Campaign of the Month: March 2017

Nocturnum: Rebirth

Nocturnum: Rebirth Episode Guide
Season One

Viral Webisodes

The lead-up to the series is imagined to be a set of viral webisodes introducing us to the Cast with each sharing a short adventure that leads up to the initial episode. These are the logs for those "prelude" viral webisodes.

  1. Danny Santana
  2. Darrek Tinsley
  3. Henry Anders
  4. Hilda Heintz
  5. Jing Yun-Xun
  6. Hilda and Yun-Xun
  7.  Matthew Canaan

Season One

Episode 1: The Gates to Madness, Part 1

Episode 2: The Gates to Madness, Part 2

Episode 3: The Night Stone, Part 1

Episode 4: The Night Stone, Part 2

Episode 5: Children of Madness

Episode 6: The Art of Madness, Part 1

Episode 7: The Art of Madness, Part 2

Episode 8: Tell Me, Have you Seen the Yellow Sign? Part 1

Episode 9: Tell Me, Have You Seen the Yellow Sign? Part 2

Episode 10: Tell Me, Have You Seen the Yellow Sign? Part 3

Episode 11: The Rise of the Green Goddess, Part 1

Episode 12: The Rise of the Green Goddess, Part 2

Episode 13: The Rise of the Green Goddess, Part 3

Episode 14: The Rise of the Green Goddess, Part 4

Episode 15: The Book of the Black

Episode 16: Night Floors, Part 1

Episode 17: Night Floors, Part 2

Episode 18: The Knave of Hearts, Part 1

Episode 19: The Knave of Hearts, Part 2

Episode 20: In the Hands of the Living God

Episode 21: In the Hands of the Living God, Part 2

Episode 22: In the Hands of the Living God, Part 3

Episode 23: The Fate of the Yellow Sign, Part 1

Side Stories

These are an ongoing series of webisode addendums to the series—you know, in the style of, well, just about every genre television series these days. They are tangential to the ongoing storyline but add some insight to background events. Some are player secrets until the players of the characters involved agree to allow me to make them public.

TV Movie

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Episode 23
The Fate of the Yellow Sign, Part 1 (Season 1 Finale)

Chronicler: Julie

Video Link

Episode Synopsis

Each member of the group experiences frightening visions. Darrek is eating breakfast with Emily and Henry and suddenly everything around them is rotting, including the house itself. Emily and Henry continue to eat, not seeming to notice that their food is rotting. Darrek then watches in horror as Sam enters their dining room, grins at Darrek, and then proceeds to stab Emily repeatedly with large butcher knife. Darrek jumps up from the table, flips it over, and screams. There is a massive swell of Essence which explodes. Emily is knocked back off her chair halfway across the room. Henry rushes over to help her. She and Henry are understandably frightened. Darrek breaks down in tears and apologizes, explaining what he saw.

After cleaning up the mess, Darrek and Henry leave and head to the Hive Arcana. Henry is overwhelmed with joy to see Megan and hugs her. She checks in with him and shares some of the mumblings she has heard about a new play whose premiere is very exclusive. Darrek and Henry ask her to keep her ears open and let them know if she hears anything else. The group agrees that finding out when and where the play is premiering is essential.

Darrek and Henry go to the Library to retrieve Cassilda’s diadem. While there, Darrek again apologizes and reassures Henry that he would never intentionally hurt him or Emily. Coming out of the Library after retrieving the diadem, Darrek’s cell phone rings. It is Dr. Armedt, who asks Darrek and Henry to come by the chapter house.

Arriving at the Pittsburgh Rosicrucian headquarters, Armedt is there with Aimee. Darrek immediately stiffens and crosses his arms over his chest. Armedt explains that they are putting their differences aside for the time being and pledges the full resources of the Rosicrucians to aid the group in their fight against Cassilda. Aimee and Darrek exchange words, and Dr. Armedt intervenes. Darrek warns Aimee to stay away from his wife, and he and Henry take their leave.

As the sun goes down, Darrek heads to Club Apocalypse (with Henry, who insists on coming along) and asks for a word with Robert Hubert. Hubert appears surprised and gratified to see Darrek, and immediately descends and takes Darrek and Henry into a private meeting area. He offers Darrek a drink, who politely declines and gets straight to the point of asking if he has heard any rumors regarding the play. Hubert denies this, and suggests that they try asking around in the artistic communities. Darrek thanks Hubert for his assistance, and he and Henry take their leave.

The group makes plans to pursue this lead. Megan gets back in touch with Henry and tells him that she has been hearing rumors about a big event Saturday night at the Byham Theater.

The group then begins to plot how to disrupt the performance. They decide on having two attack fronts-one at the play itself, and one at the Point at the Hellmouth. In addition to themselves, they have the resources of the Rosicrucians, Anita and the rest of the Twiight Order, as well as some local Storm Dragons that Yun-Xun was able to make contact with. During their planning Danny repeatedly teases Darrek, who gets very flustered and then angry. He storms outside to take a walk, deciding to visit Harlan and check on Sam, and cools off before returning to the Hive.

The group continues to plan. Anita volunteers to help disrupt the play. Darrek wards the members of the group who will be working to disrupt the play, with the exception of Matthew.

TO BE CONTINUED

Memorable Quotes and Great Moments

Re: Matthew’s dream
“His sword was in the air, alright!” -Danny

Re: Darrek
“Frumpiness is born, not made.” –Henry
“FRUMPY?! If we weren’t in the middle of an apocalypse, I would so ground you!”-Darrek
“Please do.”-Henry
“Oh, no. You’re not getting off that easy, young man!”-Darrek

Re: Adolescence
“What if we all took LSD? Then we wouldn’t have to worry about whether these horrible things we keep seeing are hallucinations or not…no, wait. You would never go along with that plan, Mr. Frumpypants.”-Henry
“Actually, I’ll have you know I’ve taken LSD before. Several times. I also had a mohawk.”-Darrek
“What? I require photographic evidence. What color was it?”-Henry
“Same as my normal hair color, except I bleached the end bits, and then I dyed them pink.”
“…you had a PINK mohawk?”-Henry
“Yeah. ”-Darrek
“That’s so gay!”-Henry

Re: Henry
“Being a parent is bullshit!”-Darrek

Re: Yun-Xun
“I’m fine, I’m fine.”-Yun-Xun
“You’re full of shit!”-Danny
“Yeah…”-Yun-Xun

Re: Tea
“I’d rather have a beer.”-Mack
“Well, too bad. It’s 10 am, you alcoholic!”-Henry

Re: Darrek
“Ehm, Matthew? Could I have a word?”-Darrek
“Sure.”-Matthew
“Like, in private? Up on the roof, perhaps?”-Matthew
“Uh…I guess, okay…”-Matthew
“EVERYONE KNOWS YOU’RE GOING UP THERE WITH HIM TO HAVE A DRINK, DARREK. THERE’S NO POINT IN PRETENDING IT’S ANYTHING ELSE.”-Henry
“Um…so, roof?”-Matthew
Turns beet red “No, nevermind.”-Darrek

Re: Hilda
“So, uh…she’s seen me naked, now.”-Matthew
“Of course she has, you whore.”-Anita

Re: The play
“You mind telling me what it is?”-Megan
“A prelude to the Apocalypse.”-Henry
“Oh, one of those.”-Megan

Re: Mack
“Are you saying I’m reckless?”-Mack
“Yes I am. And yes you are.”-Darrek

Re: Henry
“I’m starting to like him more and more.”-Mack

To Matthew “The bells have been wrung, and the horn has been blown. They’re coming.”-Raphael

Re: Going to the library to get the diadem
“I’m sorry about this morning. I hope you know that I would never, ever hurt you or Em.”-Darrek
“I know. Not your fault. I just don’t want her to kill anyone else.”-Henry

Re: A temporary truce
“After, if you want to go back to bloodying each other’s noses…”-Aimee
“Last I checked, you haven’t bloodied my nose.”-Darrek
“Darrek, enough. Right now, we need to unite against the true enemy.”-Dr. Armedt
“*To Armedt* I couldn’t agree more, Sir. To Aimee Stay the hell away from my wife.”-Darrek

Re: The Rosicrucians
“Will they help us?”-Danny
“Yes.”-Henry
“I don’t trust Aimee as far as I could throw her.”-Darrek

“It’s Cassilda, not Mathilda.”-Jason

“Darrek, I know the answer to this question is always no, but I’m going to ask anyhow…is now the time for arson?”-Henry
“Not yet.”-Darrek
Excited “Ooooh! So that means arson is happening, right?”-Henry
“MUST YOU QUESTION EVERY BLOODY THING I SAY?!?!”-Darrek

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The Deep Breath Before...
Downtime

When last we left our heroes, they had killed Fowler and have now destroyed 3 of 4 Heralds. They had obtained Raphael and Sam, as well as the Mutari Generator, but lost Michelle, who has been taken by Cassilda. The whereabouts of the Joker, Kay, Carrie, and Rebecca are unknown, and an eerie quiet has settled over the city, as though the deep breath before the catastrophe. The walls of reality continue to bend, but overall things are uncommonly (unnaturally) quiet. You’re all waiting for news of the performance, but you’ve no idea when it will occur, or where.

This page is to deal with any downtime activities you wish your characters to undertake or avenues you wish to pursue. Please edit this thread (Edit, don’t comment below) and insert your downtime under your character’s heading. I’ll respond with italics or bold text.

This may not be the time for you to keep secrets as we’re heading into the season finale, but if there’s anything you want to pursue that others shouldn’t know about, put it as a player secret below.

The Library

Anyone passing through to go to the Library over the next few weeks has a constant creepy feeling up the back of their spine as Raphael is being kept chained in the antechamber (which was fomerly Anita’s library), bound by enchanted chains created by a group of Rosicrucian spirit masters, John Forsythe (an old friend of Anita’s from the Knights Templar), and the use of Atlantean arcana which Anita claims she had to “all but sell my soul for.” Raphael occasionally gives you icy glares and makes menacing comments as you walk through, but largely sits passively as though he’s waiting for something.

Every single one of you who walks past him in the ensuing few weeks gets the creeping feeling that there’s a mad Archangel in the basement who is there simply because he hasn’t decided to leave yet.

Danny

After this last encounter, I need a little time for recuperation. As I heal, I continue to study and Ponder those things I’ve learned from the Library of Alexandria and who and what I am. I’ve become more comfortable and it seems to have had an impact on my effectiveness and my control. I haven’t heard anything from agent Barnes which is a good thing. It’s weird, I’ve always been a loner but, this strange group of companions I find myself with make me feel comfortable. I think I’ll go have a beer with Mack.

