Friday, March 24, 2017

Thrice Damned ep01 : Houses of the Blooded

Thrice Damned

Episode One
"Swimming Requires Stamina"

Houses of the Blooded

Notably also the first game session in the new Sietch, Rocky, Carlo and Flip are the players of this new tragic affair.  This was an opportunity to introduce them both to the wonderful tragic world of the Ven and the dangerous stories that are told only in Shanri.

The characters in the game are the following:

Ithili Thali ("Graceful at flight" "Face Many Odds")  Falcon
Strength 3,  Cunning W, Courage 5, Beauty 3, Wisdom 2, Prowess 2
Aspects: I know someone,  The Woods are my Home
Artifacts:  The Sky's Eye (A necklace with Farsight and Whispers)
Devotions:  Manna Rennay 2 (Circle of Protection, Hearthward)  Tyan Bran 1 (Wisdom's Clarity)
Played by Flip

Torr Tamel ("Iron does not bend" "Strength in Candor")  Fox
Strength 2, Cunning 4, Courage 2, Beauty 4, Wisdom 3, Prowess W
Aspects: Well Known, Read About That
Devotions: Talia Yvarai 2 (Goodnight Kiss, Befuddling Kiss), Talten Steele 1 (Never Again)
Played by Rocky

Lucane Adrente ("Gallant" "My Weapon is Myself") Wolf
Strength W, Cunning 4, Courage 3, Beauty 2, Wisdom 2, Prowess 4
Aspects: You know my Father, Old Sword
Artifacts:  Bloodsword 2 (Sharp and Vampire)
Devotions: Falvyn Dyr 2 (I am the Weapon, Tool or Weapon), Manna Rennay 1 (Circle of Protection)
Played by Carlo

Opening Scene: An Opera
On the stage, the man named Bjornae, the Wise Man, is the soldier thrown in circumstances beyond his control. A desperate Count, turns to the soldier, and shows him the coming armies.  He asks what they should do.  The soldier mutters the only thing he could think of, "Swimming requires stamina." The Count stands transfixed as Bjornae's true wisdom inspires him. Bjornae is thanked by the Count for his advice and hurries to the fight.  Bjornae stares at the audience, uncertain what had just happened.

All player characters gain the Aspect: Swimming Requires Stamina

A break in the silence as someone begins to applaud quite loudly.  Across the darkness, the ven look around to find the offending person. Torr Tamel turns to her father, Drial Tamel, and the two whisper about how in an Opera applause only happens at the end. Torr is bothered how the story is the kind of stories one gets when the Wolves attempt to write an Opera, worse to set a war story at Spring, a time of Romance. Drial however reminds her it is still based on one of the Seven Fools which makes it a true Opera.  The actor begins to move like a fish, however, in a terribly acted way.  In the audience, Lucane Adrente and his wife, Isabel ("Quick on her feet") whispers to each other about the fact she is not yet blooded, making her not permitted to be among the audience.  She is disguised as one of Lucane's personal guard to accompany him.  She admits she is having fun, but knows she enjoyed the Theater more. Isabel doesn't like how the actors keep singing, and worse they don't really sing that well. Lucane explains it is an acquired taste, and once one gets Blooded, one gets more accustomed to it.  She admits she finds it odd and that it feels... wrong. She points out, however, that Lucane's mother, the Marquess Victoria Adrente, is enjoying it.  The mother makes eye contact with Lucane and from the very glance, Lucane realizes she knows he brought Isabel with him.  She warns him he can be killed for bringing Isabel, but thankfully she has no plans of telling his father, and better, no one else has noticed her so far in the Opera House. Ithili Thali is still applauding very loudly when an older woman touches her shoulder and recommends she sit down and be quiet. Ithili defends herself, claims that she's just showing her appreciation, "..of the play." And the woman snaps back, "It is NOT a play." Ithili nods and quietly sits down.  "Only theater shows plays," the woman explains.  When Ithili admits she does not know the difference, the woman introduces herself as Fani Steele and explains she is here alone as her husband was just murdered.  She is wearing black to explain she is here in mourning. Ithili notices the thin but vibrant red ribbon around the woman's throat like a choker. Ithili remembers from her mother how details and colors matter, and to see her wearing red can mean she's seeking Revenge.  When Ithili asks about it, Fani folds the black cloth over the ribbon as she returns  the question, "What red ribbon?" as if it was never there.

Torr and Drial continue to talk about the Opera, sharing how a young ven named Iger Tamel wrote it. The Baron of Volcheck pushed through with it despite the original lead losing his head.  Lucane feels Isabel nudge him as she whispers, "There's someone watching us." Lucane glances back at the man and recognizes him from a former battle. He realizes the man is Gryndil Thorne and they had not seen each other since that fight. Lucane had slept with the man's wife in the past and he thinks of himself as Lucane's "rival."  Isabel wonders if she should leave, but Lucane insists it might be better to stay put rather than grab attention. Lucane looks up and sees even his mother has noticed Gryndil. Lucane weighs on whether or not leaving the Opera would be taken as a bad thing - but given the Opera is a terrible one.  Lucane takes Isabel's arm and whispers, "Let's go."  The moment they stand up, everyone in the Opera House turns to look at them for a second that stretches for so long.  Gryndil stares at Lucane, but Lucane ignores Gryndil and they begin to walk out of the Opera House.  Ithili sees Lucane leaving and sees the fight still happening on the stage.  The Fish is still swimming.  Ithili stands up, waves at Lucane who doesn't notice, and people begin to murmur as Ithili begins to walk.  Torr and Drial see the second figure stand and nod, "I guess the public has spoken.  Shall we?"  Torr grins, "We can go now."  More and more people begin to stand up and leave.

The Marquess Victoria Adrente smiles, proud of her son as being such a vocal voice, and wakes her husband, Falk Reinhold.  She tells him it is time to go, and when asked, admits the Opera was terrible.

Lucane and Isabel are moving down the hallway, leaving, when a blur of motion closes in on Lucane. Isabel spins, grabbing hold of the blur to hold it at bay only to have Ithili identify herself. Lucane recognizes her and the two exchange pleasantries. Ithili admits the Opera was very good and how much she loves the line. Isabel snorts in response, but turns away to hide her face. "It speaks so much about battle," Ithili grins.  Lucane asks if Ithili is staying for the Party or if she is heading home. Ithili admits she is going. Lucane's personal guard suddenly turns to ask if they are staying because they left their kids... or rather.. they left the wife and the kids. Lucane admits they should at least show their appreciation.  Ithili seems shocked that a Vassal was invited to the Opera.  "Indeed," Isabel gasps, "I... was not," and she quickly exits to head for the carriage.  Ithili wonders if she should hire her own Personal Guard in time.  Around them, a relatively constant flow of ven leaving moves past them. Ithili wonders if the Opera is done and if they should head back to catch it.  When Lucane explains they are leaving because it is how they show their distate for it, Ithili finds it a shock and hurries back inside.
Ithili, however, catches sight of Torr and Driel on their exit. Driel asks if Torr has petitioned for Sorio's Blooding, given right now he is titleless. Torr isn't sure if she wants to drag Sorio into this complicated life.  "But he's quite charming being not ven," Torr sighs. She knows she can petition for their children when their times comes, but having them both as ven would be far better.  Ithili greets Torr as she approaches.  Torr greets back but asks for Ithili to explain who she is. Ithili explains they met at the Marketplace. Driel coughs and makes his exit. Torr claims she doesn't go to Marketplaces and that Ithili must be mistaken. Ithili wonders if she got the wrong person.  Torr turns away and leaves, claiming to have no idea who that was.   Torr yells, "I will not be ignored!" Driel drops his handkerchief.  Torr bends over, picks it up, and that's when Driel turns to notice her, "Oh. Thank you for picking it up." The two now walk away together.

An ear-splitting shriek erupts as Ithili shoves the doors open to go back inside. Everyone freezes to the sound of the shriek.  On the stage, the actor holds the wooden sword.  But there is a woman in black standing behind him, with a knife in her hand pressed against his throat. A crimson arc sprays outwards.  Ithili runs for the stage.  The actor's body collapses to the ground.  The woman in black holds her blade skyward.  Everyone else begins to applaud.  The applause grows louder and louder.  Even those who were about to leave halt, turn, and clap.  Ithili can hear the people gasping at how real the blood looks, how dramatic the flow sprays.  The woman screams, "For Ikhalu!" and plunges the blade into her own chest.  The audience breaks into a roaring cheer as they rise from the seats. Ithili beguns to push past the applauding people, shoving between them and forcing her way towards the stage. She reaches the foot of the stage and sees the woman she recognized to be Fani Steele now on her knees, with the hideous blade still in embedded in the woman's chest throbbing to her weakening heartbeat. Ithili hoists herself up and the audience now watches as she drops to her knees in front of Fani and asks why she had did what she did.  Fani's eyes slowly open, and now Ithili realize it is not Fani! It only resembled her.  "What are you doing? Get off the stage!" the woman hisses at Ithili.   Ithili shoots a glance back at her original seat and finds Fani Steele actually there, pulling her veil back over her head after a short show of applause.  "Get off the stage, you oaf! You are ruining the Opera!" the woman in black hisses at Ithili.   Ithili realizes she's made a huge mistake and tries to act as if she was part of the story.  She overly-shows motions suggesting she's grieving as well as she tries to inch his way back down the stage.  

The curtains descend.

Act Two: The Party
Sorio ("The warrior brings peace") is at the gates of the castle.  He asks if Torr is planning to stay overnight and admits he hates how when Torr stays with her father, she comes back vicious and more a Wolf than a Fox. Torr warns him of insulting her.  Sorio is taking Samuel and Samantha with him to explore the regions of their Province.  Torr isn't certain however it is safe to bring the children around. Sorio admits finding a Ruin might be fun, but Torr admits they're always fraught with danger... and then one has to throw a Party, because "you can't have a proper ruin without a Party.  Hence, hopefully we don't find one until next year."   A voice announces herself to be "passing through," and the two see a carriage escorted by a female cadre of Personal Guard.  They announce themselves to be the company of Lady No, Countess of Ival, Blooded of the Elk.  All the Vassals are dressed in black, which suggests her fourth husband must have found an unfortunate demise once more.  

