This time we're not giving up
Let's make it last forever
We'll make it last forever
- “Hallelujah” Paramore
Cyrus Oathkeeper, Shouts of Triumph, Sentinel of the Derelict, Sings the Advocate Refrain, The Gentleman’s Lycan, Wise as the True Heart, Born on Two Legs to Luna’s Moon Dancers, Child of Falcon and Adren of the Garou Nation.
Cyrus Westergaard Lyng is 32 human years old. His hair is thick black brown, beginning to show streaks of silver. He stands 5’11” with broad shoulders and thinly - yet solidly - built. The casual observer would think he might be a pushover (figuratively and literally) but a second glance reveals that he carries himself with confidence (based on what, who knows?) and indicates a strength not readily apparent. Cyrus’ skin is on the dark end of Caucasian, almost as if he has a perpetual tan. His most striking physical characteristic is his eyes, which are dichromatic: green on the left and grey on the right. He does not try to hide this feature.
WARNING: THIS SECTION CONTAINS MASSIVE SPOILERS
This event triggered the First Rage/First Change in Cyrus, and in a blind fury he drove the attacker away. The tragedy caused a mental breakdown in his father (Clayton), and his mother (Heather) sent Cryrus to America for his training/Rite of Passage in the hopes of providing him enough time to prepare for inevitable future attacks.
Heather herself has devoted her remaining years to hunting down the assailant, spending more and more time in her wolf form. The killer is currently still at large, out there, somewhere.
In America, Cyrus came into his own.
His Rite of Passage was the hunting of [redacted], but the task itself was almost nothing compared to the infighting of the “pack”. This internal strife nearly caused the destruction of the cohort, and it was only thanks to Cyrus’ intervention and advice (which lead to cooperation) that they were not only able to set aside their differences and focus on the common goal but also succeed, returning as recognized adults in the Garou Nation.
Over the years in New Orleans, Cyrus became a respected go-between among the Kindred, Fae, and Garou in New Orleans and the surrounding environs. Though most would stay with their own kind, Cyrus has made use of his gifts of Speech of the World and Citizen of the World to both keep the peace and keep what loose alliances are in place. For this he earned the Deedname “Oathkeeper” and is a trusted advisor in both politics and strategy.
Thanks to his gifts, Cyrus is able to communicate with those not of his language and culture, and though he speaks foreign languages with an obvious accent, it is clear he is being respectful of those he is talking to and means no disrespect or offense.
Some have likened Cyrus to James Bond, but Cyrus is a Bond from the other side of things. He is not a womanizer and prefers diplomacy to violence, though he is skilled in both words and sword.
Like Bond, Cyrus has his own demons. He suffers from terrifying nightmares and as a result has developed a severe phobia to sleep, which he attempts to alleviate with sleep aids to varying success. Cyrus will therefore sleep alone, and after several non-fatal “incidents” he now often restrains himself in an attempt to avoid hurting others. There are times when, due to his phobia, he will forgo sleep, though this has proven an ineffective strategy in the long-term.
As a Galliard, Cyrus has found a solace in music, the theatre, and the arts - and often has a song, lyric, or quote to for the situation, and often makes a connection with foreigners/outsiders by finding common ground in these things. However, there are times that Cyrus’ gifts work against him, and he finds himself the unwitting and unwilling vessel of a Bard’s Tongue.
Cyrus attained Rank 2 and the Deedname “Shouts of Triumph” in the recent coordinated attacks against the Kindred, Fae, and Garou in NOLA. The battle was going poorly for Cyrus and his comrades when, noticing a gap in the attackers, he roused them with a slightly-altered line from Shakespeare:
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more - or fill up the wall with our Garou dead!”In recognition of his skills as both ambassador and strategist, Cyrus was sent by Caden Ash Heart to meet/aid the diverse group of . . . defenders . . . lately assembled in NOLA.
At the Hotel Provincial
Cyrus found the group (Ollie, Rosalie, Andi, Aya, and Nyx) in the Hotel Provincial in the French Quarter. Briefly introducing himself to Ollie as the one Caden sent to help, Cyrus offered his services in whatever matters might arise.
After listening to Cardinal Valdis and Tobias Wren announce a new partnership between Autumn Health and the Tulane Medical Center, they watched Cardinal Valdis circulate through the crowd with Wiskey Van Rensselaer on one arm and a drink in his free hand. Cyrus was clued in they intended to drug the Cardinal’s drink, and suggested they simply give him a new, spiked one.
As the Cardinal approached, Rosalie met him in her capacity as a reporter and asked a few questions. Ollie’s nerves began to get the better of him, and after a brief exchange of words with the Cardinal (since they both work for the Church), Ollie found Cardinal Valdis reaching for his hands. Cyrus took the roofied drink, and after another short exchange, Ollie offered the drink to Valdis on the pretense Cyrus was allergic to citrus. The plan worked, and within five minutes it was obvious he was feeling its effects.
Unfortunately for the party, several things happened at once: the lights dimmed, vehicles surrounded the hotel, and some guests inside began to have coughing fits – the result of a supernatural infection.
Teams in biohazard suits began to cordon off the hotel, and as the party watched through a large window, they saw the rooftop collection tank come crashing down, spilling its contents and landing on three tourists: woman in her twenties as well as a father and his young daughter. The infected individuals began attacking those around them in a zombie-like fashion, though it was clear they weren’t actually zombies.
Whiskey caught up to the group with the knocked-out Cardinal over her shoulder. Thinking quickly, the party started to head to the basement, where they hoped Aya and/or Ollie would be able to purify the water and remove the stain of the worm from those infected. Nyx held the line with her parasol in front of Ollie’s parents, allowing everyone time to get into the stairwell. She was the last one through the door.
In the stairwell, they were met by Serg coming down from the roof. He was with a kid of some kind, who appeared to know the party, but the party didn’t know him. Working together, the party was able to successfully use the fire suppression system to cure all but two individuals of their malady.
Then, from the corner, the Cardinal spoke with his own voice, asking to be tied up before “he returned”. Now, the decision had to be made about how to both leave the hotel – with the cardinal – and repair the masquerade breach.
While newcomer Vassily (unmoored and Hunter of Lucifer) went to find blood for the vampires (and others who needed it), Cyrus, Andi, Nyx, Ollie, and Aya found a conference room with a long table and other accoutrements. [The others stayed in the boiler room.] Ollie and Andi found the laundry and - using sheets and pillowcases - constructed “Fort Kickass” under the table. Nyx and Cyrus found some chicory coffee; Cyrus and Andi established the “shave and a haircut” knock as the password to the conference room.
While Ollie and Aus slept, and then as Nyx and Andy fell into torpor, Cyrus stayed awake thanks to the coffee. When everyone was once again awake, it was decided to take the cardinal to Elysium. The lockdown/quarantine now ended, they group made its way to Elysium - and found Prince Hastings engaged in conversation with a group of werewolves that Aya, Ollie, and Cyrus recognized by reputation as The Silver Pack.
The three stood in silence as they introduced themselves and others (and Ollie when spoken to) filled in everyone on what had happened. When Serg told of his killing Banner (in part because he viewed Banner as a threat to the caern), Ekaterina named him an official friend of the Garou Nation. Cyrus made a mental note to remember Serg’s new position to the Garou. Cyrus finally moved when Mia/Sister told the three to follow her.
Rank and Trial
Cyrus, Ollie, and Aya followed Sister out behind the absinth bar, where, pulling out a mirror, Sister opened a moon bridge to the Umbra. Sister changed into lupus, and the trio followed her to the only hill in all of New Orleans: a thirty-five foot manmade rise in the city zoo. As they settled themselves, Aya received a message via her spectral hound: she was being called away to her mentor. Sister bade her go, acknowledging Aya’s mentor as being more important at the moment.
Sister then set the two Garou their test of rank: choosing to work together, she set them with three riddles. Though they only needed to answer two correctly, the pair was able to pool their knowledge and sweep the set.
White bird, featherless. Flying out of paradise. Flying over sea and land. Dying in my hand. What is it?
I can flutter and take your breath away.
I can take a beating, but do not bruise.
If I stopped you would be sure to lose.
All day and night, I am with you.
What am I?
A: your heart
You can carry it everywhere you go, and it does not get heavy. What is it?
A: your name
Ollie and Cyrus were officially made Fostern and were given additional deed names, including an extra one each for working together on the task and for answering all three riddles. Cyrus’ new deed names were: Sentinel of the Derelict, Sings the Advocate Refrain, The Gentlemen’s Lycan, and Wise as the True Heart.
The task now over, they each shifted into lupus to follow Sister back out of the Umbra, rolling down the hill with delight and changing back to Homid before entering mundane New Orleans. They only had a few minutes to make themselves presentable before they were approached by Maddi, who now revealed herself to be an archon of one of the justicarscoming to preside over the impending trial.
The entire group was taken to a trio of cars (Cyrus rode in the middle car with Serg and Rosalie) and driven for an hour outside the city. They were then led into the backyard of a large southern house where the justicars were seated in a half circle and their archons standing behind them. In front of them was a podium of piled stones, to the left of which stood a large pot filled with white bones.
They were seated on three stone benches; Prince Hastings sat Cyrus and Ollie to her left, placing them in a place a protection. The trial was called to order, and Justicar Anastaz made it known this was a trial of Prince Hastings and not Serg - something Cyrus had suspected and tried to mentally prepare for. Garou testimony being considered lesser in this situation, Cyrus and Ollie were called on first, and though Ollie made to move, Cyrus beat him to the moment and stepped forward.
He followed the instructions given him to the letter: approaching the podium and taking a bone in his hand (which would turn black and cause him great harm if he spoke false). Asked for his testimony, he earned looks of shock, surprise, respect (and even humor) when he correctly addressed the justicars:
Your Most Esteemed Excellencies - I am Cyrus Lyng, Fosters of the Garou Nation. If offer myself and my memories as witness.
He willingly gave his memory via telepathic link, but when asked for his words his mind blanked. He said something, but though he couldn’t remember what he said, it must have been honest and respectful as the bone stayed white, the justicarsthanked and dismissed him, and the group looked at him encouragingly.
The others gave their testimony in similar fashion, though there was some hustle and bustle around Cock Robin’s prior association with Ollie, and Justicar Pascek’s familial relationship with Andi. According to law and tradition, Prince Hastings gave their testimony to the justicars in private, the group being led back into the house. Her testimony lasted fifteen minutes; the justicars debated another thirty.
In the end, Justicars Robin and Pascek were forced to abstain, Justicars Marzanna and Lucinde voted “not guilty”, and Justicars Anastasz and Guil voting guilty. The verdict declared a tie, Justicar Anastasz invoked his right as head of the council to break the tie and voted guilty. However, Justicar Marzanna reminded him of Clan Malkavian’s right to declare the punishment, and declared that Prince Hastings would be removed as Prince of New Orleans for one month, at which time Justicar Marzanna would revisit the issue. Justicar Guil deemed this punishment too lenient, opining that Prince Hastings should – in their opinion – burn.
The justicars nearly came to blows with each other as the situation escalated and were only stopped by the intervention of their archons. Several of the archons and Justicar Cock Robin whisked the group away and back into the city to the Hotel Hilton.
As the group discussed what had happened and what to do now, Archon Jean-Marc d’Harfleur revealed that the archons themselves were in favor of finding Prince Hastings not guilty, and that Justicar Guil’s vote of guilty was just the latest in a series of out-of-character actions they had taken in recent months. Rosalie deemed it safe and prudent to share all the events that had led to this moment, but when she shared the information telepathically with Jean-Marc, he fell to the ground - - bearing stigmata of Lucifer.
Pack It Up
As the vampires continued to talk about what had happened, Ollie approached Cyrus about forming a pack with him and Aya and Asher. As the two wondered where Aya could be, she stumbled out of the bathroom – deposited there by her mentor via moon bridge. And then Asher spoke up from underneath Ollie’s chair, and said he’d been there for about five minutes - - showing just how observant the two werewolves had been.
They talked briefly about the intended pack, with Aya needing some convincing.
Rejoining the conversation with the vampires, it was decided that – all things considered – the group would repair to the cairn, where Caden would offer them safety. Asher sweetened the deal by offering a cork board with red thread and pushpins, as well as paper and pens, so that they could plot and plan their next steps.
Ollie opened a moon bridge for the first time using the mirror Sister had given him, and the core group traveled from the hotel to the cairn with ease. The Silver Pack was there, and Caden himself was cooking as if for a large group of firefighters.
Cyrus grabbed the weapons he had left behind, namely his firearm and Helios’ Blessed Blade, and then rejoined the others in the basement. While the others brainstormed their concerns, he took it all in; this was mostly new information for him. However, he was able to offer two of his own: The “Fake Tobias Wren” and Vassily (who he pointed out wasn’t necessarily a problem, but neither did they know how he fit in).
Listening to the others talk, he was able to use his gift of hidden meaning to connect some unseen threads, arriving at the name of Helena d’Argeneaux in connection with the statement “find the Baron” and Serg’s left hand.
Of all the concerns, two stood out: finding the Baron and helping Aya’s mentor in Japan.
It was decided to aid Serg first, and the group found themselves on the way to a very proper tea room on the very edge of the French Quarter, with Cyrus helping outfit the group and talking their way inside with his etiquette.
Seated in the library, the party found themselves an audience with Madame Helena, who to Cyrus appeared as a Nosferatu, but was decidedly not Nosferatu. She had a connection with Baron Samedi, but when, through Cyrus and Serg, she came to understand what the party needed, she explained that the Baron would not meet with them.
However, Serg and Rosalie were able to give more information that narrowed down the search for the site of the last of the Saint Murders and earn the gratitude of Madame d’Argeneaux and the respective Barons and earned each party member an answered question or a small boon.
Pacts, Presents, and Perils
Leaving Madam d’Argeneaux, Ollie and Aya and Cyrus began discussing the possibility of forming a pack. The three all saw the benefits of a union, with Aya and Cyrus strongly suggesting that Ollie act as Alpha. While the three were discussing what the pack totem should be and Ollie was making his case to choose Hades or Persephone, Aya received urgent word that she was needed back in Japan. With a quick goodbye to the two, Aya disappeared into the Umbra, leaving Ollie and Cyrus staring into space.
The next morning, Ollie and Cyrus met up with Nyx and Andi at the Hotel Provincial. Andi was excited as she’d received packages during the night. Like a kind of Santa Claus, Charlie had visited during the night and left gifts from Serafina – and there was something for everyone. Jackets and jewelry for Andi and Nyx, expensive suits with tie clips and cufflinks for Ollie and Cyrus, and even a note for Serge.
