Aether and Ashes

Fading Into Black
Season 1, Episode 9

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Get Quicker!

The day began with Eva and Frederick sparring in the courtyard of the Dafni, building into a very one-sided match with Eva taking the lead early in the match.

After several minutes of back-and-forth between the two, Eva knocked Frederick to the ground once again, but he failed to rise. Upon inspection, Eva noted that Frederick had struck his head upon a rocky protuberance in the yard and fractured his skull.

She carried him inside, to seek out additional aid from George, who applied Salve to his injury and the two bandaged him. Seeing no sign of recovery, The duo decided it would be best to transport him via Telluric Gateway to the Aegis House in Paris to make use of the Green Room there.

After stripping him of his clothes, George took him into the room, where they were disappointed that the room did nothing. Certain he had expired, Eva attempted to restart his heart using her electrifying touch, but this also failed.

Seeking other options, they returned with Frederick to the Dafni, where they employed Nadya’s assistance. She determined that he had passed beyond the mortal plane and was deceased. Eva took Frederick’s body to the cool portion of the pantry for storage and retired to her room. She was distraught.

Nadya sewed the body into a shroud and had it transported to the ice house, where the body was placed in state upon a table brought from the Grecco Theatre.

Nadya performed some specialized rituals and wards to prevent any unwanted interlopers from taking advantage of Frederick’s remains. Yao also performed several rites over the body, and decided to hold vigil as well, to protect it from harm. Because of the group’s prior encounter with Yao’s death, the group decided to wait for three days before making any arrangements for Frederick’s remains to be transported back to Switzerland.

An Uncomfortable Request

Meanwhile, as all of this was playing out, Aphrodite asked Aeric to inspect the Sigil that she had acquired at the Mesola, during the investigation into the Scorpio Zodia. Aeric agreed, since they had been told that the Sigil was to allow free passage into the pocket realm that the Mesola resided within. Aphrodite had her doubts about this, so they met in her room for an inspection of the Sigil.

Due to it’s location, Aeric was needed to inspect it, because it was out-of-sight for Aphrodite. The inspection led to some questions and a small amount of experimentation, which uncovered the Sigils seeming ability to enhance pleasure. As this type of Sigil was beyond his understanding, it was suggested that Akronas be contacted for additional assistance.

To facilitate this, Aphrodite wrote a letter and asked Renette to have it delivered. Akronas received it and agreed to meet with Aphrodite and Aeric for consultation.

They decided to conduct their inspection in the green room, as it offered the most neutral place to do so without worry of influencing anyone else. After a question and answer session, Akronas conducted a visual inspection of the Sigil which was a bit awkward due to the location of the mark.

After some minor experimentation, Akronas was able to identify the Sigil as an Aching Sigil. It was masking a tracking Sigil, which most likely was used by Edmond Dantes to locate Illyria Sampson, Johanne Ronge, and Jesuit Martin. They all agreed that it needed to be removed, but there was a snag.

To remove the Abhorrent Sigil you first had to break it’s protections. The Sigil was tied to a pleasure that was generally potent and tailored to the person it was placed upon. In this instance, the Sigil was tied to sexual pleasure. The only way that Akronas knew to break the protections was to overload it, by indulging in the particular pleasure to which the Sigil was attuned. He provided them with a dose of Abhorrent Balm which would be able to remove the Sigils once the protections had been broken. He warned that the Sigils would require a great deal of work to break, as they would continue to increase the reward provided to the afflicted person in an attempt to prevent removal. Armed with instructions, Aphrodite and Aeric agreed to work to remove the Sigil, while Akronas returned to Council work.

After six hours, they were able to apply the balm and watched as the Sigil faded away, destroyed by their efforts, Aphrodite was free of it’s influence.

Scholarly Pursuits and Flights of Fancy

George continued to work on his Grand Alchemical Tome, transcribing Alchemical theory and scripts for recipes into his manuscript, the Tome Alchemica.

Scrooge continued to work on his Battleframe.

After preparing Frederick, Nadya was approached by a Black Eagle, which befriended her, taking on the role of Familiar left vacant by the death of Jango. Nadya named him Reza.

Return to the Land of the Living

As the evening progressed, Yao continued to stand vigil over Frederick’s body. Suddenly without warning, Frederick spoke and Yao cut him out of the shroud he was in. Yao had Frederick remain in the ice house and fetched the others.

The group assembled and after some inspection and investigation determined that somehow, Adam must have dosed Frederick with the Precursor drugs used to create Prometheans. Eva believed that her attempts to revive Frederick using her electrifying touch somehow activated those chemicals resulting in his reanimation.

Winter Wonderland

With several potential issues now resolved, the group departed the next morning via Telluric Gateway to the Aegis House in Paris, and continued on via gateway to Copenhagen, Denmark. It was Tuesday November 28, 1880.

The group arrived in an alleyway, located near the docks in the city amidst a thick snowstorm. Determined to find cover, Frederick managed to hail a cab. They then proceeded to the Hotel Koenigshaus, which he revealed he owned. The group settled into their deluxe accomodations. With Aphrodite and Aeric sharing a Room, George and Naomi Johnson sharing a room and Eva and Frederick Sharing a room. Yao, Nadya and Scrooge all had their own private rooms.

Scrooge’s Battle-frame

Scrooge assembled his battle-frame project in his room, and adjusted the assembly to remain standing upright. He then used his Lesser Homunculus discipline to animate the frame. This is when the unexpected happened. The Entity inhabiting the frame was able to vibrate the metal components in the battle-frame to speak. Scrooge tested it’s combat capabilities, directing it to destroy a tree using a a compound bow and single arrow. he learned that the creature came from a place known to it as the Killing Fields. It was revealed that several entities from this realm had been summoned by Scrooge in the past, although none of them had been able to speak before. A bit concerned, Scrooge dismissed the Entity, promising to summon it again at a future time. He then sought out Nadya for consultation.