Lady No
(Bernadette Peters)
Isabel and Lucane talk about the same thing and Isabel wonders if they are doing this for the Resources. Lucane insists this is a trade despite having enough food for everyone and reminds her to trust in his decision.  Isabel admits her mind sometimes thinking too fast.  She asks him not to flirt with anyone there, and even teases how he might end up becoming the Lady No's fifth husband.  Lucane tells her he will be home tonight as he has no plans of staying too late.  "It's a beautiful Spring, so I hope things go well," Isabel smiles, "We met on a Spring."  She admits she wasn't supposed to be peeking at that chamber while the ven was having a celebration, but he saw her and she had to pretend she was just a servant in the house. Lucane remembers that story and adds how she then bumped into him later that same evening and he saved her from her mother... claimed he saw her as a possible Vassal.  She admits she still finds it strange some times how the ven handle things.  Lucane reminds her in just a few more seasons, she will be one of them.  They kiss.  As Isabel leaves, he hears a man applauding.   He turns and finds Gryndil amused to see Lucane in an affair with his "Swordswoman" and how the courts would be delighted to hear such gossip, if he were ever to spread such stories.  Lucane wonders how he managed getting invited and asks what he wants. Gryndil admits he still has the scar from that encounter.  He claims he has one too. Gryndil teases that maybe he won't be alone - and he throws Isabel a glance. Lucane holds back from the urge to punch the man... but then realizes Gryndil thinks the woman is just a bodyguard... a fling... and not his wife.  Lucane asks Gryndil to walk with him and when that frazzles him, Gryndil hurries off alone. Lucane then heads to the castle.

Gryndil approaches Isabel, asking her to accompany him to a secluded location- claiming Lucane asked him to deliver her.  At first she rebuffs his invitation, but then Gryndil claims that Lucane may be in danger and that her presence can ensure her safety.  Isabel chooses to go with him, and they talk about their family with Gryndil admitting he's surprised Lucane chose someone else given he's terribly smitten by her. Isabel smiles.

Back at the Opera House, a thin and sickly man emerges and confronts Ithili, calling her the woman who interrupted his Opera. He identifies himself as Iger Tamil, Baron of Volcheck. Ithili tries to explain the play was great, but Iger complains she had stood minutes before the finale, then returned to interrupt such a dramatic moment.  When Iger realizes Ithili truly does not realize what she had done, given she had interrupted the mundanity and boredom swirling on stage until that right moment would come when murder shatters their expectation and the act of failure reveals his genius.  He hates how they missed the best part.  The wife, Belladonna Tamel,  Belladonna then explains they were trying to reach this level called "Irony."

When Belladonna learns it was Ithili who applauded, she asks him to come with her to share their news to her husband. Belladonna explains that he isn't some spy sent by older Foxes who think they now better.  Belladonna admits not having children as the Suaven have not blessed the with any.

Torr finds Lady No coming up to her, greeting her as she arrives.  She admits it is so good to see him. She asks what tragedy struck and Lady No claims Marcello is dead, after getting poisoned then slitting his own throat with his own sword.  She claims it was such a "terrible accident," and Torr embraces the opportunity and proudly declares to everyone that she is giving her an embrace.  No asks Torr if she knows anyone single, as a Lady cannot be alone at such terrible times.  "I don't understand why they all keep dying... all these terrible accidents... and they keep leaving me these Provinces to run," Lady No gasps.  Torr consoles her and asks her to ride with her and the two poetically share how much the need each other, but the moment the door closes in the carriage, the two talk business about looking for a new husband.  No believes he has to be better than the first four. Torr admits she has "no doubt" that Lady No had no direct hand in their deaths.  Lady No admits her first three husbands were stolen from marriages given their wives had all mysteriously died.  The fourth husband was unmarried but in the end... that accident.   Torr muses how the slitting of the throat was a bit too much given he already drank poison.  Lady No feels like she should aim higher.  Torr wonders if she should be matched with a Marquis or an Earl.  Lady No admits there is an unmarried Wolf, an Adrente, worth looking into.  The Wolf in question, it turns out, is Lucane Adrente.  Lady No asks to be introduced to him. In return, Torr asks for the man she fancies to have her support to have him Blooded.

Lady No is excited at the thought that Torr is in love "with the help." Given the suggestion that he needs to be Blooded, Torr asks if Lady No can give a friendly word at the next Senate.  Lady No agrees.

"Wine?  You know it is only poisoned for the men," Lady No smiles.  Both wait for the other to drink first.

At the Party, Lucane is enjoying the good food. It is better than the usual though nothing too fancy.  He tries to find the host to quickly resolve his visit and return to his wife.  But the host seems preoccupied however.  A man comes up to him, having noticed him walking around, and Lucane recognizes the Count before him. The Count recognizes Lucane as the Baron of the Dark Tower. Lucane admits he has not been introduced which the Count claims makes this an interesting encounter. He proposes a small game for Lucane to try to guess his name in three chances, and if he fails, he shall owe him a small token. And if he succeeds, the Count shall owe him a small token. The Count admits it is not often he finds someone who does not recognize him.  The rules: He cannot ask anyone the name, and he must learn it within the hour.  They agree to their game.  

They walk as they talk about having ties with Provinces near the area, which the Count admits he did not realize the Dark Tower was close to the Province of Volcheck. Another person, a woman, comes up and greets the Count, asking for permission to kiss his hand. She reaches out and he holds his hand out to let her kiss it.  The woman stresses how the man was honest, loyal and always true.  The Count ask if the Veth are still bothering her, and she admits they have gone silent. Their revolts have gone quelled following his suggestions to have five beheadings in one day.  The woman bows and as she leaves, Lucane watches the woman and realizes she is one of the Blooded as well. He thinks of the story he has heard of about the Count and wonders if he would have heard of a similar story from his father.   Lucane remembers of the story of a Province in revolt and the beheadings, with five of the revolt leaders being beheaded in a single day. The sixth leader, who claimed the revolts would continue was then invited to the castle, given a hearty feast, then told the food he ate was made using the bodies of the five others.  The Count then calmly shared he was ready to hear the revolt leader's apology.

Zsanos Yvarai, Count of Kether
(Malcolm McDowell)
"Count Kether, Zsanos Yvarai, Beloved of the Fox. The most ruthless bastard on Shanri," Lucane remembers his father stating, "That is how you deal with the help."  Thankfully, Kether is in good terms with Lucane's father. Count Kether is impressed at Lucane uncovering his name so quickly and promises him a favor he can call upon when desired. They talk pleasantries and Lucane does mention his parents are in the Party.  Kether finds it bad form for Iger Tamel and Beladonna Tamel to have not announced the Marquis and his wife's presence in the city.  The Tamels believe the Foxes need a revolution from within.  Kether is merely amused. He likes seeing change and sees beauty in chaos.  Lucane asks if Kether is with his wife, and catches the Count's expression change. He admits he has never married. Lucane admits he looks like a very busy man, which would explain why he wouldn't have time for Romance or Marriage. Kether admits he does not think he would ever be ready, not after... "Lady No?" he mutters as he sees a group of women in black and a single woman dressed lavender.  Kether seems surprised to see the Lady No present and mutters they have some form of special relationship. Kether asks Lucane to walk with him towards the women.

Ithili is waiting at a table.  A woman sits at the table with a guy, and the two seem to be anxious to know why they are here. The woman seems concerned to be seated near the table of the host. The guy tells her to wait, and heads off.  When the woman and Ithili meet gazes, Ithili realizes the woman is the Swords woman or Personal Guard of Lucane.  Ithili comes to her to say hello and asks for her name despite her saying she is merely a Vassal. Isabel whispers her name to Ithili and shares that the Baron might be in trouble and that her presence might be needed.  She is starting to wonder if the Master Gryndil Thorne knows about what she is talking about. Ithili admits she knows a lot of people and does not know if Gryndil knows anything.  Ithili invites Isabel to get a drink with her and they walk up to the table to help themselves to some wine. Some of the staff look at her, shocked that one of the Veth is with one of the Ven. Ithili gives Isabel her own drink and thanks her for her generosity. Another servant approaches, asking if there is something wrong with the wine and that they are willing to replace it if it failed to meet her standards.  Isabel asks if Ithili is one of those "Falcons."  When Ithili asks if that's supposed to mean something, Isabel tries to explain. The waiter offers to bring the Swordswoman to leave the chamber and wait at an adjoining waiting room.  Ithili tells him it is not necessary, explains Isabel is with one of the guests, and tells the waiter they are fine. Ithili admits she is just here to have fun. Isabel laughs with her as the waiter rolls his eyes.

Lady No and Torr see Count Kether and Lucane approach. Torr alerts Lady No to the current complication: Lucane, the new man she wishes to meet, is arriving with Count Kether.  Lady No starts panicking, muttering no, and her Maids come to intercept the men. Kether whispers to Lucane that he will owe her a Season's worth of Spices if he has the Maids escort him away.  Torr scans the room immediately who might be useful within the area, but to her horror she finds none!  Lucane calls out to the Maids, asking them to help her get something to drink.  But Lucane's words do not steer the Vassals as Lady No suddenly interrupts him and reminds them that her Vassals shall not be commanded. Lady No pulls Torr close and tells her to stay beside her.  Count Kether steps forward, asking if there's a gathering. Lady No asks who is present and Kether admits there is "No" one of importance and asks the girls to stand aside. Torr curtsies and begins to move away. Kether asks Lucane who the woman is, and he explains it is the Baroness Torr.  "Ah yes," Kether tells Torr, "You were the one who was going to introduce me to your companion."

Torr smiles and claims she believes Kether is already familiar with her companion.  Lady No speaks out (still looking away) that she is not and has no idea who she is talking to. Torr introduces him as Count Kether and introduces him to the Lady No.  Kether admits he knows there is ill-blood between them, and he introduces Lucane to the Lady No and tells her, "He has a very nice Dark Tower." Lucane kisses the back of Lady No's hand. She then introduces Torr to Kether and tells him she has a very nice Province as well. Kether admits he was teasing when she claimed to not have recognized Torr. The two admit there's a challenge in not having anonymity in this society.

Isabel and Ithili start whispering to each other about the events they are observing from across the room, with Count Kether, Lady No, Torr Tamel and Lucane Adrente conversing among the seven maids in black.  They listen in as Torr expresses that Kether seems excited to meet her cousin who wrote the Opera. Kether, speechless, nods.  Torr suggests to have the Staff to lead him away immediately. Torr suggests the Baron Lucane can wait with the Lady No while she looks for the Staff.  Torr then exits from the group, leaving Kether speechless.  