As the group marveled at their presents, something happened. Maybe it was the buzz of the fluorescent lights or the gurgling of water in pipes or the distant sounds of construction – but something triggered a . . . vision? nightmare? daymare?
Cyrus found himself in water – deep water – and could feel the heaviness of his clothes dragging him under the waves. He struggled to the surface to find things – bodies – floating in the water. And then suddenly, an image flashed on the underside of Cyrus’ eyelids:
You do not recognize the bodies in the water.
The long hours that Cyrus had spent avoiding sleep around his newfound friends and compatriots finally caught up to him, and something in his mind snapped.
When he came to, he found himself in a defensive position with his sword drawn and thrust in front of him. Ollie was speaking to him. “Cyrus? Cyrus. Stay with me. Breathe. You are Oathkeeperand Shouts of Triumph, Wise as the True Heart and Sentinel of the Derelict. The Gentleman’s Lycan, you Sing the Advocate Refrain. Breathe.” Listening to Ollie helped; he could have been reading from a phonebook rather than reciting deed names, and Cyrus would have listened.
Andi brought him a glass of water; it was the best Cyrus had tasted in a long time, if ever.
Ollie assured him he hadn’t harmed anyone, and Cyrus found himself explaining his often violent reactions to nightmares. He was somewhat relieved to find that others suffered from them as well, in that he was not alone, but grew concerned when it became apparent they had all had the same terrifying mental image.
Cyrus and Andi both recognized the water as a spot on Lake Pontchartrain, and as they described it to Ollie and Nyx, the two confirmed it seemed to be the same spot where they’d been cast through time while investigating the Saint Murders.
The four wanted to do more research before making their next move, but all the public libraries were closed and visiting a university wouldn’t be the best choice at the moment, considering two of their party were vampires. They decided to order in food (in their own way) while they came up with a plan.
It was after they had eaten that Andi remembered there was a library she had access to: Serafina’s. With a quick phone call, Andi arranged for them to have access to the library. Cyrus thought it would be ill-advised to show up in such circumstances ill-prepared, and so donned his new clothing and suggested picking up a bottle of wine on the way. Ollie said he’d look for an oddity of some kind, while Andi bought blood-chocolates and Nyx found a print of her photograph of the sunken mausoleum Cyrus had heard about.
Arriving at Serafina’s modern mansion, they were greeted by her brother Sebastian and other members of her “family” there to play cards and conduct certain business. Cyrus recognized a few from his political contacts and made sure to note that he certainly did not see them here. They gave their gifts to Sebastian, who seemed very pleased they had brought anything at all – particularly the werewolves.
Their research seemed to come up short at first, with Cyrus finding several reasons they could have experienced a mass nightmare – but nothing concrete for their situation. Andi and Nyx tried finding out more about the Saint Murders, but came up with little more than they already knew.
Ollie, though, was in his element. Accessing a few back doors of the internet using a computer in a Faraday Cage, Ollie soon came out with a message:
The following ███████████ contains ███████████ that are carriers for anomalous cognitohazardous influences.███████████. Due to this, it is imperative that all personnel accessing this file be certified as having a Cognitive Resistance Value (CRV) of no less than ███████████ ████ ████████ ████
Under no circumstances are members of our Foundation personnel to approach ███████. Observation of ████ ████ must only be carried out by remote dummy probes utilizing ████ ███.
As they were discussing what it might mean, the computer rebooted, brought the pages Ollie had been looking at back up, and started playing a video. The video was their nightmare, and this time it was worse, as Cyrus could now recognize the bodies in the water as those of himself and his friends.
He exchanged looks with Ollie, who seemed to have seen the same thing. While Andi and Nyx were startled, they did not share the same concern as Ollie and Cyrus. As they explained what they had seen, Cyrus realized that while they had seen something similar, maybe it wasn’t the same thing – maybe whatever they’d seen could tailor its message to their individual subconscious.
They decided their next course of action should be to investigate Lake Pontchartrain – the second or third time Ollie and Nyx had been there – and Cyrus advised caution, asking Ollie and Nyx how they might prepare themselves. Cyrus made sure to change out of his expensive clothing and into something more suitable for the outdoors.
Using moon bridges and Abrams’ trolley, they made their way to the lake. On the way, Cyrus tried to help Ollie out of being on the outs with his mother.
Once on the shoreline, they found an abandoned campfire and what appeared to be several articles of clothing from four individuals: a purse, a pair of shoes, and the like: the kind of things people set aside when they’re going to dip their toes in the water. Looking out into the waves, Cyrus was certain he saw bodies, but the others said it was only a trick of the light.
As the stood there, they each stated getting a migraine, feeling as if their head were too small or their brain too large or both at the same time.
“I’d like to leave,” Cyrus said “or at least go back to the road.”
Andi agreed with him, as did Ollie and Nyx, but when they tried to leave the found themselves in the water. Holding hands, they tried again, with the same result. No matter which direction they tried, the water pulled them in. Nyx started slipping, and Cyrus ignored her shouts to just let her go and instead held on. He began to be pulled in as well. Adi, holding on to Cyrus, refused to let him go either, and she too began sliding in deeper.
In a last-ditch effort, Ollie opened a passageway and punched a hole in reality as he attempted to drag the group out of the water and into some kind of safety. The pressure stretched like a rubber band, and just when it felt like something would have to give, it snapped – and the group lost consciousness.
They awoke on an upper level of a nearby oil rig – the same oil rig connected with the recent oil spill in the Gulf. Ollie’s gnosis was severely depleted, and though Nyx and Andi offered him their phones to regain a point or two, he declined. After they determined they were alone on this level – which appeared to have been abandoned in the 1950’s – they decided to make their way to lower levels and attempt to find their way off the rig and into safety.
Nyx used her heightened senses to see if they were completely alone and picked up on a few interesting details. First, while the level they were on appeared old and deserted, lower levels seemed to have had recent upgrades and were running top-of-the-line equipment. Second, those levels appeared to be self-contained habitations, and there were people there – quite a few people, in fact. Third, a hurricane was coming in off the gulf and would likely be upon them in an hour/hour and a half.
There was only one thing to do: go down. Cyrus took point while Andi backed him up, followed by Ollie and Nyx. The next room of note they came to was a radio room. Though it too looked like it hadn’t been touched in years, there was still electricity flowing to the equipment. Figuring they had nothing to lose, Cyrus and Ollie began turning dials and flipping switches and managed to find a number station. Nyx had slightly more success, as she managed to find a dedicated distress system.
Nyx suggested saying there was a fire on the rig in hopes of speeding up their recovery. Cyrus expressed a small concern about lying about the nature of their distress, but Ollie agreed with Nyx. Cyrus asked Ollie if it was okay to bend the truth when it suited their needs. When Ollie said yes, Cyrus smiled and said okay – this exchange seemed to confuse Ollie a little bit.
Andi found some hooded Pentexjackets, which gave Cyrus an idea. If he used some of his gifts and pulled the hood over his face, he could perhaps convincingly imitate Tobias Wren (the one who had been at the Hotel Provincial). He wasn’t sure if everyone had picked up what he was suggesting, but maybe it would be enough to bluff their way past anyone who might be asking questions.
Continuing downward, the next room was an empty airlock with a few biohazard suits next to the lower door. They skipped the suits and opened the door and found themselves in an alley. Looking out, they saw many people (definitely not mundane) in what appeared to be 1970s-era dress or earlier.
They discussed what they wanted to do, and rather loudly. It was surprising they didn’t attract any attention. At point, Cyrus’ main concern was with getting out, while the others wanted to see what was going on with the people down here.
Cyrus became abrupt for perhaps the first time with the party. He asked Ollie if he thought they should try to get out or see what was going on, to which Ollie said “both”. Cyrus then asked which he should prioritize, because if left to him he would prioritize getting out. Ollie seemed a bit taken aback by Cyrus’ attitude. Cyrus explained that if Ollie was going to be Alpha he needed to give some direction; Ollie insisted he wasn’t Alpha and they weren’t a pack yet. Cyrus shrugged and said “You keep saying that. I guess that makes you the Not Alpha.”
This seemed to break the tension between the two, and it was then they noticed Andi and Nyx trying not to laugh at them. They supposed they must have looked somewhat ridiculous. And still, no one had noticed them.
A bell rang, and now a mass of kids started filing past the alley. Now Cyrus offered Ollie a gnosis, but Ollie insisted he not take it, causing Cyrus to arch aeyebrow. It was becoming clear that taking care of his Not Alpha would be a rather interesting challenge. Nyx finally prevailed on Ollie to use her phone to regain a gnosis, and Cyrus relaxed his eyebrow.
Now with a few more gnosis, Ollie used one of his fetishes to allow the group to consult with the Pythia. Using their three questions, they determined that helping the people here should be their first priority. They also began to suspect that they may have found the missing Court of Wisteria. They ditched their Pentexcoats, and just in time, for they were finally spotted by a small girl who introduced herself as Mercy Zettler.
Mercy recognized that the group didn’t belong, and seemed more concerned that they might be contaminated that with their “outsider” status. One of her friends, a boy named Clemency Sallow, also joined them and seemed certain they would get into trouble.
They were led to a shower room where, with great difficulty due to their size, the two children hosed down the group and applied a decontaminating powder. They had to strip, and while they all modestly averted their gazes from either other’s intimate regions, it was clear that Ollie changed into his lupus form so that it looked like the kids were washing a dog. Andi grumbled a bit about not having that option, and Cyrus took the spraying down in his human form in solidarity with his vampire friends, earning him a raised fist in appreciation from Andi.
The powder was not unpleasant smelling and seemed to be clay-based. As they dried off and put on their clothes, the two informed the party of the layout and leadership of their society. There were four sections: Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Omega, with Omega being considered the “nobodies” of society, though this was clearly an idea perpetuated by the adults and not yet ingrained in the kids they were talking to.
The community seemed to look to their religious leader (Mama Verity) for guidance on most matters, though Mercy’s mother Magdalena also seemed to have some influence due to her genealogy, her grandfather being the one who founded the “community”.
Comfort & Confrontation
Taken by Mercy to her family’s living space, the trio unexpectedly found her parents - Magdalena and Liberty Zettler - who were understandably shocked and somewhat frightened to see outsiders. From a pocket, Magdalena produced a scalpel which she held semi-aggressively until the kids were away from the group.
Ollie tried to explain what was going on, and faltering, finally looked to Cyrus for help. “You can delegate the talking,” Cyrus reminded him before answering Liberty’s questions directly about who they were with (not Premium Oil) and how they got there (trouble - landed on oil rig - climbed down). Liberty seemed to understand, yet also in knowledgeable about what was outside their community.
Liberty and Magdalena talked to Cyrus about how both time and memory seemed to be . . . off, as of late. Magdalena also indicated the three had come at an in opportune time: she and Liberty had been planning an unsanctioned trip to Delta to help the people there and try to find a friend that had recently been sent there.
Cyrus and Nyx nearly simultaneously offered to help, and after brief objections it was decided that Liberty, Credence, and Mercy would go to the sick bay (as an alibi for missing prayer) while Magdalena and the others would go to Delta.
In preparation, Ollie opened his bag just in time to see Asher and Serge come out of his mirror - Asher having received a mental call for help from Ollie and opening a moon bridge for the two (with difficulty).
when Ollie protested he hadn’t sent such a call, Asher said “Huh, must be an alpha thing.”
”Told you so,” said Cyrus
“but I’m not alpha - there are rituals!”
Asher and Cyrus just looked at each other and shrugged.
They all set out led by Magdalena and crossed from Alpha into Beta via a corner airlock and the air changed from the smell of apple pie to warm vanilla and the color scheme became pale blues and cool grays with less signage and more classrooms.
They entered Omega the same way. Omega was in poor shape with old radiation, rust, emergency lighting, and rickety grated walkways traversing the five-story hole that made up Omega. Machinery sounds covered their footsteps. Magdalena cracked a glow stick.
Gingerly, the party made their way across Omega. Ollie almost fell, but was saved at the last minute by Serge placing a well-timed hand on Ollie’s head. Serge and Cyrus then bookended the party to help them out, with Magdalena on point. A sound of scuttling drew their attention, and she threw something loud and metallic to distract it and told them to hurry. They shut the airlock to Delta just as a nine-fingered, four-knuckled hand grabbed at them.
Delta - the air thick with a greasy smell - was illuminated by a flickering, sickly light. The people there were all afflicted with something, but each in different ways. Rashes, spots, and what looked like burns covered the skin of some; others had grown an extra eyelid or digit; still others appeared to suffer from a mental break rather than a visible, physical ailment. If Cyrus didn’t know any better, he’d have sworn they reminded him of Black Spiral Dancers. Near him, he heard Serge say “bitten with frenzy” under his breath, almost as if he was thinking it to himself but it came out as a whisper instead.
As they looked for Credence, Cyrus got the impression that some of these people were . . . familiar somehow, as if he’d seen them before. Lost in his thoughts, he missed most of what the others were talking about for several moments, only catching snippets of conversation.
“Malcolm’s nurse . . .” [Nyx]
“Doppelgangers . . .” [Ollie]
“looks like Maddie . . .” [Andi]
And then it finally clicked: these were people he hadn’t necessarily seen in person (although he couldn’t be sure), but he had seen them on Asher’s corkboard with the red string.
While he came to that realization, the others began talking of testing and research and what, exactly might be going on down here. Andi moved to help Magdalena administer relief to those lined up before her. In a nearby room they found who they were looking for: Credence.
Ollie and Nyx were startled to see him, and they both said “where’s Malcolm’s phone?” at the same time. Serge had it, and in scrolling through it was undeniable: The Man with the Hunting Bow at Lake Pontchartrain looked exactly like Credence. However, it became clear Credence lacked the rage and homicidal drive exhibited by The Man with the Hunting Bow.
Magdalena cared for his wounds, some of which were open, and Ollie got a look on his face and pulled out a bottle of water. “Who did this to you?”
“Can you tell us more about her?”
“She’s always in charge. Always beenin charge. She never goes anywhere without her cane – or a couple of bodyguards, which she describes as personal assistants, but . . . she’s the one who sent me here. She sent us all here.”
And, much like Liberty before, he indicated that time and memory didn’t seem to flow right down here . . .
Ollie offered to cleanse Credence, which led to a discussion between Magdalena and Ollie about the nature of the blessed water. Magdalena dismissed it as merely saline, while Ollie admitted that, while this was technically true, it also had a bit more. In the end, Ollie won out and not only cleansed Credence’s wounds but also blessed a few bottles of Magdalena’s saline.