Outfitting

The group took full advantage of the fact that Frederick owned the hotel. They visited the tailor in the hotel to have winter clothing made, fur-lined, boots, special leather knife-carrying vests, tall boots, and other items were ordered. Nadya acquired some leather and took the time to boil it and form it into a bracer to allow her to better handle her new Familiar.

Wining and Dining

The group headed downstairs for dinner, still uncertain what they were looking for in Copenhagen. The Pythia had only instructed them to come to the city, no dates, no clues, and no leads other than the place. As they looked about the room, while enjoying their meal, the group noticed a rugged looking individual sitting alone at a table seeming to regard them.

Nadya used a form of sight, which revealed that the man was covered in tumorous growths. Interested, Frederick, under the guise of owner decided to approach the man and gather some information.

He returned a short while later, and advised the group that the man’s name was Garvin. He had been employed as a wilderness guide by the Siggard Mine, until it had been shut down after a terrible accident. He was ill, suffering from an aggressive malignant cancer. Frederick had arranged for the man to have a room and meals for the remainder of the year.

Uncertain of their direction, the group retired for the evening to get some much needed sleep in the hopes of uncovering their direction the next morning.

TO BE CONTINUED

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A Sculpting of Insanity
Season 1, Episode 8

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The Next Mission

On October 22, 1880 Renette summoned the group together to advise them that she had been given some information from the Pythia concerning their next target, the Scorpio Zodia.

She seemed unhappy with the information, stating that she had only been given two words, or more accurately a name, Edge Grendle.

This name belongs to a criminal incarcerated by the Venatori in the infamous high security prison known as the Mesola. It is located in a pocket dimension only accessible by passing through the Naxos Gate a special Telluric Gateway located near the city of Apiranthos on the Greek island of Naxos.

The city, is also a garrison for the Gate as well as a training ground for potential future Thaumaturges for the Venatori.

Return to Athens

Renette advised the group that she had Irdouin create a special Telluric Gateway between the Aegis House and the Dafni in Athens, that required a single drop of blood to be opened on the Athens side of the gateway.

Using this gateway, the group traveled to Athens.

In Athens, the group knew they had some time to arrange transportation to the Island of Naxos, so they were given some time to see to any business that may be needed while they were local.

The Carnival

Scrooge and George headed to Metanopoli to check on Scrooge’s business interests, only to discover that there was a small circus-like carnival in the town square. There they realized that these were gypsies making some money from the townsfolk. The duo decided to let them continue, as they were improving the overall morale of the community.

In addition, the two discussed future business plans with Issak Parloff, which included expanding the product line due to the acquisition of three new contracts, and building a railway line to Corinth to facilitate better transportation of goods and services.

They also checked on the readiness status of the Flying Scotsman, Scrooge’s prototype Zeppelin.

Satisfied that all was in order the duo returned to the Dafni.

The Grecco Theater

The remainder of the group headed to the Grecco Theatre to check up on the situation facing the theater.

Aphrodite discovered that the theater was facing some serious challenges caused by a change in local government. J E Beau told Aphrodite about the difficulties they were facing with new zoning restrictions, licensing changes and a new morality officer in the city. After some discussion, Aphrodite indicated that she may have a solution to their problems.

The group then headed to the Tobacconist, where they discovered that there was a new harbor and customs control officer in the city as well, and that additional taxes were being levied on all imports.

This resulted in a crackdown on many of the more illicit activities at the dock, and made it impossible for the group to contract the crew of the Midas for their transport to the island of Naxos.

Nadya and Aphrodite decided they had an additional visit to make in order to help organize transportation. The others would head back to the Dafni.

Sofronia’s Estate

Nadya and Aphrodite made their way to Sofronia’s all-female estate. There they were shown into the Mistress’s presence, while she was posing for a statue being sculpted in Marble.

Aphrodite made an arrangement with Sofronia to handle the issue of the local government changes, in exchange for additional events at the theater. In addition, it was confirmed for the duo that many of the changes were the result of influence by Andros Aries the Aries Zodia who was angling his career to become Prime Minister of Greece. There was a chance that this could result in problems in the future. Sofronia also agreed to Loan Aphrodite the use of her ship the Argos.

Naxos

The group gathered at the dock and took possession of the Argos and made their way to Naxos. There they anchored in the Harbor of Apiranthos and went ashore.

They looked around the town, while John Tidewater and Renette Villefort made their way to the Naxos gate to make the needed preparations to open it.

While in the city, Aphrodite had a tryst, George and Yao participated in a Pankration match and the others observed a live chess match.

When the allotted time came, the group began to make their way towards the western ruins where the Naxos Gate was located.

However, the group was intercepted by members of the town constabulary, which were most likely members of the Venatori. After some frustrating back and forth, Nadya managed to slip away in the confusion, but the others were turned back after they discovered that there were alarm wards around the entire town.

The group returned to town, where they contacted Renette by way of Aphrodite’s Communicative Arts. They were instructed to return to the row boat and make their way to a promontory west of the city, where Renette would meet them.

John remained at the Gate, where he was able to ambush and disable two Venatori who had come to investigate the site, using stealth and the butt stock of his rifle. Nadya Joined him there, to await the arrival of the others.

Meanwhile the others joined Renette and she led them to the gate.

Through the Gate

Upon their arrival, Renette completed the ritual needed to open the gateway and the others passed through the gate into the pocket universe that contained the Mesola.

They were met by a couple of the guards upon entering the area, but were granted permission to see the prisoner when they mentioned Renette’s name.

Forced to endure a rather humiliating body search to insure no weapons or items were being smuggled in, the group was allowed to change into a black robe and then escorted to the chambers belonging to Edge Grendle.

The group had been told that once a Venator was assigned to the prison they would remain there for the duration of their lives. This could present an opportunity of some sort for the group. An opportunity Aphrodite could potentially exploit.