In your studies about the Garou and other Ferals over the next several weeks, you begin to lean about their own apocalypse beliefs and the creature they call the Wyrm. This “creature” seems eerilie familiar to some of the otherworldly shit you’ve seen since joining the crew here, a force of entropy, madness and destruction that is the antithesis of everything in nature.

Though the Wyrm is clearly not of Hastur, in learning about it you may discover some level of insight into what you’re dealing with. This has two effects: First, you can invoke your research at some point duing the next session, gaining the equivalent of a free Drama Point (any use of one) that can stack with another Drama Point use if you choose. However, to get this use, you have to tell me exactly what the insight was that you gained and how it applies to what you’re about to do, like Robert did last week with the realigning of the Ley Lines.

Some information about the Wyrm for you to reference: http://whitewolf.wikia.com/wiki/Wyrm

Some information about Ferals in general: http://whitewolf.wikia.com/wiki/Fera

Regarding werecats: http://whitewolf.wikia.com/wiki/Bastet_

Some information about werejaguars specifically: http://whitewolf.wikia.com/wiki/Balam

Second, you can increase your Gnosis skill by 1 point at no XP cost.

Darrek

Darrek handles dealing with Raphael and Sam. Raphael is kept in the basement of the Hive Arcana (where the library was located). Darrek will use his magics to keep him as subdued as he can, possibly turning to Delia Borgato for assistance with getting his hand on a heavy duty tranquilizer if necessary. After speaking with Anita, he contacts John Forsythe, as well as asks around within his trusted contacts at the Rosicrucians to connect with a sorcerer who knows the appropriate Spirit Mastery invocation necessary to bind/control angels.

Though unhappy about it (he knows Raphael), John aids the Rosicrucians in binding Raphael for the time being. It’s clear that part of him desperately wants to know what the Hell is going on, but having overcome his own recklessness long ago, he’s wise enough by now to keep quiet, though he does have words with Anita. There’s door-slamming that goes on.

Regarding Delia, she can hook you up with anything up to (and including) propofol. When Darrek contacts her, she seems very excited, but can only tell him that she’s on the verge of a breakthrough in another area, and she doesn’t want to jinx it. She’ll call if she has anything of use as soon as she can.

Darrek contacts Harlan and asks for his assistance with containing and hiding out Sam. He attempts to break through the web of deceit that Cassilda has no doubt woven throughout the young man’s psyche about him and the group. Again, he will use all of his metaphysical abilities in doing this. He asks Emily to accompany him and use her psychic abilities to potentially glean any additional information that they can about the play and Cassilda’s plans for Pittsburgh, as well as assist him in convincing Sam of the truth and tapping into any vulnerabilities he may have left.

Darek is unable to break Cassilda’s hold on Sam, who simply growls that she will set him free when the time is right, that he blames Darrek for throwing in with the person who killed his (Sam’s) parents, and that Darrek is a rube for buying into Henry’s line of bull.

When Emily comes, things go very bad. What exactly she sees in his head, Darrek never finds out, but it knocks her clean out cold for over an hour, and blood comes out of her nose and ears. When she comes to, she just says, “There’s nothing I can do, Darrek. She is in there. I think…I think there might be only one way to save him.” Then she starts weeping and refuses to talk about it any further.

He holds her. “I know, love. I’m so sorry. I just…I had to be sure.”

He turns to Sam. “I failed you once, Sam…and for that I’m more sorry than you will ever understand…but I won’t make that mistake again.” With that, he injects the boy with a heavy duty sedative. As Sam drifts off, Darrek murmurs, “And I will not let you hurt my son anymore.”. He leaves supplies with Harlan in case he needs to subdue the boy.

Darrek is very careful not to talk about Sam in front of Henry. He visits the Library and continues to hit the books, both to ensure they have not missed anything and to try and identify any spells that might be of assistance in the impending apocalyptic battle. He spends time with Henry working with him on any spells he knows that Henry wants to learn, as well as just spending time with him.

At some point Darrek looks at Henry and says, “Listen, Hen…I want you to know that no matter what happens, you will be taken care of. Even if I-” he pauses, swallows hard, and continues. “Em will make sure that you have everything that you need, and Daniel and Dr. Armedt can help with any magic-related questions-not that you really need it.” He smiles, then his face grows serious. " You will never, ever be alone again, regardless of what happens to me. Do you understand?"

There are spell design rules in Ghosts of Albion. If there’s something you have in mind, build it. Every spell imaginable is in the Library and your Occultism and Intelligence are high enough that I’m not going to make you roll to find it. You also have access to that “I’m invoking my research” bonus that Henry had last episode when the time comes.

He is intimate with Emily as often as she will allow. He shows up unannounced at her work to take her to lunch and ravishes her in the backseat of their car in the lowest level of the hospital parking lot. He comes home in the early hours in the morning from his research and awakens her from sleep. They spend almost an entire day off together in bed, reminiscent of their honeymoon in Paris as newlyweds.

One morning he begins asking her questions about her menstrual cycles and how she can tell when she’s ovulating. She shoots bolt upright in bed and stares at him, utterly shocked, and asks, “Are we…trying to get pregnant?!”

A huge grin spreads across his face. “Maybe.” He kisses her, and winks. “But I get naming rights this time, alright?”

“You’re not invoking naming rights for a child based on the fact that I got to name the dog,” she says wryly. “We’ll talk about it if it happens.”

Henry

Henry is going to hit the books. Since he is going to be going up against the final Herald and trying to foil Cassilda’s plans, he wants some kind of nuclear option, so to speak. While researching in the Library, he finds a spell that allows a caster to summon the wrath of a deity or primordial spirit in order to lash out at those who oppose it (Deity’s Wrath from Ghosts of Albion, modified to be single target rather than an area of effect, making it PL 5). The spell is not without consequences: it is apparently very draining to cast and requires some preparations such as meditation and fasting before it can be cast.

You find the spell, with Kathryn’s help, but for the life of you, the way this spell is so intricately woven together, you cannot figure out a way to modify it to affect a single target. In addition, Kathryn sits down across from you with a concerned look on her face. She pushes her glasses up on her nose, looking adorably innocent and like someone’s grandmother at the same time, and says, “Henry…I’m worried about you looking into such things. Do you know what it means to call upon the power of God to smite a foe?”

Without waiting for you to answer, she continues. “Magic like this…it always has a consequence. Always. I know this is your first Apocalypse, but I’ve watched many come and go over the centuries, and people find a way. I’m just saying, you don’t know what god is going to answer when you use this spell, or what price they’ll demand. It could be Jehoveh. It could be Kokumthena. It could be Zeus or Thor or Odin. It could, though, be That Which Should Not Be Named. This isn’t magic like you’re used to. It looks like it, but it’s not you shaping the forces of the universe. It’s you…evoking an otherworldly entity from beyond the pale…and isn’t that precisely what you’re trying to stop?”

She reaches out and takes Henry’s hand. “The wrong people could die, Henry. People of whom I’m already growing fond. You’re a bright boy, and a Protector. I believe you’ll do the right thing. That’s all I’ll say.”

Henry is frustrated by the situation, by the conversation with Kathryn, and by life in general. But he does see the wisdom in her words. While calling down the wrath of otherworldly forces to eradicate his enemies is certainly tempting, he remembers his mother’s words when he was first learning to use his Gift: “It is forbidden to touch the Other Side direct, or to make deals with the things that dwell there.” He shifts the focus of his research into magics that may augment and assist his friends, and finds a rather useful spell that increases the combat prowess of other people (Fervour of the Holy).

As he researches, Henry stumbles across a very ancient ritual in a series of scrolls called the Scrolls of Skelos. It takes him some time to translate them as they’re in some sort of proto-Semitic script which he’s never even seen before, but as he does he notices they are a treasure trove of information about the things beyond the pale, about sorcery and darkness and Things that Should not Be. This raises his Occult by one, grants him one level of Cthulhu Mythos (not Hastur, Cthulhu), and he discovers a spell in there which is not sorcerous and that he thinks he might be able to adapt to use, though it’s astonishingly difficult:

A Moment in Time
Quick Cast: Yes
Power Level: 13
Philosophy None
Requirements: Must be in the presence of a creature or being that exists outside of time, as well as within 100 yards of an active dimensional nexus point.
Effect: This spell affects an area 100-yards in radius and centered on the caster. It has the effect of locking time within that area for up to one hour (relative). During this time, no magical or supernatural effects may be used which affect or relate to time in any way. While relative time continues to pass for those within the radius, they are effectively locked within the confines of the spell.
Creation: Targets: 100-yard radius (+6); Casting time (Quick Cast +1), Range (Up to 300 feet, +2), Duration (1 hour) +3, Requirements (Highly restricted; -4), Spell Effects (Magnificent; +5).

It occurs to Henry that what he witnessed, and sensed, with what happened when Mack tried to shoot Cassilda may well have been a temporal effect; this would limit her ability to do so, but it would have to be used in her presence and at the Hellmouth.

Henry will also spend some time trying to be a normal teenager. Try to make friends, play video games, that kind of thing. He’ll hang out at the mall or a coffee shop when he isn’t studying in the Library and generally try his best to pretend that the world isn’t falling apart.

Hilda

(Downtime activities)

Mack

I have been visiting several area gun retailers and finally located a shiny new Desert Eagle at Shaw Precision Guns in Bridgeville, they were also able to rework the trigger pull and sights to My specifications. It really put a dent in my meager bank account, but I had to replace the one Cassilda so rudely took from me. Can’t believe she would do that when I only tried to shoot her in the face!! Ahh well guess I’ll see if Danny wants to grab a beer.

Blake Invesigations allows you to comp the purchase as a business expense. Anita half-laughingly tells you she knows exactly what it’s like to have a god put your face through a wall.

Also, your close encounter with Cassilda has given you an instant of insane insight. You suffer a Madness point, but you also gain 1 rank in the Hastur Mythos Wild Card skill. In addition, you can buy a level of Chi Mastery at half normal cost.

Finally, you and Danny having several beers every night is a given!

Matthew

(Downtime activities)
Matthew is pissed needless to say. He will have single-minded focus on finding his mother. He would be using every contact he can muster to try and find any information he can. He will not be pleasant to be around. During the downtime of the down time, i.e. waiting to hear from contacts and such he will be taking out his frustrations on his training equipment and going out at night to hunt things that need killing. He trains HARD for he knows the battle of his life, and his is longer than most, is coming….and somebody is going to pay for this.

Rationally, Matthew knows that he’s not likely to find Michele or Rebecca with both being in Cassilda’s hands, until the goddess makes her move. And knowing that your side has a plan to disrupt her ritual and stop her for good is cold comfort, all things considered. You do, however, gain some insights in focusing your efforts over the coming weeks.