The group now decided it was time to confront Mama Verity (which Cyrus had wanted to do since he first heard of her position in the society, and they made their way to the prayer area back in Alpha via the kitchens. The room was large and open and a hundred or more worship-goers knelt on genuflection benches. At the center was Mama Verity, flanked by her bodyguards. In such a place it was impossible to hide, and they immediately drew the attention of Mama Verity, who looked at them and smiling a stomach-turning smile said,
“At last, the Forsaken have arrived. Are you ready to repent?” Of course, by “repent”, she meant “die”.
The Battle for Prime
The fight began with Cyrus wielding Helios’ Blessed Blade. When the Black Spiral Dancers had attacked the caern, the sword had given off a light similar to a yellow sodium light trying to pierce a thick green fog. Now, the blade looked polished and oiled and gleamed with an almost-white golden sheen. A well-oiled leather wrap wound around the hilt, on which muddled carvings could begin to be seen – as if obscured or distorted by water.
Cyrus swung at Mama Verity with all his might, cleaving through her collarbone and down to her sternum, pulling it out with force and nearly bifurcating her. Any mundane would have been killed, and even most supernatural beings would have been brought low. But Mama Verity blinked slowly as black tendrils of Verisimilitude knit her body back together, leaving little more than a faint scar as evidence of Cyrus’ attack. She smiled at Cyrus, and he stepped back. “Well fuck me . . .”
Asher attacked one of Mama Verity’s bodyguards, and despite the ferocity of his bite, the henchman seemed to grow tougher, almost as if he could withstand more than he had been able just a moment before.
Mama Verity now spoke – “may the one true angel aid me” – and with those words began to transform into a large, chitinous horror. Lines flickered over her carapace, and from the right angle they appeared to be eyes . . . She swung at Cyrus with a large claw, but he ducked and dodged and danced his way around and under and through her attack. At the very last, her claw snagged a bit of his overalls and tore the shoulder strap.
Serge attempted a bare-handed attack on one of the henchmen, and found himself struggling against a grapple.
Then, the door behind Mama Verity opened. Against all odds, Rosalie came through with guns blazing – the cavalry had arrived. At the same time, Cyrus felt a mental knock on his head; Nyx was using telepathy, and in his head, he heard her say “she’s a prophet of ***”. Good to know.
Ollie went into crinos form and howled a howl of confidence while Andi looked at one of the bodyguards and turned him with dread gaze. As he fled, she turned and punched another nearby baddie with potence. Ollie’s howl now took effect and he flung his rib fetish at the henchman nearest Asher, striking a blow to the man’s head.
The henchman, acting as one, now looked at each other, then at those attacking them, and back at each other. They promptly fell apart in bloody blobs; even the fleeing bodyguard came back in the door to join his comrades. The blobs joined together to form an icky, blobby mess of goo Cyrus could only describe as “Legion”. Legion struck out at Ollie, landing a mighty blow and sending him flying across the room.
Nyx attempted to entrance the blob, to convince it to attack Mama Verity, and while she was unsuccessful in turning the whole thing, she did get through to one of its four brains, causing something of an existential crisis. While it wouldn’t attack Mama Verity, neither was it now actively trying to attack them. She then began talking to her umbrella, and after a short (seemingly one-sided) conversation, attacked the thing with acid spray.
Rosalie ran to give Serge his knife, and while she did so Cyrus transformed into his 8’4” crinos form, but his left hand did not change like the rest of him. Instead, it became a razor-sharp blade itself. Now dual-wielding swords, Cyrus again attacked Mama Verity, his attacks landing squarely and once more severely hurting his wyrm-tainted foe.
Asher gave a howl of aid to Ollie and Nyx before clawing at the bloody blob Legion.
With his knife now in hand, Serge stabbed at the nearest blobby bit and struck true; one-fourth of its mass fell away, leaving behind an ashen crater.
Mama Verity reached out with her claws, grabbed four nearby worshippers (all of whom appeared to be in an unmoving, trance-like state), and consumed them entirely, healing herself again in the process. The sight of this caused Cyrus to falter a bit, while Ollie went into a frenzy.
Rosalie shot at Legion while Ollie took out his rage on Mama Verity. Using some mental attack he put her at a disadvantage to his next attack, and with that advantage on his side he took her down to ash.
Somehow, Andi launched herself on top of Legion and stabbed at it, cutting it down to size as another man-sized chunk turned to ash. It tried to throw her off, but to no avail.
Nyx once more talked to her umbrella-sword before stabbing Legion squarely in center mass.
With two blades in hand and the object of his attacks gone, Cyrus now turned to Legion, simultaneously stabbing with his hand blade and slicing the blob like a Christmas pudding with Helios’ Blessed Blade.
Legion turned to ash, and Andi dismounted gracefully to the floor. Cyrus transformed back into homid, and Andi took him excitedly by the shoulders. “That. was. AMAZING!” she said emphatically and exuberantly.
“I’d say let’s do it again, but I’d really rather not,” he replied.
“Oooh. Let’s do it again with different enemies.” Asher chimed in.
“I’d like that,” Andi and Cyrus and Serge agreed.
Rosalie found Ollie as he, too, went back to homid, and as the group caught their breath they noticed changes in the assembly around them. They seemed to drop a borrowed glamour, and though some still bore resemblances to those they party remembered, they were now only vaguely similar as opposed to true doppelgangers. The one who once looked like Elizabeth, who had been seated next to one of the unfortunates consumed by Mama Verity, was in fact Molly – and they all rejoiced at finding her.
While Cyrus contemplated the return of the Court of Wisteria, Molly and Ollie and Nyx talked about the wibbly-wobbliness of time. To Molly, nearly thirty years had passed. To Ollie and Nyx, it had only been about three linear days.
Rosalie pulled out a radio and called someone. It was Kit. The two of them had followed Asher and Serge to Lake Pontchartrain and saw them disappear into the moon bridge opened by Asher. Using her own abilities, Kit was able to form or fashion a jet ski, and they had slowly and cautiously made their way to the oil rig. Where Ollie, Nyx, Andi, and Cyrus and climbed down, they had climbed up and into Prime. Kit stood by the door “just in case” while Rosalie tracked the others to the chapel.
Leading those that had been freed up and out, Cyrus and the others saw not a jet-ski but a ferry large enough to hold them all. Breaking into pairs they helped get everyone on board safely and orderly, then considered what to do about the bay.
It was Asher and Ollie that came to the idea of performing a ritual, with Asher pointing out that using Pact Tactics they could technically use help from everyone in the party. With such a great pool of gnosis and willpower, the group – acting as one – was able to cleanse the entire bay of worm taint and driving out the totem of the green dragon that had been used to taint the waters. This would go a long way to pushing back the dark forces bent on bringing about the apocalypses.
“The next moot is going to be so exciting!” Asher exclaimed.
“Yeah, we’ll let Cyrus do all the talking,” Ollie said with a grin.
“I hate to break up the festivities,” Rosalie said, “but we have a problem.”
“What’s wrong?” Serge asked, as Rosalie pulled out his laptop. “Why do you have that?”
“It seems the new Prince of New Orleans – whoever that may be – wants to speak with me. I know I’ve made some enemies on the Justicar Council, and I think it’s safe to assume that anyone with me or near me or protecting me may be in danger.”
“So is this like a moot? Cause they can call you, but there might be ways of delaying actually getting there . . .” Asher began.
“Unfortunately, no,” Serge said. “It’s a bit more demanding than that.”
“Well, we’ve got your back,” Asher declared. “You’re Serge’s friend and Ollie’s friend and that makes you pack.”
“I appreciate it, but I’ve already made my decision.”
“And we’ll support you in that decision no matter what,” Ollie said. “If you want us there, we’ll be there. If you want us to stay out of it, we’ll do that as well. This is a decision only you can make,” he finished, explaining a bit for the benefit of Asher.
“Well, at this point I’m just about ready to say ‘Fuck it’ and stroll right in. But there are certain of you it might not be safe for,” she said, glancing at the Garou. “And for you, Nyx, it wouldn’t be good for you to be seen taking a side, even if you haven’t actually declared one.”
“They already know where I’m at,” Serge said.
“And they can’t do anything to me that won’t have major consequences,” Andi said. “They might know that I’ll follow my father, but that’s about it.”
“And we can watch from the Umbra,” Ollie said. We can see and hear what goes on without being seen, and if things fall apart we can get you out. Although from what I know, you should be granted safe passage to and from Elysium.”
“I’d taken that with a grain of salt,” Serge said matter-of-factly.
“There’s more,” Rosalie said, holding out her ungloved hand. “I’ve had a vision.”
They huddled together (Asher snuck underneath the tangle of hand and pushed his nose upwards) and carefully put their hands on Rosalie’s. This is what Cyrus saw:
“Okay, then, I think that covers it.” Rosalie said when it was over.
Cyrus recognized a few things from the vision: the symbol of antihelios, the red star; Maria Ascuncionand the 1680 Spanish Inquisition; the name Ambrogino Giovanni. It seemed others also picked up on a few things as well, as each of them looked concerned to varying degrees.
“I suppose we should see where this takes us,” someone said. “to Elysium?”
Ollie opened a moon bridge to a bathroom across the street from Elysium. Andi and Serge and Rosalie stepped out and crossed over to the bar while Cyrus and Ollie and Nxy stayed in the Umbra (but also made their way over to the meeting place). Inside seemed relatively unchanged: the bouncer and barman were both there, and familiar faces filled the rooms. In fact, only four five new faces stood out. Maybe it was due to his connections, but Cyrus thought he recognized them, albeit only by previous description and reputation:
- Colleen Cormack: clan unknown, embraced in the 1700s
- Elias Lazar: assamite, friends with the Prince of Tucson
- Josiah Ashcroft: turned in 1999
- Theresa ???: a Malkavianon good terms with the Pasceks
- Tristan LaClaire: a ventrue
“I believe you’re looking for me?” Rosalie asked.
The Harpy walked over to her. “Unfortunately, yes, dear. But everything will be all right.”
“So, what is it you want?”
It’s Greek to Me
Time seemed to stand still, Perhaps it had, for as he looked out of the Umbra and into Elysium, Cyrus became aware that someone else had joined their group: a woman in Victorian dress, nearly see-through yet resembling an impressionistic watercolor, wearing perfectly round glasses with dark green lenses.
“Excuse me, Miss?”
”You can see me?”
”We all can, I think” (Ollie)
”I think I recognize that voice. Parasol Alexandra?” (Nyx)
”I prefer Ali, but . . . Yes. I suppose I am.”
And that is how Ali Roivas of Massachusetts was introduced to the party. She spoke to them briefly, encouraging Nyx to guard the parasol with her life, and warning them of something called The Awakened.
When they looked at her askance, she said
“Ah. I see you haven’t opened that particular can of worms yet. When you do, I’ll be in touch.”
And as she disappeared their attentions turned back to the party in the material plane, only to be disturbed once more by a familiar voice:
“So. What’s going on here?”
AYA! And the Silver Pack!
Quickly, Aya told them they had only just arrived in Japan when they felt the effects of the cleansing of Lake Pontchartrain. All the way in Japan. Aya described it as “it smells like you licked a wyrm”
Aya stayed with the group while the Silver Pack went off to look more at the oil rig, and Asher revealed he’d gotten a fetish: Pants of Snackies. He pulled out a tub of popcorn and promised to look into making sure it could provide for the Kindred as well.
Then time seemed to move normally again, and Therese was speaking to Rosalie, introducing herself as Keeper. The rules of court would remain the same, though no formal court would be held until after 10 PM. She then pointed out the Harpy and the Seneschal of New Orleans.
“Why are you looking for me?”
As Tristan, the Harpy, asked for status and clan updates, Serg began to look uncomfortable. Left alone with Therese for a few minutes, he asked Andi to slap him. Though this may have violated the rules of Elysium, Therese said she would allow it just this one time since it was clearly consensual. But Just this once. Andi struck him, and Serg smiled, revealing his suspicions that his emotions were being subtly manipulated.
They availed themselves of offered drinks, and Tristan returned to invite them to meet the Prince.
”Behave,” Rosalie asked.
“Who, us?” Andi countered with a smile.
They were led to a room that gave off the ambiance of a well-appointed hookah den., The walls were decorated with incredible art and relics, each with a distinctive style yet also seemingly part of a series or collective theme. Looking closer, it became apparent the paintings were landscapes of different countries at different seasons - and all set at midnight. Cyrus got a sense that things in this room were comfortably casual, and the man he assumed to be the prince finished up a text message in Arabic. Cyrus tucked it away for later interpretation.
“Miss Rosalie Ashwell, thank you for your expedience. I must admit I was concerned at first, but am glad those fears were unfounded. You are likely wondering why you were summoned. You were not summoned by me, exactly, but rather it is my duty to pass on a message delivered by the archon to the Justicar of Clan Toreador. Before I go any further, might I confirm that you are the correct Rosalie Ashwell, with known associates . . . [at this, Prince Ashcroft read a list of all party members past and present}.
“Indeed I am.”
“And am I also correct in understand that you were working together in capacity with fulfilling an arrangement with Evelyn Hastings?”
“And if I were to ask if you would like to continue in that course of action?
”Might I be permitted a question?”
”I would hold your questions for a moment. I am afraid I have not yet delivered the message sent by Clan Toreador.”
“If this is about the Hotel,” Serg said “that is completely my fault.”
“No, this is not exactly related to that, admirable though your honor is. This is relevant to a certain social faux pax shall we say. Please know that these punishments come not by my hand or name.
First, you would be named as Warned in the Camarilla. However, I have heard it said you are loyal to the Camarilla, and certainly no one as loyal as yourself could be Warned - correct?”
Cyrus held out a hand to hold back Nyx, who seemed on the verge of stepping out of the Umbra. His knowledge of Kindred politics allowed him to see the Prince was playing a game of doublespeak, giving Rosalie a way out without explicitly saying so.
“That is correct,” Rosalie replied, effectively trading her loyal status to negate the Warned condition.
“The second point I am compelled to deliver is that as of dusk in Vienna you are cast out of Clan Toreador. If any other clan wil have you, that is between them and you. I am sorry.”
Rather than looking sorry, Rosalie looked relieved.
Elyas the Seneschal spoke up. “You can tell your friends to come out now,” he said, neither angrily nor accusingly, but matter-of-factly.
“They were there for our protection, not knowing what we might be walking in to,” Serge began to explain.
“They have broken no laws so far as we are concerned,” Elyas said. “Although I did wonder just how long they would have stayed there.”
“Until we left,” said Andi.
Cyrus led the way out of the Umbra and into the room. Prince Ashcroft continued as if nothing had happened.