The Infamous Edge Grendle

Edge attempted to take some level of control of the situation by demanding that Renette come see him. When this failed, He told the group to tell Renette that he knew her “London Secret” presumably to convince her to capitulate to his demand that she visit him.

Despite this, Aphrodite and the others resisted this idea. They threatened to leave, but he finally agreed to whisper his cost for the Scorpio Zodiac Medallion in someone’s ear. Wary of this request the core of the group refused to get that close to him, but Frederick, realizing he was the least dangerous of the group if he was influenced, stepped forward and allowed Edge to whisper his demand in his ear.

Frederick immediately passed this information to the others who neither agreed or disagreed to undertake this task in return for the Medallion.

Instead they decided to return to Renette with his price.

Returning to Renette

After another very thorough full body search, and a full cavity search for Aphrodite, the group made their way outside.

Aphrodite in payment for her, cooperation with the full cavity search was given a mark located inside her labia which would permit her re-entry to the zone, according to the guard.

Aphrodite contacted Renette using her communicative arts and Renette opened the gateway for the group. The group made their way back by row boat to the Argos, and set sail.

Underway

Once underway, the group brought Renette up to speed on Edge’s price for the Scorpio Medallion. He had told the others that he wanted three Venators killed. They were Illyria Sampson, Johanne Ronge and Jesuit Martin.

They currently resided in the Greek Islands, with Illyria living on Delos, Johanne on Ithaca and Jesuit on Rhodes. Edge also indicated that they each possessed a powerful artifact that should be locked away.

The group discussed their options, as Edge had been imprisoned by The Merlin for his role in the theft and destruction of a powerful Artifact . It also turned out that the three targets that Edge named were also involved in this crime, but had not been punished as they had not escaped unscathed.

The group deliberated on the pros and cons and decided to undertake the task, trusting that the Pythia knew what decision they would make and that the decision was somewhat already decided.

The only decision remaining what which of the targets should they execute first.

Delos Isle

The group set sail immediately for the Island of Delos, where the closest of the three Venators were located. They decided that they should attempt to have a conversation with Illyria Sampson rather than immediately attempt to kill her. The purpose for this visit was to surveil the are and gauge her strength.

Upon arriving at the island, the group decided to avoid town and head through the ruins of the ancient city and over the mountain of Kylathus, Along the way they encountered a pair of goat herders keeping their flock in the old remains of the temple of Zeus.

The group was able to get soem basic idea of the layout of the island, being directed by the goat herders towards the west where the estate was located. While they could not advise on Illyria or the inhabitants living there, but warned the group to avoid the “House of Poseidon” as it was a dangerous place.

The gorup headed down the hillside and encountered an unusual looking cave, beside which was a massive boulder. The reminded the group of a Levant tomb and they were preparing to investigate when they were addressed from inside.

From the depths of the cave emerged a Cyclops straight out of mythology. After a short conversation, he introduced himself as Marti. He offered them hospitality, and the group accepted, knowing that they would be safe from harm. It also provided an opportunity to acquire additional information.

They learned that one of the members of the Grotesques was a Gorgon, and the others were all Venators. He warned them about the garden filled with statues and indicated he did not have much to do with them at all, avoiding them whenever possible. They also learned that Marti was one of the last of his kind.

In return for their meals, the group performed some basic house-keeping tasks to repay the Cyclops’ kindness. It was during this time that George and Nadya developed a plan to effectively camouflage John and George using a dose of Transmorphic Balm to make them appear more statue-like. To facilitate this, Nadya and John went to recover a piece of broken marble from the ruins of the Temple of Zeus, they had visited prior.

While gone, Nadya used her ritual magic to create a delayed rain storm, which was uncharacteristic from the area. It began raining before they returned to the cave.

Meeting the Monster

John and George infiltrated the garden of the estate, while Scrooge, Aeric and Frederick waited in a position overlooking the approach to the building. Nadya, Aphrodite and Eva made their way inside posing as Venatori.

The group approached the conversation by indicating that they were present to investigate the escape of Edge from the prison. this, of course caused some alarm in Illyria Sampson, who provided the group with a few choice bits of information. She advised that she was not the only person that he would come for, naming Jesuit Martin and Johanne Ronge as well. She provided the information that indicated that they had blood-bound themselves with Edge, and that as long as they lived, they would keep edge weakened. But if they should die, Edge believed that he would regain all of his lost strength. She told the group how Edge was so ruthless that he murdered his own young daughters to gain additional power. She also told the group about the destruction of the Orb of Opposition, which was actually the Eye of the Old One Yagarthorgorathorith, which was being used by the The Merlin.

Armed with this new information, the group departed, determined to speak to the others to collect additional information that Illyria had hinted at.

Rhodes

The group next traveled by Argos to the island of Rhodes, where they dropped anchor in the ancient harbor of the city. They departed by row boat, and at first were unable to find a means to disembark. however, Frederick pointed out that illusions could be seen out of the corner of your eye, when Aphrodite suggested that there may well be a pier that was somehow hidden by a Glamour.

Once they discovered the pier, they were able to head into the city. there they encountered Jesuit Martin who knew a great deal about the group, revealing that he had an ability to spy upon Illyria.

A discussion was undertaken where he revealed that he was prepared for a fight, as he had the ability to tap into massive amounts of Ley Line power, collected through his personal Colossus’ and his massive Colossus of Rhodes hidden beneath the waves of the ancient harbor. He provided the group some additional information, pointing them towards Johanne. They confirmed several aspects of Illyria’s story and began to reconsider how they would approach the problem.

Ithaca – Tymaret The Mad

Upon arriving at Ithaca, the group made their way into town to inquire after an archaeological dig nearby, as they had been provided with some information that would direct them to Johanne at such a place.

During this time, they discovered a small antiquities shop, where Nadya purchased a Native American Dream Catcher in the hopes of helping with her sleeplessness.