Lucane asks how Lady No knows Count Kether, but she reaches her hand up his arm, allowing her nails to lightly rake his skin. Lady No asks Lucane for a moment to get to know him more. He asks if she wants to play a game, and he challenges her to answer all his questions if she answers all of hers.  Lady No smiles at the dangerous game and agrees.   Lucane asks what her relationship is with Kether, and she smiles as he calls his questions one that goes "for the throat."  She admits she was to be Kether's first wife.  "How unfortunate," Lucane muses.  "No, this is what's unfortunate," Lady No grins, "What is your Secret Name? You didn't set any rules. You owe me an answer." But before Lucane can protest, she pushes her fingers against his lips and says, "But instead of answering that, you can instead do me a favor. I have never seen your Province. Allow me to see your Dark Tower." Lucane admits they can make arrangements after the Party.  She explains she is in mourning, and that they should best not waste... the afternoon.

Isabel mutters to Ithili that she thinks the woman is making moves on her husband.  She hands Ithili her wine glass and starts to walk towards Lucane and Lady No, forgetting herself. Ithili realizes this isn't a good idea, but follows her and whispers this might not be a good idea.  Ithili realizes Isabel suggested that she is the husband of Lucane!  Isabel looks determined.

Torr is walking towards the servants when Kether catches up to her.  She admits she's still looking for the Staff, but he suddenly pins her against the nearest wall.  "You had my tongue tied in there."  Torr admits he is not the first man to say that.  Kether confesses she is the first woman... the second woman to have done this to him.  Torr feels him clutch her neck firmly, but still in a caressing way. He asks her to tell him if anyone has taken her heart.  She replies that while it does not matter, the answer is no. Kether smiles and admits she is good.  Torr grins, "No. I'm better," then gently pushes his hand away.  She reminds him it is time to find the Staff, as she is sure he is eager to meet her cousin.  But as she goes away, she does not overhear Kether mutter that this is the second time in his entire life a woman has caused him to be at a loss of words.

"Excuse me!" Isabel suddenly speaks out loud, "Is there something going on here?" Lady No and Lucane look up to see the Swordswoman standing with Ithili close by. Ithili realizes the Lady No is a Countess and she bows.  Isabel turns to Ithili and tells her not to do that to the woman making moves on her husband. Lady No glares at Isabel. Lucane tries to give apologies as he grabs Isabel into his arms and explains things will be clearer come her visit.  As Lucane and Isabel hurry away, Lady No turns to Ithili, demanding to know who that woman was and what just happened! "Did that Vassal just call me a filly?" Ithili forces a smile, and tries to just explain that the woman is her friend.  Lady No asks for her name. Ithili admits she knows her name. Lady No asks Ithili to join her for wine instead as her afternoon plans seems to have disappeared.  "Did I hear it right and that Ruk called that Baron her husband?"

Ithili lies and claims she thinks the woman is crazy.  Or that it might have been one of those servants who get infatuated with the beauty of their master.  Lady No smiles and admits they will have much to talk about.

Iger Tamel finally arrives. Despite most of the guests having have gone.


A figure who has been watching the three stories unfolding mutters to himself, "Keep Swimming... Keep swimming. this should be worth writing about in my next piece."  The man scribbles down notes in his notebook.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

One Shot : Pocket Odyssey

One Shot

Pocket Odyssey

Pocket Odyssey was one of the Kickstarter projects that I really wanted to support. The game is a tiny box filled with maps, tokens, and cards which allow you to create on the fly a group of characters, story arcs and challenges for your group.

The game sort of plays like old school Japanese computer role-playing games, which is pretty awesome, with factors like range, timing and items being cool elements that can affect your battles.  The game primarily is about the fight scenes, which is cute when you just want to try something with RPG elements.

The group created characters by merely choosing from the cards and forming their heroes.
Three story arcs were set, and with that we were playing!

Scene 1: Escort
The four are traveling through the woods to escort Borgan Freeman with them, the spiritual leader of his tribe of Odun.
Zophia the Wise, played by Josh.   Who knows everything.
Zilla the Zealous, played by Flip.
Kotar also known as Q, played by James.
Unnamed played by Koko. With two magic arms.

It was at the bridge that they noticed trouble: Hobgoblins hiding in the wilds! Zophia notices the hiding group before anyone else, and quickly casts a spell to prepare for the battle. Oil spreads in an area where Zophia sets his trap.  As the hobgoblins emerge from their hiding place, Zophia declares a warning.  Zilla wonders if they should have at least talked to them first, but Zophia clarifies, "They are ugly goblins. They're the bad kind!" Even as Zophia is casting his spell, however, Kotar charges forward since he is Impatient.  Being tiny, Kotar finds the bridge he is crossing to be much larger and safer than most do.  He throws his weapon at the closest hobgoblin, causing it to scream.  The others mobilize to close in. The group begins to move, striking in coordinated strikes to try to bring the hobgoblins down. When one of the hobgoblins begins to seemingly cast a spell, the group realizes the attackers may be more deadly than expected.  Unnamed leaps onto the closest rocks, maneuvering into position.  Zilla strikes at a nearby hobgoblin. When a second one begins chanting, the group realizes they have to dispatch the enemies faster.  Zophia leaps across the bridge with his hunter's axe to stirke. Blood spurts all over Zophia's face as his second weapon connects.  Another hobgoblin closes in to strike at Kotar, but it misses. Another hobgoblin steps backwards, and vanishes.  Kotar uses his special powers to create doubles of himself.  Then he creates the illusion of a web covering the face of the closest hobgoblin. A few hobgoblins struggle to keep their footing on the oily bridge. Seeing one of the heroes alone, another hobgoblin takes the opportunity to strike at him. Blood lust surges through them all, raising the danger of the scene.  But Zophia's calming presence affects the flow of combat and dispels the blood lust instead into a heroic surge that encourages him to knock the dreaded hobgoblin down. Unnamed finds the opportunity to use all his extra arms into a whirlwind of destruction to cut through the enemies. Kotar's illusions flank the remaining enemies, distracting them from seeing the others close in.  Seeing one attempt to rush the bridge again, Zilla strikes it down as it runs past him. With their successful strikes, the flow of battle allows them to recoup. One of the hobgoblin's spell is unleashed, and roots rise from the group to capture them! They dodge out of the way before any of them get snared. Zophia unleashed back fear upon them through magic, and while tormented, the hobgoblins need to recoup their courage before they can act. The bridge begins to warp, as some kind of magic distorts the structure. Kotar stabs into another hobgoblin, and he feels his blade scrape against the bone.  A berserker hobgoblin charges forward, and with a mighty swing, strikes the bridge to cause it to collapse.

As the heroes leap out of the way, they realize these things mean business!  The others cheer as Zilla launches a barrage of strikes, although it hits nothing but air. Zophia searches for vines that can be used to swing across the shattered bridge. As he reaches for Borban's hand, they swing across and land across the gap safely. Unnamed ends up killing the last hobgoblin despite all the other yelling at him to keep him alive. They realize they could have gained more information on their attackers had they left someone alive, but now it is too late. Zilla, however, is the sole one to find a treasure from the corpses. He finds a Bag of Keeping.

The group ends up voting Kotar as the MVP of the fight, and it grants him a bit of an advantage for the later scenes.

Scene 2: The Tavern
At the Tavern, Borgan Freeman talks to the gathered, telling them of the ill acts of the dark lord and the need for them to unite to defeat him. The heroes feel boredom swarming around them as they wish something more interesting would happen.  Thankfully, the dark lord learns of their presence at the tavern and sends agents to silence Borgan.

From the crowd, the agents of the dark lord reveal themselves. Hobgoblins march into the place, screaming in their strange language. Seeing them closing in, Zilla senses the incoming battle thanks to his Animal Instincts. Battleflux triggers and the group moves to face the threat as one.  Zilla rushes down the stairs to close in on the hobgoblin he sees.   Zilla's strike easily slices down the first one, giving an opening for a second strike.  Zilla fires his slingshot at the next villain he sees. Another one of the hobgoblins vanishes. Angered that danger once more threatens Freeman, the man Zophia has begun to fall in love with, Zophia begins to close in on the enemies within range to strike at them with another oil slick. A berserker leaps over the oil to close in on Zophia, and his strike misses Zophia... but then afterwards, the berserker vanishes as well!  Kotar jumps to the wall, to push back and leap at the next closest villain still visible. As Kotar's strike kills the berserker, however, even in its dying throes it strikes to strike at Kotar!  Kotar thankfully parries the strike before it finds its mark. Unnamed leaps down to land between a group of hobgoblins and Sunders them with a single move. Borgan gasps, fearful that they've found him once more. With Zilla's animal like senses, he smells the other invisible berserker and tries to intercept the monster. He slips, however, and hits the oil slick on the ground!

When the invisible hobgoblin attempts to strike Zilla down, however, the berserker also loses balance and slips!  Kotar makes doubles of himself again, and has them stand guard of the others.  He leaps across to the other side and attempts to strike the other hobgoblin before it closes in on Borgan too close. The strike kills the monster as Kotar lands on its dead body to land atop the oil. Zophia cannot find the other. One of the enemies chances upon the real Kotar, however, but thankfully the Unnamed one slides in within the brief window of time to call out no and strike! Kotar leaps backwards, to land onto Zophia's shoulders. Kotar's strike misses again but the enemy vanishes once more.

They start trying to detect the invisible villain, searching for him while he's hidden. But the villain successfully reaches Borgan and pulls him to one side. "There shall be no more..." the villain raises the blade, but before he could slash Borgan's throat, the heroes see their opportunity to stop him. Zophia, realizing she is in love with Borgan, casts Torment upon the Goblin to stop him. Fear strikes the goblin, giving the next hero an opening to strike at the assailant. Zophia's Battle Sense shifts the flow of battle to their favor as all the heroes recover a power point. Zilla suddenly remembers where the goblin is, and spots the hiding figure.  He calls out where the enemy is to guide the others! Heroes' Fortune blesses the Unnamed four armed hero who grabs hold of the villain despite his invisibility and gives them a chance to learn more now about their enemies.  "Great teamwork, guys!"   The villains yells, demanding to be let go.  Unnamed slaps him with one of his arms.  Zophia demands he explain, "Why are you after the Priest who is so pretty and beautiful."  Kotar warns if he tells them where the dark lord is, they will be merciful.  They learn that the dark lord is the Vampire Dark Lord, who cannot be harmed until he initiates a battle. They easily learn the whereabouts of the dark lord.

"Wait," Zilla suddenly screams, "Why are you trying to kill him!?!"  All the others turn to look at Zilla, realizing once more he's a tad behind everyone else.  Unnamed squeezes the goblin a bit more bit by bit to see if he can get any more info out of him. But goblin gives nothing more. Kotar asks him to be merciful and let him go.