“As I was saying, I am happy to have you continue your work for Evelyn Hastings, provided you help me get what I want. And what I want is not New Orleans. For New Orleans I want nothing more than to see her restored as its rightful Prince.
“And what is it you want?” Several asked at once.
“The Domain of Atlanta. As of twenty hours ago, the city is essentially no more. the city is burning in a Sabbat attack some say is - or was - being led by Sascha Vyklos themself. It is safe to assume the court is eradicated. Reports say there is a war party 150 Cainite strong, led by [insert Maddi’s husband’s name here].
“Shovelheaded?” Ollie asked.
“Ah, so finally my cousin speaks! It has been too long.”
Cousins? It seemed Ollie knew everyone . . .
But Cyrus didn’t have too much time to dwell on this f long as he found himself explaining the term “shovelhead” to Nyx.
Ollie and Prince Ashcroft discussed matters in Atlanta, and just as Cyrus was about to respectfully ask about the alliances between the Garou and the Kindred, Ollie went and did that, too.
“Hey now Ollie,” Cyrus whispered jokingly. “If you’re not careful people will think I can’t do my job.”
“But I know him!” Ollie protested.
Cyrus sighed inwardly. His attitude would have been different if Ollie were actually Alpha, but since he insisted on resisting that title for the time being, Cyrus was finding himself frustrated. Caden had sent him to help Ollie, but when Ollie wouldn’t let him do the things he was sent to do . . . But no matter. When Ollie was Alpha and they’d discussed just what he wanted from Cyrus it would all be settled. Hopefully. Maybe.
Their conversation now at an end, it was suggested they leave the back way, with those who traveled by Umbra leaving by Umbra. They met up at LaFite’s, where Asher renewed his enthusiasm for forming a legitimate pack.
Agreeing that it was finally time, Ollie explained the concept behind pack formation to those that might not know it. They traveled by Umbra to the caern, where Tana Hatzi greeted them, with Olli and Serg in particular being pleased she was safe.
Cyrus asked where Caden was, and Tana led them to the back of the caern where he was training with the pups. Andi immediately joined in and found herself in a rather loving puppy pile-on.
With Ollie and Cyrus explaining what was going on, Caden gave them a smile and a thumbs-up, grateful that they had finally found a pack of their own. He opened the lodestone and Ollie led them inside. It reminded Cyrus of the paintings he’d seen back in Elysium.
The totems of Owl and Stag greeted them all, and using Aya and Cyrus to assist him, Ollie asked Luna for a path to bring them to the totems they sought.
The grass at their feet began to sparkle and glow, and they all followed Ollie until the path of light ended at a place Cyrus had never seen before but which put him in mind of Greece. The path ended at a river and a tree; the tree had seen the whole of the human experience, and the energy was palpable .
The place may have been the location of myth and legend where Hades and Persephone first met. As they wandered the landscape, the party found picnic accoutrements: small snacks, nibbles, and potables. The tree itself produced two different kinds of pomegranate: one fruity and one rather more bloody for the kindred of the party.
Sitting down by the river, Cyrus began to tell the tale of the Argonauts, not the tale as it was commonly remembered, but perhaps the myth as it should have been retold. Of particular importance to Cyrus was to ensure that Medea was portrayed as a strong, independent woman wronged by the devious, conniving Jason. Cyrus found himself caught up in his own story, and every so often a word in Greek came to mind. As the story continued, it seemed to bring life to the world. It was, for lack of a better example, almost like a moot. It brought them feelings of hope.
Cyrus finished and heard a soft chuckle behind him.
“I hadn’t heard it that way in a while,”
A wraith - not a ghost as Alexandra, but a wraith proper - dressed in clothing of Ancient Greece looked at the party.
“I trust you enjoyed it?”
The smile continued and her eyes twinkled.
”As I said, I had not heard it like that in some time.n But what, if I may be so bold, are you all doing here?”
”We have come to petition Lady Persephone and Lord Hades to act as totems for our pack,” Ollie explained.
“I think I may be able to arrange a meeting. But first, might you do a favor for a friend of mine?”
”What seems to be the problem?” Andi asked.
“I do not know; it may be better if I show you.”
And she led them down the river, weaving across the barrier between land and water until they reached a broken down temple.
A woman sat along the back wall, and a tangible cloud of emotions seemed to roll off here: the feeling of lost hope, the feeling the group was all too familiar with back in the material plane.
Rosalie and Serg talked to her, and determined that the poor woman was missing her memories. Convinced that the best way to find lost things was to retrace steps, the party walked with the woman, feeding her and talking to her. It seemed that they more they talked the more her memory was jogged, until it finally clicked that she was Apollo’s daughter Eurydice, doomed lover of Orpheus. Her memories restored ever so briefly, she broke down.
“He’s not coming back, is he? Oh that I even had a song to remember . . .”
Walking back with her to the temple, the woman from the tree greeted them and asked if they were able to help her friend. Ollie filled her in, and then she asked,
“If you were to each give me something, a memory or the like, I would be able to give her something in return. A song, if you will.”
Each of the party gave a memory willingly and voluntarily.
“My friend Eurydice would thank you, if she could remember, but I will remember your kindness for her. And that was the test: to see if you could bring hope, even here. And now, together we will go and see my husband Hades.”
Rooms of the Dead
They descended into Hades proper, and though they couldn’t tell you when, exactly, the surroundings had changed, they soon found themselves under stony overhangs deep underground. Nearby, a river ran soft baby blue and silver giving the same glow as a human soul – the color of ancestor spirits – and the main light source. Crystalline outcroppings gave off some light, and close examination showed they were not all equal: some wherequite precious gemstones while others nearly worthless.
Their guide, Persephone, watched as Eurydice walked away, and then the group followed her down a different path into the catacombs, where crystals reflected bioluminescent moss and fungi, which seemed to grow and spring to life around Persephone. This was a place of intense spiritual wild energy.
Soon, black iron torches giving off blue flames but no smoke or heat appeared on the walls; the vampires were unhurt and unbothered. (This was a good thing, as Rosalie and Sergseemed overwhelmed with the place, and Cyrus took it upon himself to keep them with the rest of the party.) They heard a great padding of very large paws, and Persephone stopped just a moment before shaking her head somewhat sadly and then walking on.
The group found themselves in a large, cavernous, manmade chamber; Cyrus estimated it was the size of a large soccer stadium. In the center of the room stood a very large desk and chair made of black obsidian wood and upholstered with silver-grey velvet; they would fit a person at least nine feet tall. A piece of parchment sat on the desk, which Persephone glanced at before picking it up.
“It seems Hades has anticipated your arrival and left a message. ‘When you accomplish the end of your tasks we will speak.’” Persephone pointed to the back of the chamber. Ghostly wraiths flitted about, while the walls were unadorned and several tunnels stretched off directly behind the desk (though separated by the long floor between). “He has always been less coy and more straightforward than myself,” she finished.
The party looked at each other, wondering who would be the first to speak.
“Onward, then,” said Ollie, and with the decision made Persephone perched on the desk, looking for something. Finding it, she stood back up.
“I’m off to feed the baby, and I would be pleased if you all stopped by to say hello when you’ve finished Hades’ tasks.”
At the back of the room, they all passed under an archway and the world seemed to shift yet again. This time they found themselves at the front steps of very tall, very large mansion standing in a grey and indistinguishable evening while a storm seemed to loom overhead.
“The Breakers in Newport,” Ollie observed. Looking close, even those that had never visited the location realized they were outside reality, and perhaps outside of the Umbra: a sense of rot and decay made it feel as if they were approaching a tomb rather than a home, and the further out they looked the more indistinguishable the landscape became, almost as if Hades was holding his hand over this place in the shadowlands for the time being.
“Looks like the deadlands,” Aya observed.
“Have you ever been?” asked Ollie.
“No, but I’ve seen them through Seraphina. You?”
“No,” Ollie replied as he approached the building, which still stood silent as the grave, and knocked on the door. There was no answer, and yet the door swung open in such a way that they all felt “come in” even though those words weren’t spoken either out loud or telepathically.
Though he had never been to this particular house, Cyrus was well acquainted with the expected decorum of entering such a place, and the others followed his lead – even using a shoe/boot scraper left by the door.
They entered a room desaturated of color and with obvious decay. It felt like a tomb or chapel, and appeared done up for a funeral. Bouquets arranged around the large main room spoke to young, sudden loss; lives cut short in tragedy; years well lived . . . and as Cyrus looked more he realized that every religion and tradition was represented here in some way. Come to think of it, there had been a wreath on the door, hadn’t there?
A small lectern was set up, putting Cyrus in mind of a guest ledger, but instead of a book they found another parchment. The whole party gathered around to read it.
“My dear children,” it began before going on to describe the task ahead of them. The building had indeed been set for a funeral of sorts. The party was now representing the dead – twelve in fact – and would need to reunite them with their name and cause of death in order they might be properly mourned. It was signed from Hades.
Asher became excited and struck a hero pose. “A mystery!” he proclaimed.
And then the group came to realize they were not dressed as they had been. Their clothes had been replaced with Greek-style togas similar to that worn by Persephone, which were also devoid of color like everything else around them. Their weapons and personal effects were gone, replaced with . . . something else.
Andi held up her left hand, on which now sat a set of engagement and wedding rings, old and well-loved. “That’s not mine,” she said as she took them off and read an inscription inside: 3/16/63 ET & JC. Then she got a funny look on her face, put the rings back on, and a look of relief replaced the one of concern.
Asher had a leather cord around his neck, from which hung a very old crystal vial. “I think this is important,” he said, and with the talents of the group they were able to determine it was an ancient artifact, ten thousand years old if it was a day, making it pre-deluge. It looked like something religious, perhaps a talisman used by a seer to keep the third eye open . . .
Ollie patted himself up and down, but while he struggled his item stuck out to the rest of the group. A circlet sat on his head, very old and looking to be made of white gold. Cyrus, though, knew better. This was a circlet of silver, and yet it did not burn Ollie or affect him in any way. This was a legendary Silver Fang totem, which according to tradition conveyed the right to rule.
“I knew it,” Cyrus said to himself, though if anyone else heard him he didn’t know.
Aya looked down and then cringed. A charm like a carved box hung at her waist. Some of the group wondered at her reaction until she explained it was a kotoribakopuzzle box, which were always considered very bad luck and potentially cursed – especially for children. For her to represent someone who carried this box . . . well, she was worried to put it mildly.
Cyrus felt around his neck and pulled out a set of very modern dog tags, made sometime in the last four or five years. Much of the identifying information was worn away, though he could make out the abbreviation for Massachusetts and b-negative blood. The religion appeared to have been six letters long.
Nyx wore a pair of small, round, darkened glasses very similar to those worn by Alexandra, but she didn’t think they were the exact same. Rosalie wore a leather bracelet and Serghad a silver locket.
As they wondered where to go from there, the sound of Japanese folk music seemed to fill the air. They followed it up the stairs and to the left where a door stood open. They stepped through and found the world had shifted again, this time dropping them off at an outdoor temple in Japan. Mists surrounded a nearby spirit gate, and banners proclaimed a festival in honor of the dedication of the temple: Festival of the Rains.
Aya spent some time looking around; the group deferred to her as this was quite literally her area of expertise. She looked at the festival in the center, the forest on the left-hand side, and a castle or fort on the right-hand side. She nodded to herself, her mind made up.
“Onward to the forest,” she said.
Aya and Ollie discussed something known as a human pillar, and though Cyrus didn’t quite know what it was, he was able to gather it was some kind of human sacrifice to ensure a structure that would stand the ravages of time. They passed tree-pillars that Aya said were about twenty years old before coming across a much newer one. This particular tree-pillar was gashed by a fissure and issued forth a spray of blood. A scrap of paper fluttered nearby, and Aya grabbed it and showed it to the group: bekamaahmya.
The letters meant nothing to the rest, but they assumed it was a scrambled name. Cyrus’ gifts only extended so far . . . But Aya knew what she was about, and soon whispered the name “MakabeAhmya”. In response, her clothes gained color and the group found themselves outside the door in The Breakers. Greek markings appeared on her clothes, an inscription appeared on the marble floor where they stood, and a dozen marble statues had appeared - all indistinguishable except for one.
Cyrus translated the inscription as meaning “first mold; archetype” and Ollie and Aya recognized the statue as Hermes, “The Fool” associated with freedom of thought and the gathering of knowledge.
A new sound now filled the air: a soft crying. They followed the sound through another door and into an incredibly hot climate, finding themselves inside a beautiful garden with a stone balcony. Looking behind them, they saw a modern door set into an ancient building standing in an even more ancient desert. It appeared to be the Middle East, and as they talked briefly it seemed that the name Enoch came to mind. Maybe not the first city ever made, but perhaps the second . . .
“I think this is yours, Asher” Cyrus said.
“It feels sad here,” Asher said. “Also, like a prison.”
Looking around, they saw a large beautiful bedroom sealed by very heavy doors: a gilded cage. There were spots on the pillow; to some it looked as if a person had wept tears of blood. On a nearby table lay beads and bone jewelry, similar in look to Asher’s pendant. A rather intense, uncomfortable feeling started to come over them.
Andi or Aya was looked more at the bed, and found something tucked between bed and wall: a leather gauntlet with a large symbol so ancient no one, not even Cyrus, could translate it. But working with what they did know, they thought – not without a great deal of uncertainty – that perhaps it meant “strength”
“You want me to track them?” Asher asked. “I can still smell them . . . or maybe it’s their tears?”
They followed Asher through a door and into another garden; this one had a large, clear pool of water in its center. It had to be thirteen feet across at least. But the pool had only been a resting place, and Asher led them far out into the desert until the trail abruptly stopped.
Nyx stood at the spot where the trail ended, and using her trait of Spirit Touch determined that the woman who had come this way was a vampire. She had run with haste from her rooms through the palace to this spot, and as the first rays of day broke over the sand, she cast herself off a nearby cliff and turned to ash.
“Does anyone know any really old stories about vampires?” Cyrus asked.
“No, but you should. Galliard it up!” Asher exclaimed.
Cyrus was slightly taken aback, and it took him several minutes to piece together the fragments of a story he thought he knew: There was a story of the progenitor of several vampire clans, the Hunter known as Zillah – not the first vampire, but maybe the third ever sired. She was in love with . . . not Caine, and Caine’s presence drove her to such lengths that she allowed the sun to take her.
As Cyrus told the story, Asher’s clothes turned purple and lavender with scallops and pearls along the edges, along with a mirrored pattern of shells and roses. They found themselves back outside the door as the smell of patchouli and incense filled the air. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind: this was the representation of Aphrodite, The Lover, representing love and attraction and harmony.