The game-related benefits you recieve are as follows: First, you have allies. All over the city. Every member of every Covanent with whom you speak voices their support. Second, your Occultism goes up by one level at no cost. Third, you may raise your Dexterity to 8 (which would be the max for you) at half cost (20 XP instead of 40). Finally, given your specific circumstances, going into Righteous Rage during the last adventure at either of the two pivotal points (you’ll know when they are) costs you only 1 DP instead of the normal 2.

Anita approaches you during the downtime as well. She’s awkward as always, but seems genuinely concerned for you. She’s not caustic nor sarcastic, but demands time to “Eat Chinese food. With you. I want to eat Chinese food with you. At my house. I want to eat Chinese food with you at my house, now.” She does what she can to let you know that she’s always there for you, that she knows what you’re feeling and that, first and foremost, you are and always will be her best friend. “Your mom is the strongest and most powerful…woman?…I’ve ever known. And I can’t believe that God would abandon her, no matter how many mistakes she’s made. I mean, He hasn’t abandoned me yet, and I’m a fucking train wreck, so.” She gives you a rare hug. “I love you, you big jerk,” she says, “If there’s anything I can do, anything that you need, just say the word.”

At some point during the next couple of weeks, Matthew has the opportunity to see John Forsythe, who Anita has called in to help the Rosicrucians to bind Raphael in the basement (John knows the Key of Seraphim). The two exchange pleasantries, after John and Anita exchange their brand of pleasantries which involves a lot of screaming at each other and door-slamming.

After this, John asks Matthew about coming back to the apartment building. He wants to see Lorelei, as he’s brought her a gift: her birth certificate, social security card, a state ID and a driver’s license. He’s had the Templars carefully erase recods of her death and recovered her actual ID and such for her, though should her parents ever poke into it, the records will reappear just long enough to convince them the girl is quite dead.

Matthew is peripherally aware of the story of how Lorelei died, and he notices that John seems geuninely contrite about this whole thing, like he feels he owes this young woman everything. But it’s not in his nature to be sentimental, so he’s essentially giving her back the life he took away.

Yun-Xun

Yun-Xun tells the group that she must go out of town for a short while. Although she has grown in her mystic martial arts, she needs to strengthen her body as well as her mind. Casilda and the Joker are foes that can’t be taken lightly. She searches for a Storm Dragon temple. Thinking back, she has not reached out to her stateside peers. Ever since she arrived in The United States, life has been a rollercoaster focusing on removing threats. Maybe this way, she can center herself. Center herself to find true strength. The strength needed to defeat evil and protect her new friends.

She grabs a train ticket and hits the road. Her goal, to focus the Chi she throws as a bolt and focus it in to her feet. Storm Dragons learn by trial. The road ahead will not be easy, yet she knows she will succeed.

Her first step is tracking down the Storm Dragons in the U.S. This isn’t a huge task, as she knows that the Tzu Chi Foundation, a non-government social services group witih branches all over the world, is a front for the Covenant. The good deeds the group does both allows them to remain in line with Buddhist ideals, and perfectly poises them to be where their agents are needed. There is a Tzu Chi office on Banksville Road.

The Pittsburgh office welcomes her, and remarks that they were beginning to wonde if she would ever come in. They patiently listen to her problems and direct her to the mountains of West Virginia, where a secret Storm Dragon monastery is located. There she can find the peace she needs and still be only an hour or two away if she is needed.

During down time, you gain two things from your time with the Storm Dragons. The first is that you may raise you Chi Mastery by one level at half cost, in addition to raising it normally by one level (you can raise it twice if you have the XP, once at half cost). The second is that you have allies who are willing to help you in this fight. There aren’t many Storm Dragons in Pittsburgh, but the few that are in the city are willing to pledge themselves to you service in this time.

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Episode 22
In the Hands of the Living God, Part 3

Chronicler: Julie

Link to Video

Episode Synopsis

The group spends most of the day in the Library of Alexandria doing research. Darrek pulls out ‘The Dark and Divine History of the Shade on Hastur’ and begins to look through it to see if he can find anything useful. Henry asks him if that’s wise. Darrek counters that the risk of reading the tome seems worth it if they can gain information that might assist them in their current predicament. Henry doesn’t argue, but appears genuinely concerned about his mentor.

Blake_Special_Collection_2.jpg

When they finally leave the library, Michele is waiting for them, looking disturbed. She goes on to say that Raphael has disappeared from Western Psychiatric. As best as the staff can gather from the security cameras, he appeared to have a moment of lucidity, stated, “Going to kill her,” and proceeded to walk out of his room and leave the hospital entirely without anyone attempting to stop him. Michele goes on to say that every kind of locator spell she’s attempted to track him has utterly failed.

Darrek suggests that instead of attempting to locate Raphael that they could potentially attempt to locate one of the students who is missing and, by extension, learn Fowler’s location. Danny calls Agent Barnes, and asks her to meet them at the Pitt dorms so that they can gain access. They debrief with her, and she suggests bringing a SWAT team in to disrupt the ritual Fowler is planning and arrest the cultists. As the group debates with her about this, Darrek invites everyone to step out of the dorm so that he can cast the locator spell. Barnes warns him not to disrupt her crime scene, and he reassures her that he will not.

Pitt_dorms.jpg

As they talk in the hallway, everyone is deeply disturbed to feel a swell of Lyssicus from inside the missing student’s dorm room. A few minutes later, Darrek comes out into the hall, and tells everyone that the student showed as being near Fowler’s property before the spell fizzled out.

The group and Barnes return to the Hive Arcana. Henry suggests attempting to get more information from Kokumthena. He casts a spell, and is able to include Darrek and Barnes in his communion with her. She confirms that Hilda’s theory about Fowler drawing power from other sources in the area is correct. She also confirms that Raphael is somewhere within the Ohio Valley, although she is unable to place his exact location.

Darrek calls Daniel and Dr. Armedt and asks them to meet him at Fowler’s property. He presents his hypothesis that Fowler is somehow using gateways to access and draw Lyssicus into this reality, using his property as an example and calling it, “a little slice of Carcosa manifest.” Daniel and Dr. Armedt both confirm that this is probable, but explain that attempting to close or redirect a dimensional gateway would require an obscene amount of power…like the amount generated by a massive human sacrifice.

Fowler_destruction.jpg

Darrek asks the group’s assistance and proceeds to put up massive wards all around the perimeter of Fowler’s property. The group then travels to the former site of the McAllister building and Darrek repeats the ritual. Afterwards, he presents as disoriented and exhausted, behaving as if he was drunk. Henry helps him to the car and drives him home. The rest of the group hits Eat’N’Park for a late night buffet before heading home themselves.

The next morning, Yun-Xun returns to the library to research weapons and anything that might give them an advantage in the coming fight. She finds references to Orikulk weapons and shares this information with Hilda. They reach out to Johanna Oddmuth, who agrees to loan Hilda a very valuable antique from her collection…a Orikulk sword.

At the Tinsleys’ the next morning while reading the paper and having a cup of tea, Darrek has a sudden flash of insight about how they can bring Barnes’ SWAT team into the fight safely, allowing the group to focus on the supernatural threats. He texts the rest of the group and asks them to meet him at the Hive. When everyone arrives, he outlines his plan to use his magics to essentially put magical blinders on the SWAT team, allowing the group to focus on the power players while SWAT deals with the cultists.

The group heads to the former site of Mayview well before the ritual starts. They find an area to hide and again, Darrek puts up wards. Eventually Fowler appears wearing a pallid mask and robes, and accompanied by cultists, who are none other than the missing artist college students. They carry bladed weapons and lead their parents, who are bound with rope and look absolutely terrified. Seeing this, Darrek reaches over and silently grips Henry’s shoulder.

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They also spot gaunt, grey-fleshed humanoids in the area with the cultists. As the group and SWAT team move in to confront them, they also see a many-mouthed tentacle horror appear. Mack screams in terror, and Danny is frozen in fear. Winged horrors swoop in and pick Danny up and drop him.

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Yun-Xun pinballs around throwing flying kicks at cultists and taking them out. Darrek tries unsuccessfully to banish the Shoggoth. Henry taps his connection to the land and shifts the ley lines to affect Fowler’s ability to access the power of the area.

Suddenly, Henry is knocked over by a wave of Soulfire and Sam appears, screaming, “You killed them! She told me!”

One by one the cast are horrified and their perception rocked as Fowler removes his mask to reveal the indescribable horrors beneath.

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Raphael wanders out of the woods and looks terrified when he sees Fowler. He falls to his knees, pleading.

Henry casts a spell at Sam and a wall of solid air erupts around him, containing the sorcerer.
George (the earth elemental) punches the Shoggoth!

Darrek throws Soulfiire at the Shoggoth and it explodes all over Hilda and Yun-Xun. He sheepishly apologizes to both of them.

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Danny, Yun-Xun and Hilda all fight their way to Fowler at last, while Mack calls upon his chi to fire mystical bullets at the Herald. Their attacks are overwhelming and, despite taking serious damage themselves—Yun Xun nearly dying—Fowler is at last defeated. Before meeting his demise, the Herald croaks, “I have seen the truth…her power rises…you’ve done well.”

Suddenly, Cassilda appears, holding Michele by the back of the neck. Mack attempts to shoot at her, and suddenly finds himself a good hundred yards away on his back, his gun simply gone.

She says, “You didn’t tell me you had an exile…and a greater seraph.” She wraps her arms around Michele.

Looking at the group, she sneers, “You’ve taken care of three of my heralds, but will you take the fourth? I guess we’ll find out on opening night.” With a parting snide comment to Matthew about taking care of Camilla, she disappears with Michele, leaving Sam and Raphael catatonic and the group with the sinking feeling that things have just gone from bad to worse.

Darrek’s phone rings. “WHAT?” he snaps as he answers it. It’s Joanna Oddmuth, saying that she has been asked to negotiate regarding an artifact by a Mr. Wyndham Price. She tells the group to come by in the morning.

Memorable Quotes and Great Moments

Re: Drag Queens
“Not that I am unwilling to be educated…but I know next to nothing about drag queens.”-Darrek
“Really? Oh, we are so going to a drag show.”-Henry

Re: The Dark and Divine History of the Shade on Hastur
“Um, Darrek? I’m under the impression that Anita has a friend who can get us a large quantity of C4. Isn’t that a better option than you reading that book?”-Henry
“Oooo, explosives!”-Mack
“Sorry. I just thought perhaps since the solution we currently possess involves not one, but two potential murders, that I might find an alternative in here, so…”-Darrek
“…”-Henry
“Right. Anyone else want to argue with me?”-Darrek

Re: Raphael
“You lot are quite lucky, huh?”-Darrek
Michele glares at him
“Right. So that explains that.”-Darrek

When Darrek casts the locator spell from inside one of the missing students’ dorm room, everyone senses Lyssicus and gets very anxious.
“Uh…is that what I think it is? What’s he doing?”-Mack
“Is Darrek alright? Should we see if he needs help?”-Yun-Xun
“This cannot be good. Should we stop him?”-Hilda
“I’m pretty sure he’s just doing what he needs to.”-Danny
“…yeah. I got nothing.”-Henry

“I don’t want to go to Hastur.”-Yun-Xun

Darrek introduces Mack to Dr. Armedt and Daniel, explaining that they are “associates” of his. Mack is disturbed by how much Daniel resembles the Joker and starts to go for his gun. Danny stops him and Yun-Xun explains that Anita informed them that the Heralds can resemble anyone living or dead.

