Friday, September 30, 2016

Journey ep07 : Ryuutama


Episode Seven
"Desert Prisoners"


The group begins on a carpet in the sands.  The gathering around them watching intently as the winds blow and the cloths flutter against the desert winds.  The Grand Caliph Marwan watches them nearby and has bowls of water, wine and fruit offered.  A few meters away, a cart stands, and on it is the chained Vizier.  His hands are bound and his mouth is gagged.  The Caliph motions at his guards to sstep aside and let the three come forward.  Tristan motions, showing his intentions and desire to speak.  The Ryuujin notices his attempt and blesses him with a Critical Success.

The three are allowed to explain themselves and share the stories of their journey.  Each story, is told as a flash back of events that have transpired.

Act I: March Through the Desert
A few days ago.
The Prince gave them the task to travel through the desert and bring the Vizier DeVill there to be chained and imprisoned for the rest of his immortal years. When they return, they are to be given the chance to use their flying vehicles to visit anywhere they desire.   The three marched through the desert, going a terrible distance of around 90 km into the heat.  The first day of their journey goes smoothly.  The second day, the Ryuujin takes pity on their struggles against the heat and casts Tale of the Heart to grant them Fumble Points.  Aya sings the Campsite Song to raise their spirits.  Byt hte third day, however, they find themselves once more facing a bunch of Running Eggs!  The sand, rock, palm tree, sand snakes and the vizier himself prove to be useful objects during the battle.  Soon enough, they see the Oasis in the distance and make their way there.

Act II: The Stone Stalker
As they close in, they realize the garden of statues around the oasis are not statues.  They realize that the place is not a decorated area.  Instead, they are the remnants of what seems to have been another caravan!  As they anticipate danger, they note the objects around them: statues, sand, trees, water, and the purple carriage.  A monster emerges, stalking them with its slow yet steady crawl.  With its poisonous bite, anyone bitten by the thing can turn into stone!  The Vizier's eyes widen in terror.  Same with its terrible gaze. Aya ignores the deadly stare and draws her sword to join the battle. Piter adjusts the Vizier's gag to become a blindfold, and he leaps into the battle. They throw the canopy of the cart over the monster to keep its deadly gaze from reaching them.  Piter uses his Seasonal Magic to launch shooting stars at the beast.  But as the battle begins to lean against the adventurer's favor, a fatal bite aimed at Tristan is suddenly protected by a blur of movement out of nowhere.  None of them realize the Ryuujin took the blow to protect the others.  It begins to blink faster and faster until finally it explodes, defeated!   Every statue that was frozen regains their fleshy tone. They defeated the Basilisk!

Act III: The Caliph
As they came to their senses, the Caliph called for the guards to act!  The women covered their eyes as the guards threw ceramic pots!  The gas swirled all around them and the three felt their bodies seize up and pull them into unconsciousness.

Back at the present time.
The Grand Caliph looks at the three and orders the guards to undo their chains.  Even the Vizier's chains are being undone!  Tristan calls out and informs them the man is their prisoner, and that he best not be released or he will enchant them all.    The Prince and the Princess that the three had assisted turn out to be the children of Mundhir.  The man had long been sick and his son and daughter though not of blood, have taken over the Sultanate.  The Vizier was the D'jinn that once served Mundhir himself.  Aya explains it was the D'jinn that tried to manipulate them.

The three adventurers are finally freed of the chains and given water and food.  The Caliph is happy to know the Sultanate still stands and that they have opted to rule without the sacrament of marriage.  The Caliph sadly shares with them that getting back is unlikely to happen as they have arrived at the onset of Rahman, the coming of the Sand Storms, which marks the beginning of a few months of sandstorms.  The Caliph introduces them to Hakam, a giant golden figure which turns out to be his D'jinn.  Hakam is warm-hearted and solitary and almost acts like a child.    It's eyes are red rubies, and its teeth are diamonds.  As he speaks, characters form in mid-air as a word bubble actually appears visibly in the sky.  None of them have learned his language but Hakam understands them and grants their requests.  The Caliph can attempt to send them back, but there's no guarantee where Hakam might send them.  The Caliph even muses that they might unlock the secret language of the D'jinn and be able to communicate with him directly.

The three discuss their options, given there isn't much to sell in this area.  They try talking to Hakam and they learn from a tattooed woman of the Legend of the D'jinn, the Language, and how to control their massive power, some were stripped of the freedom to think (the Gold D'jinn) and others, the freedom to care (those like DeVill). They learn of the First Magus mastered most of the D'Jinn's language and gained control of nine of the thirteen D'jinn in existence. He only failed because of a woman whom he loved so much, she begged him to wish them away. Legends say these two were talking dogs.  Aya remembers the Corgs.  The three also discover that they seem to be missing a lot of water from their supply.  Aya hears a burb from the water barrel and discovers to their horror that Party Leader, the monkey, has been hiding in the barrel all this time!  Even worse, THEY have been drinking the water Party Leader has been swimming in!  As they eat the Basilisk meat, they feel the magic of the flesh heal any wounds from their travel.

When Aya presents the Party Leader to Tristan, they find a massive ruby ring in his mouth!  In the distance, they overhear the Caliph getting angry as they realize he had lost his ring!  Worried that they might be mistaken as thieves, Tristan immediately announces they have it.  As Piter confronts Tristan for Party Leader's actions, these amuse Hakam, who laughs and poof, the ruby ring transmutes into a ruby monkey.   Gifted with sentience, the ruby monkey tries to run off but Aya keeps her hold on it.  The Caliph desires to have his ring back, but Tristan wonders if it would be best that they left immediately.   Tristan explains the D'jinn has the ring.  The Caliph asks if the ring which he uses to control the D'jinn is actually with his D'jinn?  Aya tries to discern D'jinn language to try to ask Hakam to transmute the ring from ruby monkey back into a ring.  Poof.  Party Leader appears in Aya's hands.  But the ruby monkey is still running around.  Piter shakes his head, "This is another problem caused by your Monkey..."

As Aya tries explaining to Hakam needing the ruby monkey, Hakam begins poofing more and more monkeys from gods know where.  At some point, there's even a Gorilla teleported into her hands!  Tristan pulls Party Leader and asks him to call all the other monkeys to his spot.  Piter, to encourage him, "accidentally" drops his axe close to Party Leader's tail.  The Ruby Monkey closes in this time.  Aya feels another poof as an Orangutan appears on her shoulders.  And more and more and more.  Twenty plus different monkeys now surround Aya.  Tristan tries asking Hakam to turn all the monkeys into rings, but only after Party Leader leaves the room.  Hakam laughs and all the monkeys vanish.  Tristan peeks outside and thankfully Party Leader is still there.

Piter approaches the D'jinn and begins scolding it.  He starts telling the giant golden baby that it is time to sleep.  Tristan gets inspired by Piter's actions and tries talking to Hakam like a mother urging her child to go to bed.  Another flash of starlight and the attempt succeeds beyond expectations.  The Ryuujin smiles in the distance.  When Hakam speaks, some of the characters in the word bubble begin to come into focus.  They have unlocked the letter R.

Hakam slides down to sleep.  The tattooed woman is impressed at how they got the D'jinn to rest.  Piter is insistent that they are not going home via D'jinn.  The tattooed woman is preparing their tents for the next three months.  "Luckily you brought a lot of meat."  The three realize she is referring to their pack animals!  

Aya returns the Caliph's ruby monkey and explains what happened with Party Leader.  The Caliph teases that she might be lying to keep the ring for himself.  He "wears" the ring on his shoulder and uses the power to send them back.  They gather supplies, worried that he might send them elsewhere.  They ask to be sent to Artienna.

But the Caliph pronounces it as Arentay!

The three get their bearings and discover Hakam sadly has transported them elsewhere.  They stand at a dark mountain side with a curtain of dark clouds.   Aya hopes to see landmarks to identify where they are.  Piter and Tristan see Party Leader staying close, spooked by the new location.  They find a spiral staircase leading down.


The Ryuujin stares from the fireplace into the burning flames.  He realizes he cannot find the three.  They are gone from his realm.

"Where have they gone?"


Elsewhere, a ripple of water dances.  A woman smiles.  Her reptilian eyes narrow.  "Someone has entered my realm."  The Black Ryuujin smiles, realizing she has new toys.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Nisab Diary ep02 : 7th Sea

The Nisab Diary

"Port and Porte"
Episode Two - 7th Sea

Reikion of the Eventide had arrived at Five Sails long before the others had.  He scouts the city and finds it to be generous with further options to head deeper into Eisen territory.  He identifies a possible Porte Sorcier who can give them a means to get into Eisen sooner, as well as a river barge option if the others choose to avoid any Sorcery related routes.  He spends time at the Billowing Bob, where he befriends a barmaid named Ella who takes a fancy to him.  He spends hours using the Sight of Matushka to spy on Tassine Anastasia Jade dela Croix Bullet as she travels down south.  He sees her best two ships single-handedly, swinging from mast to mast to disable both vessels before - unless some chicanery was involved - riding a cannonball back to her own ship.

Enroute by ship, Jan Volta and Walden Reichart are told by Diomedes Dorn to hurry below the deck and remain silent.  The two watch as the crew of Dorn's vessel quickly change into white robes and a different banner is hung upon their mast.  In the lower deck, they peer through a window and learn that all the fuss is regarding a ship with a red banner that is about to cross their wake.  Volta recalls stories of a man named Captain Reis who supposedly helms the Crimson Roger.  The pirate is known to be quite bloodthirsty and cruel.  Volta presumes the ship is pretending to be a vessel for the sick, so the pirate ignores them. Reichart, however, realizes the man at the helm of the other ship saw him peering from the window and hopes that didn't lead to complications down the line for the Vesten ship.

The three reunite at Five Sails, where they quickly decide on taking the Porte route as it could shave them the most time.  The old Montaigne, a gentleman by the name of Valeron Weiss, agrees to do them the service if they do one in exchange instead of payment.  He asks to meet them at a cabin outside of town by the eight hour of vespers.  The others spend time gathering resources such as food, traveling gear, and information.  Volta meets another of his people whom also has a dievas.  He learns the man has defeated two dievas previously and is infamous among those who have the Sanderis.  It gives him hope, however, to someday best his own.  Reikion visits the meeting place prematurely and discovers that Ella actually lives in the cabin with an old woman.  And Reichart catches sight of some female Ungetumjaeger who are hunting in the woods close to Five Sails for some monstrosity that has been abducting children.  

Night comes and the three reunite with Valeron Weiss whom they discover to be a close friend of Ella and her very rude mother.  He asks for their assistance to help him fulfill another task of his own - a job he has yet to manage - and in return, he will Walk them to Starke, a city close to the the Dracheneisen mountains, and not too far from Buche, their goal.  Reikion excuses himself to visit the woods, bothered by events and seeking guidance from Matushka.  He catches sight of a beautiful doe being brutally killed by a stalking mountain lion and nearly walks into a spider feasting on a butterfly that had gotten caught on its web.  He realizes there is evil and there is nature, and nature sometimes is not about morals but mortality.  They agree to help him in his task, which involves luring and capturing alive a monster that has been sighted in the woods.  Reichart reminds them they have to hurry, however, having seen the hunters searching most likely for the same prey.

