Ceteri Campaign: S1E7 – Threads

What Happened Before

The team had just rifled through an occult shop, put the very angry ghost owner to rest, and “requisitioned” a bunch of blood for an unauthorized project. The group had chased after the source of blood that was being fed to vampires. The mission was to put the blood equivalent of a dye pack in the vamp food, so that we can use it to trace and then destroy the vampire threat. The occult shop visit was to get a better version of the tracking spell. The game ended before the ritual was completed.

One important note: the ritual to restore Myriam to life took a high toll on the team. In game-mechanical terms, each took a several-hundred-point haircut in the overall ability level. The core of each character is the same, but restoring life to the dead and leading such a strong spirit as Myriam back to the world of the living forced the team to pay a mental, spiritual, and physical price for her return. No one is the same as they were.

Dramatis Personae

Kamali Blackshear (18): Kamali is a young man in his late teens. He is healthy and is of mixed ethnicity of Caucasian South African and native South African. He is a determined youth who believes in a justice of his own, likening himself to the knight of the round table whom he has read deeply into. Just as they stood against the darkness of their age so too does Kamali seek to do the same. For his sister, for his friends, and for the world.

Tag: “A knight without a sword carrying a faith nobody believes.”

Lorenzo DeModouco (18): A man with movie star looks and a voice that belongs on the radio. Slowly coming to grips with the fact that he isn’t exactly human, but a “Lupus Dei” – “Wolf of God” – otherwise known as a Benandanti. He’s still cheery and always trying to make others happy, but has become a shrewd student of human behavior, which he uses for the benefit of the rest of his team. Lorenzo’s recently joined the Boston Fire Department as a volunteer as a means to get access to places he normally shouldn’t be able to go as well as medical gear and information that might not be available to the public. He’s become a master of spear fighting and like the rest of his brothers is a highly capable combatant.

Tagline: “You can take me to the gates of Hell, but I won’t back down and I won’t be turned around.”

Amos M. Humiston (20): The Linguist and Librarian. He is the brains to the rest of the group’s brawn; but by the same token, he’s slow and cautious compared to the other Orphans, preferring not to charge forwards until he has the answers that he’s looking for. Those same answers that he more than happily provides the rest of the group when they turns to him about the more esoteric aspects that they’re working with and against. Recently Amos has nearly completed his double Masters in Library & Information Science Archives and History and has also managed to get a rather special job lined up. He has also learned from others that he hold the potential to be a Sorceror which if unlocked would be able to enhance his already considerable talent with ritualistic magic.

Tag: “True alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words.”

Gabriel MacAlister (18) – Built like the natural athlete he is, he is tall, strong, and solidly good-looking, but deeply scarred from much combat. He’s missing his lower leg, which he lost fighting zombies. It is capped by a carbon fiber prosthetic that doesn’t seem to interfere much with his activities. A quiet and hard-working man, always ready to lend a hand with any work, which he will do without complaint or obligating the other person to respond. He is an expert martial arts teacher, and has been following in the footsteps of a carpenter for some time now. Emphatically not a pushover or weak personality, but also not one to purposefully show off. Has been in many horrible places and seen many horrible things; he’s a bit of a compulsive planner as a result, as well as always feeling that most folks don’t really know how lucky they are. He was cursed to carry a magical sword for a while, and gave into its Wrath before it was parted from him magically. He’s since given it up, in exchange for unknown burdens.

Tag: “To serve others is the highest calling; to protect the meek the noblest endeavor, and our works are judged by the effort that went into them”

Make it a Blood Light

The team, having retrieved the proper references, was digging into the spell to turn the blood into a tracking spell. The team returned to the firehouse to investigate the grimoire in peace. The spell is complex with many parts. We figure using the spell there are 300-1,000 vampires that might be reached by the spell. A roll against Path of the Undead at -16 is called for. Rituals usually go for “the nearest target,” but this is a Mass Seek spell. It’s way more complicated, and the blood we’ve “spiked” as a tracer makes it possible at all.