Scene 3: The Tavern
With the spiritual leader Borgan finally safely escorted, the group considers a direct confrontation with the dark lord to annoy him to the point of forcing him to engage into a battle.  Once again, the group chooses their MVP and Flip wins it, granting a bonus for his character in the game. The heroes look at their loot and consider sharing them around. The group arrives and sees the front gates and shoves them open to step inside to the courtyard where a lone tower stands. The Vampire Lord waits for them, flying above the battlefield as he is laughing. A single henchman, a gigantic goblin stands close by. The henchman stares at them, ready to fight.  The group then senses one last villain in the area, a woman who lands close by from a leap and smiles at them. They all realize she is extremely beautiful and has wings.   Zophia mutters, "A Succubus!"

As Zilla cries out, "What are we fighting for," Kotar and Zophia are charging forward, ready and anxious to fight.  Kotar summons his doubles. Zophia casts Oil upon the gigantic goblin. With the goblin as the center of the oil spell, Kotar then closes in on the Succubus with his doubles running alongside him. He swings at the air, straight for the Succubus, with his sharpened steal... but the Succubus leaps backwards as his blade bites against her flesh.  She changes form in response, transforming into the splitting image of Kotar's mother.  "You hurt me!" she hisses.  Kotar snarls, "I hate my mother."

The Vamprie Lord questions if they really think it is wise to fight him at his own place. Zilla mutters they know it is not!  Zophia's mind races for any weaknesses a Vampire might have. Unnamed closes in towards the goblin, without stepping on the oil slick.  The Goblin raises its arms and its parts seem to move about, as if it were re-configuring in some way.  The Succubus leaps at Kotar but lands on a double instead.  The kiss consumes the double and the Succubus snarls in frustration.  Kotar thanks the gods he had that double.  The doors begin to slam shut to separate the others from the outside.  Zilla uses Battleflux to encourage all the others to move that moment.

Kotar continues his swings at the Succubus, his blade nipping at her but she twists over and over with her wings to avoid any strikes. Zophia runs back to the door and tries to unlock it. Staying close to the Giant Goblin, Unnamed fortifies his position to be prepared to defend himself.  He hurls the flashbang at the Goblin, positioning the throw to catch the Succubus as well. He hopes he does not hit Kotar in the process.  But before it erupts, the Succubus sweeps in and catches it, to keep it from banging. The group begins to fight in earnest. The Goblins strikes slam those hit backwards from its immense strength. The Succubus sees the flash bang suddenly erupt and she recoils from the light, unaware that the bang was merely Kotar's illusions forcing her to retreat.

"Now," the Vampire Dark Lord whispers, and burst of darkness erupts in an area where a Shadowblood Warrior emerges!  Everyone else is blinded in that area.  Zilla tries to work on the locked door that separates them from the others, but they can't get through.  Zophia's mind races on how the vampire can be attacked... she recalls that any wounded hero becomes vulnerable to later strikes. The Vampire is vulnerable to light and to fire. Unnamed charges forward to try to strike at the Goblin despite being blind.  He smashes into the Goblin and it explodes upon impact, and now there are two where one stood!  The Succubus realizes the flash bang was a trick, and she closes in to try to grab Kotar, but she lucks out and grabs a non-image. Kotar twists out of the way from letting her touch him. He moves back, away from the Succubus,  he launches a weapon at Succubus and it strikes squarely.  The shadows pull away, revealing the Shadowblood Warrior. It closes in on Zophia, who is working on door.  She feels her eyes go dark as blindness strikes her.  The Vampire Dark Lord is impressed at their resourcefulness, but she is more impressed with their capacity to feed him.

Unnamed avoids the swings from the two Goblins, but waiting for the perfect moment they're close enough, he uses Sunder to strike at the two by grabbing one, then the other, to chuck them at the door to open it. One Goblin tears the door open.  The second one, however, upon impact, splits into two more goblins!  "Whaaat!?" Unnamed gasps.  Zophia cannot see anyone. She uses her Vast Knowledge to unblind herself... but sadly she fails to undo it. He feels a slam from the goblin hitting her to the ground, and instinctively dodges the next two.  "You won't hurt me," the Succubus smiles at Kotar as she wears the form of a Princess.  Kotar sneers, "I hate princesses," and strikes her with his chained weapon.   She screams as she dissipates into mist as the last hit rips her connection to this plane. Unnamed dodges the blades of the Shadowblood Warrior.  The Vampire Dark Lord moves closer as he sees the Succubus as been banished, "You will pay for that!" he hisses, and closes in on Kotar.

"I just remembered something!" Zilla screams, as he runs for the oil slick.  He transforms his body into living fire and ignites the oil in the ground.  Everyone is forced to back away from the sudden surge of golden fire. The others back up around the flames.  Unnamed tries to strike at the Shadowblooded Warrior during the distraction of the flames. He then follows up with a swing at the remaining goblins, cutting them down before they can split again. Zophia attempts another unblind move, using secret knowledge.  She regains her sight and finds herself staring at the fall of fire.  Kotar creates a MAJOR ILLUSION, the appearance of a gigantic sun dragon with three heads that is on fire! But the Vampire senses the dragon is an illusion and laughs at it instead of getting terrified.  The Vampire closes in to engage.

Still in flames, Zilla screams, "I am burning!" and he starts running around, leaving a burning trail behind him. The flames cease to dance on Zilla's body, but they've created a bunch of fire in the area.  Unname ignites some of his arrows on the fire trail, then launches the burning arrows at the Vampire Dark Lord.  The Vampire turns into mist, allowing the other arrows to fly through, then resolidifies as he snarls how that hurt!  Zophia uses her hidden power that moment, erasing from the Vampire's memory the last sixty seconds of memory he has of the dragon illusion! With that, the Vampire totally forgets he saw it as an illusion already, and when he turns he sees the sun dragon and this time believes it is real!  He howls!

Zilla slashes at the Shadowblooded Warrior, killing it, while the Vampire is far too busy staring at the moving illusion.  Kotar directs the dragon to move closer, forcing the Vampire Lord to back away towards them and their weapons. The Vampire stares into the dragon's eyes, attempting to charm it.  Unnamed leaps towards the Vampire, hoping his blow downs the vampire. Unnamed misses, falls into a fiery trail and rolls out of it before it burns him.  Zophia then torments the Vampire about being scared of the dragon and distracts him with taunts. Zilla gasps, "There's a dragon you guys!" And fires his slingshot at the Vampire.  Then as the dragon moves like it will breathe fire, Kotar yells at everyone to shield their eyes as he hurls the flash bang as if it were the dragon breath!  The flash blinds the Vampire, and stuns him, leaving him vulnerable for the time being! Some parts of the Vampire crumble to ashes... but he begins to recover quicker. The illusionary dragon continues to stomp forward at the vampire.

Zophia cannot think of another plan.  Unnamed sets his magical arms ablaze with the fire, and closes in on the Vampire with his flaming arms!   The Vampire screams from the touch of the flames, but in its mind, it thinks the dragon grabbed him.  Kotar then moves forward and hurls his chain at the Vampire, and rips apart his shoulder.  The Vampire tries to grab Unnamed to drain some of his life force. Unnamed screams as the Vampire bites into his throat and starts drinking. While still in his arms, Unnamed grapples the Vampire and drags him to the fire.  Kotar realizes with his chains, he can help do the same thing.  Zophia realizes two rounds of sustained powerful light should be enough to destroy him.  "Bring him to the fire!"  Kotar pulls the Vampire closer and closer to the flames, but he realizes he needs to drag Unnamed inside as well.  Unnamed feels the flames biting him.  The Vampire tries to bite as well, wanting to survive the flames. Unnamed consumes a Health Potion to recover what he can as he headbutts the Vampire to let him go.  Unnamed smashes his magical arms at the Vampire to force it down.  Zophia runs into the flames, ignoring the flames, and tries to pin the Vampire to the flames.  Zilla influences the Flow of Battle and prevents the Vampire from healing more. Kotar creates illusions of blinding lights to stun the vampire from moving!  Zilla then hugs the Vampire tight. And in fear, the Vampire Dark Lord burns away in the flames.

With its destruction, they all see the castle grow empty and quiet. Having survived, each one smiles at the victory they have embraced.

Secret goals:
Each player drew a secret goal card to try to sneak into the game. Turns out, they all were able to hit it one way or another!

Unnamed is thankful to have protected a party member.
Zophia is proud to have done something rash.
Kotar remembers he showed mercy towards an enemy.
Zilla just happy that he tried to hug the enemy.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

JAMS ep03 : Inspectres

Javier's Armed Men Squad

Episode Three

As the last episode of our Inspectres game, the format of this session was to be slightly different than the usual sessions.  But it felt necessary to give the game an appropriate ending to the story.

Opening Scene
All four are standing in a room.  Javier is wearing an armored suit and asks the others to double check if the suit is working well.  Pylons have been set up on the ground, and within the metal rods, an open doorway of light beckons.  The Spirit of Sherlock Holmes hovers nearby, watching as the group prepares. Stepping through, they see the almost perpetual night encompasses the area.   Holmes mutters about how this place is also known as, "The Upside Down."

Getting the Call, A Flashback #1

An old phone rings.   A ghostly hand reaches for it and answers.  The Ghost of Sherlock Holmes receives a call from Javier, who reminds the great detective that his parents once rescued the ghost from an inescapable trap.  Javier is now calling to "collect" on the favor.  Holmes admits he is a man of his word.

Javier tells the others that Holmes is willing to help them but admits he isn't sure if Holmes is lying as, "He is a ghost. Not a man. So he could be lying since he is no longer a man of his word." Gary shakes his head and reminds Javier, "He can hear you. He is still on the other side."  Javier corrects Gary, though, explaining Holmes is still on, "This side. Not the other side."  Gary rolls his eyes.  Holmes turns to the volleyball with a face painted on it and tells him, "Watson.  Finally I have something to do."

Gary preps Jessie, his Bazooka, as Javier wheels nearby in his wheelchair. Javier apologizes to Gary for the news of his friend having been abducted and for the weapon as it had never been perfected.  Gary admits he is aware of the leak, which erupts as a mooing sound.  The leak, however, is from the coolant system, so it has been expelling radiated gas which means Gary will never have children.  Gary stares at the weapon and sighs realizing its probably too late to stop using it.  Gary looks for Jalfredo and finds him prepping sandwiches for the long trip.  He asks Jalfredo to include some donuts. Jalfredo slaps Gary's hand when he realizes for it, reminding him that the food is only for the journey as they should never accept any food or drink from the other side.  Their discussion digresses towards movies and television shows, with Jalfredo claiming he was in Bad Boys and not realizing there was more than one black person in the movie.  Gary ignores his ignorant racism and presses about the rules of not accepting things from the faerie world or you will give them ownership over oneself.  He explains that Javier's parents, which the group has always only seen the lower half of their body, remains partly trapped in the other side. "The less obvious is the more important thing in the other side."