They see the monsters in the woods, furry things of teeth and fangs, and while Reichart attempts to act as a lure to draw them close. He hopes the hexenwork he prepared earlier that evening would prove to be useful.  Valeron begs for time as he crafts a massive Porte to shunt the monster through, and gives Reikion an Eisen coin marked with his own blood to use in case he needed to find the Ussuran in the future.  Volta and Reichart realize there are more monsters than expected!  And Reikion risks his life to lure the thing towards the portal while Volta uses his favors with the dievas to trip the beast with its own shadows.  As the thing attempts to rake at Reikion, however, it tears into his clothes and rips the bloody coin from his possession.  Both the monster and coin land in the Place Between the Worlds, fulfilling Valeron's requirements.  He sends the three to Starke without delay.


Back in Rambaldi, however, Galena finds herself receiving a visitor who asks her to attend a function.  She refuses but he tells her if she would rather attend only when the function has become a wake for her cousin, Reikion.  She relents.


And at some distance, the Mastermind of the affairs peers through a spyglass, and marks notes on the wall that everything is moving at clockwork precision according to plan.   The scene pulls back to show a map of Theah, portrait sketches of different personalities, threads interconnecting certain faces, and a grand machine of some sort at the center of the room.

October 2015 : Dread

October 2015


Back when I was still part of Gamers and GMs Philippines, I made it a point to always run a lesser known role-playing game system for others to try.  For October last 2015, I decided it was a perfect time to run a Dread game.

For this game, I was able to get five players to try the game.  After character creation, I gave them all secret notes on what they knew about the events fifteen years ago.  With that, we began our session and this post is the transcription of that game.

Part of how I approached the game was, during the pulls, I continued to narrate the events, matching the act of pulling with the possible train of thought the character was having, or the events of the game continued on, with the narration matching the tension level of the Jenga game.  When the wobbles happen, I would narrate more dangerous things.  But when it seemed steady, I'd talk about how safe they felt in the moment.

The characters in the game were the following:

Ayie, the Nerd.  
Socially awkward who gets asthma when tense.  Always has her ultra Medicine kit with her.  Willing to do anything for Joshua, the looker, hoping he would be nice to her back.  Not really good with computers despite people thinking so.
Played by Arlene.

Edward, the Jock.
Mat wrestling athlete who suffered a really bad left knee injury.  Is secretly in love with Jake, the rebel, but desperately afraid others will find out that he likes guys.
Played by Aldrin.

Jake, the Rebel.
Got stabbed in the stomach before.  Has a concealed switchblade with him always.  Chronic smoker.  Cares for Ayie, the nerd, enough to risk his own life.
Played by Carlo.

Arthur, The Rich Kid.
Loner and an obscure trivia hobbyist.  Bought Jake, the rebel's friendship by sharing his rare and more expensive tobacco.  Hates Joshua, the looker, so much for reasons he keeps to himself.
Played by Miong.

Joshua, the Looker..
Has a huge fascination for anime magical girls, which he feels would ruin his reputation if found out.  Had a huge fight with Arthur for possible romantic related reasons.  Ayie, the Nerd knows about his magical anime girl fascination, and that freaks him out.  He always has his personal item: a smart phone, where he keeps track of his twitter followers and stuff.
Played by Jonas.


They were all school mates, and they all had a friend named Mary who had disappeared 15 years ago at All Hallow's Eve.  They received an invitation to gather in her memory.   Each player had their own secrets coming in to the story.  I prepared a bunch of possible secrets and handed them out to each player.  Ayie had seen her body and has never stopped having nightmares.  Edward remembers Mary visiting her that night, crying over something, but he sent her away.  Jake had found a bloody knife in his bag that night, and hid it away somewhere in the woods.   Arthur was once Mary's best friend, but grew tired of their friendship and the distance continued to grow.  Joshua, on the other hand, actually wanted to kill her, afters she made fun of his fascination for magical princesses.


The scene opens with lots of shadows. We can hear the rustling of the leaves.  Then footsteps closing in.  A silhouette stands in the woods.  The sounds of an argument can be heard between a guy and a woman.  The stars twinkle on in the sky.  The campsite and the tents are spread out around the fireplace.  The sound of heavy footsteps running away can be heard.  Then the sound so rustling and a distinct voice cursing in the darkness can be heard.

At the Lake, the moon's reflection can be seen.  Two people are there.  Someone mumbles, "Not now.."

Fifteen years later.

Standing at the same clearing, the group checks their stuff.  They all have envelopes inviting them to gather in memory of their dear friend Mary.  They all lied to their parents that night in their own ways, claiming to be staying over at campus for homework.  But in truth, they were planning to camp in the forest.   Something always goes bad when a day starts with a lie.  Mary was their class joker.  She loved to make others laugh and make the room brighter with her humor. She made everyone feel better and welcome.  She would paste signs on their backs as a joke.  Or do practical jokes.

Jake stands near a pile of dead cigarettes, having been waiting there for some time.  He sees someone arrive, touching his knee every now and then as if its having some kind of kink.  He recognizes Edward arrive, in his casual jeans and shirt. The two greet each other, saying hellos as they realize they know each other.  Ayie silently watches the two from her mother's car and soon sees Joshua arrive as well. Ayie chooses to stay silent.  Ayie's mother questions why she'd have to spend time with those kids again, reminding her daughter to check if she brought her antihistamine, her pills for sleeping and stuff.  She warns her that her nightmares have been getting worse.  She warns Ayie not to associate with Joshua again, given all the nightmares they had before. Ayie tells her mother she needs time away from her and walks away.   Arthur arrives soon enough, approaching the young man sitting by a nearby chair.

They all see a young man in a business suit sitting at the nearby chair, waiting with an ipad on his lap.  He greets them all by their last names, and thanks them for coming.  He identifies himself as Mary's brother and that he sent out the invites to them.  Arthur admits he was never told she had a brother.  The young man identifies himself as Joseph, and admits their parents were very religious.  He explains their parents had just passed away so he was hoping to meet the friends his sister used to have since this will be his first year of living alone.  He asks them if they all stayed at the campus that night, Joshua lies and claims they were all staying on the makeshift beds in the campus.  Joseph reveals he has the keys to the school and they make their way to the third floor of the building where their classroom used to be.   Jake feels the urge to tell the truth, his rebellious nature kicking in.  He speaks up about how this is not where things really happened.  "I'm getting tired of this lying bullshit."  Joshua tries to tell him to shut up, but Jake tells him to shut up.  Joseph asks who is telling the truth and Joshua challenges him to choose who he will believe, him or this rebel wannabe.

Ayie tries to avoid eye contact.  Her fingers fumble with the medicine kit.  She gets her nasal spray, then gives herself a dose.  "We just need to get this over with."  Joseph turns to look at someone else.  Arthur tries to explain that it doesn't really matter.  Joseph asks them if this was where she really died. Arthur breaks and admits it wasn't here.  Joshua looks away, not wanting to say anything.  Joseph begs them to show him where it really happened.  They finally choose to tell him the truth and head towards the woods.

Deeper in the woods they go.  Joseph talks to Edward, asking him if it was Joshua's idea to go to the woods.  Edward suggests its been too long to know for certain.  Joseph asks if Joshua was the one who decided to lie about them all being at the classroom.  In the story they gave the police, she left the room and was gone for an hour, then they heard a scream.  Joseph is angry, though, realizing now that back then the cops and the volunteers were all searching for her in the wrong place because of their lie.  Jake starts to feel his stomach aching from the walking.  The rebel slips a bit as he walks, but he keeps his balance.  The sun is low, almost gone, and the cold winds grow stronger.

The others start to set camp. Joseph admits he wants to know what really happened that night, and asks them to finally tell him the truth and end his nightly nightmares.  "I know knowing is easier than imagined.  No one just walks out of a classroom and never comes back."  Joseph admits tonight might be the only night they can find out the truth. Edward seems the least changed among them all.  They set up the tents and wonder about what happened fifteen years ago.  Joshua receives a call and steps aside.  He asks his assistant to cancel any meetings.  She asks if everything is alright, and he admits he is fine.  "If there's anything I can find you in campus," his assistant confirms.

They soon reveal that there was a cabin in the woods where it all happened.  They set up camp in the woods, but admit that the events really transpired somewhere else. Arthur smells like alcohol however, and Joseph chooses to dismiss it as drunken talk.

Over dinner, they talk about what happened back then.  Joshua shares that after dinner, he saw her leave the group while they were eating. Joshua insists he was at the school when it happened, insisting the lie was still the truth. Edward tells Joshua its time to end the lie.  He tells Joseph how Mary told them all there was a cabin in the woods.  She suggested they spend the night there and so all six of them went there.  Jake admits he just joined them cause he wanted to check out the cabin, but his voice trails away as he tries to explain.  Joshua once again insists he doesn't remember anything as it has been fifteen years.  Ayie admits she wasn't close with Mary and is not sure why this has to be discussed when the case is already closed.  "All we know is Mary is dead and that's it."  Joseph snarls at her for saying that, "I guess the case is closed. We should just move on right?"  Suddenly, he asks about her mother, in an almost threatening manner, speaking about her with clear suggestions that he knows more about her day to day events than a stranger should.  When she asks if he's suggesting he will do something to her mom, he throws back the accusation given he's all alone with them. Maybe they will do something to him.  He then confronts Jake, asking him if there's anything he'd like to add to the conversation.  He admits she and Arthur used to be pretty close but then something happened all of a sudden.  Joseph pulls out a ream of cigarettes and throws it into the fire to burn, asking Arthur if this would help jog his memory.  Joshua suddenly admits he did follow her and that he wanted to kill her at some point in the past, but he's being honest to god that he did not do it.  Joseph asks who else knew of this and everyone else admits none of them heard of this before.  They all sense Joshua is telling the truth.  He admits he followed her to the words, but he threw away his knife when he realized he could not do it.  Joseph noticed Jake's reaction and asks him why he reacted.  Jake claims he just found it freaky that Joshua had such thoughts.  Ayie tries diverting the narrative, asking Joshua to admit what secret compelled him to want to kill her.  Ayie almost suggests something but Joshua tells her to shut up.

Joseph then focuses on Edward and asks him again what he knows.  He shares seeing Mary walk out to the forest.  And Joshua followed her.  Joshua insists he went the opposite direction though.  The body was never found.