Everyone hears Darrek address Dr. Armedt as ‘dominus’ (‘master’ in Latin) and ‘pater’ (‘father’). He also calls Daniel ‘frater.’

To Darrek “Meus filius, you are the expert when it comes to Lyssicus, not Daniel or I.”-Dr. Armedt
“…right. Well, then.”-Darrek

“Wow…warding magics really gives one the worst case of dry mouth. Does anyone have any gum?”-Darrek

Darrek is completely exhausted and almost entirely tapped of Essence after casting 2 massive wards. His behavior is akin to being drunk. Henry drives him home. Darrek crawls upstairs on his hands and knees and into bed with Emily, where he promptly passes out cold.

Re: The earth elemental
“His name is George. His actual name is unpronounceable.”-Henry
“Right. Just don’t let him track dirt all over the carpet, alright? Em will throw an absolute tissy.”-Darrek

“Oh! Oh, I’m having an idea! Oh, there it is!!!”-Darrek Grabs his wife and plants one on her

As the rest of the group anxiously awaits the start of the ritual, Darrek and Henry have a calm, quiet, casual chat about the legal drinking age in Greece, and discuss plans for their vacation.

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Episode 21
In the Hands of the Living God, Part 2

Chronicler: Julie

Episode Synopsis

Fowler’s mansion begins shaking violently, and horrific monsters begin to emerge from every corner. Darrek grabs the map and some of the invitations off of Fowler’s desk and runs for the door. Everyone follows suit, with Matthew, Hilda, and Danny providing cover from the monsters’ attacks.

Yun-Xun and Henry jump out of the car and run towards the mansion. Upon entering, Henry turns green and collapses. Yun-Xun quickly drags him outside.

As the cast heads for the exit, Mack falls and tumbles down the stairs. He quickly gets to his feet, uninjured.

As everyone runs out of the house, it implodes totally. Darrek sees Henry laying on the lawn and helps him to his feet. Darrek, Henry, Matthew, Yun-Xun, and Hilda pile into Darrek’s Rav and head out. Danny and Mack follow on Danny’s motorcycle.

Darrek pulls into the drive-thru at Wendy’s to get Frostys for everyone. Matthew finds an unopened bottle of cheap bourbon in Darrek’s glove compartment and helps himself, then suggests that Darrek give Henry a shot of the stuff to calm his nerves. After taking the crew back to the Hive Arcana, everyone heads home for the night.

Nightmares all around. Matthew awakens in the middle of the night and hears a flapping sound. He, Yun-Xun, and Hilda are all attacked by flying Eldritch horrors. Matthew is picked up and dropped across his loft onto the floor.

Someone begins pounding on the door of the loft. Shortly after the door bursts open and a young, gorgeous woman stands in the doorway…Lorelei. She spouts fangs and long claws and attacks the creatures. She, Matthew, and Hilda manage to drive them away. Matthew quickly realizes that Rebecca is missing and, looking out the window, sees one of the creatures flying away with her.

Lorelei and the group make their introductions. Matthew proceeds to fix his door after a sheepish apology from the vampire. She expresses concern about Yun-Xun and urges Matthew to get medical attention for her.

Darrek’s phone rings, rousing him from sleep. Matthew informs him about the attack. Darrek asks if he should come and tend to Yun-Xun. Matthew tells him to get what sleep he can and come by in the morning.

The next morning, Darrek receives a second phone call, this time from a young British woman. She tells him to meet her and “Ms. Blake” at the library and to feel free to bring any associates he deems trustworthy. Darrek and Henry head to Matthew’s. Darrek stabilizes Yun-Xun using his healing magics, and everyone then heads to the Hive Arcana.

Descending into the library, everyone (except Darrek and Henry) are shocked to see that the shelves in Anita’s library are bare. There is a large, ornate oak door with a modern card reader, palm and print scanners, a retinal scanner, and two ID badges…one for Anita Blake, and one for Dr. Darrek Tinsley. Anita descends the stairs and begins to flip out about the door, which opens, and a young, attractive woman wearing glasses and holding a clipboard steps through and greets the group.

She introduces herself as Kathryn Stoddard, and the rest of the group make their introductions, although she seems well aware of who Anita and Darrek are. She coaches them both through entering their prints and scans first, then the rest of the group in turn, explaining that she will get their badges once they are inside. The oak door swings open to a vast courtyard bustling with people from every era of history imaginable…and not all of them are human. There is a fountain with a pool at the center of the courtyard.

Walking through the courtyard, they enter a massive building. Each room they pass through is unique, with bookshelves wall to ceiling as well as antiques from every era of history imaginable. Finally, Katherine leads them into a quieter room with comfortable furniture. Darrek and Anita quickly realize that the books lining the shelves are Anita’s entire occult library.

Kathryn beams brightly and welcomes them to the Library of Alexandria, informing them that they are in the Anita Blake Special Collections Wing.

She explains that the library is only accessible to those deemed worthy, and that if they agree, they can access the open resources of the entire library, although private collections such as Anita’s require the permission of the owner. Anita can leave ownership of her books to anyone of her choosing upon her death. Kathryn also informs them that if they chose, she will return the books to the Hive and they can walk away, but explains that this is a one-time-only offer. Kathryn also explains that time passes differently in the library than it does in their reality. They realize that she is several hundred years old, but appears as a young woman in her early 20s.

The group immediately dives into exploring the resources of the library, trying to find any information that might help their current predicament.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Memorable Quotes and Great Moments

(After tumbling down the stairs)
“What are you doing up there? C’mon!!”-Mack

“I don’t know about ya’ll, but I almost turned white!”-Mack

“Welcome to Wendy’s! Have you seen the Yellow Sign?”
“Yes, we have seen the Yellow Sign.”-Everyone in the car
“SON OF A BITCH!”-Darrek

Darrek orders Frosties
“Vanilla or chocolate?”
“What is wrong with this country??”-Darrek

Matthew fills his flask with a bottle of bourbon Darrek had stashed in his glove box
“What the bloody hell, man?”-Darrek
“What? You weren’t using it!”-Matthew

To Darrek
“We just found a Shoggoth, for God’s sake! Give the boy a shot of bourbon!”-Matthew

On the Season One blooper reel:
“Matthew hears a flapping sound in the middle of the night.”-Jason
“Flapping or fapping?”-Matthew
Cast and crew erupts into uproarious laughter

To Danny
“The phantom fapper showed up at your door?”-Henry

To Lorelei
“Sorry, I didn’t have time to put pants on.”-Matthew

“And I said, ‘Lord Jesus, it’s a vampire!’”-Robert

“I’m not sure what that was about.”-Matthew
“Have you ever seen ‘Ghostbusters 2’?”-Yun-Xun

Re: Yun-Xun
“Um…this young woman needs medical attention.”-Lorelei

“Hi…I’m Lorelei. I’m staying upstairs.”-Lorelei

Re: Rebecca
“Remember, the cast was going to be sequestered.”-Jason
“And she is!”-Hilda

Matthew calls Darrek
“A vampire kicked in my door.”-Matthew
“Oh?”-Darrek
“It was Lorelei.”-Matthew
“…oh…”-Darrek

“What the hell is this door doing here? That wasn’t here before! DANA!”-Anita

“Welcome to the Library of Alexandria.”-Kathryn
“Get the fuck out of town!”-Anita

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Episode 20
In the Hands of the Living God

Chronicler: Julie

Episode Synopsis

The date is January 7, 2017. Henry is in his pajamas eating cereal and watching TV. The show he is watching is interrupted by a breaking news story regarding the implosion of the McAllister building in Lawrenceville early this morning. According to the story all the appropriate permits were obtained by the owner of the property, ArtLife.

Darrek, still in his bathrobe, goes outside to grab the morning paper and suddenly finds himself in the Hive Arcana. He quickly walks outside and then finds himself in his and Emily’s bedroom. Henry hears him and runs upstairs, confused. Darrek is quite shaken and strongly desires a stiff drink. Both of them get dressed. Henry is stunned silent to see Darrek come downstairs wearing jeans, a Pink Floyd Tee shirt, Doc Martens, and a flat cap. He pulls on his peacoat and the two head to the Hive Arcana.

As they drive towards town, both of them spot elaborate graffiti of the Yellow Sign everywhere and spine-chilling phrases such as “The King cometh. It is a frightful thing to fall into the hands of a living God!” and “Strange moons circle through the sky, but stranger still is lost Carcosa.”

Danny and Mack are drinking coffee at their new apartment in the North Side. Danny receives a phone call from Agent Barnes, asking for a sit-down meeting with the group. After seeing the news about the McAllister building, they decide to go to the site to check things out before meeting Barnes and the rest of the group at the Hive Arcana. As they head out, they also spot the graffiti in their neighborhood, including Yellow Signs and the questions, “Have you seen it?” and, “Have you found it?”

Arriving at the former McAllister building, they question the foreman, who tells Mack that some weird guy named “Fowler” who is the owner of ArtLife ordered the implosion and said that when the new building “arrives” it will be fit for a king.

In the South Side, as Matthew and the rest of the crew wake and head outside, they also see the elaborate graffiti of Yellow Signs interspersed with phrases such as, “Die thou unsung as tears unshed,” and, “Songs that the Hyades shall sing shall flap the tatters of the King.”

When everyone arrives at the Hive Arcana, Agent Barnes thanks them for coming and shares that she is hoping they will assist her in investigating an unusual murder case. The victim is none other than Abigail Wright, who was discovered gutted in an alleyway with her attacker sitting next to her, laughing hysterically. Her attacker is named Allison Lewis and is currently being held at WPIC. Just before the attack, Allison placed a call to 911. When emergency personnel responded, they found her covered in Abigail’s blood ranting nonsense.

Barnes goes on to say that there has been a rash of murders across the city. All of the victims appear to be connected: they are all parents of art students who have all disappeared. Also, many of the missing students worked on the Halloween parade funded by Fowler and Bouchard. She calls WPIC and clears the group to talk to Allison, and the group heads there immediately. As they walk, Mack and Danny fill the rest of the group in about talking to the foreman at the site of the former McAllister building.