Jalfredo has prepared also dried tobacco leaves, and a stick of wax used for surfboards. Not having time to prepare more things, Gary realizes the team will have to rely on what he's prepared. Jalfredo even informs him that of everything, one of them is a poisoned one - a contingency in case the faerie folk attempted to trick them. When asked how to know which one is which, however, Jalfredo is unable to answer as he rushes off to answer a call from Javier. He begins to notice the differences in the items, like how one donut has a square hole instead of a round one.

Aiden visits Jato at the garage, who seems frustrated with the fact there are no new vehicles to use. Instead there are the pylons that Javier has instructed him to prep for the Mission. Jato harshly tells Aiden off, reminding him they are not friends as they didn't speak up against Javier when he got first fired.  Aiden asks about the Faerie folk and Jato shares how some mythologies think the Fair folk were the fallen angels.. the angels who did not support heaven nor hell. Aiden wonders if the crucifix will work against them, but Jato doesn't think the fair folk go to Church.  He does share that the Europeans believe in a different kind of fair folk (who are beautiful and artful and musical) while other countries believe in black dwarfs that curse people and live in mounds of earth and curse people who piss on them.  Jato however is a religious man and does not believe in such a thing.  Aiden wonders if there's a way to distract them.  Jato suggests beauty or riddles for European fae.  Non-European ones like food.  Milk, for instance.  Jato doesn't understand though why the milk is given in a saucer instead of a glass or a cup, "Who drinks from a saucer? And why not just drink from the cows?"  Aiden muses maybe its cause the cows never gave it willingly?  They wonder now if that's the root of it: It has to be willingly given.

Sherlock taps old friends long dead and from Mister William Shakespeare and asks him about the time he wrote Midsummer Night's Dream and encountered the fair folk. Shakespeare visits Sherlock and shows him his new fascination, a game where one dances and moves to match the images on the screen.   Sherlock and Shakespeare play Let's Dance as they talk about the faerie world of dreams and deception. He asks about how to find their way around the lands and William admits he thought he was visiting the lands but later he learned it was just a dream.  Visiting is a matter of invitation, calling for them because one has a present for them.  He talks of the beautiful guests who shined like the stars as they performed before them.  The trick of visiting through key places is to be there at the right time.  Another way is to create a new work of beauty so inspiring that the work itself draws them.  "A once in a generation work of masterful artwork.  The last one to invoke it was this young man... his name was two syllables. A man of color who went on stage to upset some blonde woman who was accepting an award."  Sherlock admits he does not know who that is either.  The last was to invoke the Lord of the Lesser Beings who can be invoked if one offers him a child. William waves to stop the game, and admits he is astonished at how despite not having physical bodies, their devices can detect them.  He offers to send Sherlock an e-mail, which he explains is the modern way people send each other letters now.  William sends the incantation to make to summon the Lord of the Lesser Beings and then offers Sherlock to join him for one more dance before he leaves.  They dance off to These Boots Are Made For Walking.

Suiting UpJavier explains the pylons are to hold the gate open as long as they can.  They will go inside to find their missing friend, Lucius. Javier admits they are going in for a second mission - the very reason Javier's Armed Men Squad was first created in the first place.  His parents were the original founders of the Inspectres, and they used to deal with all these supernatural things while he was left at home. Gary passes some popcorn to the others as they listen.  Javier shares how his parents eventually faced against creatures craftier than them and now remain imprisoned there.  Javier explains to rescue them is the only way to get them... completely. Javier shows them a small piece of string with a metal thing spinning on its end, "They told me if I was near them, this would begin to point in their direction." Aiden asks how they gave it to him if they were imprisoned. Javier admits it was on his 13th birthday that they made a deal to be allowed to be half here and half there. In exchanged, they would never actively find a way to escape. Javier introduces them to Sherlock, and is aghast none of them has seen the movie yet.   Aiden preps a milk-charged rifle for the mission, thinking it may be useful. Sherlock, of course, has his magnifying glass. Sherlock shares with them his conversation with Shakespeare and the group is decided they will not try offering a baby.  Gary wonders if Sherlock can write something smart and cool.  But he watches as Aiden starts scribbling on the walls with a pen, wondering if he can create a work of art.  Aiden calls out, "Guys, what about this?"

They all turn, then gasp, as they see something they have never seen before.  Even Jato, who just arrives, freezes upon seeing the wall.  They all gasp in unison, "Keep drawing."   Aiden grabs colors and continues to keep drawing.  Javier begins to weep profusely.  Jalferdo, who just arrives, gets weak-kneed as he calls it a modern Mona Lisa.  Sherlock claims to have seen better, but cannot look away. A glow erupts from one of the walls, erupting into a cross-like shape that opens into a door.  A woman emerges. Her skin is golden and white. Her body moves as if underwater. Her hair is like a forest, with things leering and gasping from within.  The whole room smells of freshly cut grass and wildflowers.  She moves past them soundlessly and stops behind Aiden.   When she speaks, that is only the time they realize she had arrived.  She calls Aiden a master of this era, and Javier motions at the others to hold the door open with the pylons! Aiden claims to be adding finishing touches now that her muse is here.  They all feel the whole room go warm when she blushes.  One figure emerges from her hair and informs them they are before the Queen Tatianna.  Somethings in her hair grow at Javier who has not bowed (being on a wheelchair). Aiden explains he cannot bow because... Gary slips in and explains, "of your beauty."  They explain he has "Cancer of the Back," and cannot move properly. A figure in the Queen's hair whispers to him and he asks them to show her this "knight," this "Sir Oftabak of the land of Can." Aiden successfully defuses the situation, however, explaining he has an ailment.  The Queen mutters about not having any ailment disrupt her honor and she waves at Javier, who leaps to his feet as the wheelchair shoves him off.  Javier is cured!  Aiden is offered a gift for his masterpiece, and the Queen asks what he wants.  Gary whispers to Aiden to ask for their missing friend. But Aiden doesn't get their whispers and asks for her friendship and for one of their companions who is in their world.  The Queen misunderstands and asks which one of his friends to send to her world.  When Aiden tries to explain that the Queen misunderstood, she flares up claiming to never misunderstand things!  Aiden explains he mispoke and explains that a friend of theirs accidentally slipped into her world.  She agrees that friend must be punished.  But Aiden explains the best punishment is to send him back into this world.  

Gary steps in, asking if they should be given access to her world instead. The Queen asks who the speaker is, and when he gives his name, she smiles and tells him, "Therefore, you are mine."  Gary disappears.  Aiden looks at Javier and Sherlock, shocked to see him just vanish. Sherlock however realizes his ghost nature might help in the situation and he attempts to walk to the door without the others noticing.  Sherlock slips inside and vanishes.

Aiden asks if he can present to the Queen a gift, but only in her realm for inspiration. She agrees and pulls out a flower from her hair. She offers it to him, but he remembers Jato's warnings and does not take it claiming his hands would soil it. She offers instead her hand to walk with him into her realm.  Javier, at the background, opens his hands to show a guy and a girl drawn in his palms to remind him to find his parents.  Aiden and the Queen walk through the door.  Javier and Jato then ignite the pylons to keep it open - hopefully long enough for the others to return.

Gary realizes he is in a long corridor.  Both directions seem endless. Gary trains the bazooka at the wall, hearing the mooing rise as it charges.  But before he can fire it, he sees a face staring at him.  He pulls away from the targeting scope and sees the purple and yellow worm on the wall talking to him. The worm asks what he wants given he is standing in front of their door. Gary is told he is at the entrance of the Labyrinth.  Mister Worm however admits he doesn't know the way out, although there are always ways into the labyrinth. There are lots of dangers and scary things in the Labyrinth although he does not know if it would be wrong to go atop the wall. He offers him to step inside to have a cup of tea.  "Usually a woman does. A Sarah. It is always a different sort. Always a Sarah looking for a Toby." Gary claims he probably won't fit inside, but the worm instructs him to walk straight forward with his hands stretched forward.  Gary shuts down the mooing bazooka and tries stepping forward.  To his amazement, he steps forward and now he sees the previously invisible passageways to the left and right.  Mister Worm invites him for some tea, but when asked, denies he is one of the fae folk. Gary claims to be a regular of the Labyrinth and he follows the Worm. To his surprise he reaches a room with a chair and table and now he's the same size as the worm.  Or are they now all big.  Another worm arrives and offers them tea.  Gary sits down, pulls out a thermos filled with coffee, and sits down to join them.  The worms admit it is so nice to see a whole new face, since they're so tired of all the Sarahs they keep receiving.  They have never seen the Tobys though.

Sherlock  sees the snow all around, the trees, pathways, and a sole standing lamp post. Footfalls nearby alert Sherlock to a figure who has arrived: half-human, half... something. Bare-chested with cloven feet. The thing addresses Sherlock, claiming he does not look like the children. Sherlock asks if the goatman has seen an older man, and asks if a Lucius has been here.  He suggests asking the Lion for information.  The goatman, however, cannot take him to the Lion as he is at odds with the former ruler of this place.  Sherlock realizes the goatman is speaking through his thoughts and not through actual words.  He is given the route to the Lion, however is warned to stick to the northern path to avoid the strange wheel like things that move about there. The goatman is shocked that Sherlock leaves no marks as he moves across the snow.  Sherlock admits he has been long dead.  

The room Aiden finds himself is a great white chamber - a domed greenhouse with statues of dancers who are all dressed in finery and masks - who come to life the moment Queen Tatianna comes to the base of the tree at the center of the room.  Aiden realizes the statues were not statues and most likely were people from different eras that had been abducted before. Wisely, Aiden turns down any gifts she offers time and time again, claiming to have strange diets and the need to maintain his low body fat average.  He asks her to dance, but she claims she cannot for the King cannot approve.  When asked where the King is, she explains he is busy "With another Sarah."  When asked who Sarah is, Tatianna merely mutters, "There is always a Sarah."

Back with Mister Worm, Gary hears the music playing in the background and asks where it is coming from.  The Worms explain it is the Queen with guests and that they are never invited to the dance.  They do share whoever dances gets entranced and never wishes to leave again. Gary offers to take the worms with him to visit the Queen.  They worms warn him the lands are dangerous, especially to those who don't know where they are going. Gary admits he is looking for a friend but the worms admit here in the King's domain it is mostly just the Sarahs.  Gary wonders why the Queen sent him here to the land of Sarahs. The Worms claims that means the Queen sent him here to be punished. Had it been one of the Dwarfs he would have been sent to the Oubliette. "You'll never find your way out." Gary insists he would like to visit the Queen, but they explains there's no way to leave this place without the Lord Jareth's position.  They offer to show him the path straight to the castle, despite the Goblin King preferring people take the path through the Labyrinth.  In the distance, Gary can hear a frustrated woman complaining and kicking the walls about them going on and on and how they are not fair.  "Oh, that would be a Sarah. Best you do not get involved," Mister Worm mutters. Gary realizes he needs to leave and he takes the path that leads straight to the castle.  He does not see the Worm head to the wall to say hello to the woman.