Joseph insists they show him the cabin.  The group looks at each other, uncertain or unwilling to do it.  Arthur finally decides to lead them there.  Joshua stares at Ayie, sensing she knows more than she has been telling.  Jake just wants to go back to the camp soon.  Ayie starts whispering to Joshua that she doesn't know what happened to Mary, and that she just wants to get out of here.  "You have to find a way or I will spill your beans. I know what your secret is."  Joshua stares at her angrily.

The cabin is soon visible.  And though it is abandoned and empty, the group feels somewhat afraid to step inside.  Mary laughed a lot while she was here.  They all start to recall what happened then. She teased then that Arthur owned the cabin, but she was joking.  She ran upstairs to choose a room.  They settled in back then.  Mary went to Joshua then, to ask him if the rumor she heard about someone about Princesses is true.  Joshua remembers slamming the door at her.  The place had water, a wooden stove, and at the back, a well. Mary wrapped her arms around Edward's waist as she tells him how Joshua is being an asshole. "So is this the night?" Edward's eyes widen as she teases, "All five of us."  But then she takes it back, claiming she was just kidding, and runs off to find Ayie.  Mary asked Ayie for the best bed, but Ayie refused to give it up until Mary hinted that Jake might be into her.  Ayie admits she rather just stay there.  As Mary sets up the bed, Ayie realizes there are cracks in the wall, allowing her to peek and see into Mary's room.

Mary eventually heads down, to ask Arthur what he brought for the trip. Arthur admits he brought only hotdogs, despite Mary teasing him about having brought steak and other expensive things.  Jake steps out to smoke.  Mary asks Arthur if he and Jake were... together.  Arthur insists they are just friends. Mary then admits she misses them, how they used to be best friends until Arthur met Jake. Jake sees the well and gets freaked out. He heads back inside, and overhears Mary saying "I miss us" to Arthur.  This bothers him since he knows she's with Edward.  Mary and Edward head down, for the well, they kiss along the steps.  Mary confesses she loves Eddie and he says the same.  As they head out, Eddie catches Jake staring at him, as if he knows something.

But tonight,  the group stares at the cottage and feels the memories becoming less and less locked.  Joseph asks Joshua to open the door and the group quietly make their way inside. With flashlights on, he confirms that they all stayed here and she just walked out in the middle of the night.   Joseph heads upstairs to look for the room Mary stayed in.  While they are gone, the others quickly start talking about what they will do. Arthur reminds Jake to calm down, but Jake is freaked out. Joshua admits there's a bid chance Joseph will report them to the cops.  Ayie admits she doesn't know what to say. Many of them keep looking at Joshua odd, though, given his admission of wanting to kill him.

But very quickly, they begin to realize something very wrong is happening.  Ayie thinks they have to keep the secret a secret.  Jake however is struggling to stay calm.  Joshua claims to not know any secret, but that he will just shut up.  They can hear sniffling sounds coming from upstairs.  Joseph might be crying. Edward decides to head up to check on him.  Arthur steps out at the back to look for the well.  Jake remembers something and heads out towards the back as well.  Ayie opts to stay with Joshua, asking him about the time at the library.  He was with the computers then and Ayie tells him she saw what he was watching.    Joshua glares at her to shut up.  Ayie starts to realize Joshua isn't lying. He does not know what happened to her.

Outside, Arthur sees the well and the door suddenly opens behind him as Jake follows outside. Arthur talks to them about how the well is a pretty deep one.  And then they see the dark woods further outside.  The well has been boarded over, however, both of them realize the wood cover seems... newer. They notice scratches on the wood, like finger nails tore at it.  Jake begins to step towards it to take a closer look.

Inside, Edward heads up the steps as quietly as he can.  He begins to overhear Joseph speaking upstairs.  "Yeah, they're all in place. This is how it is going to be..." Edward raises his hand to knock but he then hears the unmistakable sound of a gun being loaded.  "So you have the mother? That's good.. How about the brother of the other one?  Perfect.."  Edward feels his heart pounding.  He begins to try to head back down without making a sound!

Outside, Jake motions Arthur to come closer to see the scratches.  "They look like a person made them!"  Arthur thinks they should take the cover off.  Jake isn't sure that's a good idea.  But they hear a muffled sound from inside the well - almost like a hand was cupped over cloth and that face screamed as loud as possible.  Jake and Arthur stare at each other, realizing they just heard that.

Inside, Ayie and Joshua are staring at the ground, realizing there are a lot of footprints all over the dusty floor.  Has someone been here?  Ayie finds herself wondering again why Joseph knew of her mother.  What was going on!??!

The whole reunion turns out to be a trap!

Edward sees the door beginning to open as he tries to head back down, but he is forced to stop when his weight makes one step groan.  He leaps for the ground and drops near Ayie and Joshua.  He whispers to both, "Run!" as quietly but as forcefully as he can.  When Edward tries to push them to go ahead, however, they hesitate, not certain on what is going on.   Suddenly from above, a ray of light shines down as Joseph scans the room with his flashlight.  All three try to duck for cover and hide in the darkness.

Back near the well, Arthur and Jake start lifting the cover just enough to confirm that there seems to be someone inside the damn well!  Jake realizes he recognizes the hint of a jacket he can see inside. "It's my bro!"

Inside, Joseph hears Jake's voice outside.  He starts making his way to the back of the house to check.  Ayie, Joshua and Edward are staring at each other, uncertain if they should move. Or do anything.  Ayie sees Joseph has a pistol trained out with his flashlight.  Edward can barely see the two others from his position.  Joshua searches for an object that can be used and finds a bottle nearby.  He tosses it at the other direction.

Outside, Jake and Arthur hears glass break inside.  But Jake is determined to break open the well to see who really is inside the well.  Jake pulls out his knife and starts cutting at the rope.  Arthur holds the flashlight while the guy begins cutting.

Joseph hears the crash, uncertain whether to check there or the back.  He walks past Ayie's hiding place, and starts moving to the back door.  Ayie stares at the door, thinking she can make it out.  She slips out, walking across the room, reaching for the door knob.  She turns it slowly.... the door creaks.. and she runs out.  Joseph turns, but its too late, she's out.   Joshua and Edward hear Joseph mutter, "One of them got out. Its up to the rest of you to get her."

Back outside, the binding holding the well cover are finally cut free.  Jake and Arthur slide the cover aside, unaware of the two men with rifles in the darkness moving into position.  The crosshairs train at Arthur.  But the moment the shot is fired, the well cover was raised and the bullet hits the wood!  Jake sees his brother inside the well, legs and arms tied together, mouth duct-tapped closed.  He has been beaten up.  Arthur notices the splinters of wood, realizing someone had shot at them!  It was a hunting rifle.  Arthur knows they have a distance of around 300 meters. Jake slams it back shut, knowing he has to come back for him, and runs off.  Arthur breaks into a run in a different direction.

Joseph runs for the back of the house, and yells at the rifle men if they got them.  But he finds an empty backyard, no bodies on the floor.   Ayie is running full tilt, hoping to get to the camp.  But she slips and hits the ground, which luckily informs her there is a bear trap set in the grass!  There may be more!  She does not want to head back to the others, though, and wonders if she can find her way to the school instead. She takes a moment to use her inhaler.  But while hiding against a tree, she notices another flashlight in the distance, looking around.  She kills her flashlight.  She even considers using the bear trap but realizes she's never used one and isn't sure how to manipulate it.  She glances around and realizes there are now two flashlights searching.  She silently waits.

Arthur and Jake are running, though both are running in opposite directions.  Arthur keeps running, unawares that the other rifle man sees him in his sights.  But Arthur dashes behind the trees and is gone.

Edward and Joshua realize Joseph has walked out of the house.  They can still hear him talking outside, saying they're to make them suffer.  That this is for Mary.  That they have been tagged.  Joshua motions for Edward to slip out.  Edward however decides to slip back towards the kitchen hoping to find something he can use.  Joshua reaches the door and finds Joseph still there outside. He overhears Joseph say, "We don't kill the others. The bargaining chips. We only kill them if they escape."

Hearing that, Joshua looks back to find Edward and barely sees him in the kitchen.  Edward considers pulling open the drawers to find anything useful.  The wood creaks slightly, but so far nothing useful.  Joshua quietly makes his way back to Edward while Edward searches more drawers.  Edward slides one open and finds a well-oiled drawer.  Inside, there are photographs, maps, and record entries of each of them.  They are pictures of their homes, their family members, and their lives.  Joseph, it seems, has been monitoring their lives for quite some time. Joshua quickly whispers to Edward how their family members may be captives.  That moment, however, Joshua's cellphone begins to start ringing!  Joshua sees it was his assistant calling.  He kills the call, and hopes no one heard it.

The phone starts buzzing again.  Edward watches the door.  Joshua hears his assistant state she's at the campus right now, because she received an urgent message that he might be in danger.  But there's no one there.  She doesn't know where to find him.  Edward sees someone peer in from outside, having heard the mumbling voice.  "We're in a cabin. Please send the police.."  A creaking sound emits as the man moves towards Joshua's position.  Edward sees the other man closing in, rifle in hand.  "Just track my GPS," Joshua mutters to his assistant and closes the phone.  The man with the rifle is now stalking closer to Joshua's position.  Edward breaks into a run to grab Joshua, hoping to pull him into safety.  The rifle is raised towards the sudden burst of movement.  The thunderous clap of the gunshot fires!  They are out the doorway.  As they continue running across the field, the hunter attempts a second shot.  Edward drops to one knee as he trips, left knee screaming in pain, but he keeps running.

Ayie hears another gunshot in the distance.  She feels her asthma hitting again.  She reaches for the inhaler but then hears the voice of one of the hunters not too far away.  The hunter hurries off away from her.  She notes the direction they are going and continues to very carefully go back towards the camp.  She reaches the camp without incident, seeing the bonfire still burning.  As she gets to the camp, she sees two people hurriedly digging through the tents, searching for something.  She crouches down and thinks she can hear Jake's voice.  Is it Jake?

Jake and Arthur are grabbing stuff and searching for whatever they can use.  As Jake pulls the tent open to rush out, he nearly yells as he sees Ayie standing in front of the tent.  Arthur emerges from the other tent.  Jake is insistent he has to go back for his brother.  Ayie reminds him there are killers back there.  "Are you even sure your brother is still alive?"  Ayie feels her phone suddenly ringing.  She looks and the label shows it is her mother.  She takes the call and hears her mother breathing heavily.  Crying.  "Ayie... help me..." her voice utters from the other end of the line.  Ayie tries to ask where she is, but the call gets cut.  Ayie wonders who they are and Jake suspects its some kind of twisted revenge act.  Jake doesn't think running away will make this end.  Ayie considers calling for help and upon dialing 9-1-1 she tells the operator what she knows.  Arthur's phone begins ringing.  He hears Joseph on the line, "So I guess its clear why I called for this reunion, Arthur.  You can always call emergency services but I can't wait to see what you'll tell the cops. I just want whoever caused her to die.  And it seems none of you are willing to tell me the truth, so I just have to make sure all of you pay."  Ayie starts describing the location, the place where they can find the cabin.  Jake watches the two on their cellphones and he sees the tent meant for Joseph. He runs inside and finds military grade survival stuff among his stuff, implying he's preparing for some kind of twisted war game.  Jake grabs the stuff, shoving them into his pockets, but as he does so, he realizes there's someone already at the corner of the tent.  He turns and sees a woman sitting on the floor, hugging her knees, head buried against her arms.