They were directed to the dig site, where they determined that Johanne was more commonly known as “The Mad King, Tymaret” due to his tendancey to talk to himself.

The found him in the ruins of the palace, trying to turn over a stone in the floor. George assisted him and he recovered some old items from the space beneath. Conversation was difficult at first, he was unfocused and hard to direct, his answers rarely making any sense.

However, George used his Meditation discipline upon him instantly clearing up his focus and providing him some respite from his insanity.

In this state, Johanne advised that one of Edge’s daughters still lived, Alara Ronge whom the group saved. Illyria substituted the girl for an innocent girl, who unfortunately was killed by Edge. The trio had hidden her away from him using a blood ritual. After the destruction of the Orb of Opposition, after Johanne had sacrificed his memories, Alara was placed under his care. he raised her as his daughter, and she was unaware of her true parentage. She is his current caretaker and also a thaumaturge. He told them that the Scorpio Medallion was hidden inside the Mesola, that only Alara could locate it, and that as long as all three of the trio lived, Edge was unable to locate his daughter, become the last of his lineage and use his powers to free himself from his prison cell.

Armed with this new information the group now had to develop a new plan of action and implement it. They also uncovered some indication that perhaps Edge was able to slowly acquire information possessed by the others, especially as time passed due to the nature of the blood ritual that bound the four together.

Return to Athens

It was not difficult to notice that over the course of their trip Renette was experiencing severe Migraine headaches. The group believed that it could alternately be a result of either interference from the various Ley Lines crisscrossing the areas, or influence from Edge Grendle trying to break through her defenses.

Since the group had decided to head back to see Jesuit Martin on the island of Rhodes and Athens was on the way, they decided to stop at the Dafni to see if it would change how Renette felt.

Upon her arrival there, she immediately felt better, and the group decided that it would be best to have her return to Paris in case she was needed to have some level of deniable plausibility for the upcoming encounter wiht Edge.

Rhodes Revisited

The group returned to the island of Rhodes where they spoke again with Jesuit about the information that they had learned from Johanne Ronge, he confirmed some of that information, although he seemed somewhat disappointed that Johanne had shared so many secrets with the group so readily. He agreed to head to Ithaca to meet up with Johanne. The group agreed to go to Delos and convince Illyria Sampson to join them and not kill Jesuit on sight.

The Fires of Delos

The group arrived at Delos by ship and some of the crew departed to head to the estate owned by Illyria. As they approached the site the noticed a massive column of smoke arising from the structure which was engulfed by a massive firestorm.

Concerned for Illyria and the other Grotesques the group rushed to the site. Eva and George rushed inside, where they spotted an unknown individual, later identified as Edmond Dantes standing over, what appeared to be Illyria, grasping her Gorgoni Helmet.

The group attempted to recover the helmet. Nadya extinguished the flames, and Yao attacked the individual, who was seemingly impervious to attack. It became quickly clear that he was wearing the Argosi Fleece, which meant that he had to have been on Ithaca. The individual escaped, and Aphrodite recovered the Persean Shield.

Naday ripped a Portal open to the dig site in Ithaca, and the group at the burning estate traveled there.

Reinforcements

Aphrodite contacted Renette using her communicative ability, and asked her to dispatch help, she then also contacted Aeric to let him know that they had jumped to Ithaca. Aeric advised Scrooge, who animated the ship to aid in their travels towards Ithaca.

The Burning of Ithaca

When the group arrived, they were quick to notice the massive columns of billowing smoke and flames consuming the city of Ithaca, despite heavy rains. Concerned that they were already too late, the headed into town where they encountered a Venatori named Caervek working furiously to put out the fires. Amelia Archer and Cyprus Archer arrived and they all aided him in extinguishing the flames. Once they identified themselves as members of the Aegis Society, they discovered that he was the Venatori assigned to guard Johanne and Alara.

He took them to a secret location, a cave that was hidden by an effective
Glamour, wherein, Alara and Johanne were hidden. It was revealed that Johanne had abandoned the Argosi fleece and retreated with Alara to this safe room, while the assailant, Edmond Dantes collected it and departed the island.

Surprisingly, Illyria arrived and she entered the area, where she explained that the person they saw was one of the Grotesques made to appear as if it were her.

Not long afterwards, Jesuit also arrived, and joined the group.

Battle Lines

The group quickly realized that their attackers would be returning to the area, once they realized that all three of the Blood Ritual participants were gathered in the same place.

Illyria brought a Mneumo Stone containing Johanne’s memories with her and Johanne activated it and recovered his memories. At this time it was decided that it was best to now inform Alara of her history.

The Group was surprised to learn that she was not the daughter of Edge Grendle as they had been led to believed, but was instead one of the daughters of The Merlin. They also learned that Edge was at his full power and was, in fact, the last of his line.

Amelia and Illyria recovered the remaining members of the Aegis Society and transported them back to the island to join the rest of the group.

The Enemy Arrives

Almost immediately after these revelations, A massive portal was opened and Edge Grendle, accompanied by the entire guard regiment of the Mesola, Edmond Dantes, several Cabalists, including Simone Veritie arrived via portal.

Almost immediately, Edge manifested the Scorpio Aspect, while Edmond summoned several five demons, specifically an Interlocutor, a Makhaira, a Titanite, a Mentorite and a Triborag.

The group was told to turn over the girl and they would be left alive. The members of the Society declined.

Using their Thaumaturges to the best of their abilities, the group went on the offensive after enhancing their combat and survivability odds. Amelia opened a Portal behind the enemy lines, and the group poured onto the battle field.

The Battle for the Girl

The Battle opened with Cyprus using his mind control techniques to cause the body of guards to begin to fight each other. Amelia focused on the battle field as a whole, using brimstone strikes. While Eva and Yao focused on the Aspect.