Sherlock has been walking for quite sometime, that the landscape seems to have begun changing. What was once a frozen river, is now a bubbling stream with the remains of a melting ice castle.  A melting carriage can be found as well, but a man still partly frozen in the ice is visible.  Taking his magnifying glass, Sherlock holds it against the ice and the sun thankfully does magnify and begin to heat the ice up.  One of the bushes shakes nearby, and Sherlock turns to call out, "Who is there!"  But no one answers.  He focuses on melting the ice near the man's face.  The animal that emerges however from the bushes is a great moose, with antlers that spread far and wide.  With enough ice melted, the man's face is now visible and he thanks Sherlock for his help. Sherlock just asks for how to get to the Lion, but the man doesn't know anything of the Lion.  "That's not until the other ridge." Sherlock claims to just be a passerby. The man asks how long he has been frozen and wonders where his friends are.  Sherlock immediately deduces that the man has been frozen a few years, and suggests his friends probably had left long since then.  He suggests this magical place could be why he's still alive. Unable to grab the branches, Sherlock realizes he cannot rig the branches to hold the magnifying glass up.  Sherlock turns and sees the moose nearby, and tries to have it come closer.  The man asks if it is "his moose" which turns out it is.   With the man's help, Sherlock gets Sven - the moose - to start helping break the man free.  "I have an idea, but it might hurt," Sherlock grins.  "Just trust me... maybe." Sherlock leads Sven far away and directs him to charge towards the man to break him free.  Sven charges, and shatters his companion, Kristoff, free from the ice prison. Sherlock admits he couldn't have broken the ice himself, but asks for a ride to the Lion.  Kristoff admits its all the way at the other country, but Sherlock reminds him he saved his life.  They let Sherlock hop on and ride to the next country - talking about the sisters whom Kristoff is friends with, and of the friend Sherlock had lost in this land as well - covering a lot of ground very quickly thanks to Sven. "It's always magic that makes things weird... like those trolls in the mountain.  Encased in ice right?  Guess she was mad at me."  Sherlock sighs, "Good thing the cold never bothered you anyway." When he asks for Kristoff's name, however, they cross the border before Kristoff can ask and Sherlock finds himself in another land with a castle.

Aiden asks for more information about the King. Tatianna explains how once there was a young woman who caught his eye - a woman named Sarah. They danced and fell in love.  He invited her to stay forever and she agreed.  The King and Queen were married, but as the years and years passed, she missed her son.  So he spread to all his Goblins the words that would be said to call him, and had them whisper it to all the women in the world with her name.  In hopes of finding Sarah again.  Aiden asks why she'd never confront him about it, but she reminds him she is Tatianna and such matters are beneath her. As they talk, Aiden realizes he can see Lucius as part of the tree behind her.  As he studies the tree, he can see more people entombed within it.  Hoping to distract her, Aiden asks more questions about Sarah and why she didn't do anything given she is being treated as an afterthought by the King.  Tatianna claims she does not believe she is on the side. Aiden however implies she shouldn't be okay with him having someone on the side.  Tatianna claims they all have someone that entertains them.  The servants come in, bringing in paints for him to use, as Tatianna asks Aiden to paint her image on the tree.  Aiden asks her to get comfortable, while he takes some time to visualize how to portray her beauty upon the tree. Tatianna nods, stands, and drops her clothing, "As you wish to see my beauty..." Aiden feels his Cool fading upon seeing her naked body.  He tries to stay calm but is failing.   Asking if he needs conditions different to work, she causes the dancers to disappear into woodland animals that run away and even dismisses the cold winter to let sunlight shine down. Aidan moves up to the tree.

Gary emerges and finds himself in a small town, with every house far smaller than expected. He looks back and finds he had emerged from a jar on its side.  Chickens occasionally hurry past him as he walks towards the castle up ahead. He catches sigh of what looks like a dwarf on a fountain.  The dwarf has a bunch of things hanging on his belt and holds a fruit between his fingers.  The dwarf mutters to himself about having to stop doing "this", whatever this means, but catches sight of Gary and asks who he is. Gary introduces himself and the dwarf says he looks lost, especially since he does not look like a Sarah. The dwarf wonders if "she" changed the rules this time and brought a friend. Gary admits he finds the dwarf rude and shows off his bazooka, "Jessie."  The dwarf admits he doesn't think Jareth will like seeing someone like him here.  The dwarf grabs the fish, and the trap door hidden on the ground swivels open beneath Gary! Gary leaps, landing away from the trap, and he smells a whiff of some horrible stench coming from down below.  "We're you trying to throw me into the Yubeleeh?" The dwarf reaches for the other fish, but Gary takes aim and shoots the dwarf on the shoulder.  The dwarf hits the floor, clutching his shoulder, admitting he tried to send Gary into the Bog. Gary demands to know the fastest way to King Jareth, but Gary warns him he's using modern man's technology.  The sound of a coin rattling nearby catches their attention.  A flamboyantly dressed figure emerges with a long beaklike nose.  A massive hat covers his head.  The figure walks with a wooden box held in one hand.  "Now you're going to get it," the dwarf hisses.

Gary calls out to the figure, demanding the hat wearing man bring him to King Jareth. "You look like a guard.. can you bring me to the castle?" The long nosed man shakes the box in front of Gary, as if asking for a gift. Gary drops one of the bullets inside and the nose man tells him he can ask. Gary asks to head for the castle, and the long nose man admits, "Well, if that's what really what you want.."

Sherlock realizes he's walking through a massive field now with all these tall standing flowers.  He finds so many other people sleeping in the fields.   Sherlock bends down and shouts to try to wake the closest one.  But stops when he realizes the figure looks like some kind of scarecrow on the floor.  The next figure is a metal statue on the floor.  Sherlock raises an eyebrow, and again calls out to try to wake anyone who will.  The metal figure looks up at Sherlock and asks what he is.  Sherlock dismisses the question as unimportant and realizes the metal man is very sleepy. Fluttering sounds fill the sky. Sherlock looks up and sees the dark flying shapes.  He rushes forward to head for the castle before the fliers get to him.  He ends up running past the massive lion sleeping beside the girl with the red slippers.  As he reaches the castle, however, the border shifts once more the terrain and now he's in a place with green pools of water.  The castle is barely standing, with statues surrounding it. All the statues are broken in some way.  Sherlock makes his way into the castle, hearing the voice of Aiden as he talks to a woman about her beauty. Peering through the glass window, Sherlock sees Tatianna drop her clothes and hold a pose.  She moves to beside the window.  Aiden tries to draw her, but as he tries to touch the tree, Tatianna warns him NOT to touch the tree. The Queen offers the palette of colors and Aiden, unthinkingly reaches for it.  Sherlock realizes Aiden is about to receive a gift from the Queen and forces himself through the Castle's glass walls.  He feels his ghostly form tear slightly from the effort, and he calls out, "No!" before Aiden grabs hold of it. Terror tears through them all as the Queen shows her displeasure.  Sherlock loses his cool and he begins to turn into a statue despite being a ghost! Aiden drops to his knees, as he tries to distract Tatianna with flattery, calling the intruder's interruption an unfortunate event.  He tries to have her turn around to paint her back, and thankfully, she agrees to.

The Goblin King reveals himself before Gary, as he pulls away his hat and massive nose. The Goblin King throws the disguise, which has now become a goblin, at Gary. He demands Gary explain his presence here given he's not a "Sarah."  With his horse crop, he whips Gary, and demands an answer. Gary explains he is here because of "some woman."

Confessional #1
It was around this moment that Jareth realized why Gary looked familiar.  Gary, for some odd coincidence, looked like the Queen Tatianna's former lover!

"Auberon," Jareth mutters, surprised to see him still around despite having been dealt with in the past.  He stalks around Gary like a shark, demanding an explanation how he survived the murder. Gary decides to ride along and claims he is the all powerful Auberon.  Jareth admits he does not know how Auberon broke free from the tree, but his being here proves he is sly and capable.  A crash alerts them both to the new arrivals, a woman, a thing riding a dog, and a hulking horned figure.  Jareth realizes he has no time and so with his magics, he sends Gary into a glass bubble and into some tiered chamber filled with goblins.  The goblins mutter and gasp as Jareth confronts Gary in here.  "Explain yourself! How did you escape the White Tree? How did you get a virgin to touch you?"  When Gary struggles to keep a straight face, Jareth sees through the lie and begins whipping him with the crop, "You are not Auberon!"

Back by the tree, Sherlock realizes the curse fails and he remains solid but of flesh instead of stone!  Aiden motions to the tree, pointing at the face of Lucius.  Sherlock approaches the tree, and studies it - hoping to discern something useful. He realizes that if someone who is a virgin touches the tree, it will collapse and free all the people trapped within. Sherlock turns to Aiden, wondering if he's "ever been touched down there." Aiden grumbles that he has already been touched down there... by himself... every night!  When Tatianna wonders if Aiden is asking to someone, Aiden claims he is merely thinking the thought process of the artistic pursuit.  Aiden then reaches to touch the tree.

Confessional #2
Sherlock remembers that day well.  He remembers how when Aiden touched the White Tree, despite claiming to have been touched "down there" many time before, the tree did collapse and the bodies all emerged from within, falling on top of them!

With the bodies scattered all around the area, with many atop Aiden and Sherlock, the only person who remains standing is a single man who.. looks like an Ivory-Skinned Gary?

Because Gary looks like Auberon.

Javier's parents are nearby, as well, their upper body torsos the only visible part on their body.  Lucius rises from the pile as well.  Auberon mutters that somehow, "That man.. his Purity has some how freed me..."  Sherlock explains that self-pleasure does not cause the loss of virginity, especially in the world of symbols that the faerie folk thrive in.

Jareth commands his goblins to delay Tatianna and anything she is up to.  He snarls at Gary that only babies are allowed in his castle, and that on the thirteenth hour the babies become his forever. He tells Gary, however, to offer him a gift and he will send Jareth off his way.  Gary digs into his pocket and pulls out a flashlight, claiming it to be a "Weird magical torch."  But Jareth rolls his eyes, claiming to know what it is, but anxious to be rid of him, sends him to his companions.  "Turn to the right and stick your lips out," he mutters, telling Gary he reminds him of a certain international male model, "Fine, turn to the left if you can't turn that way either." Gary does so, and he vanishes.  Jareth shakes his head, "About time.  I was afraid I was going to tell him to have a walk off.."