There are many physical components to the spell, and many of the team are still injured from the last session. We do have about 20 vampire teeth on Kamali’s necklace, which helps. We’re going to have to burn some serious fatigue/HP – we elect Fatigue, and toss in a lot. We need to make an Occult! roll to tap into another source of power, but the donations and skills push the net roll up to Path+3, so we kick butt. He makes the roll by 2, and the spell goes off as intended, we think. Even so, that just means the targets have to only beat their own resistance by 2 . . . so Kamali spends his Drama Card to boost the roll – it’s a great card, so we wind up with a margin of 8, which is much more difficult.

We’re pretty much wiped after that.

We send Lorenzo back with the blood to mix it in with the general supply. We check on Desiree (upstairs) and Carl senior (unconscious). We then chill out for a bit, and take stock of things we need to check out.

  • We have pixies looking for rumors and vampires
  • Running down any missing persons reports
  • Gabe goes on patrol to ensure that the team stayed safe during recovery
  • Heading to Elysium to check for rumors
  • Talk to Elias Muldoon – the criminal that told us
  • A creepy guy in the park (Vitala) whom we can ask three questions, no more, no less, and mysterious stuff if we dork it up
  • It’s only been three days since things blew up and Myriam got killed and all sort of bad. It’s basically 6pm on Day 3.

At this point I had to take a conference call from thailand; I missed a bit.

The group decided to go visit Edgar Creel, the homeless guy we spoke with a while ago that Amos thought might have been a vampire. Well, he’s wandering around in the daylight, so either he’s Blade or probably not a vamp. They also went through Desiree’s purse for a banking slip to see if the Conclave did banking at the same places that got hit. We were looking to do some forensic accounting to try and figure out which accounts got hit, and why. So follow the blood and bodies, and follow the loot and robbery victims, and that gives Gabe an idea.

Something blew up – that means explosives and that means someone bought or made them. We also have pieces of the truck, which will have residue on them.

Amos goes into high gear, and tries to get the information on what was used: det-cord, nitroglycerin, and gasoline. We deduce they made the explosive (nitroglycerin can be homemade) at the garage we went to visit. So we have another thing to track – the physical components of the attack. Det-cord has to be bought. Guns (used to attack us) are not exactly plentiful in Boston.

The map of trucks Amos can put together was 10 sites, 11 for Myriam. The remaining 8 violent sites were violent attacks, contract killings, and other violent nastiness. We wonder if there are trucks waiting to explode somewhere. We also find out that one of the contract killings was accomplished by Norse trolls – with swords. Another was killed by a kelpie; very dangerous this close to the harbor.

The kelpie vicitim was Janos Valentine, a prominent alchemist in the city. The troll victim (trolls, really, 3-5 against one guy) was Jesse Cusumano, a retired hunter. The alchemist liked to sell potions to the rich; he was very rich himself. Ooo – life extension and stuff. We need his client list.

The remaining six locations for the trucks were the bank robberies, the Conclave, and the conclave’s military police force, the Custos.

We also remind ourselves that with all of this coordination, across so many fronts, that there’s not nearly enough evidence. Gabe speculates that someone has set up just enough supernatural activity to cause the mist to react, which provides a level of obfuscation that would be extremely difficult to achieve through mundane coordination, but happens in a “self-organized” way when the strings are plucked in the right way. Some creatures can do this deliberately.

Babel stones can confuse communication, magical or otherwise. They act as active jammers; they can be detected. They theoretically could be used in a ritual that would only interfere with certain types of communications. That requires them to be on a ley line; Amos has a map of such from C-Team. Amos determines that there must be one location in a certain place. It’s rumored to be very haunted.

Take the Fight to the Enemy

We decide that we have an opportunity to get inside Team Bad’s OODA loop if we can put a magical wiretap on this stuff. The opportunity to get proactive is too tempting to pass up. We drive for an hour, and then have to hike . . . oh, crap. Merlin/Kamali takes 6 points of damage to his foot from a natural 18 Hiking roll crit fail. He turns his ankle when he falls into a cellar, buried in the rubble of Dogtown.

So we biff our chance to be proactive because of a bad die roll. Sigh. Frustrating.

Lorenzo does first aid; he’s not able to put pressure on the bone at all.