George and Scrooge aided by an Animated Army of minions assaulted the Cabalists, while Jesuit used the Colossus of Rhodes to pin down Simone Veritie. Illyria entered the fray, using her petrification abilities on enemies, while Aeric focused his attentions on the Demons that were on the field.

Nadya twisted the strands of fate to the advantage of the group, while hindering the opponents. Caervek aided in dealing with Cabalists, and Johanne erected a barrier to secure the girl from attack.

As the battle raged, it became apparent that as the aspect died, it reformed as two new aspects, forcing Yao and Eva to work hard to maintain their assault. Both were struck and temporarily paralyzed by the Aspects venom, and Yao was thought dead for a few moments, but it was discovered that he had survived the poisonous sting.

The demons were banished or destroyed through combined efforts, and George the cabalists were killed, scattered or driven off as well. Simone was transformed to stone by Illyria, taking her from the fight.

Just when it seemed the group had the upper hand, and only Edmond, the aspects and Edge remained arrayed against them, Edge somehow stripped the group of all their enhancements, and absorbed them into himself.

John was killed trying to protect a paralyzed Eva from one of the aspects, although she survived the battle.

In the end, Amelia used Archer’s mind control ability to force Edmond to Leech Edge, and then she in turn leeched him using his own power. The battle ended after a significant struggle.

Aftermath

Of the Aegis Society and their allies only John Tidewater was killed. Their enemies were utterly destroyed. The Argosi Fleece was returned to Johanne. The trio, now freed of the blood ritual, with Edge’s death decided to go to Rhodes with Alara, to continue their protection of her until they heard from The Merlin.

Caervek was released from his charge as protector and travelled with the Society to Athens.

Nadya, Aphrodite, Eva and George took john’s body back to London, where he was buried in his family crypt. Aslef inherited all his wealth and property. Afterwards, all returned to Paris for some much needed rest.


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A Deception at Midnight
Season 1, Episode 7

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Not Feeling Myself

Eva awoke partially submerged in water. She found herself locked inside a metal container, with a small view port. In order to stay above water, she was forced to stand on her tip toes. From time to time, she felt a powerful shock delivered to her legs, delivered by some sort of eels.

After a few agonizing minutes of shock and near drowning, the container was opened and a waterlogged Eva was allowed out of the container.

A nurse, Duh Poludeti, warned her, against “biting people again.” Indicating that she had just been punished for doing so previously. He also called her, by another name; Eliza Strong.

Somewhat confused by the exchange, and having no memory of how she came to be in this place, Eva was directed to return to her room and change into dry clothes and then proceed to her art class on the west lawn.

In one of the other rooms, Aphrodite awoke laying on a desk and smelling heavily of vodka. As she recovered her senses she discovered that she was in a man’s body. A few minutes after she awoke, there was a knock on the door, which was opened to reveal an orderly.

Aphrodite was escorted upstairs to the therapy rooms, to meet with a therapist, doctor Tmuran Noktiju. After a short session, Aphrodite discovered that she was being referred to as Viktor Surgos, who was apparently an alcoholic. She was directed to take some fresh air and walk the grounds to clear his her head.

George awoke in some sort of ethics and behavior group session for women. The instructor was quick to correct George, implying that he suffered from an addiction to sex. It became very apparent that George was in the body of Josephine Harper, who had been interned in some sort of asylum because of licentious behavior. As the class ended, Josephine was sent to daily exercise on the west lawn.

Yao awoke in a room strapped to a metal chair with a glass box around his head. An orderly entered the room and warned Gene Divine against further escape attempts. A tube was inserted into his mouth and a large tarantula spider was introduced into the tube and encouraged to move towards Divine’s open mouth. As the spider approached his face, Divine was repeatedly warned against additional escape attempts. At the last second the spider was withdrawn. And Gene was escorted outside to the west lawn to consider his actions.

Scrooge awoke in the middle of an anger management session sitting with a doctor who attempted to incite him to a violent outburst. This worked and after the altercation was defused, Scrooge, being called Elbis Bosko was escorted outside, to the west lawn to cool off.

Nadya awoke in a shared room to a knock on the door. She quickly realized that she was in a man’s body, as the orderly at the door addressed her as Mister Rumble. She was escorted upstairs to a meeting with a therapist Zalazak Sunca where it was revealed that he was a violent criminal on parole. his name was apparently Wilber Rumble. After the session, he was escorted outside to the west lawn to take in some fresh air.

The group called these odd vessels for their memories and personalities Personas. They had different bodies, different skills, but many of their original memories and personalities, creating a sense of disassociation.

A Meeting of Minds

Eva, took her place at the art class, where she discovered that she had been painting a likeness of herself. although rather poorly and not to the quality that she was accustomed.

As she continued to work on the piece, while ruminating on the situation she was experiencing, An individual approached.

Drawn by the likeness, Aphrodite, as Viktor began a conversation. Each remained somewhat guarded, as they were unclear as to what was happening, as so they did not readily reveal their identities to the other. Aphrodite wandered off in an effort to gather additional information, which then allowed George, as Josephine to approach and begin a conversation with Eva. This conversation was a little more production with each of the two giving hints as to who they might be, but without openly saying as much. As they continued with their discussion, Scrooge approached as Elbis and attempted to begin a discussion unsuccessfully before stalking off angrily. Yao, as Gene Divine, approached next also drawn by the painting. George easily identified him, because of his demeanor, and this allowed them to begin to confirm each other’s identities.

Yao moved to speak with the cranky individual (Scrooge) to see if he could gather any information, but returned shortly after with some disparaging comments that led George to believe that it was his Uncle Scrooge. Viktor drawn by the activity returned and they were able to also verify Aphrodite’s identity as well.

This left only Nadya who approached as one of the orderlies warned the assembled group about breaking the rules. It was warned that patients could not assemble in groups larger than three. This meant that the group had to separate in order to avoid any potential punishments that might be a result of breaking this rule.