Walking into WPIC, all go through security. Darrek recognizes the guard from when Emily was being treated there and greets him. They are given nametags to wear and escorted via the elevator to the secure ward where Allison is. After staff shows them to her room and they are left alone with her, everyone can immediately sense that Allison is infected with Lyssicus.

Allison tells them that the former tenants of the McAllister building want the Night Floors back and are planning a ritual sacrifice to bring them back. She makes references to a, “once upon a time mad house,” and becomes agitated and begins screaming, “The Queen did it!” when pressed for more details. The group are then asked to leave by WPIC staff.

As they do so, they run into Michele, who is surprised to see them. She mentions that Raphael is semi-coherent, and also began screaming, “The Queen did it!”

Leaving WPIC, the group heads to the ArtLife offices. No one is there. Between Matthew and Henry and their skills with lockpicking, they are able to get inside and begin to search the offices. Reviewing their records, they find references to a “South Fayette purchase,” and discover dossiers on each of them. Henry goes pale when he finds a dossier about Sam, which mentions his important role in bringing about Carcosa. Shaking, he shows Darrek the file. Darrek takes some time to comfort Henry before looking over the information.

They also discover a package wrapped in brown paper with a yellow bow addressed to Blake Investigations. Matthew opens it, and discovers a spinning Yellow Sign, and a piece of paper with, “Surprise!” written on it.

Suddenly, the group is attacked by several Byakee and Hounds of Tindalos. Henry casts a spell and encases the hounds attacking him and Darrek in spheres of solid air. Darrek then casts a spell at the hounds attacking Yun-Xun and Hilda. They disappear suddenly with a loud, “POP!”

Yun-Xun kills a hound, while Matthew, Hilda, Danny, and Mack take care of the remaining Byakee.

The group then heads to the site of the former Mayview state hospital, thinking that it is the reference made by Allison to a “once upon a time madhouse” and in the ArtLife files to the “South Fayette purchase.” They find nothing nothing unusual. Frustrated, they decide to take a dinner break before heading to Fowler’s estate.

After dinner and drinks at Industry Public House, they arrive at Fowler’s mansion. It looks like it has been abandoned for decades and feels highly unsafe to be inside, when just a few months ago the property was in immaculate condition.

Searching in Fowler’s bedroom, they find a hidden panel and discover a lavishly decorated office. The lights flicker an eery orange color. Looking around, they find invitations on yellow paper for something called, “The Consecration and Groundbreaking Ceremony” which is taking place on Friday January 13th at midnight. They also find a large parchment style map entitled, “City of Yhtill.” Looking at it, they realize that it is super-imposed on top of a map of Western Pennyslvania. “Camilla’s Manse” is marked in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh, and “Cassilda’s Palace,” is noted in the area where Mayview once stood.

…and then comes the attack.

TO BE CONTINUED

Memorable Quotes and Great Moments

Re: Darrek
“Yeah…so, don’t go through any more doorways without pants on.”-Henry

Re: The graffiti
“Is there anyone in our group who is able to interpret these sayings?”-Mack
“Oh, yeah!”-Danny

“There are days that I really miss alcohol, and today is one of those days.”-Darrek
“I could probably get you some weed.”-Henry
“…”-Darrek

Re: Seeing Darrek wearing jeans and a tee shirt
“…EMILY!!!!”-Henry

Re: Fowler
“Does he have weaknesses?”-Mack
“Well, he’s a herald…so NO.”-Henry

Re: Fowler
“If he’s arrogant, that means he’ll make mistakes.”-Mack
Looks hard at Mack “Yes. Yes it does.”-Darrek

“It’s anything-goes Saturday! I’m dressed casual, Yun-Xun’s taking charge, the sky is falling, and everything’s fucked!”-Darrek

Re: The South Fayette purchase
“So like the Louisiana purchase but more boring?”-Mike D.

Re: The Hounds of Tindalos
To Darrek “And you’re always telling me that cutting corners is a bad thing!”-Henry

Re: Fowler
“Alright. Let’s go blow up that guy’s house.”-Yun-Xun

“Matthew’s too classy to take a dump in a box.”-Jason

To Julie “That should be a quote. C’MON!”-Jason

“We should stop and get dinner. You can’t fight evil on an empty stomach.”-Henry

Re: Mayview
“That’s where I turned up after I got kicked out of the crazy house.”-Darrek
“Right next to that used rubber?”-Matthew
Turning red “Yeah…that wasn’t here when I was, obviously.”-Darrek

Re: Industry
“Oh, look. It thinks it’s a pub. How cute.”-Darrek

Re: Fowler
“I just want to remind all of you that I was the one who advocated for burning his mansion down before, but you were all like, ‘Nooo!’”-Henry

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Happy Christmas, Henry Anders!

On Christmas morning, Henry awakens and immediately smells coffee brewing. Coming downstairs, he finds Emily and Darrek already awake and curled up on the couch together with their coffees. The Christmas tree is lit, and there are wrapped packages underneath of it. Henry’s stocking is stuffed full.

“Good morning, and happy Christmas!” Darrek smiles at him and winks. "Why don’t you go get some coffee and then you can join us and investigate your presents a bit?

Inside of his stocking, there are a bunch of various chocolate and candy treats, a really nice insulated travel coffee mug with the Hive Arcana logo, a pound of their house blend coffee, and gift cards to various stores including Game Stop, Barnes and Noble, Hot Topic, etc. There’s also a membership tag on a lanyard for the Bethel Park Community Center. “They have very nice facilities and programs,” Darrek says. “So I got us a family membership.”

Underneath the tree, Henry opens the following gifts:

An Xbox One, and a Wii U. Darrek grins. “Now you can play any game you bloody well want to.”

The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, Volumes I-III. They appear gently used. When Henry opens the cover, he immediately notices sentences have been underlined and recognizes his father’s handwriting in the margins. Turning to the front, his father’s name is carefully written on the inside cover. Henry can barely hold back tears. After his parents’ belonging were sold at the estate sale, he was sure he would never see any of his father’s books again.

Darrek says, “Some wisdom for you, from your dad.”

In a smaller box, a brass antique compass with a pocket chain attached. “That also belonged to your dad. Em took it to her jeweler, and they replaced the glass, cleaned it, and tightened everything up, so it’s in good working order.”

Several framed pictures of Henry and his parents. Darrek clears his throat. “You can put those up in your room, or we can hang them up down here, with our pictures…whichever you’d prefer.” One of them is from when Henry was a baby, with his mother. There’s also a picture of his parents from their wedding day. Without a word, Henry hangs the picture of his mother holding him over the mantle. He makes quiet plans to himself to get a nice frame for the picture of his parents’ wedding so that he can put it on his nightstand.

A copy of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, as originally written in Koine Greek. Darrek smiles. “Some more wisdom for you, this time from me. We can work through it together when we start your lessons.”

Henry smiles. “My dad hated Aurelius. He’d go on for hours about how depressing he was. How he was the equivalent of listening to a baby cry. My dad preferred Epicurus. Said he was more ‘authentic,’ whatever that means. I’m glad to see a dissenting perspective.” He hugs Darrek.

Darrek wraps his arms around Henry and chuckles. “Epicurean philosophy was a primary influence on Western culture and values…sort of the root of the idea of, ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ Stoicism takes a very different lense on life. My best advice is to read and learn as much as you can, and decide what works and makes the most sense for you.” He ruffles Henry’s hair affectionately, then lets him go.

From Emily, a super soft, crocheted afghan in variegated yarn in all of Henry’s most favorite colors. It is large enough that it fits on his bed. She made it while she was hospitalized at WPIC. The stitch she used looks like tiny little stars.

A large, leather-covered 3 ring binder. Opening it, it is filled with a thick stack of plastic sheets with slots for index cards, which contain recipes, most of them written in his mother’s hand, although some of the ones towards the back are things Emily has made since Henry came to live with them. Henry recognizes so many of his favorite meals, including his mother’s lasagna recipe.

Emily says, “I also scanned them, so there’s an electronic backup.”

Finally, in a large, deep box, there are several pairs of swimming trunks, a rainbow tie-dyed bucket hat. a tee shirt with a white unicorn pooping glittery rainbows, tubes of sunblock and zinc oxide, a water bottle, sunglasses, sandals, an oversized super fluffy beach towel, and an envelope. Inside the envelope is an application for a passport, a money order made out for the processing costs, and several printed receipts from Darrek’s personal email account. Looking at them, Henry can see that Darrek booked a trip for the three of them to go to Mykonos, Greece that they had talked about later in the summer once Henry is done with school for the year.

“Everyone’s invited to come over later, sort of like an informal open house,” Darrek says after Henry finishes opening his gifts.

Emily goes into the kitchen and puts a tray of orange-spiced sweet rolls in the oven. As they bake, the smell of them fills the house. “That’s a Christmas tradition from my family,” Darrek remarks softly.

Henry goes to his room for a moment and comes back with two boxes. He hands one to Darrek and one to Emily. Darrek opens his to find a book of Michel Foucault’s essays on sexuality. Henry has a sly grin on his face as he says, “You’re looking after a 17-year-old boy. I figured this was the best way to make sure you’re prepped for the job. Also, it’s autographed.”

Darrek laughs. “I once was seventeen years old too, you realize.” He winks at Henry. “Thank you for the book, I enjoy Foucalt.”

Emily’s gift is an intricately woven and dyed tapestry. It’s an abstract style, but the colors and shapes seem to be constantly shifting and flowing. There is a faint aura of Essence about the cloth. “I didn’t know what else to get you, so I figured I’d talk to Doctor Armedt. It’s supposed to help you center yourself and focus on your Sight.”

Emily hugs Henry tightly and kisses the top of his head. “What a thoughtful and beautiful gift! I love it. Thank you, sweetheart.” She looks at Darrek. “I want to hang it up in our room.”

He nods. “Sure, love. We can go to Pier One this week and get a hanger for it.”

Her face brightens. “Ooo, I like that plan. We can shop their after-Christmas clearance.” She goes back into the kitchen and pulls the sweet rolls from the oven, puts them onto a plate, and brings them out to Darrek and Henry.

Later, after a light lunch, they work together to get the dinner spread prepared. There’s ham, turkey, roast beef, roasted potatoes, the sweet potato casserole Henry requested, vegetables, and yeast rolls with fresh butter. Emily brings out plates of homemade cookies and sweets and sets them on the coffee table.

Around 4, the doorbell rings as folks start to arrive, including Daniel, Jamie, Anita, Dana, and the rest of the group. They are all given gifts.

For Yun-Xun: an overstuffed, comfy meditation cushion and a hand-thrown pottery tea set for tea ceremony for two. The pottery is a warm, red-brown earthenware and is flecked with shades of lavender and lapis lazuli.