Gary appears in the other room and sees the commotion inside, as well as his lookalike who speaks to Tatianna about the bet being over.  Freed from the tree, Auberon can take Tatianna back with her to be the queen of the elves once again.  Gary calls out to them, and admits he looks like the man. Auberon and Tatianna look at Gary realizing there is truth in that statement. "Why is it your face resembles mine," Auberon wonders. Gary claims he cannot tell him. He explains to them however that the Goblin King hates him. Auberon asks for who freed him and Aiden admits it was him. Auberon explains it is common among their kind to make bets to amuse themselves, and asks about his presence in the area. Aiden tries throwing them a bet that he cannot be beaten in a dance off. Tatianna smiles at the idea and admits he has the Artist's Soul.  Auberon offers them a parting gift. "Name it."

Sherlock asks if everyone is free to leave with them. Auberon admits he sees no reason not to let them go. Tatianna admits she took them only because she missed him.   Aiden asks that they all leave safely, and Tatianna grants it.  The whole group then walks the path they are shown, which leads to a doorway, and through the doorway, they find the pylons and Javier in his power armor.  They all finally step through and return home.

Javier sees his parents.  He exclaims they've all done it... and brought so many other people back. Javier embraces Lucius, and after asking if he is well, admits he's docking two weeks of pay from his salary for being absent.  Lucius finally utters his first word, "Whaaat!?!?"   The doorway begins to pulse and close.  Jalfredo and Jato screams at everyone to run for it before it collapses.  Aiden and Gary leap forward, trusting in their gym training to get out.  They leap. The pylons explode.  Sherlock alone fails to get across in time.

Javier asks if they're all complete. Hearing an all clear, Javier then tells Jalfredo to approach each one who has been rescued and tells them to hand them the bill for "A Rescue".  Javier thanks Gary and Aiden and Lucius for the rescue of his parents.  Javier admits he is now closing J.A.M.S. as there is no reason now for the group to exist given his family is now complete. Gary, however, claims it has to remain open since there are still so many monsters out there.  Gary is bequeathed the remnants of Javier's workshop to take and use as he will see fit.  This includes the vehicles and armory.  To Aiden, he bequeaths the rights to the Inspectres license as the sole owner of the company. He is even to claim all the money from today's rescue.  Finally, Lucius is handed a bill.  For being rescued.

"WHAAAT?!" Lucius screams again.

Javier joins his parents and asks what happens now.  Javier's parents recommend they go watch The Mask of Zorro this time.  Javier even recommends his mother wear the pearl necklace he got her before.   The three leave.

Gary watches them leave, suspecting something may happen to them.  But decides all is right in the world for now.

Watch the whole episode here:

Friday, March 17, 2017

Monday, March 13, 2017

2017 Update: 12 New Games

For this year, I've played the following:
Twelve New Games for 2017
1) Pugmire
2) Monster of the Week

Given it is currently March, this is definitely a much slower development than previous years. But hey, at least we're still moving forward in many ways despite the current political and gaming climate in the Philippines. 

At the international level, things are picking up. I've received a few offers for a variety of projects which is quite exciting for someone who just really started writing in a professional capacity last year.  I'm also mapping out a trip to Los Angeles this year to meet some of my really supportive friends in the game industry and who knows maybe even show up at some event as a guest if the geek gods are kind.  

At the local level, Rocky and I have been reaching out to people and helping them get into gaming. We've probably introduced around five people to board games and two people to role-playing games within the last month, which seems small, but given we aren't a big organization or anything, I'd like to think it helps.  Was able to run Pugmire for some officemates, and it was nice being able to introduce the game to people who had never heard of it.  A few officemates (who don't play rpgs) were even excited to find a copy of the book since it had dogs.  We've hit two sessions so far and might have the finale soon.  I've thrown the pugs into the ruins of an amusement park which seems to have been taken over by the Cult of La Bor Tor and some massive reptilian monstrosity.  Hopefully, the three dogs and their companion can find a way to get out and safely return home.  For the interested souls who wanted to play more, I told them to keep their eyes and ears open for upcoming gaming events as I can't run games for them all being just a single person.  They're always free to try the other events happening in the city if they want to.  Monster of the Week became the go-to-game for two new gamers, one of which had tried Dungeons and Dragons from way back while the other only had board games in his history.  It turned into a Dresden Files inspired romp which was pretty cool. Both were fascinated how quick it was to learn the system and were already anxious to try more games.
Sickening Queens should be released very soon.  So far, going through a third batch of proofreading and editing and even sent a proofing copy to Steve Segedy of Billy Pulpit Games to check it out.  I'm anxious to know if he likes what I've created. Who knows, maybe he'll like it enough to include it or Bad Timing in a compilation someday.  One can hope.  But as a love letter to drag queens, most especially to our dear friends at O Bar and to RuPaul and the queens of her drag race show, I only hope the game helps introduce people to the magic and wonder of drag.

Dreamscrapers continues to move slowly forward.  The game is still going through system debates in my head, as I find myself uncertain on whether I want to use an Apocalypse World inspired engine, or whether I want something different.  A part of my brain is thinking of even cycling A Single Moment's Hatred system into something new.  Something that allows people to just say they succeed or not, and build on the story without going overboard.  Overworking the game is my problem now as I keep having all these ideas on what direction I want the experience to be.  I've already been having artwork made for the game, which is insane as that costs money, but I really want this game to happen.

TAG Sessions, Volume 1 is going through a rewrite.  Originally I wrote it as a guide on approaching role-playing playing games in a "dramatic" manner.  But now I realize I wanted to avoid sounding preachy and all-knowing as there are people out there who will be quick to tear you down if you try to sound in any way knowledgeable in a subject.  Locally, we call it anti-intellectualism.  But unsurprisingly those who engage it do so to impose the idea that they are the smarter ones.  So yeah, to avoid that, I'm rewriting the portions of the book as more autobiographical sharing of my twenty plus years of experiences playing, and running games.  I'm even partly tempted to invite some people to write an essay about their experiences in relation to TAG Sessions - maybe talk about how different games can feel, or why certain approaches I've done struck a chord for them - but in the end I'll have to see how much I'm willing to risk opening myself again to people.

Ongoing game-wise, the big winner so far is our 7th Sea Twin Chronicle which we call, The Guissola.  Composed of two gaming groups, the two heroic parties scour the world of Terra and have uncovered a massive plot by the Novus Ordo Mundi to use the artifacts and research of the late Nisab Guissola to accomplish a devilish scheme.  The game has reached epic narrative proportions as the Planetary and Fringe influences have been uncovered in the game.  The groups are nearing the point of having crossover sessions with characters from one group joining members of the other.  We're even anticipating a major crossover with both groups present in one session sometime around April or May.  The big enemy has been revealed to be the delectable Adeliadis Petronilla Fassequelle whose ambitions to become the most prominent woman in Terra has lead to her Corrupting the Queen Elaine enough to lose the favor of the Grail and seduce the leaders of various Nations and Organizations. But her ambitions seem to not be limited to just Terra as the heroes unearth the possible roots of the Syrne Artifacts all over the lands and discover there maybe be more than just the world they know held in this Grand Strategema.

There's the V20 Vampire game, Sleeper, which has been facing delays and hiccups due to schedule issues and bleak bouts of health complications from certain players. I love the story we have crafted, as we explore Kindred unlife in the shadows of Washington, D.C.  The players have been playing a meticulous game of prestation and performance, with each one attempting to gain more influence in the city, avoid responsibilities, and escape the intrigue. I worry though this game might have to make major adjustments soon to be fair to all who have been making time to keep the game going.

The Wield game, S.O.M.A., has not been played in quite some time.   With its last session, which was the second session, having been played September of 2016, I have doubts this game will be continuing anytime soon, which is a sad  reality to face given the generational story we had crafted for it. But in the end, real world responsibilities snare players away when least expected.  

And despite the terrible cancellation of the young heroes game, Rocky and Urim have asked me to consider finding a way to bring back a chance to play their characters.  And so, inspired by the reimagined successful approaches of Battlestar Galactica and Thunderbirds, I'm looking at starting a whole new teenage superhero chronicle using the DC Heroes system (or maybe even using the Masks RPG) with El Teniente and Buzz coming back for a whole new set of stories.  I'm hoping this time, the game will feel more teen hero than... not.  And to round the group up, I've decided to invite Flip to join the two and come up with his own superhero.  I'm definitely ditching the prison-sounding title and giving this game a fresh new coat of creativity.   More on this when we finally meet to flesh it out.

Beyond the personal gaming and goals, there have been a host of new projects and a bunch of older ones finally being completed.   And there's the offer.  Man, that offer is amazing. I'm so ready to dive in, but I'm still trying to be a responsible adult and looking at it with legalese eyes rather than go all fanboy and just say yes! But if there's any affirmation I've been doing something right, I do believe this is it.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Bookhounds of London : Fiasco

Bookhounds of London


Tobie plays Silas, the manservant of Monty Pendragon.
Flip plays the catalog agent and master of Silas, Montgomery Pendragon,
Josh plays Marcus Duboir the IV, an old collector from France and took his protege with him to London to scout for books.
Carlo plays William Peroux, the man in training who is hoping to learn more of the craft.

The story begins with Silas and William Peroux, as the two realize they have actually found a copy of the Necronomicon from Master Pendragon's library.  Silas is curious to learn more about it. Peroux recognizes it from the first glance and listens worriedly as Silas admits he feels as if the book called to him.  Silas admits Pendragon has been hiding the book from everyone, including Marcus Duboir.

Monty bursts into the house, looking for Silas. He walks into the grand hall of the Duboir residence searching for his manservant. Peroux tells Silas to hide and goes down to meet with Pendragon. But as he tries to misdirect Pendragon, something shatters upstairs.  Peroux explains it away as strong wind and... after opening the door to the second clatter... an opened window.  There is no sign of Silas Pendragon takes his leave.  Peroux peeks out and sees Silas running away.

A flashback. Pendragon recalls meeting Marcus Duboir IV earlier that evening. They talked about finding an ancient book from a tomb. Silas served them tea and is manhandled by Pendragon for interrupting their talk. He sent Silas away to get the book and spent the time talking to Duboir about his adoptive son, William Peroux, while they wait.   Duboir however complained he has no time to wait and asked Pendragon instead to come visit him with the book, as well as any other book he might want to sell him.  Peroux and Duboir left without further discussion.