Eva went back to painting, and Viktor wondered away to look at a nearby topiary. This allowed Nadya to join the group and identify herself to the others.

The Dinner

After some time wondering the west lawn looking for the other possible members of the group such as Aeric, John and Frederick, the group was summoned to the evening meal.

There they as well as all the other patients were told that the following day would be a free activity day, where gatherings of up to seven would be allowed. They were also told that the dinner that night would require discipline and strength to overcome and that anyone not completing their meal would be sent to the “Pit.”

The Head of the institution, now believed to be some sort of asylum, Doctor Sunca offered up a devotional. It was as follows:

To our patron the Deceiver, we offer this show of gratitude. That we gathered her, offer you our flesh and bodies, our will and discipline to overcome those obstacles placed before us. In opposition to the moral dictates of society we adhere to the nature of mankind, to obey and control our darkest urges, to seek absolution for nothing as ordered by our enemy the pope, and to engender our strength for the betterment of our society and selves, through the application of discipline, power and ruthless ambition. So help us, gain your wisdom through pain and suffering eternal. Amen.

The meal was then brought out and it was revealed to be rotting maggot-infested meat. Those gathered reluctantly took their assigned portions and began to force themselves to consume it, in order to avoid punishment. Scrooge refusing to consume the meal was taken to the pit. The others were sent to their rooms.

It turned out that Eva and George were roomed together, with Aphrodite and Yao roomed together. Nadya and Scrooge were also roomed, although Scrooge was sent to the pit.

The Pit

Scrooge was escorted down into the basement of the building, to an area, known as the pit. There he was plunged into total darkness. Moving away from the door, he waded across a small cold running water that he believed to be a stream. In that he was attacked by a large python-like snake, which he managed to kill by slamming it against the wall repeatedly.

He soon discovered that he was not alone in the room, although he never saw the other occupant. He was able to intimidate him with his voice into running into a wall. He was knocked unconscious as a result. Determined not to allow himself to be placed in needless danger, Scrooge remained awake throughout the night, sitting in the wet gloom.

A Nightly Visitation

Aphrodite was visited by an individual that was bringing her alcohol on some sort of schedule. She declined thew shipment and then searched the room, locating a stash of several bottles of alcohol. These, she disposed of, throwing them out the window.

Meanwhile Nadya, requested an escort to visit “a woman”, under the guise of a tryst. An orderly suggested that a woman could be had, and Nadya, seeing an opportunity to make contact with more of her associates, requested to see George specifically.

Nadya was escorted to the room, where the three of them, George, Nadya and Eva conducted a simple conversation that established few details and accomplished little. After a suitable length of time, Nadya returned to her room.

While the visit was underway, Yao stripped a spring from the desk that Aphrodite was using to create a bump key, which he used to open the locked door. Yao then attempted to get a better lay of the building but encountered Nadya’s escort which forced him to return to his room hastily.

Throughout the night, the group heard some powerful screaming coming from a man somewhere in or near the building. They also heard a beast-like noise coming from the grounds, although they saw nothing.

The Following Morning

The next day the group was awakened early, and Scrooge was released from the Pit.The group made their way towards the dining hall, where they were told again about the free activity day. A few rules were given:

  1. All areas are available, except the treatment rooms, offices and therapy rooms.
  2. Groups may gather as long as they do not exceed 7 participants
  3. Patients are not allowed to leave the grounds
  4. Patients are to report to the Shrine at the end of the west hall to make an offering of blood “to the Queen.”

After the rules were announced, breakfast was served. Breakfast consisted of Pancakes, bacon and sausage. As all the others departed the room, they found themselves alone in the dining hall save one individual in a wheel chair. Upon opening a dialog with him they discovered that his body had suffered brain damage. Through a creative use of yes or no questions they were able to determine that he was also an investigator. He was able to indicate to them that he was also a member of SAVE. He was able to advise the group that there were three members of the Society present, two men and one woman, although he had no idea who they were, or their condition. The group escorted him outside, where they were intercepted by orderlies who indicated that he had “A big night ahead of him.” which sounded ominous. The orderlies offered to take his care off the hands of the group, but the group refused, perhaps feeling that they could gain additional information from him somehow.

Lost Time

Things became bizarre again once again as the various members of the Society found themselves once again awakening in other bodies.

The first to awaken was Frederick who found himself in the body of a woman named Sarah Wilson. George found himself in the body of a woman named Carlotta Brianza. Both became aware of the change while showering in the ladies bath. They were able to identify each other when George overheard Frederick singing a short jingle, “If I were your Adam would you be my Eva…” This cued George into Frederick’s identity and the two were able to team up.

They searched each of their rooms, establishing their identities. They then headed towards the entry in the hopes of spotting the others.

Eva awoke in the spa, in the body of Midge Parker. With only the last name to work with, Eva made her way to the room , where she discovered a suitcase full of books, each marked with the indalo, indicating that they were connected to the SAVE group that they had uncovered previously. She made her way out into the general population, where she spotted George and Frederick looking around with expectation. They were able to mutually identify each other, and the trio now waited for any other stragglers to arrive.

Scrooge awoke in the body of Clara Bach, a woman who was in the process of undergoing electroshock therapy to cure epilepsy. After the end of the treatment, he headed downstairs where he was able to identify the others and join them.

The last to arrive were Yao, still in the body of Gene Divine, and Aphrodite still in the body of Viktor Surgos. Why they were still in the same bodies was unclear. However, after some discussion it became apparent that they had different knowledge than before.

A Frederick’s suggestion, the group established a rally point for future gathering in the event that they continued to bounce bodies. This discussion was moved to the dining hall, where they determined that they seemed to be shuffling between, bodies, mind and souls. This theory accounted for the seeming changes between bodies, skills/knowledge and consciousness.