For Hilda: a Zweihander with a leather rig so that she can wear it strapped on her back for maximum mobility. The handle of the sword is engraved in runes.

For Mack, Danny, and Matthew: bottles of Glemorangie Signet

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Episode 19
The Knave of Hearts, Part 2

Chronicler: Julie

Episode Synopsis

The second clue arrives exactly when the Joker promised that it would. The group quickly deduces that it describes the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium. Everyone piles into Darrek’s Rav and he skillfully speeds through Oakland, Shadyside, and East Liberty and into Highland Park.

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After paying for admission at the front gate, the group finds their way to a special dinosaur exhibit and splits up. There are families with children everywhere. Mack sees the Bishop of the Pittsburgh Diocese tied behind the massive legs of a T-Rex.

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The crowd suddenly erupts into panic as four cheetahs race towards the direction of the T-Rex. Mack pulls out his gun and expertly drops all four of them without injuring any innocent bystanders.

Demonic-looking clowns begin to close in on the group, clearly the Joker’s henchmen. Hilda vaults onto a Stegosaurus and taunts them. Henry covertly casts a spell and freezes one of them. Darrek blasts two of the clowns with Soulfire, including the one Henry is holding, who screams.

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Henry commands his air elemental to retrieve the Bishop and get him to safety. He then casts another spell. The ground underneath the clowns erupts violently and they go flying.
Matthew pulls out his sword and runs full tilt into the fray.

One of the clowns closes on Yun-Xun. Darrek throws a blast of Soulfire at it from behind, smoking it. It falls on its face at Yun-Xun’s feet.

After all of the clowns have been dealt with, the group goes to the Highland Park reservoir just up the road to regroup and await their next clue. Darrek feeds the ducks. Yun-Xun pulls out some paints she snagged from the Zoo festivities and paints Henry’s face like a Chinese dragon.

The next clue arrives, pointing to the Andy Warhol museum. The group all piles into Darrek’s Rav and heads to the North Shore. There is a black tie event at the museum. Matthew and Darrek are wearing suits, but Yun-Xun, Henry, Hilda, and Mack do not have time to change, and the guard refuses them entry. Darrek proceeds to convince him using his magics. Entering the building and racing up the many stairs to the time capsule exhibit, Hilda can sense vampires.

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Yun-Xun pulls the fire alarm to begin the evacuation of the crowd and minimize casualities. Two vampires drag the county executive into the room. Mack pulls out his Desert Eagle and dusts both of them. Yun-Xun then grabs the county executive. Matthew pulls out his sword and decapitates two vampires. Several more close on him. Hilda dusts another two. Yun-Xun defends herself against vampire attacks using her Chi abilities and resembles Neo from ‘The Matrix.’ Henry throws a spell at the vampires attacking Matthew which manifests as a glitter bomb. Darrek follows this up with a wave of Soulfire and all four crumble to dust.

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After getting the county executive to safety, the final clue arrives…and the group realizes in horror it describes the Hive Arcana. Running to the car, Darrek calls Anita and warns her.

The group arrives at the Hive. Unusually, Darrek is able to find a parking space out front, pulling in behind Anita’s car. They rush inside, and everything is normal, and fairly quiet. Darrek and Henry run downstairs to check the library. Henry is shocked to see that the shelves are bare. Darrek does not seem surprised by this, and gets lost in his thoughts.

Dana runs downstairs a few minutes later and says, “He’s here. He’s outside.” Darrek and Henry follow her upstairs. Just outside the Hive, standing on the sidewalk, flanked by Carrie and Kay wearing their harlequin outfits, is the Joker. Looking up, the group can see parade-style balloons filling the skies of Oakland overhead.

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“Hi…” he says.

He commends the group on saving three of the four aces, and then he grins. “Did I mention that I lied about the fourth?” He comments that he will see the group soon, referencing, ‘opening night,’ and laughs, saying, “And you’re not going to kill me…you’re going to let me go.”

Then he says, “Girls,” and Carrie and Kay pull out detonators and press them. The balloons overhead explode and shards of glass rain down over Oakland. Henry quickly casts a spell to try and minimize the falling glass surrounding the student dormitories. Screams echo down the streets, followed by the sounds of hysterical laughter.

Henry goes to spend the night at Matthew’s. The next morning when he arrives home, he finds Darrek and Emily having a lazy morning together, still in their pajamas and robes. Darrek is making breakfast. Curling up on the couch with Emily, Henry sees on the news that there was a massive explosion at the police station last evening, and a dozen officers, including the chief of police, were killed. Across the city, shards of glass and needles rained down from the sky, infecting thousands of people with Joker toxin. Most died.

Memorable Quotes and Great Moments

After saving the Mayor, the group gives him money to rent a bicycle to find his way home as they race to the next clue.

“They don’t have dinosaurs at Chuck E. Cheese.”-Darrek
“They should.”-Henry

“The ‘nothing happened here’ Tiananmen Square Festival?”-Mike D.

“Darrek, if we have time, after…can I get my face painted? I wanna be a LIZARD!”-Henry

“Is it Zoo Brew?”-Mack
“No, it’s Family Fun Night. So try not to shoot any children, okay?”-Yun-Xun

Re: paying for admission to the Zoo for the group
“Sure, I’ll pay…I’m just going to expense it to Anita, anyhow!”-Matthew

“I have an idea.”-Henry
“Care to share?”-Darrek
“You’ll see.”-Henry
Mutters under his breath “Oh, bloody Hell…”-Darrek

To Jason “Oh God, that’s Terra Primate.”-Robert

“Your Joker is pussy. Prove me wrong!”-Hilda

“Hey, Hilda! They’re coming your way!”-Mack

Re: the next clue
“Randyland?”-Robert

Re: the guard
“We don’t have time for this crap tonight!”-Darrek

“Darrek is like Honey Badger, because he just don’t care, and Henry is Sweet Brown.”-Robert
“I’m gunna grab myself a cold pop!”-Mike D.
“Ain’t nobody got time for that!”-Robert

“We can..definitely…go back…to the Zoo…sometime…if you want…”-Darrek, to Henry, as they’re racing up the stairs at the Warhol to the time capsule exhibit.

“You go Matthew, you go!”-Mack

“I’m the Slayer, bitches!”-Hilda

View
Episode 18
The Knave of Hearts, Part 1

Chronicler: Julie

Episode Synopsis

It is a few days before Christmas. Emily and Darrek wake and go downstairs to discover that Henry is already up, unusually, and has made coffee and breakfast for them. There are small boxes at both of their places at the dining room table. Sitting down and opening them, they discover custom pendants he had made for them both, which Darrek can tell have a minor magical enchantment cast on them. “Happy anniversary, you guys,” he says sheepishly.

Emily and Darrek are both stunned speechless, but after the shock has worn off they both hug him and thank him for such a thoughtful and sweet gesture. After breakfast, as Darrek and Henry prepare to depart for the Hive, the doorbell rings. A delivery man stands on the doorstep with a large bouquet of long-stemmed roses for Emily. When Darrek kisses her goodbye, he tells her to expect a few more surprises before the day is over. She is delighted.

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At the Hive Arcana, Danny receives a phone call from Agent Barnes. She tells him that for now, the FBI is occupied with other cases and isn’t worrying about him, so he can relax for the time being.

Mack comes in with Matthew for his “interview” with Anita. She warns him to think first, shoot second (not the other way around), and offers him a job with Blake Investigations, which he accepts.

Anita then speaks with Matthew in private and informs him that Lorelei has returned to Pittsburgh and is staying in Sandra’s loft upstairs from him. She explains that Lorelei is struggling with adjusting to being back in the world as a very powerful young vampire and has the relative emotional maturity (and lability) of a 16 year girl. She says, “Don’t let Hilda stake her, okay? It would be bad.” Matthew nods, and passes the order on to the young Slayer, who doesn’t ask any questions.

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Matthew, Mack, Danny, and Anita have several rounds of drinks in Anita’s office. Darrek comes upstairs from Anita’s library, looking deeply disturbed.

Joe calls Matthew, and asks the group to meet him at an abandoned movie theater near town, explaining that he needs their expertise. Entering the theater, they can immediately smell the stench of decay. There are multiple bodies, with green hair and rictus grins, their faces bleached. On the wall behind the stage, scrawled in black, it says, “They wouldn’t laugh…now everyone will.”

Lexie Carver is on the scene. After introductions to the members of the team she is not acquainted with, she shares her observation that there appears to be a gradual progression to the bleaching on the corpses. She and Joe discuss sending samples to Delia at Presby. Joe then takes his leave, and asks the group to meet him at the morgue after lunch to assist him with another matter.

After Joe and Lexie have gone and they are alone, Henry turns to everyone and says, “So…how about Delia still being alive? I thought we killed her…” Darrek reminds everyone that Anita told them that the Heralds can apparently resemble anyone, living or dead, and raises the possibility that the herald and Delia are not the same person, much like the Joker and Daniel.

Matthew goes to meet Rebecca for lunch. She is very excited to tell him that things with the play are progressing, and that they are supposed to be getting their scripts soon. She tells him that she may have to be sequestered during the rehearsal process, which is likely going to be very intense. Finally, she gives him a Christmas present…a black lapel pin inlaid with the Yellow Sign. She tells him she found it on the street, and attempted to find its owner, even taking out an ad with Craig’s List, to no avail. She found herself thinking of him every time she looked at it, and she hopes that he’ll think of her when he wears it.

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Darrek treats the rest of the group to lunch at a restaurant in South Oakland that Henry recommends. After lunch, they all head to the morgue to meet Joe, who asks them for an explanation regarding two beheaded bodies which were found in the South Side and Lawrenceville…and who appear identical to Delia and Alistair Borgato, although the DNA does not match. The group attempts to explain to Joe what happened. He stops them from sharing too many details, remarking, “I don’t want to know, and I don’t need to know,” and cautions them against complicating matters further by doing anything that could potentially implicate them legally.

After their meeting with Joe, everyone heads back to the Hive Arcana. A beautiful, red haired woman is sitting with Anita in her office, and they come out of her office together. The woman greets Matthew with an embrace and says, “With everything that’s going on, I thought it was time to check in.” She smiles at and says hello to Darrek and asks after his wife. He tells her that Emily is doing much better and she responds, “Good. I’m so glad.”

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The woman introduces herself as Michele, and explains that several months ago, right around the same time that everything that’s currently happening in Pittsburgh first started, one of her brethren, Raphael, showed up in her apartment apparently having been driven completely insane, ranting pieces of a horrifying story that she felt herself being drawn into, and carving symbols into his skin. She took him to Western Psych, and has been watching over him ever since, explaining that he is extremely powerful…and very dangerous given his current state. She asks the group if they’ve made any headway with their research.