Back at the present, Silas runs into a neglected Church, ignoring the pouring rain.  Pendragon chases after Silas towards the Church, and he sees Silas at the altar, reading the book.  He hits Silas, demanding the book be returned, but Silas warns him not to come any closer. Silas confesses he needs to read it.  And when Pendragon demands Silas return his book, Silas screams back, "It is not your book!" Pendragon slaps Silas.  Silas runs, climbing the broken tower. Pendragon warns him if he does not stop, he will see what he is capable of. When Pendragon shoves Silas to take the book, the manservant falls off the broken steps, and hangs for his dear life at the edge. Lightning flashes.  Silas feels something awaken... and he knows deep down it has to do with the words he had spoken aloud.   Fear grips him. He lets go and he falls.

At the ground, Silas is broken and dying.  Pendragon comes up to him and takes the book from Silas' bloody body.  "They're watching you now...I can see them staring at you from the darkness...." Silas mutters as he dies.  Pendragon begins to kick Silas' head over and over, wanting him to shut up.

Back at the mansion, Peroux hastily runs to Duboir's room and pounds on the door. Peroux tells him he senses something is amiss and asks him about the Necronomicon, a book rumored to have mystical powers. Peroux confesses Silas had the book and that he could read it.  The two turn and Peroux sees Silas standing in the room, with his head bashed open and bleeding.  Duboir cannot see him. Peroux insists Silas is in the room, and insists he is not lying. Duboir however accuses Peroux of lying and of having stolen things from his collection.  Peroux is thrown out of the house and the door is slammed shut.

A day later.  Marcus Duboir IV is at a conference of esteemed book collectors.  As the gathered watch him, he comes onto the stage and raises into view a book he had purchased from Pendragon.  Duboir claims it is the great Necromicon and while the crowd whispers in awe, Peroux, who is also in the room, sees and knows it is not the true book. Duboir shows the book off, but when Peroux motions for Duboir to have a moment to talk, Duboir brushes him off at first.  Pendragon, also in the room, watches from afar.  Peroux imposes himself on Duboir and tells him the book is not the actual book which Silas showed him. Silas, a ghost in the room, watches as Pendragon hurries to leave.  Silas turns to Peroux, who turns out to be a capable medium, and whispers to his ear that Pendragon is leaving.  Duboir hates the fact he paid ten thousand francs for a false book.  Peroux hurries through the crowd to catch up with Pendragon, but when Pendragon sees Duboir and Peroux, following him, he begins to run.  Duboir calls out for the man, declaring him to be a fraud.   They chase Pendragon down into an alleyway, which leads to a dead end.  Pendragon growls at Duboir warning him he cannot have the book.  Pendragon growls, almost like a beast, and Duboir attempts to grab the book from Pendragon's hands.  Silas whispers to Peroux that they have to take the book. Pendragon screams.

Weeks later.  At the asylum, William Peroux opts to visit Monty Pendragon.  Silas stays with Peroux, whipering things to him about what he knows. Pendragon can sense there's something different about Peroux too. Peroux asks what was in the book, but Pendragon insists he did not read it. "The book talked to me." Peroux turns to Silas, wondering if what Pendragon is true.  Silas admits the Master Duboir is now the one the book has caught. He is the one the book wants. Peroux asks where the book was found and Pendragon admits it was in a chamber under his land.  Silas admits they never found the chamber before. Peroux sneaks Pendragon out of the Asylum and Pendragon offers to lead Peroux through the tunnels.

The Tilt: Someone's Life is Changed Forever In a Bad Way

Peroux and Silas sneaks into the manor, entering from the back, choosing to be smart about things as they follow Pendragon's lead.  They go to the study first and Pendragon bumps into things in the dark.  They hear sounds in the corner of the room. Silas whispers, "It is here." Lights flicker on and they see Marcus Duboir the IV sitting at the corner, hugging the tome as he mutters to them that it is his. Peroux tries to take the book, but Pendragon blocks him, telling him not to do that or it will get ot him too. Peroux wonders how to stop the book, but Silas warns them they are not alone.  Duboir starts yelling, "There he is!  There he is!"  He begins to bask in the glory of something in the vicinity, but Duboir is angered by the fact he cannot see it clearly.  Peroux grabs the book anyway.  Pendragon battles against himself, trying to keep himself from clawing at Peroux to stop him.  Silas mutters something about everything can burn. Peroux lights a fire in the nearby fireplace and tosses the book into the flames!  Pendragon and Duboir scream, "No!" and the flames grow larger.  But to their horror, the book does not burn!  The flames begin to spread, however, and burn the very house, as if the book was protecting itself from those in the house.  Silas mutters, "Everything burns... everything..." And Peroux realizes Silas may have been talking about the house and not the tome. Pendragon and Peroux begin to grapple at each other, with Duboir joining the fray, as the urge to take the book from the fire strikes them. Silas reaches for the book, wondering if he can still hold it despite being a ghost.  Pendragon, however, sneaks through Silas, and takes it from the flames.  He calls out, "It is mine again!" and opens the book to start reading aloud the incantation within! Duboir snaps out of the weird state he was in, and realizes the place is burning.  He sees what Pendragon is doing, and he tackles Pendragon to the floor to force the book out of his hands.  As it topples to the floor, Peroux reaches to grab it.  Silas stands in front of Peroux, warning him if he touches it he will be just as mad as the others.  Peroux, however, is determined to find a way to destroy it.  "If not fire... perhaps Water?" Silas wonders aloud. "Perhaps the Sea?"

Duboir and Pendragon stares at Peroux who seems to be arguing with the very air about not wanting to take the book.  Duboir uses a cloth to reach for the book, then they lift it out of the flames without touching it.  He places it in a satchel and they consider a way out. They try leaping out of the window of the burning house, but  Duboir lands badly and injures his leg.  Peroux assumes any body of water might work, and so he quickly tries to think of the nearest body of water they can use. Silas warns them they are not alone in the room.  He tells them not to move.  The walls begin to show black tendrils that move as if searching. Peroux admits if they do not move, they will most likely die from the flames. Silas realizes he can draw the things to notice him instead.  Silas waves his hands as he walks and the tendrils begin to follow him.  "It has eyes... a hundred eyes in the darkness... Go! Go now!"  Peroux hurries out of the window, as the manor continues to burn.   He runs as fast as he can towards the overlooking cliffside.  Pendragon and Duboir try to follow, stumbling after Peroux, and pause only for a moment when they hear the death knell of Silas somewhere within the flames. The waves crash against the cliff below.  Peroux is ready to throw it over the edge when Pendragon sees him and is once more overcome by the darker personality. He hisses and snarls, asking if Peroux has any idea what will happen if the book is thrown into the water?  But then, Silas' voice begins to emerge from the water.  "Now William!  Give me the book!  It will be safe here in the waters!  Throw it to me!" But Pendragon warns the spirit in the water is a lie!  Silas tells William to trust him.  Pendragon snarls, "Let me have the curse!  Let it stop with me!" But Silas' voice suddenly screams from inside the burning manor, "Don't! It is a trick!" The ghost strains against the black tendrils as the book falls from Peroux' hand. Silas breaks free from the tendrils, then leaps at the last second to posses Pendragon.  Using his body, Silas leaps to grab the book mid air.  And in that last second, as Pendragon falls off the edge, Peroux grabs hold of Pendragon's collar and the daisy chain hangs over the cliff's edge.  Pendragon begins to regain control of his senses, and he can hear Silas in his mind, asking if it was him.  Silas begs him to allow Peroux to destroy the book... but warns him the water is a trick. The thing waits in the depths.  Silas begs them to trust him, and begs Pendragon to allow him absolute control. Pendragon, tries to resist, but Silas admits there are far more important things than
what he wants.  Silas takes full control. Pendragon-Silas flings the book back up the cliff, over Peroux and Duboir's heads and lands on the floor.  Duboir stares at the tome.

Duboir crawls over to the book.  He grabs it from the ground and they agree they need to take the book to the tunnels.  The place where it was first found.  Duboir holds the book in his hands, hysterical in fear, and tells them to bring it now. He insists he will carry the book and asks the others to carry him. The four make their way to the tunnels beneath the manor, ignoring as they burn.  The catacombs and winding tunnels continue to slop downwards.  The upper levels are wet, but the lower levels are drier.  Strange writings and marking on the walls glow as they pass with the tome in their possession.   In the main chamber, shells and calcified remnants decorate the walls, as well as other artifacts untouched by time.  An empty pedestal stands at the center of the room. Duboir points to it and tells them that is where the book should be.  He tries to get close to place the book upon it.  But suddenly the walls have shadows dancing.  The shadows move like tentacles, snaring Duboir in place to keep him from moving.

With the book on the pedestal, and Duboir snared by the shadows, Silas yells that the shadows won't let any of them leave.  Pendragon laughs that the master is awake now.  Peroux tries to free Duboir, but he struggles in vain.  Silas wonders if they should leave, or at least destroy the knowledge of its existence by staying here. Pendragon laughs it is too late! Duboir falls screaming as the shadows snap his bones in all directions.  He falls down like a broken doll.  Silas begs Peroux to keep the book trapped here.  Looking around, Peroux tries to find something to use.  Peroux wishes he had the courage to move.  Silas apologizes and tries to possess Peroux' body once more.  Peroux asks him where to find something explosive they can use, and Silas admits he knows where. With the younger man's body, the two are able to evade the shadows and escape the tomb, but knowing the truth about the book must remain with them, they hurry back out of the tunnels and find the dynamite that was originally used when the tunnels were first uncovered.  Carrying it back, they return to the room.  They set the dynamite and they trigger the explosives.  Pendragon howls no.  Silas howls yes.

The Aftermath

The dynamite buries them in the chamber.  Montgomery Pendragon feels control return to him as the rocks fall and crush his body.  But despite all this, he has this feeling that it is not all over. He feels black tendrils crawling into his brain and trapping him in another prison.  There is no escape.

As all of Marcus Duboir the IV's bones are broken and the black tendrils grip starts to loosen, he feels his son's body pressed warm against him.  Marcus smiles, feeling happy despite their doomed end, that they were somehow reunited despite all the events.

William Peroux  finds himself wishing they had never gone into this journey, but all in all he feels happy that they were able to stop this greater evil from breaking free and threatening the world.  It was the only choice.  William closes his eyes and knows it was the right one.

And with the darkness crushing them, ending their lives, Silas realizes as the darkness laughs that he was actually the first one who called it.  The thing is still there, with him.  Trapped with him.  Waiting for him to leave.  To guide him back outside.   Silas is to live a living hell for the rest of his unlife in the depths.
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