Welcome to Dinner

As the dining hall filled with the patients and staff, the lead doctor Zalazak Sunca, had the man in the wheelchair (the SAVE Envoy from the prior jump), brought out into the hall. A dissertation on his inability to assist in the development or benefit of the institution followed and it was alluded to that they were going to serve him for dinner to the other patients.

Let’s Start a Riot!

Incensed by the thought of being somehow forced to consume another human being in a cannibalistic rite, the group decided to start a riot in order to aid them in their efforts to reach the would-be victim and gain his release.

To this effort, Aphrodite jumped up on the table and began to incite a riot. As the majority of the group rushed towards the doors to the kitchen. Yoa dropped beneath the table, striking people as he went to make them stand from their seats.

As the group rushed the kitchen doors, The mass of orderlies clashed with the rioting patients. Reaching the Kitchen, George was the first through.

Inside he saw something entirely unexpected. Instead of seeing the kitchen staff slaughtering the wheelchair bound man, instead George saw him giving instruction to the kitchen staff in the proper preparation of corned beef.

He immediately passed the information to the group, who realized it was a false alarm and stood down. Seemingly satisfied with this result, the doctor stood and immediately declared the riot over. The patients and staff immediately stopped fighting and returned to their seats.

SAVE

After dinner, the room emptied, and the group was approached by an individual. He identified himself as Harold Parker the SAVE Envoy who had been trapped in the body of Charles Poston prior. He provided some information to the group, mostly concerning his small groups efforts to get to the bottom of their investigation. He told them that he had been there for some time, and that the details were beginning to become muddled.

He said that the group had come here willingly- looking for a missing person, but he could not recall exactly where “here” was. He advised that his group had been unable to locate an entrance to the building’s third floor, or to the tower in the building. He reported that he had seen someone there, and so there must be an entry somewhere. He also confirmed that there were three members of SAVE on the property, although he could only recall them vaguely. He did confirm that Midge Parker was one of the Envoys and that she possessed a travelling library of books brought from the New York SAVE Office.

He indicated that he would try to locate his missing Envoy, and the group indicated that they would attempt to locate an entry to the third floor.

The Second Floor

The group decided to divide into two three-person teams, each would move upstairs separately in an effort to locate a passage to the third floor of the building.

The first group consisted of George, Aphrodite and Scrooge. They climbed the stairs and turned to the left. This direction contained a few of the therapy rooms and some treatment rooms.

The first thing they noticed was a series of disturbing paintings depicting gruesome deaths. In addition there were a number of bronze statues in the corridor. They also represented terrible deaths each a punishment for a sexual impropriety.

The group moved past the offices and treatment rooms and down the long corridor that comprised the east wing of the building. At the end of that corridor was a single door, behind which was the office for Doctor Sunca.

A short and somewhat chilling discussion was had with the doctor, which left the others feeling uncomfortable. As a result the group headed back towards the stairs.

On the way back, however, Scrooge reached out and touched one of the statues and immediately lapsed into unconsciousness. The other two carried him downstairs.

When George and Aphrodite reached the bottom of the stairs with Scrooge, they waited nearby and attempted to rouse him. This was unsuccessful and the three waited as the second group made their way upstairs.

Yao, Frederick, and Eva climbed the steps and headed to the right. This corridor was filled with doors, but was otherwise seemingly normal in appearance.

The rooms that they chose to open however, were obviously miniature halls of terror. As they made their way from room to room, they witnessed several horrifying visions.

In the first room, they found an individuals suspended, with much of his skin flayed from his body and his genitals removed. His blood was being collected in a large silver dish. It was apparent that the dish carried more blood than could have been collected from a single victim. Uncertain whether this was some sort of elaborate trap, the group decided, against their nature, to leave the individual to their fate.

The second room was some sort of laboratory. This room struck Eva particularly hard. The laboratory was styled after the same sort in which she had been reanimated. Her impulse was to destroy the place, but she restrained herself from doing so.

The third room was even more disturbing. The room contained a large pit of flames, over which an individual was slowly roasting alive. He spoke to Yao, implying that he may be Yao’s dead cousin.

The next room was even worse. The corpse of a woman was being sawed in half longitudinally by an automated mechanized saw blade.

Shaken by these images, the group moved down the hall leading to the west wing, where they encountered another door. Hesitantly, they opened into to reveal some sort of macabre display museum.

Among the “displays” seen there, the group spotted what appeared to be a Blackened Denarii coin, a Pass Time Monokle on a corpse, and a span of human flesh, labeled, “The Pelt of a Rare White Tibetan Yeti” The skin was marked with Tibetan Prayers very similar to that seen on Aeric’s body.

Frederick found Nadya’s crucified bird, Jango as well. Concerned by what they saw, the trio returned downstairs to the rejoin the others.

disappointed that they were unable to locate an entry to the third floor on this expedition, the group assembled in one of the private rooms, where they discussed a plan of action and then returned to their room for the night.

Day 3

As was the pattern the night before, the group each awoke once again in a different body, with different skills then they had inhabited prior.

Eva awoke as Clara Bach, the same body that Scrooge had occupied the day before. Scrooge awoke in an entirely new body, under the name Darla Carson. Yao awoke in the body of Josephine Harper, whom George had previously inhabited. George awoke as Katelynn Field. Aphrodite awoke as Hiram Silbermann and Frederick awoke as Midge Parker, the SAVE envoy that Eva had inhabited prior. To this gathering, Nadya reappeared in the guise of Sam Sweet. As the group reestablished their identities, they were joined by the SAVE Envoy, Charles Poston who reappeared in the body of Garland Burns.

The Group had little time to discuss much, as the group was told they had about a half hour before it was meal time. To help maximize their time, some of the group headed to the dining hall where the 3-person-in-a-group limit did not seem to apply. While they gathered with Burns, George, Eva and Scrooge headed to the ladies dressing room to recover the Pass Time Monokle they had hidden there prior. The idea was to see if they could detect any details that took place during the “change”. between Personas .