Darrek tells her that earlier today he was finally able to track down a reference to the ritual that was performed to trap Cassilda the last time she surfaced. She says, “Well, that’s very encouraging.” He goes on to say that the ritual is very dark, explaining that it requires multiple blood sacrifices, including the death of an angel and someone beloved of the sorcerer performing the ritual. Michele says that she would rather see Raphael dead than suffering as he has been, and offers to do what she can to be of assistance to them, explaining that she needs to “keep off the radar” as much as she possibly can.

Henry asks Darrek if he can look at the reference that he found, positing that given his natural, intuitive understanding of magic he may be able to find a loophole that they can exploit. To his surprise, Darrek doesn’t argue with him and hands him a journal, saying that he’s working on tracking down the original ritual referenced in the text. As Henry reads over the journal, Darrek asks Michele if she can attempt to find Sam Chanler, his former ward. Henry’s face turns to stone upon hearing the name of his parents’ murderer spoken out loud. She says she will do what she can, and will let him know if she turns anything up. She embraces Matthew again and tells him to be careful. He later acknowledges to everyone that Michele is his mother.

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Shortly after Michele takes her leave, a gentleman wearing a three piece suit and glasses walks in and Anita blinks, rubs her eyes, and says, “Oh my God…Wes? Is that you?” The man introduces himself as Wesley Wyndam Price, and explains that he is a liason between the Pittsburgh branch and the Senior Partners at Wolfram and Hart, due to a clause in his contract which extended beyond his death. He explains that he received a message from Faith and Angel at Angel Investigations in Los Angeles that they had inquired about the Mutari Generator.

Unfortunately, he goes on to say, the generator is currently in Hell, and his ability to directly intervene is limited by the Senior Partners, who see what is currently happening in Pittsburgh as Blake Investigations’ problem, not theirs. Still, he promises to try and do what he can to help. He reveals that Cassilda’s heralds appears to be building up a massive amount of energy for her that will allow her to drop the equivalent of a nuclear bomb on top of Pittsburgh, resulting in Carcosa manifesting in its place in this reality.

After Wesley leaves, Darrek and Henry speak briefly about the journal referencing the ritual. Darrek assures Henry that he is safe and has nothing to fear, as the author of the journal reveals that he had to sacrifice his own son in order to power the ritual to entrap Cassilda. Henry asks Darrek if he’s going to kill Sam. Darrek appears anxious, sad, and uncertain, and tells him that he’s hopeful they can find another way to complete the ritual.

Agent Barnes calls Danny again and asks the entire group to meet her at her office. Once there, she proceeds to show the group a video of the Joker. He tells them that he has four Aces-the mayor, the county executive, the chief of police, and the bishop of the Pittsburgh diocese-and that unless they play his game, he’s going to kill each of them, publicly. He informs them that he’s going to give them clues, which will be delivered by his girls. “Harl? Harl? You ready?” he asks. The camera pans back to reveal Carrie and Kay, wearing skin tight harlequin outfits, and giggling. The Joker says they’ll receive their first clue at 7pm, and will have until 8pm to figure it out and get to the location…or the mayor will be publicly executed. The video cuts out.

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Darrek realizes the first clue is coming at the exact same time of his dinner reservation at Le Mont for he and Emily’s anniversary. He calls her and explains that he needs to reschedule and why. She is very understanding about the situation, particularly when Darrek mentions that Kay and Carrie are involved.

At 7pm, as promised, the group receives their first clue and is able to deduce the location of the mayor as being the Babcock room at the Cathedral of Learning. They rush there, and Darrek remembers that they’ll need a key to access the room, which is kept in the Chancellor’s office. Matthew is able to bypass security and obtain the key. Entering the room, they immediately engage in combat with the Joker’s goons.

Highlights of the fight:

Mack acts recklessly and accidently shoots the mayor.

Hilda, Yun-Xun, Danny, and Matthew kick ass and take names.

Darrek, with Danny’s assistance, is able to move over to the mayor and heals him.

Henry throws a massive spell at the goons which manifests as enormous glitter bombs, and finishes them off.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Memorable Quotes and Great Moments

To Henry, during breakfast “So, ehm…how would you feel about having a sleepover at Matthew’s tonight?”-Darrek
“I think it’s a great idea. I was actually planning on talking to him about it when we got to the Hive.”-Henry
“It’s not that we don’t love you, it’s just…”-Darrek
“You just want to take a one way trip to Bang Town. I get it.”-Henry

Re: Henry
To Darrek “I’m so glad you brought him home with you!”-Emily

Re: Discussion about getting Henry a sword
“What about a whip? Whips are cool. I could be like Indiana Jones.”-Henry making a gesture like a dominatrix
“…let me think on that…”-Darrek

Re: Her booze stash
“Make another crack about, ‘Is that all for me?’ and you’re getting the Wild Turkey.”-Anita
“All that and Wild Turkey, too?”-Mack

Re: Upon finding the information he was looking for in Anita’s library
“SON OF A BITCH!”-Darrek

Re: Matthew, Danny, and Mack drinking with Anita in her office
“Bastards…”-Darrek

Re: The police
“They call us in when things look ooky spooky.”-Henry

Re: The police
“So the boys in blue can’t handle their business?”-Mack
“If they’re calling us, no.”-Danny

Re: Decapitated “Alistair”
“He tried to cut off my head, so she killed him.”-Matthew gestures to Hilda

“Can you please explain what’s going on?”-Joe
“Oh, so now you want to listen.”-Darrek
“Mr. Tinsley, if I wasn’t listening from the time this mess first started, Daniel would be in custody right now.”-Joe

Re: Creepy Alistair
“Draw me like one of your French girls.”-Henry
“Seriously?”-Alistair

Re: The ritual
“In case you were wondering, I’m not planning on sacrificing you, so no worries about that.”-Darrek
“Are you going to kill Sam?”-Henry
“No. Yes. Maybe. I don’t know. I don’t want to kill anyone. That’s definitely Plan B.”-Darrek

Re: Upon finding out the Joker is holding the Mayor hostage
“Fuck it, then!”-Matthew

Re: Darrek telling Emily he needs to cancel their anniversary plans because of work
“This seems like a phone call rather than a text message sort of situation.”-Henry

Re: The phone call
“Darrek! It’s our anniversary.”-Emily
“I know, love. I’m really sorry…but duty calls. Urgently.”-Darrek
Exasperated sigh “You kill that fucker, you hear me?”-Emily
“I’ll do my best.”-Darrek
“And you be careful, and come home to me. And bring Henry home safely, too.”-Emily
“I will.”-Darrek
“Unless he’s, you know, still going to spend the night at Matthew’s…on second thought, drop him off there, and then come home to me, okay?”-Emily
“Yes, ma’am.”-Darrek

Re: The Mayor
Leans in and whispers to Darrek “I have an air elemental with one service left that it owes me. They can throw him out the window if they want to.”-Henry
Putting his hand over his heart and glancing at Henry “So bloody proud.”-Darrek

Re: The Mayor
“That son of a bitch won’t make any more bike lanes in this city!”-Mack

Re: The Mayor
“That’s what we call ‘collateral damage’!”-Mack

“You underestimated my magic-ness.”-Darrek

View
Episode 17
The Night Floors, Part 2

Chronicler: Julie

Episode Synopsis

The group enters an Edwardian-styled smoking room. Darrek points out that one of the scenes in the pages of the play that they found takes place here, and the group watches in fascinated horror as the scene is acted out in front of their eyes. The actors seem to be able to hear something, which the pages from the play indicate is them (the group). Darrek attempts to get their attention…and one of them walks right through him. He, and everyone else, is thoroughly disturbed.

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Continuing down a hallway, there are a series of framed black and white photographs of men and women wearing 1920s-style dress holding bottles of various shapes and sizes with names at the bottom of the photos. The last photo, however, is just an empty bottle…and the name at the bottom of the photo is ‘Darrek Tinsley.’

Darrek is stunned and picks the picture up. When he does, he hears a voice whisper in his ear, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living god!” He swallows hard and hangs the picture back on the wall.

Meanwhile, Henry finds a solid gold exquisitely-crafted fish and puts it into his pocket.

Suddenly, everyone hears a scream and the sounds of automatic gunfire. As the group rushes towards the direction of the noise, they enter a massive ball room. It is empty, except for fresh bullet casings and a blood trail which leads into a wall and then disappears. As they investigate, they can all see a fat man at the far end of the room, who seems to be able to see them and looks terrified. He fumbles with a set of keys, opens the door, runs through it, and closes it behind him.

Hilda bolts after him, running through the door, and almost pitches head first into an empty elevator shaft that seems to stretch into infinite nothingness both above and below. The man is nowhere to be seen. The sound of singing echoes from behind them. Turning around, they see a young girl, covered in white gauze, singing in an alien tongue. Henry focuses his mystical senses on her and feels…absolutely nothing.

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“She’s not real,” he says. “There’s no one there.”

Danny approaches a set of curtains along one of the walls where the blood trail ends and throws them open, revealing a large crack in the wall. He can feel cool air blowing through it and as he peers through, can see digging equipment on the other side. He suggests that they go through the crack and continue to follow the blood trail. Henry agrees. Having no other concrete leads, the rest of the group follows. Stepping through the crack, it disappears, and the group finds themselves in a corridor, with the blood trail leading in both directions.

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Darrek suddenly realizes that Henry is gone. He completely loses it and begins to scream his name. Henry says, “What?” and is suddenly standing next to him again, looking very confused.

As they proceed down the corridor and turn a corner, they see a group of eight clockwork men with Tommy guns trained on them, who open fire as soon as they spot the group. Yun-Xun gets shot and goes down. Darrek throws a blast of Soulfire at one of them using his sorcery, which everyone senses.

Suddenly, a door is thrown open and a tall black man wearing a leather duster, jeans, and a khaki shirt steps into the room and opens up on the clockwork men with a pair of Desert Eagles. Matthew swings his sword effortlessly and decapitates one of them. Darrek sees the clockwork men aiming their guns at Yun-Xun and throws himself between them and her as they open fire again. Their bullets hit his mystical shield and fall to the ground.

Yun-Xun comes to and sees Darrek is laying on top of her. He blushes, clearly embarrassed, and she pushes him off of her and gets to her feet. Henry throws a spell at one of the clockwork men, which manifests as a glitter bomb. The gunslinger follows up by blowing its head off. After the threat is neutralized, he demands to know who they are.

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The group introduce themselves. The man likewise introduces himself as Mack Arthur, and informs them that they are in Kandahar, Afghanistan, explaining that he is the only surviving member of a Navy Seal team whose orders were to hunt down and kill the Yellow King, the terrorist leader of an ISIS cell. The group tells him that they’re (mostly) certain that they are not in Afghanistan, and explains who they are and where they came from. He seems confused by their story, and suggests that they stick together. The group unanimously agrees.