Jake gasps as he begins to realize she looks familiar.  He shines the flashlight and sees, of all people, Mary.  She's naked and clean - too clean. No dirt, no scratches, nothing.  Jake sees Mary staring at him and she whispers, "I am sorry."

"So yes, by all means, call emergency services.  Maybe if they searched the woods they will find her body!"  Arthur hears Joseph growling on the line.  Arthur tries to explain if there's anyone to blame it would be Joshua.  Joseph however tells them they all had their chance to try and tell the truth.  "Oh  and you can tell Ayie she can put the phone down now."  Arthur realizes Joseph can see them!

Ayie sees Arthur looking at her, shaking his head.  He mumbles, "Its too late."  She feels too confused to act.  She stares at him for guidance.  Arthur admits he believes Joseph can see them all.  Jake bursts out of the tent and tells them, "We have to finish this.  For Mary. Either we leave here alive, or we all die."  Arthur kills the call and pockets his cellphone.  Ayie closes her phone too.  The three decide to head back towards the cabin.

Back outside, Edward and Joshua are running through the woods, approaching the area of the bear traps!  Their feet pound the grass.  At one point, they nearly hit the trap and it snaps shut with a terrible sound!  They see the three walking back from the camp and Joshua's phone begins to buzz.  He takes the call and hears Joseph on the line, telling them the others have decided to cooperate.  Joshua agrees to do everything he asks just not to hurt his daughter.  Joshua asks Edward if he knows about Joseph has held a loved one hostage.  He hands the phone to Edward.   Edward hears Joseph admit he knows that they were not together, since Mary knew his secret from the start.  "That's why I don't think it is you. But if you don't get the four to finally admit the truth, I am sorry man but you're gonna go with them."

All five slowly walk back to the cabin.  The men with the rifles are silently waiting, flashlights trained at them.  Joseph waves at them and tells them that they should just end this.  He will ask them a question, and if they answer with a lie, they die.   The five silently nod.

Joseph asks Edward why his sister needed him.  Edward tearfully admits she needed someone to make Arthur jealous.

Joseph asks Arthur if he knew his sister was in love with him.  Arthur admits he did.  Joseph asks if that's why he became distant.  Arthur admits he did not think a relationship would work out, so he did his best to make her realize they were just friends.

Joseph asks Ayie why she can't sleep at night. He even adds he knows she has been visiting the shrink and has been taking sleeping aids.   She takes a deep breath and admits she's been having nightmares.  But she starts asking for information on what happened to her mother and why she has to be involved in all this.  Joseph admits it would only be fair.  He informs her that an associate of his has broken into her home.  "She hasn't been threatened with anything but rudeness. But that will get worse very quickly without her cooperation."  Ayie claims the nightmares are dreams since October 2000 because she can still remember Mary's face when she saw her dead body.    Joseph seems angered to know there was a body.  All this time, all he knew was Mary's body just disappeared.  But as it turns out there was a body.

Joseph demands Joshua explain if he killed her.  If he used the knife.  Joshua again admits he never did!  And that he threw the knife away.  But Joseph is not convinced.  He asks Joshua if Mary was stabbed and Ayie admits all she can remember is the blood.  So much blood all over.  Her eyes were still open and white.  There was blood everywhere.  Joseph asks one last question, "Whoever held that knife, admit it now or everyone dies."

He counts to three, with the intent to kill everyone on the third count.  Joshua asks if the hostages will be let go and Joseph reasserts they're only there to keep them from escaping.   As he counts one, two.. Joshua steps forward and asks for the others to be set free.  But Joseph doesn't respond well to Joshua's false admission.  He knows its a lie and gives a signal.  A thunderclap sounds as a rifle is fired.  Joshua's shoulder explodes as the bullet lodges there.  "If you already know the answer, why are you even asking us!!?"  Joseph mutters he wants to hear it from the murderer.  He counts off again and Ayie asks if Joseph wants to see where Mary's body is.  She can show it only to him. "Then that just proves you didn't kill her. Cause I will need you to see the body."  He looks at the remaining guys and before anyone else can act -

At this point, Aldrin, the guy playing Edward, shoves his hand through the tower causing all the pieces to drop!

"She came to me crying.  She knows Arthur doesn't love her.  We were drunk. I wanted to tell Jake everything but she insisted she ... I'm sorry... I said not now... She wanted to... to.."  Edward falls silent.  Joseph motions at the men with rifles and they approach the others to escort them back to the campus.  "Let them go home."

Jake stares at Edward, shaking his head.  "Why?"  The escorts shove the others away.  Joshua tells Edward, "This makes us even.  Are we clear on that?"  Arthur, Ayie and Jake nod in silence.  Joshua does too. "This never happened. If any of you or your family ever talks about October 2015, we will meet again."  Jake sees one of the rifle men guiding his beaten up brother out of the well.  They head off.

Joseph confronts Edward, admitting this could have been so much simpler from the start if he was just honest about everything.  He asks Edward to come close to him for a hug.  Edward feels Joseph wrap his arms around him and press his face against his ear.  Joseph whispers, "Mary really did care for you.  She did love Arthur, but she cared so much for you.  But I am Joseph.  She should have loved me."

Edward's eyes widen in horror as he realizes it was really Joseph who did it.  Joseph fires a shot into Edward's stomach.  Then fires a second shot into his face.  "So much for that," Joseph tells him and bends down to touch Edward's face. "At least I am leaving you with him, Mary.  My last act of love for you."


At the campus, the sounds of the gun shots reach the others.  Ayie closes her eyes and allows the tears to fall.  The others know those were shots that killed Edward.  A police man is at the campus gates, rushing to them asking what had happened.  Joshua looks around and sees his assistant waiting there.  He rushes to her.  Jake hurries walks away, choosing to be silent.  The police man rushes to Ayie, saying she was the one who called, and asks her what is going on.  Arthur claims they just survived an accident and leaves.  In shock, Ayie mutters to the police man that one of them is still in the cabin in the woods.  The cop shakes his head, "I see. I guess you can't keep your mouth shut."

Credits roll.

(L-R: Carlo (played Jake), Jonas (played Joshua), me (seated in violet), Alfred (not in the game but a great friend of ours), Miong (played Arthur), Arlene (played Ayie) and Aldrin (played Edward).

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Alas, Such Fates ep02 : 7th Sea

Alas, Such Fates

"Teeth and Fur, Actors and Wounds"
Episode Two - 7th Sea

A month has passed since the events in Penitence.

At a gathering with long tables and lots of food, and people dressed in fine clothing, Maurice leBlanc is with a crowd of people listening in rapt attention at a woman sharing a story she claims really happened.  The story is of her facing against some villain, dueling upon a running carriage, as she uses dueling techniques she claims to have invented herself.  The woman is Tassine Anastasia Jade de la Croix Bullet, who seems to have the people's attention easily at her beck and call.  The two trade barbed words when Maurice questions if her stories are even believable.  Tassine however cites Maurice as the FORMER friend of the king, given she is now the new friend of the king.  When Lady Cassandra arrives, the Elaine Knight is clearly uncomfortable in the opulent surroundings.  Maurice approaches her, and when she says she did hear about him being the former friend of the king, he muses that it is good he is not one who knows how to duel or he's raise he's taken offense.  She plainly states if they had a duel, he would probably lose and die.  Cassandra asks Maurice if he would mind introducing her to the hostess of the night, and Maurice simply says he would.   Tassine approaches Lady Cassandra and invites her to join the others.  Cassandra realizes she's the owner of the household and whispers to Maurice to help her.  Maurice stresses he has many friends, including Lady Cassandra and that they had adventured together facing armed bandit with many arms... weapons.  When Maurice mentions that the bandits were working for Gasparo Angelo, the crowd is enthralled.  Tassine however claims to have defeated Gasparo before - which brings to question Tassine's accuracy if Angelo is still indeed alive.  Tassine starts diverting the crowd to enjoy the meal instead.  "So Gasparo still leaves.. and the curse still hangs upon..." one of the people in the crowd gasps as she walks away.  Cassandra tries to follow that woman to ask about it, but is unable to learn more about it.  

Elsewhere, Hans Leopold Glick is studying the tracks left by the beast in the forest.  He realizes the thing is nocturnal, is a predator with talons on both its paws and feet, and it is definitely the same one he fought almost a month ago - following the strange wedding, his investigation in the wood with Lady Cassandra lead to a brief engagement with a monster that then escaped his clutches.  Cassandra had to leave for other matters, leaving Hans to focus on the other nearby hamlets and learned the number of disappearing children has increased in the past few weeks.   Tonight, thankfully, Astrid is assisting him in his investigations.  As they wander in the woods close to Buche, they see markings that suggest there are more than one. Perhaps two at most.  Astrid left Lorenzo Cavello to watch over the Guildhouse in her absence.  His two officers were more than willing to "watch over the women" in her absence.   As the two scan the place for where the tracks lead, they soon catch sight of a pair of golden eyes staring at them.  They shine the light on it and discover it is a wolf staring at them - yet not a natural wolf given it does not react to the light upon its face.  Astrid stays close to Hans, who seems more curious than concerned of the wolf.   The wolf turns out to be an Ussuran, who shares he has been hunting the beasts in the forest as his youngest had been abducted as well two nights ago.  When Astrid promises him they can find her, she notices he is grievously injured and bleeding from a wound on his back.  The Ussuran asks Astrid if she can sew the wound closed for him.  Hans offers some wine to use to disinfect her hands, before he leaves to scout ahead.

A beast of fur and teeth.  Hans does not hesitate and he charges at the thing despite the danger it poses.  He swings his axe at it, and an explosion of blood erupts from where he had struck it. "It's here! It's here! I've found it!" he yells as he bears down his weight on the axe.  To his horror, the thing unfurls like a massive starfish that's covered in fur.  The "mouth" at the head isn't really just a mouth, but the whole interior of its body is teeth!  Hans is thrown backwards, slamming into a nearby tree.  The immense fear in emanates weakens those who are facing it.  Astrid arrives with the Ussuran and seeing the monster, she hurls knives at it, drawing them from a hidden slit in her skirt.  The thing cartwheels away after the blades bite into its fur.  They find a boy on the ground, but the Ussuran admits it is not his son.  Hans leaps to chase after it, not hesitating to fulfill his Ungetumjaeger role.  Unfortunately, Hans discovers there are more than just one.  Hans' flashesback to when he was younger, being warned by his mentor to never dive into a monster's lair unprepared.  "It would be like hunting for a shark by diving into the sea without learning how to swim."