The sounds of violins led the group downstairs, into the library, and into another, library that was recognized almost immediately by Ollie and Nyx as the Roivas family library. Nyx pointed out the family tree had fewer names on it than last time, and she and Ollie spent a few moments trying to figure out when in history they were, settling at some time in the early 1880s, perhaps 1883 or so. This was the time period of Nyx’s glasses.
The grandfather clock in the corner struck thirteen, and it became clear they were not alone in the library: everyone’s hairs stood up and an awful unease settled on them. From behind a closed door came the sound of a creaking rope and something heavy swaying back and forth, and from the family tree an old dead hand reached out. The party fled with haste into the main house while behind them Robert, the Hanging One, looked on in malevolence.
The house was decorated for Samhain, and the goings-on reflected some of that. Behind one door they heard what sounded like Japanese prayers said backwards; from Aya’s expression they were not pleasant. From the kitchen came the sounds of many legs scratching and a voice saying, “come down, my beasties.” Looking out a window, they saw what looked like a mob with torches approaching the house. Time would be short.
Nyx and Ollie led them all to a 2nd-story master bedroom decorated in a woman’s style. They looked at the effects and found a portrait of one William Endicott. As Nyx read his name, her clothes took on dark jewel tones and the symbols resolved into a lyre, raven, bowl, arrow, and python. Outside the room and back in the Breakers, they knew the next statue would be Apollo, The Creator
Pacing sounds came from the study, and the group seemed evenly split between being pulled towards the kitchen and/or dining room. Collectively, they chose to ignore those rooms and entered a ground floor guest bedroom, what perhaps had once been the oldest child’s room.
A wave of heat met them as they found themselves in a military barracks tent with all the cots empty except for one. A small footlocker sat at the end, with a jacket laid over the top, and a cat snuggled into the jacket. Looking out the door into darkness, they realized that, wherever they were, it was night.
It was also clear this had to do with Cyrus’ tags.
Cyrus gently lifted the cat and passed it to Ollie, who patted it. Everyone wanted to pat and hold the feline, and while they did so, he and Ollie looked for a last name on the coat. Like Aya’s prayer paper, the letters were scrambled: oftrrrees.
Cyrus thought a moment and the last name came to him: Forrester. Holding it up, he realized the coat would fit Andi, and as slim as Andi was, that would mean they were in a women’s barracks. That didn’t bother Cyrus at all; and in fact clued him in the would likely need a feminine-style first name.
Opening the foot locker, they found a picture of a family. The older man bore a striking resemblance to the man with the hunting bow, but the back only had a list of nicknames. Cyrus found a copy of the Prose Edda inscribed to K. Forrester, meaning the religion on the tag might be Nordic. He couldn’t be sure.
Ollie found another book with the runes for “fire, daughter of” which he took to mean “Angrboðadottir” – which tied into the legendary wife of Loki.
Working backwards, Ollie and Cyrus determined “K” might be “Kenna,” which is Scottish for “fire.”
Cyrus’ clothes took on the green of olive trees and became adorned with helmets and spears and owls. Returned once more to the Breakers, they saw the statue of Athena, The Sage of Tactics now stood clearly.
Now, they followed the pull into the kitchen which led them to a beautiful New Orleans home. A refrigerator covered in pictures showed a large extended family. Several photos a French patisserie adorned the walls. The family seemed to be a mix of Creole and Mexican and Latino. A large family shrine stood nearby, giving off the feeling of familial love. Andi selected a photo of a loving couple, but could only make out Jayden _____ and _____ Thomason. Someone found a program from a funeral, and determined that Jayden’s last name had been Castille: J.C.
They went back into the kitchen, and in looking at the decorations Ollie noticed something off. What had looked like a picture of the virgin Mary, was – on closer inspection – a depiction of Santa de Muerte.Some considered her a demon; others, a hybrid saint of Roman Catholicism. As he wondered about that, and began to tie the Saint Murders with the killing of an old woman in one of the local cemeteries, Andi found a cookbook. Inside were the letters onoskelis, which Ollie recognized as the name of an angel who fell with Lucifer. The name had been passed down and changed over the years to become Eloise. Eloise Thomason.
Andi’s clothes took on the color and patterning of peafowl, a symbol of Hera, The Caregiver, if ever threewas one.
Ollie now led the group to the study. The door closed behind them and disappeared. Outside the jewelry they’d worn since entering The Breakers, they were now back in their normal clothes but without their weapons. They witnessed an old man and a young man fighting in a glade of birch trees. The old man appeared to be a king, while the younger man looked to be in his early thirties. A falcon alighted next to the king as the younger screamed to be let back into New York.
At his scream, the scene shifted and they fell downwards (unhurt) into a New York subway with “Mobile Ave” emblazoned on the tile. Cyrus recognized the name: the legendary lost caernof the Silver Fang House Wyrmfoe. The older man, The Albrecht, seemed allied with a Black Fury Woman and a First Person of a winter tribe. Together they defended the caernfrom a black spiral dancer and a Garouwhose name seemed to be Arkady.
Cyrus felt that he was watching a story he’d heard before, but the details were off.
The Albrecht found himself skinned but fought on with a power and certainty of the one foretold. And then there was a profane undoing as The Albrecht was unmade and everything that is was or is or was supposed to become was undone as if he had never existed. Reality was unwritten.
Everything seemed to go wrong as time stoped and skipped like a vintage vinyl record on an unbalanced turntable. Whoever had done this unspeakable act didn’t seem to notice the observers, who watched like mice at a murder. This was a new feeling: a predator was out there, and while the group knew there were beings more powerful than they, this was something else entirely.
Cyrus felt a pull at the very center of his being, not dissimilar to an elastic band being pulled just to its breaking point before it released and Cyrus - along with the rest of the party - felt himself rushing backwards.
Looking around, they were once more in the great hall at The Breakers. Everything here seemed as they had last left it, with the exception that the statue of Zeus was now revealed. Ollie represented The Ruler, and despite the terror of the last few minutes Cyrus found himself settled in seeing some of his theories set in stone.
Cyrus’ mind tried to rationalize what had happened, and he had questions. There was so much rattling in his head. Given his surroundings, the term “Gordian Knot” sprang to mind, and he tried to take stock of what he knew:
- To start with, Hades gave them this test, and his personality and place in the Pantheon as a chthonic deity should be considered, along with his origins to current responsibilities. And then there was the pantheon they were petitioning; the Greek Deities had very particular connotations as well as temperaments and how they went about interacting with mortals. And they were all mortals interacting with them. What that might represent/mean?
- Each of them was chosen to represent not only a Greek archetype based on character and personalities, but also to represent a deity in the pantheon. Why? What could Hades possibly be saying giving them mantles of his family? And why were they tasked with still figuring out the mysteries involving archetypes and gods beyond ones representing those who came to petition to be a pack? Did that mean there are others out there - those that were not here as a member of the pack, but perhaps have an important part to play in the Apocalypse?
- Why was Hades given this task and then why would he give it to them? There must be a reason for why he does what he does versus why his wife does as she does. There had to be a reason Persephone told them all that not only did you have this but to “Have Faith”. Cyrus thought about her lesson; perhaps it was the first test for a reason?
- What did Hades say you needed to do exactly and why didn’t he greet them in person? It is always a huge deal (albeit commonplace when they were worshipped more directly in the past) for the gods to speak to their petitioners. Why wouldn’t Hades show up in person like his wife did? Unless there was a reason he didn’t want this meeting and this task to be marked by it’s importance?
Cyrus took stock of the basic details:
- Words carved into the floor of the great hall: Arkhetupon (the first mould/model) (from arkhos meaning chief/ruler and tupos meaning mould/model/type)
- The Pack Members that came to petition: Andi, Asher, Aya, Cyrus, Nyx, Ollie, Rosalie, and Serg.
- Each were in monochrome gray with the following: perizoma (and strophion when applicable) doric chiton, chlamys, peplos, epiblema, and himation - all of which transformed (including the chiton into a ionic chiton) with appropriate colors applicable to the deity they stood in for with elaborate detailing matching the symbolism of said deity once certain answers were uncovered.
- They each had something on their person that is an important fetter from the souls of the dead they were trying to learn about.
- Things to be discovered: Who died? How did they die? What is their name?
- Archetypes not currently assigned to a pack member: The Destroyer, The Innocent, The Warrior, The Orphan, The Magician, The Seeker.
- What gods/goddesses those may connect to was unknown, along with the dead souls they were connected to. [out of character: This list includes what archetype and gods Serg and Rosalie represent as well as the others Hades thought it was important for you all to know about.]
Further complicating things were how each of the group played into the scheme of things:
- Archetype: The Caregiver
- God: Hera
- Fetter: A wedding set of engagement ring and wedding band
- Name: Eloise Castillo
- Death: Murder - The Profane Saint victim represented by Sante Muerte, skeletal remains were found in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, there was the impression of wings on the stone ground beneath the body almost as if it had wings.
- From previous investigation: She was not murdered yet and the party was given the date of when that may occur. It is also known that Bonne-Maman Ellie is a demon (Onoskelis)
- Archetype: The Lover
- God: Aphrodite
- Fetter: A crystal vial of water, ancient on a leather cord
- Name: Zillah
- Death: SH - Terrorized, heartbroken, connected to a man with a leather bracer marked with a symbol of strength. Fled the First City of Enoch to kiss daylight on a bluff in the desert. Her death triggered the biblical event known as the Flood
- Archetype: The Fool
- God: Hermes
- Fetter: An obidome charm of a kotoribako puzzle box on an obijime cord
- Name: Makabe Ahmya
- Death: Ritual Sacrifice (that went wrong) - A priestess that was part of some kind of hitobashira ritual intended to keep back something called the Cataclysm
- Important Note: in Japanese folklore these instances of ritual sacrifice of young miko (shinto priestesses) are done to consecrate grounds or to be used to ward off a great evil/ward a place from evil. There is a cultural significance to this act that must be understood in and out of game. The issue here is the ritual went *wrong* somehow, causing the onryō of Ahmya to be unleashed upon the world. DO NOT make assumptions of what this act could be without in game and out of game facts.
- From previous investigation: This is what is happening in Japan that Aya and the Silver Pack went to investigate but had to abandon
- Archetype: The Sage
- God: Athena
- Fetter: pair of dog tags for an Ásatrú soldier (Marines)
- Name: Kenna Forrester (Possibly also goes by K. Angrboðadottir as found in a worn copy of The Portrait of Dorian Gray)
- Death: Murder - Shot by a sniper in empty barracks; this is the death with the least amount of information known, perhaps for a reason? Perhaps what is important here is what information *isn’t* available…
- Archetype: The Creator
- God: Apollo
- Fetter: One of a kind Victorian sunglasses
- Name: Lord William Endicott
- Death: Murder - Ravaged by some sort of blade or claw, throat and torso sustaining the most damage on the back porch of the Roivas Manor, found immediately after death by his blind fiancée, Alexandra ‘Ali’ Roivas. After being woken from a nightmare and finding their bed empty, Ali went to find William and subsequently ended up physically stumbling over his body and landed on her hands upon the remains. Because of this she suffered a psychotic break and stayed there locked in madness and terror for eight hours, long enough for the blood to frost over and her to suffer severe hypothermia.
- Archetype: The Ruler
- God: Zeus
- Fetter: The Silver Crown
- Name: Jonas Albrecht
- Death: The death of The Albrecht was destined to happen during the final battle of the Apocalypse. However only the party present (Andi, Asher, Aya, Cyrus, Nyx, and Ollie) saw that Jonas was Unwoven, Unwritten and otherwise removed from Fate as if he never existed. Who else may known of this fact is unknown at this time.
- Archetype: unknown
- God: unknown
- Fetter: A leather bracelet, ancient, with carved bone inscribed with glyphs
- Name: unknown
- Death: unknown
- Archetype: unknown
- God: unknown
- Fetter: A silver locket with the portrait of a young girl inside
- Name: unknown
- Death: unknown
Catch a Falling Star
Before Cyrus could make sense of this tangled mess, or even tell the others what was going on in his head, he noticed two other things that concerned him: First, Serg and Rosalie were no longer with the party, and Cyrus couldn’t recall when they had left. It must have been some time before the last room . . . And second, they were not alone in this room.
A set of oversized furniture was now scattered about the room, and Cyrus knew it hadn’t been there before. Sitting on the large couch now facing the party sat three women: one with black hair, one with red hair, and one with blonde hair.
“Are they The Fates?” he heard Nyx asked excitedly.
They grinned in unison.
“I should probably apologize for the pull, but . . .” (Red)
”things were getting rather sticky . . .” (Black)
”and creating a rather sorry mess.” (Blonde)
They saw Ollie. “Your mother named you well and true, you who are full of rage.” (Red)
Cyrus couldn’t help but laugh, while also keenly aware this was out-of-place for the situation.
”Just how messy are we talking about?” Aya and Cyrus asked.
“Someone - we can’t say who because that’s above our pay grade - unwrote something.” (Black)
”You saw it too??” (Nyx)
While they did not respond all at once, The Fates did pick up each other’s thought and sentences, and Cyrus had trouble keeping track of who said what. The gist of it was:
“Someone has ruined the tapestry we’ve spent so long weaving, and that’s a problem. We need to take stock of the house, and if it comes back to you that someone we can’t tell you about will know you saw what they didn’t want you - or anyone - to see.”
While they spoke one of them (the black-haired woman?) plucked up Hades’ scroll and seemed to search and write on it.
“We see no reason why you can’t take Hades’ task with you; it would appear to us he and Persephone have already decided to let you pack together. Do this, and you’ll be helping him solve a problem that’s bigger than even he realizes. But right now you all have a more pressing problem.”
“What’s that?!” they all asked together.
“There’s a demon screaming at your lodestone.”
And having now finished the writing on the scroll, they took a hair from each of the party and, weaving it into a thread, tied to scroll together and handed it to Nyx.
“Open this when things have settled down just a bit.”
“We suggest you take a moon bridge out of here.”
“And if you see an overdramatic girl with wings (or is it rings?) cackling from about fifteen feet away, run.”
“In which direction, though?” Cyrus thought to himself.
Aya opened the moon bridge, which to Cyrus looked like a holographic maintenance road with a thread of mercury running through it. They talked about what they might find at the other end, but none of their theories matched with what they found: Whiskey, concerned and pacing, screamed at the lodestone.
“What do you mean you can’t reach them? I thought you could always reach them. Where’s Caden? He would fix this.” Then she saw the party come out of the moon bridge: “Oh fucking thank Lucifer. Beleth is getting uppity.”