Continuing down the corridor, each member of the group sees themselves reflected in a large mirror, but wearing fancy 1920s-style clothing. In the background behind them are other people as well, who appear to be enjoying a lavish party. In a doorway within the reflection, they also see a tattered figure wearing yellow robes.

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Darrek points at the figure and begins laughing hysterically, sliding to the floor. Henry sits down next to him and begins to sing one of his favorite songs by David Bowie, attempting to help ground and center his mentor. Darrek lays his head on Henry’s shoulder and begins to sing along. After a few minutes, he remembers that his charge (and the rest of the group) is depending on him, and gets his proverbial shit together. Mack proceeds to smash the mirror.

There are several doors along the corridor. From one, Matthew hears what sounds like actors running lines. From another, Henry can hear the tinkling of a music box. Mack hears people arguing. From the door by where Danny is standing, he can hear the sounds of a man and a woman having raucous sex.

Suddenly, everyone can hear someone shouting, “I’ll kill you, you bitch!” and throw open the door. They see two white alabaster statues sitting on a bed, their expressions frozen, but clearly in an argument. As soon as they close the door, the sounds of their argument continue.

Exploring the room where Danny heard the sounds of loud intercourse, they are horrified to find an empty hotel room, with a bed covered in blood and shards of metal. Scrawled messily on the wall, in black ichor, are the words, “WHERE’S MY BOTTLE?!”

Everyone looks at Darrek, who sheepishly throws up his hands and declares, “I haven’t had a drop to drink today, I swear!”

They open the door to the room where the music box sounds are echoing from. A porcelain clockwork child begins wheeling towards them. Matthew pulls his sword out and quickly cuts its head off. There is an invitation affixed to its back to the ‘Masked Ball of Carcosa.’

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Darrek and Yun-Xun both see the salesman again come out of one door and run through another. They take off after him, the rest of the group following them as closely as they can. Running through the door, they find themselves in another ballroom. A party is in full swing. Couples are dancing, and a handsome Asian waiter weaves around guests with a platter of hors d’oeuvres, stopping to offer some refreshment to the group. Matthew takes one, which upon inspection, contains pieces of a dead snake, to Darrek’s abject horror. Mack declares that he needs a drink and begins to move towards the bar. Darrek grabs him by the back of his collar and stops him, cautioning him against indulging in anything consumable. The group can also see human-sized marionettes moving mechanically amongst the crowd of party guests.

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Exiting the ballroom and continuing down the corridor, Mack finds a piece of paper with a strange symbol on it in black ink. He holds it up, and each member of the group in turn automatically asks him, “Have you seen the Yellow Sign?,” although they appear to have no memory of doing so. Mack asks what the symbol means, and Henry says, “It’s bad. It’s just bad.” Darrek asks Mack if he can see the paper, and when Mack hands it to him, he shreds it into tiny pieces which he then throws and scatters into the air.

Henry asks Darrek if they can go home. Sensing that the boy’s psyche is being worn down by the pure insanity of this place, Darrek puts his arm around Henry as they walk. Mack brusquely tells Henry to shut up, which almost results in an altercation between him and Darrek. Danny quickly intervenes, calms everyone, and smooths the situation over.

Entering the door that Henry heard the music box coming from, the group finds a child’s bedroom. There is a puppet theater in the room with puppets on stage acting out a show. A single, veiled figure sits in a chair in front of the theater, seemingly entranced. Matthew lifts the veil and discovers that it is Rebecca. She does not move or acknowledge him at all, even when he lays a kiss on her lips.

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Hilda strides across the room and rips the puppets out of the theater. They start to attack her. She pulls out her sword and cuts the theater in half, and a massive wave of Lyssicus washes over the room, making everyone feel ill and even more unsettled. Darrek lays his hand on Rebecca’s shoulder and attempts to wake her using his magics. His spell fails, and he senses a pushback of Lyssicus energy reacting to his Essence.

Henry attempts to open the curtains across the room and sees something that rocks his sanity. He closes the curtains and looks completely dazed. Darrek peruses the bookshelves, picking a book up off of a shelf and opening it. He discovers, written in precise and unsettling detail, one of his recent nightmares printed on the pages of the book. He closes the book and re-shelves it.

The group exits the child’s bedroom and continues, coming to a final door at the end of the corridor. Entering, they see hundreds of the human-sized marionettes watching actors dressed in opulent costumes on stage. Suddenly, Rebecca animates and rushes forward towards the stage. She begins interacting with two of the marionettes, clearly reciting lines from a play. Hilda tackles her, and the audience rises en masse and dog piles on top of her and Rebecca.

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The actors on stage filed down and begin to approach the group. The curtains lift and the group can see sculptures of each of them (except for Matthew), and a man wearing a featureless mask. He places his hand on Henry’s sculpture, who doubles over.

Reaching for Darrek’s hand, Henry temporarily transfers his magic to him. Lightning bolts of Essence erupt through the room and channel into Darrek, and Henry and Mack are both blown back by the backlash. Darrek throws a massive wave of Soulfire at the man in the mask. Hilda attempts to muscle her way out of the pile. The man in the mask then touches Darrek’s sculpture. He fights through an wave of excruciating pain and assumes that the man in the mask must be Alistair, having sustained this type of mystical attack from him before.

Mack and Danny suggest attempting to destroy the sculptures. Darrek and Henry both warn against this, not knowing if they are simply a focus or some form of sympathetic magic, like a large-scale voodoo doll. They decide to proceed with smashing the sculptures anyhow. Darrek’s is successfully knocked over and shatters. He frantically grabs his hair and runs his hands over his face and upper arms.

Matthew reaches the stage and engages Alistair in combat. Alistair slices Matthew throat, almost decapitating him. His sword falls from his hand to the stage and he collapses. Hilda then picks up Matthew’s sword and cuts Alistair’s head from his shoulders. The pallid masks falls off of Alistair and shatters, and everyone can see his face beneath it.

Suddenly everything is a swirling vortex of energy all around them, seriously disorienting everyone. When they come to, they find themselves back in Abigail’s apartment. Rebecca is with them. She wakes to find Matthew laying at her feet, bleeding from the wound at his throat. After some time passes, the wound closes and he gets to his feet, to her utter shock. Darrek pulls him to the side and quietly offers to help him in modifying Rebecca’s memory.

Mack is also with them, and his memories all come rushing back all at once. He remembers that he just moved into the McAllister building, and expresses that he thinks he’s going to move, and that he needs to find a job. Matthew gives him his card, and directs the man to come to the Hive Arcana the next day for a meeting with their boss, Anita. As they are leaving, Darrek uses his magics to inspect the energy of the building, and is relieved to discover that it is no longer a Schroedinger’s tenement.

Memorable Quotes and Great Moments

“I quit life.”-Henry

“I’m not a butler! I’m a professor, thank you very much.”-Darrek

Re: Darrek reading the lines from one of the pages of the play
“I’m telling Emily that you said the Really Bad Word.”-Henry

Darrek says, “Fuck you, you cunt,” in unison with the character Mark from the play.

Re: Mark walking through him
“WHAT THE BLOODY HELL WAS THAT?!”-Darrek

“Dex check.”-Jason
“Simple?”-Tom
“No, difficult. You didn’t see this coming.”-Jason
“The Spanish Inquisition?”-Robert

Re: Henry
“Where the boy goes, so goes my nation.”-Darrek

Re: Henry disappearing
“Sanity check, minus six.”-Jason
“I don’t really like Henry that much, can I have a minus four instead?”-Mike V.

Re: Yun-Xun getting shot
“There she goes again…”-Danny

“When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”-Henry

“Clockwork dickbags!”-Matthew

Re: Darrek throwing himself in front of Yun-Xun to protect her from a hail of gunfire
In a mega-nerdy voice “He’s a superhero.”-Henry

To Matthew “Cherry-picker!”-Danny

“A Desert Eagle works a lot better than fireworks, boy.”-Mack

“We were assigned to take out the Yellow King.”-Mack
“OH BOY HOWDY!”-Henry

“I mean, it’s a creepy mirror in an Eldritch apartment from beyond space and time…”-Henry

Henry starts singing ‘Space Oddity’ by David Bowie to Darrek, attempting to calm him. Darrek puts his head on Henry’s shoulder and begins singing along.

“Who’s in charge?”-Mack
Everyone looks at one another, and then everyone points at Matthew in unison.
“It’s a loose democracy.”-Danny

Re: The sounds of a man and woman having raucous sex
“Rodeo, rodeo, rodeo!”-Matthew

“What’s this ‘ball room’? Is it like, loose trousers?”-Matthew

Re: Matthew eating the hors d’oeuvres with dead snake bits in them
“Do it!”-Henry
“Henry!”-Darrek
“What?? It’s not going to hurt him!”-Henry

Re: The Yellow Sign
“Can I see that?”-Darrek.
When Mack hands him the piece of paper with the Yellow Sign on it, Darrek shreds it into a million pieces.

“Darrek, I’m tired of this place. Let’s go home.”-Henry

“We don’t have a set plan. I’d be willing to take point.”-Mack
“Yeah, you do that!”-Henry
“Okay. Sorcerers in the back!”-Darrek

To Henry “Shut up, fire cracker boy.”-Mack
“Hey, now…”-Darrek Gives Mack a look that could shatter glass
“Don’t be mean to me. I have important friends.”-Henry

Re: After kissing Rebecca and getting absolutely no response
“This ain’t Rebecca. This one’s broken!”-Matthew

Darrek opens one of the books and reads, in graphic detail, a vivid description of a nightmare he has recently had. He closes the book and shelves it.

To Darrek “Don’t look at books.”-Mack
“So, Mack, listen up for a sec. I like you. You’re an alright chap…but don’t tell me what to do, alright?”-Darrek

Re: Henry
“Don’t mind the smartass kid.”-Danny

Re: Darrek
“Don’t mind him, either. He’s a good man. He just gets cranky.”-Danny
Visibly irritated “I do not get cranky.”-Darrek
“Look, there he goes! He’s doing it!”-Henry
Looks pointedly at Henry “Shut up.”-Darrek

Re: Rebecca
“I knew this was going to happen.”-Matthew

Re: Hilda
“ ‘Be Like Frau,’ is the power you’re using!”-Mike D.

“I think I’m okay…”-Darrek
“I think you’re okay, too.”-Matthew

“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”-Henry
“What have you been reading???”-Darrek

Re: The McAllister Building
“I think I’m going to move…”-Mack
“I have a friend who might be looking to sublet her flat, and as luck would have it, she lives right above Matthew.”-Darrek

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