Cassandra struggles not to make any huge remarks as she stares at the gigantic mole on a man's adam's apple that squirms and dances as he laughs.  Maurice, however, is used to the ways of the court, and does pay the man no heed. Tassine asks them to share the tale of their confrontation with Gasparo Angelo.  When questioned about defeating her, Tassine insists she had defeated the Vodacce witch already, but Cassandra insists they were certain they encountered the villain, and they even confronted the Sidhe.  The gathered ask if the Sidhe are all women, being named "she" and if Elaine Knights are all men dressed as women.  Cassandra instead asks to speak to Tassine and Maurice in private.  Cassandra, admittedly, is just happy to be away from the mole.  They move to a chamber where things are absolutely silent, clearly with padded walls to maintain privacy.   There, Tassine finally admits she has "not been lying" and insists she knows she is dead.  Cassandra swears upon the Grail itself that they did encounter her.  Tassine realizes the Fate Witch must have made the impossible to survive fall possible.  Cassandra asks her about the curse and supposedly the local belief that Gasparo Angelo had cursed Penitence to be haunted by monsters that abduct children to make more monsters.  Cassandra realizes she left Hans there and throws Maurice a glance.  Maurice insists Tassine clearly has been lying about too many things, including being friends with the King.  She asks the two to go back to where Gasparo Angelo was seen, and if they can stop her, she offers to finance the trip back as well as the men they need - but they must sign a document which is to have them remain silent of the events of the adventure which she plans to release as a new  penny dreadful chapter for the Amazing and Excellent Misadventures of Tassine Bullet and the Golden Girls. "Sign these Non-disclosure agreements, and I will finance them and you are to never speak of them again."  Cassandra accuses her of having not done any of these things in her stories.  Tassine insists she is a noble woman and an author, not some highway woman.  She threatens to call the guards claiming they are intruders if they disagree. Even the invitation that allowed them to arrive is blank. But Cassandra suggests its a chance for Tassine to try being part of a true adventure.  Maurice implies it would be the publicity event of the year, as she goes on an adventure "to capture Gasparo Angelo in the safety of a closed armored carriage."  Tassine considers the potential of it... despite all the elements in it that trigger her fears.  She agrees to go.

In the armored carriage, the three are traveling with an escort of over eighty men outside.  Tassine struggles to breath, claiming to feel a tightness in her chest, worried she's choking from utter fear.   Cassandra and Maurice are rolling their eyes.  "This is a fantastic idea," Maurice tells Cassandra, "Good thing we thought of it.  This is truly an adventure!"   Tassine however begs him to stop saying that word, "It's such a trigger word."  The two are given boxes and they find inside red and gold costumes.  They are to dress as her Golden Girls.  Maurice tries feigning spilling the wine on the clothes, but sadly, they discover its made to resist water and staining!   When Maurice mentions he can be the friend of the King instead in the story, Tassine admits she already "killed off" the friend of the king in an earlier book.  Maurice now wonders if that's where the misconception of his death comes from!   The days pass as they travel towards Penitence, and with passing days some of the men are sent away as Tassine's courage and confidence seems to grow.  When they reach what looks like the first obstacle, a fallen tree and a group of bandits, Tassine insists from the others to get dressed and she stays away from the doorway, freaking out at the danger outside.  

Cassandra and Maurice quickly learn that the"bandits" are actually... actors.  When they ask the guards how often this happens, they realize even the guards are... actors as well.  Everyone around them, they quickly realize, is someone hired to play a role in the new story she is writing.  It is all a farce!  Tassine however seems lost in her fantasy world, acting out as if she really was the version of her in her novels.  As they decide to continue on the journey, they soon catch sight of the familiar woods leading to Penitence and find a disturbing sight awaiting them: a Blessure.  The bloodied wound upon the very world hovers, large enough for a carriage to pass through.  Maurice recommends Cassandra head on deeper into the woods with Tassine to find the Vodacce witch while he considers his course of action in dealing with the Blessure.  He realizes this simply means a Porte Sorcier must be nearby.  He marks her with a bit of his blood, however, making sure he has a means to return if he gets lost trying to close the Blessure.  And with that, he walks backwards into the Blessure. Cassandra sees Tassine rush into the woods, anxious to find the threat, and Cassandra tries to run after her.

Hans stalks the monsters, soon realizing very quickly that the darkened woods and light fog make things far more advantageous for the monstrosities.  Astrid and the Ussuran soon find more nests, trees where the many children that have been abducted hang from silken cocoons!   They carefully tear open one and find the children already slightly changed.  Thin reed like tubes have inserted themselves into the child's skin, and have begun to cause slight coloration changes on his skin.  Astrid realizes in horror the monsters... they are growing in number because the other abducted children were being transformed into them!  Astrid begins yelling, calling for the Ussuran in hopes that he can check if his child is among them.

Cassandra spots where Tassine has gone and keeps close.  Cassandra tosses Tassine her flintlock pistol as she gets near enough, but then the fur and teeth thing strikes!  It strikes Tassine very quickly, dropping her to one knee as it rips into her hand.   Cassandra stays behind her shield, which blocks the teeth of the monstrosity as it attempts to gnaw at her.  Cassandra tosses her sword up, then fires two shots with her flintlocks.  The monster dissolves into dust as it dies.  When a hand reaches for her, Cassandra turns to block with her shield once more, Tassine's hand smacks into it and she falls back in pain.  Cassandra's sword finally lands between them. She tries to bandage Tassine with her belt upon realizing there is venom already in her hand.  Before Tassine can say anything, however, Cassandra just lops off the hand - tired of her prattle.  Tassine screams in pain. Cassandra feels the hint of corruption in her heart as she realizes she caused unnecessary suffering.  She takes a sample of the poison for future study.

Agile and used to fighting in the woods, Hans faces off against the multiple monstrosities.  He weaves between the trees, forcing the things to get caught against the branches and brambles as he sneaks in strikes to wound them at each opportunity.  But two of the whirlwinds of fangs rush close at him at one point and pin him against each other!  Hans rolls away before either of the two can inject him with poison.  From the distance, Hans realizes he sees two more of the vicious beasts closing in.  But then, Astrid's voice begins calling out, and the yelling draws the monsters towards her instead.  The distraction proves to be an opportunity for Hans, now that all four expose their rear to him.

Elsewhere, Maurice slowly travels through the Places Between the World.  Keeping his eyes open, he watches as the world changes into one seemingly made of paint strokes that shift in real time.  Red splotches dance around the darkened shades that make up the world.  There is a red mark upon a coin that lies on the floor, an anchor that seems to allow the Blessure to remain open.  He sees the shadowy things closing in from the distance, constantly whispering amongst themselves, noting his presence.  "I have no quarrel with you. I have merely come to retrieve this object that does not belong here," he snarls as he reaches down to pick up the wayward coin.  Whoever had left it inside this place must have intentionally wanted to create the Blessure.   The shadow things move each time Maurice looks away from them, but each time he stares at them he remain held back in the distance.  Maurice chooses to move quickly, keeping his eyes trained on the shadows as he walks backwards now back towards the Blessure.  Maurice uses his gloved hand to start wiping the coin's blood mark clean, as he holds it behind his back.  The Blessure begins to close and the blight to the world seals itself.  Maruice realizes he will need to Walk out some other way, and grins as he remembers the mark he placed upon Lady Cassandra.  As he closes his eyes, the shadowy things rush to him!  Maurice sheaths his blade and dashes for the way home, ignoring the hands and voices that surround him.  "Everyone wants Maurice..." he laughs and leaps away.

*We will find you*

Maurice lands on the ground beside Lady Cassandra.  With a grin, he combs back his hair as he stands and mutters, "You can try."  Lady Cassandra looks surprised to see him appear out of nowhere.  Maurice wipes the coin clean and holds it closer to look at it better.  The currency is Eisen.  "The beast men," Maurice muses. Both hear the sounds of combat in the vicinity and both rush to see what they can do to help.  Lady Cassandra hikes the unconscious Tassine up on her shoulder to carry her with them.

Astrid sees Hans running towards them from afar.  It takes her a beat to realize she can see dark things closing in as well!  Hoping to distract them further, Astrid grabs her knives and begins flinging them at the beasts, giving Hans the perfect opening to strike them from behind.  He moves carefully, striking each monster that lags behind the most to incapacitate them without alerting the rest.   She jumps on the nearest pod, cutting it with her knife to have it bring her down to the ground.  The group finally reunites, gathering before the dead monsters and the pods and watch as the sleeping child within the pod remains wholly still human.  As they share updates quickly on what they've been up to, Maurice shows of the Eisen coin to them.  Hans identifies it as an old coin from his country.  Astrid mentions there was an Ussuran who was here recently as well, searching for his child.  Cassandra places the unconscious Tassine down to the ground to let her rest.  Hans and Astrid ask about what happened to her, as well as what a "Blessure" is.  Maurice talks about how it is a corruption of one of the noblest sorceries, Porte.  Astrid and Cassandra decide to focus instead of helping release the children from the pods.  Hans warns them to keep watch of other possible beasts.  Maurice opts to do that for them.

Hans finds the Ussuran behind another tree were more pods hang.  The Ussuran holds the dead child in his arms.  It already had begun the transformation, with fanged teeth emerging where the flesh had ruptured, with the extremities having fused into a mutated form.  Hans tries to take the child from the Ussuran, hoping to help him accept the child is no longer his child.  But the Ussuran growls in response.  He grimaces in pain as he attempts to shift his form despite the stitches Astrid had applied to his deep wound, and he shifts into a bear instead of a wolf.  He carries his child away with him.

Astrid asks if Cassandra brought men with them, or a horse, and she breaks out her friendly smile as she asks the coachman to do a favor for her.  She tells the coachman to go to the hamlet at Penitence, to look for the Captain, and to have the secretary of the Scarlet Stocking's come over to help them out.


House later.
The group rests at the tavern.  Lorenzo Cavello listens to their stories and marks it in his record book.  "So you all just happened to meet again?" he looks at them confused.  They agree.  He admits that there might be some kind of curse upon them four.  Lady Cassandra admits when the Blessure appeared, she thought she saw a reflection, perhaps someone is watching them.  She senses their meetings are not coincidental.  Lorenzo asks if they have any idea why anyone would target them, asking if they were ever involved in anything in the past as a group.  At most, they think there's the wedding they were part of the previous month.

Lady Cassandra brings up that the one who orchestrated the robbery, Gasparo Angelo, may have a brother.  And may be behind their seemingly connected misfortunes.  Maurice reminds them all that he is a friend of the king, which sounds as reason enough for some villain to target him.  This makes everyone roll their eyes.

