          Khem-Ashidar's reaction at first was to demand to know who he served. When he claimed he had come across the language in his own studies, she agreed to speak to him alone. The others left, and Abrah was able to win his way into the strange woman's good graces. He told her that the disease afflicting her followers was actually a poison. After some back-and-forth between them, they realised that the drinking water of the slum must have been contaminated, but it was only harming those exposed to Khem-Ashidar's presence. She told Abrah in return that she was known as an Arisen, survivors of an old, old empire, a nameless empire. Her own sorcery often afflicted humans who witnessed it with a sickness known as Sybaris. Between them, they deduced that the poison was reacting to Sybaris specifically. Many people in the slum, not just her followers, were falling sick because they were close enough to sense her presence. Those who witnessed her actually using her powers in person were succumbing a lot more quickly, their bodies disintegrating quickly under the strain. Khem-Ashidar mentioned that the young woman from Ko's neighbourhood who had died had been someone she had actively sought to sway to her followers, for example, and witnessed her true form.

                          Abrah agreed to join Khem-Ashidar's followers. In return, she vomited forth a large scarab, which swiftly ossified into an amulet for him to wear. She promised it would protect him from harm. She also mentioned that she could possess her followers from afar. If he were ever to be in danger, she could come to his aid.

                          Across the city, Ko had dropped Johannes off at her house and headed off to meet up with her ex-girlfriend, a woman named Sara. They had broken up only a few weeks ago because Ko had decided she didn't want to drag Sara into this world of magic and sorcery. Now, however, Ko felt that she needed someone she could trust. She met with Sara and explained everything that had happened to her, even showing pictures she had taken of the tomb. Sara was stunned... and then revealed that she, too, had been experiencing unexplained and magical events. She excused herself and went outside to make a phone call. When she came back in she told Ko that her boss, Laurence, would be coming over shortly.

                          She took the meantime to explain what had been happening to her. After Ko left her, she'd been approached by Laurence. He'd been looking for something at the library where she worked, she was never sure what. For whatever reason he took a shine to her, and managed to get her a much better job as his aide working for a multinational company. They were involved in some form with its research divisions, but it had turned out to be a cover. Laurence was a sorcerer as well, and the company was conducting research into magical phenomena. He'd been teaching Sara to help him in his rituals.

                          Not long after, there was a knock on the door and Sara showed in two men. Laurence proved to be a man in his fifties. He was Peruvian, sporting a bit of a beer gut, dressed in a business suit. Accompanying him was a pale, red-headed American man wearing a polo shirt and jeans and a lanyard stating his name was Sid Isaacs. They introduced themselves and said that the company they worked for, Last Dynasty International, was greatly interested in what she had shown Sara. Ko even recognised the name, they'd come up in her university studies. Laurence offered her a salary that would be more than enough to get herself and her brother out of the slums, if she helped him bring in Khem-Ashidar. The Arisen were monsters, but their bodies contained incredible medicinal properties with the potential to help thousands. After some reluctance, seeking reassurance that her mother wouldn't be hurt, Ko agreed.

                          They all met back at Komina's house later that night. Johannes was bitter and sulking at the loss of his book and Khem-Ashidar's obvious favour towards Abrah. Ko was quiet and withdrawn, still turning over the day's events in her mind. Abrah, meanwhile, mentioned that Khem-Ashidar had told him of reports that a strange man had been seen in the slums before people started falling sick, placing strange markings through the streets. He had been tracked back to the Witch's Market. He hadn't been seen since.

                          The others agreed that this would be a good place to look for the source of the disease. Abrah hoped that winning Khem-Ashidar's favour in this manner might persuade her to give up the secrets to her own immortality.


                          • #14
                            Ah ha! So they did encounter a Mummy, albeit via proxy. The Horse and Rider Utterance from Rio?

                            And... it looks like the group is coming into direct conflict quickly.

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


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Vent0 View Post
                              Ah ha! So they did encounter a Mummy, albeit via proxy. The Horse and Rider Utterance from Rio?
                              That's the bunny. Hands down my favourite thing from that book.

                              Originally posted by Vent0 View Post
                              And... it looks like the group is coming into direct conflict quickly.
                              Well, it was always pitched as a short campaign, so they'd better get to the infighting fast. We can't have a campaign go by without it