She and Ollie discussed what was happening, there were plans Cyrus hadn’t been aware of. He would have to have a talk with Ollie about what Ollie expected Cyrus to do; he couldn’t be effective if he didn’t know what was going on.
The long and short of it was that they were running out of time to perform the exorcism, and taking Beleth out would leave a hole - one which could not easily be filled. In addition, one of their sources located above (so Cyrus though based on Whiskey’s pointing upwards) had been compromised, and was now apparently falling to earth with a blade in their side.
Cyrus looked at his watch: it was 4:15 AM. Sunup was at 6, at which time the Kindred would need to be out of the sun, and then he and Ollie had a brunch date.
“Lovecraft has made sure Beleth wears his hug-me coat on his grippy sock vacation, and Vasily is on the way,” Whiskey assured Ollie.
“And I’ve been making sure she didn’t do anything bad here at the caern,” a before-know-unnoticed Summer said. “She said she knew you an overall smelled okay to me, but with everyone gone . . .”
“You did good,” Ollie and Cyrus assured her as they all went to Whiskey’s vehicle: a large, black SUV with heavily tinted windows and government plates.
They talked about how best to catch their falling source. On the radio, news reports of an unprecedented, unexpected meteor shower played. They could wait for the source to “land” but that would only give the vampires 2 minutes to find shelter. The could try to catch him in the air, but that presented its own difficulties.
“Let’s go to the zoo,” Ollie said. “I’ll explain on the way.”
“Can we stop for food on the way? All of that’s really taken it out of me,” Asher spoke up.
“What about your pants of snackies?” Cyrus asked. “Because you know that now would be the time the drive through would take thirty minutes to get through.”
“Oh you’re right!” He exclaimed, and Asher began pulling mozzarella sticks out of his pockets along with a tub of marinara. “You want?” He offered to Cyrus, and Cyrus accepted.
Ollie gave the rundown of his plan: the hill at the zoo would get them the closest to the falling source as they could get. He and Vasily had been working on changing the rites of exorcism so that the participants would be praying to Lucifer instead of god. If they timed it right, Beleth would be banished and their source (appearing to the mundane world as a meteor shower) would take his place. They would have to be very, very careful.
“And I can hold him down!” Asher exclaimed. I am “Breakfast Dog Carries Eggs,” after all.
When the group looked at him in consternation, Asher explained he was a minor internet celebrity for, in his lupus form, wearing interesting dog costumes and performing tricks or eating large amounts of food. he even had a fan base that sent him things to a PO Box. Cyrus thought this was a great thing.
“You‘ll need to prepare for doubts,” Ollie warned them, and the rest had to laugh, in various ways indicating that they had doubted themselves more than anyone else possibly could.
How to help the vampires would need to wait. Nyx suggested they could hide in the zoos bat-cave, and was disappointed to find that while the zoo had one, it was visited often and would not be safe.
They arrived to find Lucifer and Lovecraft and Vasily already there (someone called them while Cyrus was talking to Asher) and Nyx started arranging them all into a circle around the spinning whirligig - one of the old ones with a pole in the middle. Lovecraft and Asher tied Beleth (who was also gagged with a sock and duct tape) to the whirligig while Cyrus looked around for a way to help the vampires. He spotted an salt shed. Since it was early autumn it was unlikely to be used any time soon and would make a decent place for the Kindred to hide during the day. Cyrus thought he knew someone on the city maintenance team, who had once told him were they tended to hide spare keys. He unlocked the door and looked over to see Vasily marking the territory with marks or runes to keep supernatural enemies away.
As they headed back up the hill to tell the others Cyrus’ plan, Rosalie and Serg appeared via moon bridge. They all regrouped and filled them in as best they could; the two promised to fill them in on what had happened to them; suffice to say they also had a story to tell.
Cyrus looked back and realized the storage shed door had blown shut; he went back and propped it open while making sure it would be easy for the Kindred to slam it shut behind them.
Cyrus’ faith being relatively new, he chose to hold on to the whirligig using Falcon’s Grasp as the exorcism began, with Ollie giving full rights to Lucifer (who, Cyrus had to remind himself, was standing a few feet away, perhaps praying to himself?)
The metal grew cold, almost freezing. The exorcism continued with Beleth struggling, particularly as he was forced to speak his name, which came up muffled through his stuffed mouth as “Beleth” appeared carved into the left-side of his chest. Cyrus heard some frightening things: a crow choking backwards, fisher cats, the zoo denizens screeching and hooting and hollering and bellowing - but thanks to Ollie they all kept their cool.
Cyrus kept his dead down as the meteor grew. Dawn would be there in ten minutes. Beleth’s head was thrown back and his mouth was freed and he bellowed forth in an informal language. He tried to fight and managed to rip an arm free, but no more before, with eight minutes to sunrise, he was cast out of Cardinal Valdis.
Glancing upwards, Cyrus saw the meteor change from burning rock and ice into a falling angel as it slammed into the good cardinal’s chest, causing Valdis lose consciousness.
The Kindred ran to the shed, slamming the door behind them as the first rays of dawn crested over the horizon. Cyrus locked the door behind them and Vasily pulled an “out of service” sign across the door.
The rest caught their breath, and then Cyrus and Ollie realized they would need to make their way to their brunch appointment. Assuring Ollie it would be all right, they headed out. Cyrus took the time to talk to Ollie to see what he expected of Cyrus. Ollie wasn’t exactly sure at that moment, but Cyrus assured Ollie he wasn’t interested in being alpha and was there, as he’d said from the first time they’d met, to serve Ollie. Ollie told Cyrus to do what felt right, but to check in and communicate often. Despite the vagueness of the answers, Cyrus nonetheless felt reassured and a bit more confident, knowing where things stood and where he fit in. They also discussed how they would fight for the entire pack to gain deed names going forward; Cyrus told Ollie he already had a speech or argument ready to go in case anyone tried giving them greif over it.
[insert brunch here]
After brunch, they found a place to rest, and Cyrus was surprised to find himself sleeping soundly, something that hadn’t happened for a very, very long time. Perhaps the spirits were giving him an indication of just how difficult events were about to become.
They all met up back at the shed at sundown, finding it exactly as they’d left it hours before. Now was the time to fulfill their promise to Prince Ashcroft and travel to Atlanta. Rosalie tried to check in with her media contacts, and while she found conflicting reports of fights or riots or protests, it seemed that nothing much was coming out of Atlanta. It wasn’t a cover-up, necessarily, but rather that things weren’t being reported at all. Perhaps a glamour had been put up?
Serg spoke up, informing them that, due to reasons he could not divulge, he could not be seen with the group in Atlanta. Aya was suspicious and wanted to know why, which Serg refused to reveal. Cyrus, remembering the Silver Pack had named him Friend of the Garou Nation, merely wanted clarification: did this apply to everywhere or just to Atlanta? [answer; just Atlanta for now]. Nyx asked if it could look like Serg was stalking us, so that they party would be near each other but not necessarily together. This was thought to be a good idea.
Asher said he’d be staying behind to have someone of rank at the caern, but to send him a thought if there was anything he should be doing. Rosalie sent a text message to someone.
Down to Georgia
Traveling by moon bridge yet again, they came out in an Atlanta mall’s bathroom mirror. The room had seen better days: blood covered the walls, doors were broken off their hinges, and the flooded sinks had cascaded water several inches deep on the floor. Looking closer, the blood was old and dead, the color of rust. There were no sounds or signs of life.
Aya opened the door, where again she saw no person, and heard no sounds: either of people or of the Muzak that usually lent a mundane background soundtrack. The mall too was in chaos, with blood everywhere but no bodies. She looked for an information spirit, and finding one, relayed what it told her:
“Things came through and killed people. Some got up and joined in the killing, others got up later and wandered around before also joining in the killing. Eventually, everyone got back up.”
Nyx and Rosalie astral projected while the rest stayed put. Cyrus heard the sound of a person shuffling. “Someone’s coming,” he said at same time several things happened.
First, a body shambled into view.
Second, Nyx opened all three of her eyes and said “I don’t mean to alarm anyone, but there’s a bunch of zombies on the way.”
Third, there came a crashing sound as a group of zombies got a nearby door open, with someone with a “P” on their forehead holding it open for them.
Serg went to grapple the thing in the doorway, while Cyrus shot at the shambling body, which continued to shuffle towards them at a much slower speed.
Serg deepened his grapple as Ollie pulled of some kind of trick shot/head shot to drop a zombie directly in front of the now-closed door (thanks to Serg’s grappling capabilities) and acting as a doorstop.
There were now five enemies they could see: the zombie Cyrus had shot, the “p-man” Serg had grappled, and three zombies that made it through the door before Ollie had blocked it.
Aya cast a bolt of fire: thin and lashing like a whip setting those three on fire. two fell to the ground and started to crawl, one remained upright, and all were now on fire.
Nyx talked to Ali, and reaching up, pulled something on her parasol that caused it to emit a blood-orange powder of clay and spores that coated the shambling zombie, which ate him like a caustic reaction down past the bone.
Rosalie shot one of the crawling zombies at the same time Serge literally pulled the spine out of his grappled opponent, deboning and ashing him in one smooth motion.
Cyrus stepped forward and swung his sword like a baseball bat, cutting the walking, burning zombie in half like a knife slicing though soft butter.
Ollie, looked around quickly before picking up a nearby chair and driving its leg through the skull of the last zombie (that they could see). It reminded Ollie of something seen in wrestling, only this wasn’t fake.
The zombies outside were still trying to find a way in, and at the far end of the hall they could see zombies filling one of the escalators, perhaps drawn by the sounds of the fight.
Ollie and Serg quickly assessed their options, and Cyrus realized he would need to work on his own strategic skills. It was decided to leave the mall and avoid the hotels and business offices in favor of the MARTA tunnels. Miraculously, they seemed still and silent.
Carefully making their way along, Aya texted some of her contacts. “They say to hunker down and wait,” she said momentarily. “They’re nearby and are on their way.” She also looked concerned. “I can say these aren’t your usual zombies, me and my contacts went through something similar in LA. You might have seen it called an “Ebola Outbreak” if you remember anything about that. But what concerns me more is that one of the folks I’m told is coming died years ago. I watched them die in Germany . . .” Her voice trailed off.
Serg spoke up: “If others are coming, I can’t be seen with you,” And he disappeared in obfuscation.
Soon, a knock came on the maintenance door and in came Linus “AK” Gutiérrez and Ash “Az” MacDonald, Anarch Barons of the Eastern Seaboard. They recognized Ollie and Aya and greeted them warmly before Linus tossed down a large duffle bag on the ground. “You good for weapon and ammo? Take what you need.”
Seeing Az, Aya broke down and the vampire wrapped her arms around Aya in a hug, resting her chin on Aya’s head to look out at the rest of the party.
Together, both she and AK explained their past connections to Aya and that they were expecting one more person to be coming soon.
“Who’s your friend?” Nyx asked as the sounds of crashing and slamming and a non-revved chainsaw and stomping boots came down the hallway.
“Is that them?” Cyrus asked as a figure appeared in the doorway, dressed in a torn red-and-black dress spattered with blood, wielding a chainsaw, and a huge grin on her face.
This was the party’s introduction to Jeanette Voerman, who Cyrus recognized as a sister to Therese, lately come to New Orleans. After a brief introduction - which included a very strong handshake between her and Andi - she told the group:
”I’m supposed to tell you something important. Maybe I’ll remember it.”
With everyone now together, the three filled in the pack what was going on in Atlanta:
- Some days previous, the Giovanni ha made some kind of stand or statement at court, and soon thereafter many Giovanni exited the city. This was followed by the arrival of the Sabat.
- Several high-ranking and red-listed vampires had originally come to Atlanta, including Dr. Victor Vandemar (Madison’s husband), Sascha Vykos, and Cardinal Francisco Domingo de Polonia (a manipulator of the abyss from the 16th century. Together, these besiegers belonged to a group known as the Sword of Caine.
- The three had left shortly before the pack had arrived. It seemed they went to New Orleans to check on on “The Milking Experiment” - which the party gathered was what was going on at the oil rig.
- Now, there was no order in Atlanta. Tzimisce war ghouls known as Szlachta and Vozhd now roamed the city, in addition to the “regular zombies” that they had already seen. Szlachta were intense, specialized bodyguards with natural armor, while Vozhd were a mishmash of living beings; Legion had been a lesser form of Vozhd. Both of these were crafted with care and attention.
This talked seemed to job Jeanette’s memory, and he explained that she’d captured a fast zombie.
They followed her down the MARTA and up to street level and even further to a rooftop where they saw she had indeed captured a zombie (not that they’d doubted her). The person had been a woman in her early thirties and dressed in athleisure; Cyrus felt a pang of sadness as he realized she was probably out exercising doing something for herself. Her arm and collarbone showed signs of being bitten. She strained at her bonds, and a hastily-sprayed pink line seemed to mark out the extent of the chain that held her, connected to a collar welded on.
Cyrus thought he could sense the wyrm on the zombie, but both Ollie and Aya gathered more. Cyrus wasn’t surprised. Ollie had more knowledge on these kind of things and Aya had faced something similar in Los Angeles. Ollie explained that this woman - and the other zombies like her - were very intelligent and not created by the Giovanni. They indeed were corrupted by the Wyrm, and while the infection could be fought off, there would come a point where those infected could not be saved. It was likely that everyone exposed in Atalanta was now passed saving.
Az and AK and Jeanette explained that the Anarchs had been called in, and even the new court in New Orleans had come. They had been able to herd or pool large numbers of the raised zombies into different sections of Atlanta, but there were still very fast zombies as well as war ghouls roaming the streets. Though the numbers were small, they were still incredibly dangerous.
What followed was a discussion of both reconnaissance and weaponry. Nyx and Rosalie thought about using astral projection to scout things out, but were concerned about being seen and attacked while so doing. It would also mean that others would need to guard their bodies, which Cyrus was willing to do. This idea was abandoned as being too dangerous.
Cyrus offered to use his gift of View the Battlefield, but both the size and limitations of the gift meant it would be a great expenditure with very little return.
It was decided they would stay together and attempt to move through the city. Though they all agreed the large zombie pockets should be left to last, they disagreed over whether to go after the fast zombies/Szlachta or after a rather large Vzhod that had been spotted near the aquarium.
They very quickly abandoned the idea of simply burning the city down and attempting to cover it up. It would be impossible, and would violate their agreement with Josiah.
Aya and Cyrus thought they should start with the smaller zombies and work their way up; they didn’t want the large one calling for reinforcements.
Serg and Jeanette wanted to go after the Vzhod first while their supplies and energy were at their best.