Glass shatters nearby.  A group nearby picks on one of the customers of the tavern.  Lady Cassandra involves herself, telling the group to pick on someone their own size.  Cassandra realizes the boy being bullied is one of those kind of children who are not born too right. Cassandra takes the empty tankard of the bully, but none of them seem intent in backing away.  Cassandra challenges the men to a fight outside as a challenge of honor.  As one of the bullies grabs the servant boy by his hair, Cassandra beats the bullies down without ever drawing her blade from its scabbard.  As the bullies run off, Cassandra turns to tell the boy he is now safe - but the boy is nowhere in sight.

Cavello admits to the others there is that odd sensation of someone having been observing them. Or watching them.    Cavello admits that a month ago, on the bank robbery, he received a letter informing him of the bank being a possible target.  Maurice admits he received one too.   They talk about curses and discuss how the Vaticine Church is sending an emissary to the hamlet in response to Astrid's guild for former Jenny's.

A courier arrives at the door of the tavern, calling for Maurice leBland.  The man brings a message from the King himself.  The others stare at each other, realizing he is the friend of the King.  Hans wonders if Maurice sent to to himself.  The letter smells of Montaigne, and is indeed sent by the King.    Astrid comes up to Cassandra to ask what was going on and she tries to explain how there was a boy being bullied.  Hans even insists that Cassandra just walked up to the group and began fighting them.  When the woman of the house comes to them to ask why they seemed agitated, Cassandra attempts to explain there was a servant, a slow boy, whom was being harassed.  The woman assures Cassandra there are no servants in the tavern.  She owns the place alone.  The woman sees a rag on the floor and asks if Lady Cassandra dropped it by mistake.  Taking it, Cassandra realizes the cloth is of the flag of her Queen Elaine.  She wonders if it was some kind of sign.

Hans asks for another mug of ale and the woman of the tavern thanks them for having saved the children.  Hans mutters there were merely incidental in his search for monsters.  Astrid interrupts them, thanking the woman for her gratitude and giving Hans a glare.  The woman continues, telling them how they seem to have broken the bad luck that has been upon Penitence since the Vodacce Witch was finally killed by the Bullet herself.  Some believe the Witch cursed Penitence as a final stroke of anger.   And that this was a story from almost thirteen years ago. The group wonders if the folk have been confusing the penny dreadfuls Bullet has been releasing as historical record.

Maurice reads the letter in private and learns he is to proceed to Avalon and await further instructions.  It is a Mission of utmost importance.  He shares with the group that he will need to visit Avalon in service of the King, and tasks Lady Cassandra to escort them to the foreign country.  Astrid realizes she needs to deal with the coming Emissary of the Church who has seized her land and claimed it to be of the Vaticine Church.  She had offered them all rooms to stay at the Guild, however, with the seizure of the lands, she now needs to find a way to stake her claim upon it.  Lady Cassandra tells them when they arrive at Avalon, they can all stay at her manor in Gallifrey.

The letter tells Maurice that all will be explained upon his arrival at Avalon.  It even ends with a statement that he is truly the friend of the King.  "Take that, Bullet," Maurice sneers and folds the letter to place it close to his heart.  Astrid hopes to gain the Queen's support, if not her involvement, at least her verbal show of support for women.  Maurice wonders if that's truly achievable given politics.  Cassandra shares with Hans that she is having her people inspect the poison and he might be interested in the results.  Hans chooses to join them.

The group rides to the port, and Cavello promises to watch over the women in their absence.  Cassandra reminds him that if they wish to write to them, they can address it to the House of Gallifrey.  Astrid reminds Cavello be wary of the Vaticine's Emissary.


Tassine writes more about the new misadventures of her namesake ruffian.  She writes about how the Golden Girls lamented the death of her namesake, and how this will just show her legacy will live on.  The gathered are overwhelmed at her story's unexpected twist.  Tassine tells them she has a hand in the plot, and the four nameless heroes outlined in the book, a man from Eisen, a Jenny from Vesten, a Knight from Avalon, and "the long lost and to be rediscovered some of Tassine Bullet" will be stories they will have to wait for in the next book.  Tassine tells them she needs to rest given she has been writing with a single hand.  She moves to another room, but there a hidden visitor pays her a visit.  The visitor commends her for doing well and she admits she didn't quite get why the patron didn't simply let her ask the heroes to close the Blessure.  The Patron admits it would raise too many questions, and schemes work best when no one is certain if they are part of it.

"And me, is my role in it done?  Do I-"

Tassine never finishes her words.  She has been shot dead on the forehead, with a revolver in her hands.  The crowd stares in horror at her dead body.  A man separates from the crowd, walks away, and steps back into a carriage.  He rides a ship to head north.


The ship travels the sea.

A woman approaches the group, greeting them for the pleasant evening.  She is happy to see such a diverse group on the vessel.  Cassandra admits women are usually not admitted as crew on a vessel, but as a wave hits, they all stumble to brace themselves.  She seems to have sea legs, however.  Astrid asks if she is the captain, while Hans thinks she's part of the crew.  She admits she had her own share of questionable activities when she was young.  She introduces herself as Catalina Morta and invites them to her quarters for some wine.  She is curious why anyone would seek to be an Elaine Knight and Cassandra shares her reasons, including the higher calling she holds.  Cataline however has her think if her loyalty is to the grail, to the title, or to the Queen Elaine herself.  "What happens when the Queen is no longer in charge? What do you do when it chooses someone else?"  The vessel is Avalonian, which is odd since Catalina is Castillian.  It is possible she had stolen an enchanted ship, and it was originally a pirate hunter.

She shares with them that she was contacted by the King of Montaigne to assist them in their journey.  However, she raises a concern: One of the older monstrosities was last slighted along the path of their journey.  There have been five reports of ships sighting the thing, and reports of them being followed.  The thing might follow them.   If they go straight, they can arrive sooner. But if they avoid it, they take a longer journey.   A normal ship would take far much longer than either journey options they may opt for.

Cassandra however remembers that Avalon ships tend to have enchantments.  She wonders if she can activate whatever inherent ability or blessing this ship may have.  The ship can possibly give out an intense glow of light, a flash of light that can allow it to move extremely fast.


Hans remembers the invitations he had to be part of the Invisible College.  He considers the membership.


The Emissary of the Vaticine Church is at Penitence and he takes over the Guildhouse location to make plans for the Vaticine Church's role in the region.  However, a greater scheme is afoot.  The Emissary is murdered, and the murder weapon happens to be a throwing knife.  Lorenzo however takes it and hides it before others see it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Five Single Playsets by Taylor Labresh

EDIT: As of 9/23/2016, the book is finally available!  Grab it at its a very economical price and add more to your A Single Moment game.

Even better,
These are playsets to be enjoyed with the game A Single Moment, written by Tobie Abad. You will require a copy of the rules for ASM in order to use these playsets. Instructions for purchasing a discounted copy of ASM contained within this game
The book is almost out!  Five Single Playsets by Taylor Labresh, Taylor Livingston, and Jason Baesel is soon available at Drivethrurpg!  I can't wait for it to come out and I do hope you guys support it too!  The book will have rules for playing five all new playsets including my favorite one, Gamers!  Can you imagine the meta-possibilities of playing the role of two gamers who once were friends but have fallen apart due to... well, that's up to you two to shape!

Grab it when it comes out!
Thank you Riverhouse Games!

The Nisab Diary ep01 : 7th Sea

The Nisab Diary

"Paying Respects"
Episode One - 7th Sea

The three adventurers are:

Jan Volta (Played by Josh)
Hailing from the Sarmatian Commonwealth, the Zynys Jan Volta was once a doctor until he encountered the dievas he is now bound to. He is Loyal to a fault but can be Commanding when necessary.

Reikion of the Eventide (Played by James)
Hailing from the lands of Ussura, Reikion found himself Touched by Matushka after finding an injured raven that he nursed back to health. Wolves surrounded him, forcing him to flee at first out of fear, until he found the courage to come back. Despite his injuries, he recovered with Matushka’s blessings. He then became part of a travelling circus, where he learned the Dueling Style of the Mireli’s Revision.

Walden Reichart  (Played by Flip)
A Hexe from Eisen who sought to be a Ungetumjaeger but opted to learn dueling instead to better fight the monsters. His practice of Hexe ruined his life.

Three adventurers are invited to attend the wake of Nisab Guissola, an eccentric inventor and visionary who had committed suicide by leaping off a cliffside at the isle of Rambaldi.  The three adventurers have all met in the past in various ways and knew of Nisab as an old friend.  None, however, were aware of how strange her ideas and hopes for the future actually were.

The letter came from the Bishop Victor Heckt, an Eisen who served the Vacitine Church.  The three were brought to the home of Lea Villano, a kind old woman who had allowed Nisab to stay in her home ever since she learned the poor woman was ill.  The three, however, are surprised to find others present in the wake.    Modesto Inderes, a representative of the Villanova family of Vodacce was present, as was Esteban Aldana a Castillian who claimed to have once been Nisab's Patron.  Diomedes Dorn was also present as a presentative of the Guildmaster Eladio Ballesteros, head of the Miner's Guild in Castille.  Diomedes shared that Nisab had been a frequent customer, tasking them to ship her rare minerals and metals often.   But most intriguing for the group was the presence of a barefoot woman in a tattered dress whom appeared without anyone knowing when she arrived and mostly mumbled to herself in the garden.

Reikion and Volta soon discover that Lea Villano has a guest of her own present at the manor, the Lady Tassine Anastasia Jade dela Croix Bullet who claims to be here only to visit her friend but soon seems very interested in the presence of Nisab Guissola's personal effects.    Walden confronts the barefoot woman in the garden and learns the barefoot woman cared for Nisab for some reason.  She does offer Walden answers if he ever chose to visit her at La Bucca.  And with that remark, the barefoot woman vanishes, fading away by stepping through a soft hole in the very air that swallowed itself.

Lea leads the three men to a strange puzzle box that Nisab had instructed her to show the three upon her death.   Volta figures out how to open the box by sliding their fingers against three depressions on the wood.  Fine needles poke into each of them, and the blood somehow seemingly becomes the key to the box.  Inside, each of them find a rolled up scroll of treated vellum, one that seems to resist the wine and blood that they accidentally dab on it.  When Walden applies heat on one scroll, they learn that a hidden message is upon each scroll.

Reikon is told that the Aperture and the Aerographica have both been hidden in the place of his birth.  While Walden learns that the journals she wrote entitled, Zur Quantentheorie der Strahlung and Die Genetische Gestaze der Natur are both hidden in the  place where he first met her.  He is told as well that the Secundusari is also hidden nearby.  Volta takes his letter but before he has time to read it, the group is invited to participate in the wake proceedings.

During the proceedings, Volta slips away and finds Tassine in the private chamber, where she seduces him and stuns him with a poison to take from him his vellum. He sadly fails to realize it has been flinched until it is too late.  Lea Villalon asks the three to stay over instead as the other guests leave.  She shares with them how Nisab always sought to make the world better, and that she may have been targeted by the Inquisition for her work.