Gabe kneels down; he prays devoutly for some time. With a rustle of wings and the flap of a trench-coat, Gabe’s hands glow brightly, and the injury is completely healed. Completely. Kamali lurches around, and finds a piece of the cellar he’s in, and he just knows that there’s a panel in the wall, and a secret one. The door doesn’t open, the stone opens like in some Harry Potter-esque tesselation stuff, and there’s a stairway down. The flashlight immediately burns out when we turn it on the stairs.

Shield and sword at the ready, Gabe leads the way. We go down, and sense that we’ve gone down at least seven fights of stairs – nearly impossible. And there’s a dim glow down there. We keep on. As we get to the bottom, the cross Gabe wears around his neck bursts into brilliant light. He offers his thanks, both silently and audibly.

We arrive at a large door, 5-6 feet across, with hinges on both sides but no handle. There’s light coming under the door. We knock three times. Then after a pause, there are three hugely loud knocks, and the door swings inward from the left. We see a hallway with odd grey cobblestones. The hallway is 20-30 feet long. Gabe moves quickly down the hallway, and starts to go left; Amos actually sees symbols all over the wall, but no one else does. They’re in Enochian and other languages. Amos reads them . . . he can’t not. Blood comes out of his nose and eyes as he reads the Latin and other symbols. Gabe invokes Protection from Evil; nothing happens. We try and move him; he’s frozen in place. Kamali uses his Ten-Hut! skill and crits, trying to boost his will, and the next Will roll at +2 and he snaps out of it.

He says something, and we’re all blown backwards by a supernatural shock wave.

Amos just encountered, and learned, a logos. A word of power. (Power Word: Stun? Nah.) It’s burned into his soul, now.

Kamali wonders what this place looks like on the Astral plane . . . and as soon as he thinks of it, the door slams shut. We’re fairly sure we’re Inbetween. We’ve managed to stumble into the Labyrinth. The conclave’s prison and testing ground. The center of this prison is where they put their worst criminals. The conclave also uses it to test their would-be sorcerers. We’ve stumbled into their testing grounds.

So, the left-handed hallway just opens up into this area with grass, trees, and a lake. We try right. It opens up into a field with trees and a lake, the exact mirror of the other one. Alder, ash, birch, and a smooth-leaved elm. All the trees we’re seeing look like Briton. Kamali feels like we want to go right . . . so we go right. We smell apples. We also see something man-sized moving under the water, leisurely. A crown of blonde hair, and a woman walking, dressed in white. Her dress seems completely dry.

I think she’s the Lady of the Lake. THE lady, as in Excalibur. We’ll see.

Kamali greets her. She smiles. She’s still walking – on top of the water – towards us. Gabe kneels politely. The rest back away.

She picks up a leaf, the same one that was on the door, and hands it to Kamali. “I’m glad you chose me and not my sister.”

“Well, I had a feeling this was the good way. Where are we?”

“You’re in the heart of the labyrinth. Not the center, the heart.”

“How do we get out?”

A door appears.

“I feel like there’s something that we’re here to do. Is something going on here.”

She’s very concerned. The folks that help her maintain the labyrinth have been out of communication. They locked on to Kamali’s light.

We quickly explain why we’re here. She gives Amos a ring; it’s a ring of Dispel. It will break any enchantment. Gabe mutters about his sword. She notes it’s tightly bound to me, and also that I could give it to her. There were nine swords that were made. Three to Titania, three to Maeve, and three to the High King. I have one of Maeve’s. She could take it, but she’d have to give me something back to balance.

I’m tempted. 

The original Merlin bound them here – she’s Vivian, her (nastier) sister is Nimue.

The Ladies of the Lake. Hrm. They’re fairly well qualified to handle swords of all types, it would seem.

Gabe decides to pray. He remembers something from TS Elliot. The mythical excalibur had two phrases on it: One was “Take me up.” The other was “Throw me away.”

“I have taken up the sword of wrath, and used it well and poorly. It is time to return wrath, and return to diligence and devotion. I will accept any burden you choose to place upon me in exchange.”

“So be it.”

Kamali offers up his own sword; Lorenzo offers up his guitar.

Vivian looks at Amos, and gives his slingshot the side-eye. Gabe reminds Amos that there is a time to leave behind childish things.

He hands over the slingshot. She turns and walks back into the lake.

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We end there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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