Ollie, as leader, delegated the decision to those who had experiencing fighting a war party from either side. That took Cyrus’ opinion out and added Az and AK to the mix. Together, they persuaded Aya to follow their plan, and thus the party would go to the aquarium first.
Serg advised those unused to melee fighting take blunt weapons that wouldn’t stick in bodies. He also advised against using guns until battle had already been joined. They wanted surprise on their side.
Jeanette wanted to take her chainsaw, and Ollie was on the verge of making her an eternally-running chainsaw fetish, but Serge was able to talk them out of it, again appealing to the concept of stealth and silence.
They made their way to the aquarium, passing shuffling hordes and shovel heads funneled into kill zones. They saw Elias and Colleen and Josiah fighting intelligent zombies and more than holding their own. At the aquarium itself, all the creatures were in a heightened state of fear and distress and had taken what actions they could to hide. From deeper into the aquarium came the sounds of splashing and clicking and the stretching of joints and the smacking of tentacles.
Employee accesses led them into passageways not often seen by visitors unless they were on a special feeding tour or the like.
There it stood, incredibly large and with a black fin shark in one of its six hands.
Serg had taken to the rafters and now dropped onto its head and driving his claws into its eyes.
Aya cast an ice spell on its leg, but it seemed more concerned with Serg and tried to knock him off by hitting him with he shark carcass. Serg tried to swing out of the way, but it looked to Cyrus like he caught the brunt of the blow anyway.
Cyrus sliced at the injured foot, but though he hit it, it looked like a paper cut on a callus and the thing didn’t seem to notice.
Rosalie shot a trick shot with Ollie’s gun, curving the bullet up and around both Serg and the dead shark to hit it in one of the foreheads, drawing out a thin trickle of blood.
Cyrus watched as Ollie reached into his pocket, quickly formed a small effigy of the thing out of what material Cyrus didn’t know, and then lit it on fire.
Nyx cast a spell of some kind as well; she said she wanted to make it think it had fish for hands. Based on the way it flailed about, it looked like it worked.
Jeanette hit Aya’s ice spear in further, deepening the wound and drawing out a little more blood.
Andi deftly climbed the things body to the bullet hole and drove her zombie-killing bat into it.
AK cast six shadowy tentacles to restrain the beings other arms, while Az began casting a changeling ward on the door.
Serg continued going for the eyes, determined to inflict even greater wounds. It roared in pain as Serg swung down to the next nearest orifice.
Aya whispered something to the ice spirit, and Cyrus watched as frostbite spread up its leg.
The attacks appeared to have some effect as it flailed its arms and swung the shark carcass and generally freaked out.
Cyrus tried stabbing the other leg, but either his mind wasn’t focused on the attack or the armor here hadn’t been weakened, because his sword stopped abruptly and vibrated in his hand. In fact, he got the sense that it wanted to shatter, but was held together only by the strength and will of the spirit that made it a fetish.
Rosalie shot the thing again as Ollie commanded a wave from the shark tank to cleanse the wyrm from the motherfucker. He high-fived it as it passed him.
The thing screamed out of all its mouths as its body sizzled and burned.
Nyx, aided by Allie, slid underneath it and did something to it with her parasol. It looked quite effective.
Jeanette continued to drive the ice spear in further, and Andi used her bat to ram its head wounds. AK continued to focus on maintaining the tentacle-grapple.
Cyrus looked over to see Az holding out her hand, her ward holding back a horde of intelligent dead.
Aya used her full-on beige strength to try to rip its wounded leg off, but through she strained mightily, she did little damage.
The “blobert” looked at Nyx and reached out with a goopy arm to smack her with Bonecraft, fracturing - if not shattering - her left arm and then called a manta ray to it, likely in order to feed on it.
Cyrus used his fetish blade and hand arm to ding the creature, but it seemed greatly resistant to Cyrus’ attacks.
Looking up, Ollie was able to command the chains and wires above the tank to band and arc . . .
Angry and with a hurting arm, Nyx dread gazed the blobert, which now turned and jumped into the water with Serg and Andi and Aya all attached to it in some way.
Jeanette still manages to play whack-a-mole with the zombies, but it seemed they would soon be overrun. Andi took her bat and made another wound resulting in a plume of blood. Az and AK maintained the ward . . .
Aya commanded the water spirits to separate and the blobert slammed into the aquarium floor below. While it tried to get back up, Cyrus took up a line of defense against the zombies.
Ollie, using the chains and wires, now attempted to squeeze and pop the blobert while also providing a kind of ladder for the others to climb up and out of the tank.
And now the changeling ward cracked, and the animated, infectious intelligences and Sabbat shovelheads began to swarm the party. Aya tried to chain lightning the group, but the attack had little effect.
Ollie was able to open a moon bridge, and they all stumbled through it to a hotel bathroom. Cyrus was one of the last ones through. On the way, Aya helped heal Nyx’s arm and AK explain the shit going on to Ollie, which involved a sluagh by the name of Mikey. Ollie seemed to be on the verge of collapse, and Cyrus helped him finish up a few tasks for Serg before exhaustion took Ollie completely.
No sooner had Ollie entered his somewhat-enforced slumber than Charlie arrived to help them finish clearing out downtown Atlanta, which now looked like a post-Dragon Con parade (if all the cosplayers had decided on “apocalyptic zombies” as their theme).
Making contact with Prince Ashcroft and filling him in on what had transpired, they then moon bridged back to New Orleans (hanks to Aya). The trip started out as normal, but a storm-like heaviness took over as they neared the caern, and spirits of anxiety and worry could be seen.
They exited the bridge to see Asher pacing. “You’re not who I was expecting,” he said before telling them that they hadn’t heard anything from those who went to the oil rig. Not a peep from Caden or the Silver Pack. Rosalie astral projected and saw the rig empty and sanitized and practically dead.
Concerned but unsure what to do, they went inside to rest up and to take a look at the Danger Board. Cyrus took this time to write out all the things that had been filling his mind since the underworld and pinned it to the cork for others to read at their convenience. It seemed he would not eat the opportunity to tell everyone all at once, and this was too important to keep to himself for much longer.
He wasn’t the only one with information to dump, and as they all tried to make sense of it, it seemed to them there was at least one thing that could be removed: the problem of Delilah. Charlie and the Coterie to handle. Andi man managed to contact Ollie in his slumber, who suggested we track down some of the dark web stuff. He also named Andi as Beta in the pack.
Shipping Up to Boston
They once again made use of a moon bridge to travel to Boston, where Aya had a contact of sorts that might help them with their current mission. They followed her through the “weird” part of Bean Town and into a coffee shop where sat a gentleman approximately 6’2” wearing a suit and shirt in various hues of blue. He had reserved a table and opened a tab for drinks, and introduce himself as August Howl, former Prince if Boston and Alister of the Camarilla (agent of the Inner Circle).
(Former Prince) Howl had abdicated for complicated reasons, but the short version was that, after having battled back the Sabbat, Boston no longer needed nor required a wartime prince. There was an uneasy relationship with one King MacDonald, who was not the current prince but nonetheless held great importance in the city.
Finishing their drinks, they followed August to Elysium, which felt like hopping through time (in a more natural way) as Cyrus felt transported back to a mid-century nightclub and a tableau of a commune complete with graffiti, tattoos, and piercings.
Making their acquaintance with the Harpy, called Barbara, August informed her their request for an audience with the prince was a matter of world safety. (Cyrus found Barbara to be a delight, and was thrilled when she recognized his English-Welsh roots. It has been indicated Barbara was also pleased with Cyrus’ introduction and manners).
Soon the party was led to a back room where Prince Jerrik Eskildsen of Clan Gangrel stood over a table. Introductions were made by August, and the two seemed to have quite the amicable relationship. Ordering the door closed and guarded, Serg then showed Erik (as he insisted on being called) the cryptic video he and others had been working on since things began getting weird.
The apple of the video stood out to him, as it was something he and some of his compatriots had been working on. It involved something called “The Garden” which seemed to pop up on the dark web in a five-month cycle. Invitations to “The Dollmaker” resulted in the kidnapping of i young people of all races and tribes for very, very inhumane reasons. The scientific arts met horror in the creation of something called “Pigment”.
Cyrus examined Prince Erik’s own danger board, which had many similarities but more than a few differences:
- M. Pickman = New York Contact
- 3 sets of murders/serial killings in MA
- Dunwich, MA (Hinterland Murders)
- Thornapple, MA (Fiend Murders)
- Kingsport, MA (Apocrypha Murders)
- Other Murders
- Profane Saint Murders (NOLA)
- Archangel Murders (Boston 2018)
- Black Forest - Walpurgis 2018
- France - Lionheart - Lost Fey (Beast of Gévaudan??)
Serg tried looking into “The Garden” on the dark web via a secure machine, and found a site that required a 24-character alphanumeric code. He knew what he was about and managed to find four or five of the first digits when he triggered a security system of some kind. He managed to warn the others not to look, and everyone but Andi was able to either look away or shield their eyes.
Cyrus wasn’t sure what happened, but Serg lost his connection with the world around him and collapsed into torpor. They had two options at this point. They could use the blood magic of Clan Tremere to rouse him, and Erik had a connection named Jimmy that might be of use on this front. However, Rosalie said this might not be the best idea at the moment. Their other option was to wait for the damage to heal and he’d wake up naturally; Rosalie tight this would be the best option at this point, and Erik set up a room for she and Serg to stay under the protection of a Smiling Gentleman bodyguard (though the guard themselves turned out to be nonbinary). It was mentioned more than once that Prince Erik was a Gangrel of the Old School . . .
As Rosalie took Serg to settle in, Erik tried to fill in a bit more information of what he’d been working on. Ghouls had been unable to wake - 13 of them to be exact, all of various clans. Erik and August hinted that King MacDonald was likely to blame, but there was little, if any, actual proof. It was also clarified that MacDonald was the father of Az, who they had met in Atlanta. Erik also revealed that he had a previous agreement with Aya of some kind (no one pressed the issue) and wanted her to know the agreement was still in place.
In a show of respect for all present, he offered what help he could.
Cyrus examined the board, and talking through things out loud suggested they help with the Thornapple Murders. The dark web was off-limits until Serg recovered, the Black Forest and France would involve a trip they weren’t prepared for, and Rosalie had more information about the other murders.
As they all discussed their next steps, Andi stated to look a little off, though she herself continued on as if nothing was wrong. But slowly her pupils became pools of slowly filling blood, and when she found it hard to speak (which she described as feeling like extra-angry Captain Crunch) she opened her mouth to reveal a large, cold iron coffin nail embedded inside. To August it looked like old New England witchcraft - and thankfully he had connections that could help.
While August texted his connection, Cyrus offered Andi a set of sunglasses to hide her eyes and prevent a masquerade breach.
August’s connection told them to come to the Hampshire House on Beacon Street, and the party followed August there to find the establishment closed for a private event featuring world-famous magician Jimmy Vegas, considered by many (other magicians included) to be one of the best magicians in the world. At first the receptionist was hesitating to let them in, what with things being closed and all, but August name-dropped “Lucy” (Jimmy’s assistant) and things moved smoothly from there on out. (August also made it a point to get the receptionist’s name - not to complain, but to let Lucy and Jimmy know they had someone they could trust to do their job.)
They waited in a third-floor library door about fifteen minutes. It was quiet and smelled faintly of cigar smoke. Cyrus and August looked over the books; to Cyrus’ horror, August started breaking spines “to make the place look used in a loving way” - but Cyrus cringed with each careful crease August made. Nyx sat down at a piano and played a lovely rendition of Clare de Lune, Aya observed the architecture and decor, and Andi looked around briefly before sitting down on her hands (literally) to - as she said - “prevent herself from getting into trouble.” Cyrus wasn’t about to let her sit alone, and grabbing a book off the shelf, sat down and started to read softly to her. The book happened to be a book of folklore from the late 1700s written from the perspective of a sailor from Innsmouth. Cyrus’ narration and Nyx’s musical backing helped the time pass quickly and soon a voice came from the doorway.
“What a lovely concert it is.”
A young man, looking to be 19 or so entered the room. He wore a tuxedo with tails and sported a head of boyishly unkempt hair along with a blush of health - though it was clear he was of the vampiric persuasion.
August introduced him as Jimmy Vegas (though all recognized the world-famous talent) and then the party to Jimmy before explaining Andi’s predicament. Jimmy sat down in front of Andi and only looked at her a moment before standing right back up and declaring “You’re afflicted!”
Andi explained that she had looked at something that came out of a computer, and Jimmy offered her his hand. He led her to a chaise lounge and then called for Lucy to retrieve his carpetbag, from which he pulled a candle, a walnut, a nutcracker, and a spider in a bottle. He lit the candle, cracked the nut open, and ate the meat. He then removed he spider from the bottle and sealed it inside the walnut with wax from the candle and passed it over and around Andi. When the candle died, so did the spider.
Jimmy read the smoke from the candle and then knelt next to Andi. “The bad news is that you’re afflicted by magic, and it’s not vampire blood magic. I haven’t dealt with it before, but I think I can break it with enough force of strength. In exchange, can you put in a good word for me with your dad? I have some things in the works involving him that could use a little smoothing over. Not that anything is wrong, it’s just that a kind word can go a long way.”
Andi obliged the request via text message.
Jimmy then took out a bolt of fabric - a gaudy array of silk and linen, a cacophony of textures, fabrics, embellishments, and even smells. Theatrically, he draped it over Andi and began the ritual. Cyrus could see why he was such an effective stage magician. Reaching under the bolt, Jimmy asked for a drop of Andi’s blood, which he took to an other, freshly lit candle. He muttered over it in Akkadian, and when he finished, the candle went out in a flash of colors and the draped fabric collapsed in on itself - Andi had disappeared.
Rather, she had disappeared from underneath the fabric, because she now sat back on the bench she had been sitting on before. Cyrus’ sunglasses were folded in her lap and she twisted her mouth and spat out the nail.
They all gave Jimmy a respectful and appreciative round of applause. Andi stated she felt peachy, and looked forward to incorporating the nail into her bat. Jimmy said he needed to sleep, as using Thaumaturgy really took it out of him, and he had a show in several hours. He gathered his things, bowed, and exited the room with a flourish.
An Education at Castle Gillette
As the talk returned to investigating the Thornapple Murders, Cyrus mentioned that the would likely need help, liken a guide as Nyx would say. August mentioned they might ask one Nigel Obertürkheims, though he also warned them me may be “kooky” though exactly how this adjective described him was hard to say. He was an experience, and August would need to call him without the rest of the party in the room.