By nightfall, the three discover intruders in the compound when the manor is set aflame and assassins emerge to strike at them!  They quickly begin to realize the groups of assassins present were not expecting each other's presence, which raises the question on why two groups of assassins would be present.  Quick heroics and teamwork disable most of the assassins, and while Volta and Walden leave the burning structure with one of the assassins as their captive, Reikion dives into the flames to search for any other survivors.  He finds the Lady Villalon grievously injured.  But when he offers to escape with her in his arms, she insists he takes a hidden cache that was boarded up in the wall before leaving.  Reikion confesses on having a family member nearby, and the group moves to find shelter there for the time being.

The cousin, Galena, offers the group a place to hide from prying eyes and recover.  The two interrogate the assassin, whom they discover turns out to be a privateer by the name of Bates who claims to have been hired by Esteban Aldana to do the deed.  However, Volta notices the telltale smell of Tassine Bullet's perfume as well, implying she may have a hand in the things.      The group ops to escape in secret and try to track Tassine Bullet, but are not certain how to find her.  Volta excuses himself and through another deal with his Dievas, he learns of the destination Tassine Bullet has in mind.  He tells the group this and they decide to take the first ship they can to Five Sails, and from there to travel by road after the woman.  Reikion opts to fly ahead, using the gifts of Matushka to do so.

None of them are aware, however, of the vast tower in the distance where a figure observes them and marks a wall.  The wall shows a flowchart of goals, contacts and activities, and the figure marks those that have been accomplished to fulfill its schemes.   The Mastermind laughs, knowing all is falling into place.


More on this campaign, and its brother campaign, Alas Such Fates, can be found here as well:

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Single Moment has reached Italy!

A few Google Plus friends just informed me that they've been enjoying my game, A Single Moment. I'm very excited to know that the game has found its share of fans in Italy. It definitely has encouraged me to keep working on the Companion book called  A Second Moment, which should contain more new mechanics, rules for group play, as well as new playsets for the system.

Thank you to Daniele di Rubbo for letting me know about this!
And yes, here's to someday having an Italian release of the game.

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Single Moment with Andy Kitkowski!

This is a Story about Respect.
Andy Kitkowski and I play A Single Moment.

One of the highlights of the month was being asked by Andy Kitkowski (Producer of Maid, Tenra Bansho Zero, and Ryuutama) if I was available to play a session of my game, A Single Moment, with him via Google Hangouts.  Thanks to the magic of the internet, we were able to play the game despite being in two different countries.

Catch the game session here, as Andy and I play through a dramatic tale of brotherhood, duty and respect.   We had to slightly change how the game is played to make it work better on an online session with two separated players (and this, admittedly, has given me new ideas to including in the upcoming A Second Moment, the A Single Moment companion book.

I will apologize this early for all the fanboying that you might catch in the video. But OMG I just played my game with Andy Kitkowski!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Masters ep03 : Legends of the Wulin


Episode Three
"The Eight"

Legends of the Wulin

Rose Lin studies the needles she has, one she had extracted from Juju's body and the other which was thrown at her by the old man.  She finds a tiny engraving on each one, and both show identical symbols.  Dawn has broken.  She thinks it is some ancient language, but isn't too sure.   She decides it might be best to visit the "priest," so she gives the hospital to give them notice she isn't feeling well.

David Yezi wakes up, surprised to find his bathroom completely clean and sparkling.  Dry even.  He wonders where Gong Bei is, wanting to have a word with him, as he heads to the kitchen.  Outside the window, he sees the four girls at the courtyard once more harassing some man for his wallet.  Across the building, he sees Tommy once again stealing some of the hung underwear with a wooden stick.  As David steps out of his unit, he finds Gong Bei leaning against the wall beside his door.  Gong Bei bows upon being addressed, apologizes for the mess, and admits he made a mistake of bringing the body to him.  David asks what happened, and he admits he was helping a friend.  David wonders if it was the same "friend" they talked about. Gong Bei explains that it was a friend she failed to save.  He disposed of the body, as per how he was trained, to keep her from getting into trouble. Gong Bei reveals he is of the Blade Dogs, and David recognizes them to be an old clan from his ancestor's time too.  The ones who seek to become the Sword Bastard.  Gong Bei realizes "she's awake" and true enough, Rose Lin soon arrives to visit David.  Gong Bei darts off, walking the opposite direction, slipping out a window to exit via the fire escape.

Rose is happy she caught David before he left.  She offers to buy him breakfast.  David wonders if there was anyone behind Rose, but she admits she didn't notice anyone.  "I think we're the only ones awake... and Tommy." They head for a cafe to have breakfast.

Elsewhere, in another part of the city, Matt Biao awakens to find himself in a foreign bedroom.  He starts to remember arriving at Trevor Wang's guest room as Samantha insisted they go to her father the previous evening.  Samantha and Trevor spent the night talking.  Matt steps out to find the delicious smell of toasted bread, soup, bread rolls, and... more.  He finds the whole dining area filled with numerous dishes and sees Samantha stress-cooking as she boils more, fries more, cooks more... Trevor looks at him from the dining table and motions for him to stay silent.  With a kick without looking, Samantha kicks a chair to the table for Matt to join them.  "Sit."  She clearly is not in a good mood.  She flips the pan and fried eggs fly, she kicks the side table and a plate slides out to catch the eggs.  She then glides the plate to the table and asks Matt if he will have coffee, tea or juice, grumbling about not being "good enough."  The intercom sounds and a delivery arrives for even more food.

Samantha quizzes them both about the Baneful Starving Tiger Dragon. "So he did kill her," Samantha sighs.  Matt soon learns that it seems Samantha's mother died in the past due to some Kung Fu related incident. Matt admits he knows of the historical stories, that of 7 Clans once had to unite against the Infernal Alliance to defeat the Corrupt Baneful Clans had nearly won.    Samantha then asks Matt to tell her about a Clan called the Black Lotus Society. 

At Stabuko, Rose and David finally have breakfast.  The two indulge on some good food then some coffee and tea.  Rose tries to imply David might know a lot of people, but David asks what this is about.  Rose asks of him a favor, given she has so little time to socialize and meet people.  A bell rings, and they both turn to see Auntie Lo step into the place.  She walks up to them, smiling as she asks them about how they seem to be enjoying their breakfast... given the delays in paying rent.  She starts exclaiming the amounts they are spending for the breakfast then asks if they're sure about being able to afford all this.  Rose reminds her she paid for two months the other day.  David starts pulling out small bills and change.  Rose however senses something approaching and she turns to see a hooded man approaching the three of them. Rose shoves the chair to intercept the man, doing this stealthily so the others don't notice. Rose suggests David needs to go, but he continues to dig through his pockets.  Rose sees the man fling a hand at David, wires extending from his sleeve.  Rose catches the wires, entangling them around her wrist then locking them behind her back.  Auntie Lo asks if there's something going on between David and Rose, "I don't want you seducing our priest." Rose insists they are not doing anything of that sort.  David sees the man behind Rose and realizes it is the Metal Delegate he fought the other day.  The Metal Delegate realizes he should stop upon seeing David's withering stare.  

Former Metal Delegate Hoi Lam (Bin Won)
Auntie Lo leaves, having received enough payment from David.  The Metal Delegate accusses David of having chosen a new follower, and Rose finds it amusing the man is being sought to be his "Master."  The Metal Delegate leaves, crushed.  David and Roses return the conversation to the favor.  Rose admits it involves a man, a possible man of violence and passion.  David admits the man is quite smitten with her.  She, however, was thinking of the old man and not Gong Bei, refuses to imagine he'd be smitten.  David admits the man told him himself that he is quite smitten.  Rose is confused about how David says the man did however have an incident with a body in his room, which he was dealing with as a favor to her.  Rose finally grasps that David is talking about Gong Bei instead, admits he's nice, but his intensity probably comes from his line of work. She asks instead if he can check the background of a relic - perhaps find out more about it and have it appraised - given its delicate nature.  She insists neither a museum or a collector would be appropriate. "You do, after know, know some interesting people," she mutters, motioning towards the Metal Delegate outside the cafe.  David insists he is not a detective, but falls silent when Rose pulls out the needle and shows it to him. She insists however its more a relic than a usual acupuncture needle.
"Jade!" someone calls out.  Rose feigns not hearing it, not willing to respond to her true name.  Thankfully, it turns out to be just coincidence as someone else mutters, "Tomlin!  Hi!" 

She offers to buy him breakfast for the next month if he has any leads.  The waiter gives them the bill and sadly, that's when Rose realizes her purse is missing.  Not having enough cash, the two realize the best one to pay for the bill would turn out to be the Liquid Metal guy outside.

Samantha was barely seven years old when the Baneful Starving Tiger Dragon found Trevor and his wife.   The two fought valiantly, using their Kung Fu  as the surviving members of the Southern Dragons Pirate Clan against him.  But despite their skill and training the old man would very calmly parry their blows and touch them to show he could have hurt them.  Over and over, he would gently touch them.  But when Diana finally lands a hit on the old man's face, he grows angry and ends up unleashing the power of the Unstained Lotus Mastery upon her.  Twice.  Her body breaks and she dies.  Trevor begs the old man to let his daughter live.  Samantha is angry about how she could have spent the last twenty years preparing to beat him.  Having no clan, she has no right to challenge him anymore. But when both realize Matt is from the Little Forest Clan, Samantha wonders about joining his Clan to challenge the old man once again.  Matt does concede that Samantha never swore any promise to not use Kung Fu.  Samantha leaves in a huff.  Trevor and Matt wonder about the old man's goals.  It was said whoever defeats all the masters shall become the God of Martial Arts, but Matt realizes the man is already outside of it all, being Baneful.  Trevor suggests Matt try to find the other masters, perhaps to battle the old man together.

On Matt's trip home on the monorail transit, he sees posters on the circus supposedly arriving in town in a few days.  He expected a peaceful ride, however, he finds himself confronted by two martial artists. The twins, named Kanto and Johto, challenge him, proclaiming themselves as the Incredible Giovanni Twins.  The two make use of a dance-based martial arts style, and moving in concert, the two make use of paired razor wire ribbons to try to poison him!  Matt's superior Kung Fu, however, bests them, and forces the two to retreat - promising revenge.  One does, however, admit that they maybe should have faced against him based on the original plans. They leap out of the moving train, shattering the windows.

David and Rose talk about Gong Bei as they head out, but catch sight of another man targeted by the four young girls.  Seeing another one victimized by the kids, Rose chases after them!  David opts to dart into an alternate route to lightfoot into an intercepting position.  When Rose confronts the children, she discovers to her surprise that the kids seem to be trained to work in concert!  She is forced to use her martial arts to entangle one child in her own clothes and threaten the others to surrender the stolen wallet.  David lands at the other side, but catches sight of another girl, a fifth, at an upper level seemingly directing the four.  He decides to confront that one.