They let August make his call, and he said they would be welcome to call on Nigel, but that he would require a six pack. A 6 pack of what was up to them, and they spent more time than was necessary to decide to bring several six packs: Guiness, Topo Chico, and Butterfingers candy bars. August was going to bring a somewhat more organic six pack.
Once more Aya opened a moon bridge, and the found themselves about a 10 minute walk from Gillette Caste. A light was on in an upstairs library, and in the surrounding woods animals loped through the trees and acknowledged the party’s presence.
August advised them all “Don’t state, but if you do, make it obvious - make sure he notices”
The door was unlocked and the party entered a very eccentric house. A voice echoed from somewhere “I’ll be right there; I’m just getting the hounds inside!”
“No rush,” assured August.
“you entertain them,” the voice said.
A few minutes later Nigel entered, hugging himself and unblinking. He didn’t quite look human - anymore, at least. “You’re here. Why?”
August explained his relationship to the party and what they were doing, to which Nigel asked who everyone answered to. Cyrus answered with his name, rank, and tribe - his gift of social etiquette entirely baffled. Nyx gave her name along with a flourish and curtsies (“a true Clan of the Rose” in Nigel’s words). Enamored with Nigel, Andi stammered out her name and tribe. Aya gave a proper Japanese bow along with her name and tribe.
They presented their gifts to Nigel, whose eyes lit up as he saw them. He scooped everything up and ran out of the room. The sounds of a blender could be heard and he came back with the blender container and a long glass pipette as a straw for his dark, cherrywood-colored “slushie”. “You know, there’s something here,” he said as he offered some to Andi, who accepted it and agreed with his assessment.
“And why, exactly, are all of you here again?”
They all looked to Andi as she was in charge, and she tried to explain as best she could.
And then Nigel explained a bit about himself. From what Cyrus could gather, Nigel
- was neither Camarilla nor Sabbat, but Apostate - by choice not a member of any organization or sect, he left all allegiances “when Shar left”
- “Shar” was 1/2 of a pack of two. Shara Devereaux, who “officially” became a Lasombra vampire in the 1980s.
- They left the Sabbat in 2003, along with Deacon Cross and were all hunted by Polonius and Sascha Vykos
- They hate the Sabbat, love each other, and fuck up those who would screw them over
- He had to stop investigating Thornapple Valley due to (something)
Nigel told Aya to “flip it” and she touched something near here, triggering a secret door to a room that, based on the laws of architecture and physics, shouldn’t exist. It looked like a Victorian mad lab and, along with the bottles, bubbles, and glass tubing, contained a table with a map of the world filled with bone-and-crystal pins with Cyrillic labels.
”What are you researching?” asked Aya.
“Come in, come in,” Nigel intoned, and they entered the room that was, like the TARDIS, bigger on the inside. “I was looking into towns that shouldn’t be; seeds that came from The Malum - apple and pomegranate; I was distracted by the Beast of Gevaudan - which by rights shouldn’t be awake. But it is, and I fixated on her wreaking havoc in the forest - a childer of Enkidu roaming the Black Forest.”
“And how many things are there total?” Nyx asked.
“Thirteen, plus or minus. Some are dead; some are sleeping; some are hiding; some missing - but none should be awake like this.”
When the party asked more about the Lore, Nigel seemed a little upset that August hadn’t filled us in completely and that “you could all die.” He rummaged for a chalkboard behind an amorphous lab-growing lung, and then both he and August warned us about saying what we were about to hear around the Camarilla. In fact, we shouldn’t say anything to anyone or we’d die.
Cyrus’ Spark Notes version of the history lesson was that:
- In the beginning there was a bastard god, and it started with the Fisher King (Caine) who is very, very, very real
- We are not food.
- The Sabbat is trying to place nicey-nice with a dad who doesn’t care, and the Camarilla purposefully ignore the true meaning
- Caine made Childer, Enkidu, and the other 13 progenitors (who are either asleep or dead as was previously stated)
- One woke up in 1999 and caused the Week of Nightmares
- Enkidu is the progenitor of the Gangrel, from which the Beast of Gevadaun comes
- The progenitors are collectively called Methuselahs
The 13 Vampire Clans are
- Banu Haqim (aka Assamite)
- Gangrel - kicked out of the Camarilla in 1999 (Erik is Gangrel as seen in his wolf eyes)
- Followers of Set
- Tremere (who stole their blood; to speak this truth is to die)
Nigel pointed to his map and reminded them all that names held power, like the Indigenous People’s name for North America, Turtle Island. A small, kidney bean shaped area was marked out -towns that weren’t on original maps of the area and had seemingly been folded into reality like origami or popping up like mycelium spores - - each appearing after a series of murders and growing exponentially, seemingly beginning at Arkham and spiraling out. In addition
- Shara is out looking for “a mother.”
- The Dual King is awake, though who or what that is is unknown to Nigel
- Dark Mother (this wind, the dancer, etc. . . )
Nyx spoke up that the party knows of the four wives of Lucifer; and Aya offered that they, in fact, knew Lucifer himself.
Nyx shared how she and others broke Lucifer free, of Samael and Byron, and of Whisky’s relevance in all this. August tried to summarize and Andi tried to fill in the blanks, and with growing realization that what Nyx had said was not hyperbole but in fact literal truth he began to hyper-fixate and hyperventilate. Nigel made a call to “my Lasombra” as Andi handed over the Thornapple Transcripts of the video. With Nigel out of the room, they turned their attention to the map.
Atlanta was marked angrily and underlined several times. Cyrus tried to speak up that he could translate, but Aya had already whipped out her phone to use a translation app, though the spirit was troubled by Aya’s attitude and left. Cyrus was about to speak up again when August offered to translate - without using a gift. August in particular was looking for the Beast of Gevedaun and found it near (Bad) Rodach, Germany. “He’s on the continent,” August remarked. Cyrus helped translate where August was pointing.
Prompted by other place names, Nyx tried to explain Black Mariah, time travel, and the apocalypse.
Concerned, Nigel (who had come back in the room0) asked to borrow Nyx’s brain - and in the same breath promised to give it back. Using bone and flesh craft, Nigel extracted good from Nyx, placed it in a jar, and then looked for his 8mm phonograph. He spread the goop on a disc and then used vicissitude and koldunism to play a movie on a blank space on the wall. Cyrus called it “goop ray” as a pun off blu-ray, and Nigel seemed to like it.
They all watched Nyx’s greatest hits, and August came to the conclusion that Nyx was a “Witness with a capital W” - someone called/required to observe and remember the weight of the apocalypse(s). He then wanted to know who else knew all about this.
They tried to explain what all had been done with all the information. There was quite a bit of cross talk/banter, and Nigel consulted one of his old books, from which Cyrus gathered that
- The Methuselahs rise to serve the antediluvians (?)
- Something was leaving for a sea of sand and (tower?)
- The song is stronger for some and weaker for others; what the song is/was is unknown
- The Sabbat may know what’s going on, and may have something to do with Deacon Cross
- The rise of the antediluvians would each create their own horrifyingly unique week of nightmares, perhaps they would even consume the Elders
Aya theorized that perhaps the impossible towns were being made through chicanery, that someone was re-creating reality and forcing things into existence - the opposite of what had happened to The Albrecht.
Re-watching that part of Nyx’s memories, Nigel noticed something of a pattern: 5 cities; 5 dead antediluvians. (Ilyes the Elder, Cappadocius, Laza Omri Baras, Zao-Lat, Zapathsura = Arkham, Dunwhich, Innsmouth, Kingsport, Thornapple Valley).
And now it was time to save the world. But first, Nigel and August debated the ins and outs of time travel. They sussed out that the party may not be the only ones traveling through time, and may be in the crosshairs of someone else’s rituals. August described time as a ball made of rubber bands, and how cutting one of them wold eventually cause the whole thing to unravel.
Nigel offered food and safety for the night; his basement had rooms with no windows and one freezer was off limits. Nigels’ own room was accessible only via pipe, which Nigel entered by turning into goopy blood himself and flowing to his chambers.
Saving the World Starts with Saving Serg
Cyrus rested fitfully until sundown, when the vampire day could begin. There had been no messages from either Serg or Rosalie, and he was under the impression that no news was good news. Nigel’s dogs - each named for a pop culture reference - played outside with a jawbone and femur from something. This was the scene as Rosalie approached with cupcakes, having been given the details by Andi.
A woman Cyrus hadn’t seen yesterday came downstairs. Cyrus assumed this was Shara; a constant stream of black tears made of shadow fell from here eyes; she seemed to ignore it completely. She called for Nigel and introductions were made.
Rather than telling the story all over again, Rosalie offered her a hand and hared her visions with the fellow psychic. Shara was concerned about Serg and offered to wake him using her own magic speciality, and after consulting with Rosalie about what Serg would and would not allow if he had the choice, the party traveled back to Boston via an Uber with whom Rosalie had some connection. Nigel and Shara transformed and hid themselves in August’s pockets.
The found Serg in Elysium; they had set up a makeshift room for him an a conference room in the office building in which Elysium was based. He looked like a shell more than anything else.
Cyrus has tried to follow as Shara had explain what she would do, namely that she could show Serg the way back to his body but it would be up to him to follow. Cyrus wasn’t sure if his gifts could help, but - addressing her as Ms Shar and apologizing for not introducing himself earlier - he offered to sing a song as part of Ritual Tuning to help her, she she gracefully accepted. Others have blood or willpower, and thanks to their combined efforts Shara opened a doorway.
This looked like a moon bridge, if the whole thing were inverted. And thanks to the boost in her magic, Shara felt she could take one more person with her - and Rosalie went with her (as was right and proper).
Cyrus thought he caught a glimpse of a desert made of ash and bone with lighting creating pillars of crumbling glass as Chara and Rosalie stepped through the gateway, and he wasn’t sure what happed in that space, but Chara and Rosalie retired with Serg, so it must have worked out for the most part. He could tell that, whatever had happened, it had been emotional.
While Serg and Rosalie went to see Prince Erik (to keep up the ruse that he had awakened naturally), the rest returned to Castle Gillette.
Once they were all together again, they caught Serg up with what they had discovered by putting pieces together from Erick and Nigel and their own theories. As part of this discussion, Nigel showed them a secret treasure he was in possession of - a certain Tremere artifact of his now-deceased mentor/master.
The decision was made to begin their own search in Kingsport at the scene of the last murder: a policeman’s daughter in the office of the police station itself. These had been a series of three murders back in the 80s, and this specific murder had been a desecration of the Judith of Israel (think the opposite of Caravaggio’s famous paining).
What was Seen at the Sea
The sky was in turmoil, described by one of them as the “thumbprint of a wayward” and they almost immediately ran into someone promoting themselves as a tour guide of sorts - and if they wanted his services could be found at a local dive known as The Wounded Skipper. The party ended up splitting to follow various leads; Cyrus volunteered to help Serg go through local police records - many of which had burned in the early/mid 1990s. However, he wasn’t much help. Cyrus didn’t find anything of importance, but at least he could be confident he hadn’t overlooked anything.
Serg had better luck, and when they regrouped they pooled their information. Rosalie spent the time studying the sky and a particular red star; August made important, relevant phone calls while smoking and leaning against a wall; Andi and Aya and Nyx went to the library, but finding nothing, tracked down the guide. He ended up being the last victim’s uncle . . .
Victim number one was Meredith, a thirteen-year old girl whose death was originally classified as a shark attack, but was really a murder.
Victim number two was Deliverance, an older transplant from Dunwich whose house had been ransacked - but knowledge of what was taken (if anything) was either unknown or lost in the fire.
Victim number three was Makayla, killed in her late 20’s at the police station on Devil’s NIght (which could either be October 30 or 31, depending on regional meanings).
Knowing that the murders were connected and in all likelihood related to the murders in other towns (notably now Dunwich), they needed to make plans for staying in town, even if for a short while. They found a B&B on the shore, the Dragon’s Eye, though the “r” was missing - and Dagon’s Eye was somewhat more unsettling. Inside was a mix of smells of herbed meat and curry, and a bell told them to “ring for service”. Rosalie rang it, and the proprietor - one Constance Bradbury - came to sign them in. She was very understanding and accommodating of the party’s needs and rented them the last two rooms: one with a large bay window that would sleep two, and the attics that would sleep the others. This B&B seemed to have weathered the storms much better than those around it . . .
Making arrangements for future meals, they used the time available to them to investigate the first murder, located somewhere along the beach. However, the salt water had long ago washed away any key indicators of where it had taken place. On the beach they saw an outcropping bluff to the north and a walking path to a lighthouse.
Cyrus did not want to go to the lighthouse, which had been built in its present form in the early 1700s but had long been mostly abandoned. The lighthouse was a traditional New England tall tower with a keeper’s cabin at the base; the cabin itself featured a root cellar and a shed. Cyrus couldn’t help but think of the lines Nigel had read them from Shara’s messages about the tower, sand, and song, but either he only had this thought in his head and didn’t actually say anything out loud or no one head him. It was irrelevant, because he would not simply leave the party and went with them toward the lighthouse. It looked to them they had maybe 45 minutes to and hour before the tide changed and covered the walking path. As they approach, Cyrus got a strong sense of the wrym - not necessarily evil, but definitely a sense of decay.
Nyx offered to astral project into the lighthouse to checking it out while the others checked things out down below; August offered to stay with her.
Cyrus walked around the buildings and saw the path went on down toward the beach on the other side. He was unnerved to find himself following tracks, but there was something wrong about them. It took him far too long to realize that while he was following the tracks, he wasn’t following them in the same direction. Whereas he was heading toward the beach, the footprints were coming up from the beach and toward the lighthouse - - and he became lost in this thought.
(Note: though unknown to the character, the others had become “lost” as well: Rosalie in the details of the cabin’s architecture; Aya in looking at a rope in her hands; Andi with a large axe she held with both hands; and Nyx and August (in astral form) at the top of the lighthouse - where a woman dripping wet turned to face them and opened her mouth revealing rows of sharp teeth.)
- Falcon’s Grasp
- Hidden Meaning
- Master of Fire
- Global Citizen
- Perfect Recall
- Speech of the World
- Cowing the Bullet
- Word of Honor
- Hand Blade
- View the Battlefield
- Battle Cry
- Weaver’s Eyes
- Unified Force
- Ritual Tuning
- Helios’ Blessed Blade - The history of this fetish, and how Cyrus came to possess it, is currently unknown. What is known is that the weapon is currently corrupted, and that Cyrus is working to cleanse it. When first seen, it gave off a faint yellow light, as if sodium lights were trying to pierce a think, green fog. Now, it gleams with an almost white gold sheen, perfectly polished and oiled leather wrap, all tended with care and pride. Faint yet muddled carvings can be seen on the hilt.