David lands on the balcony where the other girl is and discovers the child has what looks like what used to be an old stop sign, now used like a war hammer!  David lands on the weapon itself, keeping it on the ground, and with his bamboo fan, taps the girl on the head, showing her his superior skills in martial combat.  The girl grabs the fan, then crushes it in her hand.  David is surprised the child was able to block him... and worse, she seems to be growing at him.  She reaches for a weapon on her side.  David kicks one of the pieces of debris to strike the blade and shove it back into its scabbard.

Liu Ye, Nica Ngo, Barbie Hsu, Bebe Tsu and Kimi (Mini Girls)
Rose notices the girls growling as well.  When she knocks back one of the girls, she is surprised to see the three catch the fourth in perfect sync.   Other people emerge in the area, all wearing dark jackets with hoodies.  They stand on the upper levels, at door ways, and by the balconies.  Rose asks if the girls are friends of the newcomers, but the girls shake their heads.  Rose grabs the wallets the girls have stolen, and turns to face the crowd.  As she returns the Hoi Lam's wallet, Rose hears a howl from above.  The men in the hoodies leave, as if someone was supposed to be with them but isn't there.

David stares as the girl gives out a howl and darts to leave.  David light foots to join Rose at the ground level and watches as the other girls run away as well.  He asks Hoi Lam why he doesn't know lightfoot and the man admits he was never trained in it.  "You know nothing, therefore you have no name."  Rose counters that he did offer to help.  They hear more rushing footfalls, and Gong Bei runs into the area.  He sees the gathered and pulls out a cigarette.  David and Rose walk up to him as he reaches into his jacket and pulls out a lighter.  He looks at them as David warns him they talked about him embracing a life of peace.  Surprisingly, he acts more... brave, claiming no one tells him what to do.  David shakes his head and drags Hoi Lam with him as they leave.  Rose talks to Gong Bei, asking him why he suddenly came in and he admits he sensed danger.  Rose admits they had it under control.  She compliments him for being sweet, which has him end up finishing the cigarette in a single puff out of pride for being called sweet.

Gong Bei is about to flip the cigarette!  Rose realizes this will earn Auntie Lo's ire and moves to stop him!  She catches it with her fingers, snatching it from the air.  A door slams open.  Auntie Lo stares out from the door, looking around, and asks where the guests are.  To Rose's surprise, she greets Gong Bei, then slams the door shut again.  Rose invites Gong Bei to accompany her to her place for now.

The train stops.  Matt leaves the train and walks back home.  He sees Samantha Wang's car outside the compound and she steps out, complaining how she needs to start dressing Matt since he looks like he was in a fight.  She tells him she wants to train, to be part of his Clan, and she insists she doesn't care with what her father says.  "Train me or I will beat you up and take over your clan."  She insist she won't hold back.  Matt decides he might but she has to show first what she can do.  They turn to see David and a man in a business suit walk out of the compound.  David realizes the woman looks familiar and acknowledges Matt's greeting.  He overhears Samantha insisting that Matt teach her to avenge her parents, and he decides to stop.  David realizes Samantha is talking to Matt and realizes he too might have been hiding a secret.  They discuss how Samantha seeks to learn how to fight, and Samantha directly mutters wanting to learn his magic Kung fu, "I spent twenty years being silent thinking I was crazy. I'm not being silent anymore. You can leap mountains! I want to learn that shit!"  Rose and Gong Bei emerge, overhearing the argument and approach as well.  Samantha talks loudly more about no longer wanting to be silent about things and how she needs to do something about it.

The three masters, for the first time, stand before each other at the same time.  

Rose reminds them that Auntie Lo doesn't like noises at this late a night.  Samantha asks her if she does it too.  Rose is a bit surprised, realizing she's never admitted it to the others.  Matt invites them all to head to the back to discuss things.  David admits he has another appointment, however.  Samantha agrees, stating David probably doesn't even know how to protect himself, so its best not to get him in danger.  Hoi Lam feels compelled to defend his master's honor, but David places one hand on his shoulder and reminds him, "She is a woman."  Hoi bows, realizing his master has stopped him. "I have my first lesson."

Matt leads them to the center of the compound, telling the others no one will come out at night anyway.  Even Auntie so long as no one smokes.  Rose sits by the stairs to watch. Samantha is invited to fight Matt, to show her mettle.  She talks about his moves being predictably laughable.  She moves, as if looking like she's preparing to massage dough, but then Matt starts to feel there's a familiarity in her moves.  She knows the basics of Flowing Universe.  Rose offers Gong Bei coffee, and as Rose watches the fight, Gong Bei simply stares at Rose, "It looks like the Flowing Universe. I have never seen it in action. They say with it, anything outside the battle cannot exist."

"Let this first punch be righteous," Matt moves in as he realizes Samantha is waiting for him to move.  Matt unleashes a series of punches, one after the other, and Samantha parries them one after the other, but then, slips through her defenses and lands one blow at her face.  The two bow.  "Your father taught you well, but our ways are different. I can teach you, but your Flowing Universe is impressive."    Samantha admits she only knew it as something her father wanted to do when he had time with her.    She asks if they are all under Matt's clan, and he admits they are not.  Rose realizes Matt is definitely one too.  She turns to look at David, finding it interesting that two masters are in the same place.  David admits he wonders if their presence here is preordained.  He admits he senses a great destiny before them all.

Everyone retires to their home.  Samantha grabs her stuff and asks Matt where she will stay. Gong Bei insists he will stay outside the door to watch Rose's place.  Rose insists thrice that he come inside.  Gong Bei finally relents.  David goes to the edge of the compound, and tells Hoi Lam to leap to the fence, and to keep doing so until he's found a way to do so without using his chains.  David goes to bed.  Hoi begins trying to jump the fence over and over.

Auntie Lo wakes up, hearing Hoi Lam's grunting.  She yells at him at she can see him.  Hoi Lam runs away.


David opens his eyes to hear voices.  The voices threaten to burn the whole compound down if *they* do not come out.  He walks out calmly and sees out the windows the men with the hoodies are back.  As he reaches the door, the smell of gasoline is powerful.  He's a bit surprised Auntie Lo has not responded.  The hoodie men are on all the levels of the balconies.  People in the compound are also rushing away, worried at what the men are doing.  At the ground level, David sees the two - who seem to be the leaders of the hoodie men. David yells at them that people are trying to sleep.  "And you don't want to wake up Auntie."  The woman smiles,  holding a plastic spout that is still dripping gasoline.  The man asks who he is and David admits he is just a priest.  He's warned not to get involved as this is between "Clans."  David insists the time of clans is past.

Rose hears the voices and sees the men in hoodies outside.   She hears the female voice suggest that maybe they should just kill the priest to make the other one show up to avenge him.   Rose grabs her scalpel but then realizes Gong Bei is not in the room.  Grabbing her bathrobe, she rushes for the door.  The woman tells David to offer a prayer that "the martial arts master" reveal himself before they start burning everyone down. David admits he will pray for them.

Matt hears the voices.  He realizes they're the same voices from the train.  He turns to wake Samantha but finds her missing from the couch where he let her stay.    He steps out and sees the men with the hoodies.

Rose finds her door slammed shut the moment she tries to open it.  Outside, Gong Bei shakes his head insisting she stay inside and that he will handle it.  "You are not a master of Kung Fu," he tells her.  Rose realizes she has been hiding that fact.  She insists she can fight, but each attempt she makes to try to leave her flat, Gong Bei catches her and tosses her back into the room.

David can see Matt at the lower balcony emerge.  Matt looks up and sees David at the upper floor.  Matt speaks up, complaining why there are loud voices in the morning.  The two turn, and upon seeing Matt, seem eager to start the fight!  "Brother Kanto!"
"Sister Johto?" 
"Prepare for trouble!"
"We'll make it double!"
"To cleanse the world of clan-festation-"
Matt interrupts them, telling them to challenge him properly.  Matt realizes Johto has raised her razor wire to hit the ground and create a spark!

The fight ensures.  The masters use their superior skills to fight the two and their minions.  Matt and David directly go against the twins while Rose finds herself struggling to leave the room due to Gong Bei's desire to keep her safe.

David and Matt's attacks start pelting the twins with conditions, ranging from disorientation to numbing of limbs due to the shock David's strikes cause, to the broken jaw and legs which Matt inflicts with his dangerous martial arts.  Rose eventually realizes she has to distract Gong Bei, so when she shoves the door open, she pulls him close and kisses him!  Gong Bei, overwhelmed, drops to the floor of the room in a daze.  Rose leaps to join the fight.

Realizing they will fail, the twins call for the minions for "one last dance!"  The minions all reveal their razor wire to try to ignite the gasoline!

Rose reveals her mastery of Storm God's Fury as her blows seem doubly effective against the teeming mass of minions.  At the end of the battle, a final attempt to poison Matt is unleashed but fails and the pair ends with a permanent minor deafness in one ear, which shatters their battle conditions.

The two, defeated, learn to their shock that all three of them were martial arts masters.  David chides them for being eager and not in the right.  Kanto however admits their master will be pleased to know the fight will be interesting.  Rose gives them advice on how to recover from their deafness, despite knowing it is a permanent slight deafness they will have to live with from that day on. As they leave, even the minions walk away, defeated.

Auntie Lo (Qui Yuen)
The other residents are watching them, having witnessed the battle.  They return to their homes, shocked and uncertain how to react to what they just witnessed.  David admits he can't make a fist, as his hand seems to be slightly injured from the fight.  The front gate bangs open and they all turn to see the sudden appearance of Auntie Lo.  The three seize up, worried on how she will react.  Auntie Lo, in her jogging pants and shirt, comes into view with Samantha Wang.  The two look at the three, a bit surprised, and wonders if something had happened.  Rose lies and claims there were rowdy trespassers.  Rose insists they handled it and have left.  Samantha notices David's clenching and unclenching hand.  She tells Auntie Lo that it might be best to go inside.  Auntie Lo agrees.  The three hurry back upstairs.


The two figures bow.  They narrated to the Baneful Starving Tiger Dragon how they were defeated and the old man seems pleased.  They ask if there is any way to serve him to make up for their failure.  Mist fills the room.  The old man stares at the setting sun.  He fetches something from his mouth, then places down on the tray a jawbone. "I think, you've served me well."

"Call the sixth ring.  It is their turn tomorrow.  Let's make it more interesting. Call the sixth, the fifth and the fourth ring."


Auntie Lo finds Tommy at the window.  She asks if he was peeking at someone again and he tells her about what he witnessed.  As Auntie Lo listens to his story of the fight, she turns to the door and mutters, "So they are here." She pulls back the carpet and reveals an intricate sigil on the ground.  "When my great grand father made this place, he said one day this shall be auspiciously special.  I guess that day has come."  She turns to her son and tells him it is time to tell them that the Hundred Ghost Faction still lives.


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