They recovered the Monokle, and despite the act taking only a few minutes the time before the start of the meal seemed to be upon them.

As the group was recovering the Monokle. those gathered in the dining hall posited some theories concerning dream-states, collective consciousness, and or glamour related ideas to help explain some of the experiences that they faced.

The Staff reminded the patients to make their offering at the Shrine at midnight. The group agreed that they needed to visit the Shrine that night, in order to gain additional information.

Aphrodite suggested that they take Scrooge and Garland upstairs to look in the horrible rooms, to see if Scrooge, who had not been told of the horrors within, nor seen them would have the same experiences in order to test whether the room’s contents were specific to the individual experiencing them. The others would head to the sitting room to conduct other discussions and await the results of the experiment.

A Circle of Crystallized Flour?

As the group left the dining hall, Frederick headed to the kitchen and recovered a container, containing what he told everyone was Crystallized flour.

He then had Nadya stand away from the others and made a circle with the material and then using his own blood enhanced the circle. He then created a number of sigils with his blood, which upon completion, triggered the ritual he had created.

Nadya, who was inside the circle found herself back in her won body for a few moments, in the same location, which proved to be a decaying structure. The effect only lasted for a moment, but it was long enough to provide some much needed information.

The Second Floor, Revisited

Scrooge, George, Aphrodite and Garland headed upstairs to the second floor and made their way to the West Wing. There they asked scrooge to open the doors that were opened prior. Upon finding them all locked and unable to be opened, the group turned to the doors previously unopened in this same hall.

Scrooge opened the door and was greeted by a room full of wickedly designed ventriloquist dolls, equipped with guillotine bladed teeth, razor-blade finger claws, and foot spikes. Rather than give them any opportunity to cause any trouble Scrooge rapidly closed the door and moved to the next room.

Upon opening this door, Scrooge encountered a room filled with thick cobwebs. There was a strong indication of spiders being present. He closed the door without further exploration. It was at this time, Aphrodite suggested that Garland, open the door, as he had not seen it’s contents to see if the experience was the same.

Garland agreed, and opened the door. He described seeing the cobwebs, and indicated he saw some motion. Suddenly a giant spider grabbed him dragging him into the room. While the others attempted to assist him, the spider proved impossible to deter or harm and Garland was lost.

The group closed the door and headed down stairs.

The Sitting Room

Meanwhile in the sitting room, those gathered there determined it would be best to discuss their findings and theories in verse and riddles, with the belief that they were being spied upon and their discussions and theories used against them. Finding that they all had a passing familiarity with Shakespeare they used references from his works to convey their ideas and discoveries.

After some time discussing, those of their group that had gone to the second floor returned without Garland and described their findings in the same fashion as the others. Joining the discussion, the group hammered out some information and solidified their ideas into a coherent concept.

Despite the fact that they discussions and investigation could not have lasted for hours, time seemed to slip forward and before they realized it, the chimes of midnight sounded, indicating it was time to visit the Shrine.

The Shrine

The group joined the queue that led down the hallway to the Shrine . As they shuffled forward, they each took a few moments to observe the shrine. Afterwards, they lost consciousness.

Graduation Day

Each of the group awoke in their own rooms, although they quickly realized that their intellects had once again shifted, changing the skills and knowledge they had access to. As they dressed, each of them in turn found that there was an affectation of some sort that was brilliant red to be added to their attire.

As they exited their rooms, they found that they were the center of adoration and applause from the other patients. As the group gathered at the doors, they noted a heavy deluge underway. The patient body gathered around them and Doctor Sunca arrived to congratulate the patients on their recovery.

The patients then all produced knives or other weapons and began chanting “Purge Them! Purge Them!” over and over again. A woman in a hospital gown was spotted at the top of the stairs, and the group realized that they were finally face-to-face with the Libra Zodia. Her name was Julia Arden and she was insane.

Things quickly degenerated into a conflict. It was at this time, that some of the group noticed the man in the wheelchair screaming at them from the grounds outside in the rain.

The Battle

Aphrodite and George rushed into the mob in an attempt to reach the Zodia on the stairs, but were unable to reach her as they were quickly surrounded by the mob.

Frederick used his new found knowledge to create a blood whip barrier to hinder the mob from reaching the majority of the group. Yao and Scrooge began to disarm that attackers as they pressed forward, some being caught up by the Blood Whip Ritual .

Nadya opened the doors and rushed out onto the porch looking for more room to maneuver, when she realized that the man in the wheelchair was yelling at her to, “Run out into the rain. It’s running water!” Thinking this an unusual thing to hear, she decided to do so and found herself in the yard and restored to normal. The man in the wheelchair turned out to be Aeric, entangled by massive thorny witch wood roots, inhibiting his powers.

Eva, seeing Nadya disappear followed into the rain and found herself restored as well. This was just in time to see the Aspect of Libra bearing down upon them, intent on the attack.

Nadya rushed to assist Aeric to his freedom, while Eva taking the initiative moved to engage the Aspect directly.

Meanwhile inside, George and Aphrodite were forced to retreat with Scrooge’s assistance. Aphrodite retreated outside into the rain and was restored to her normal state. She realized that whatever Glamour that was masking the building made it impossible to communicate with those still within the affected area. Seeing the situation, she rushed to help Nadya free Aeric from his bonds.

Meanwhile, Yoa, seeing Aphrodite disappear, and realizing that he saw no other members of his group who had exited the building, followed into the rain and was restored. He paused at the base of the stairs, waiting to aid anyone that may follow.

Inside, Frederick expanded his blood whip ritual to aid in the escape of his companions. However, unwilling to sacrifice him and leave him alone, George and Scrooge drug him out of the building and into the rain, restoring them all to their normal states.

As Eva, bore the brunt of the Aspect’s attacks, George entered the fray with his sword causing some additional injury to the creature.

As Aeric became freed enough to activate his tattoos, he burned away the remaining bindings, effecting his release. Nadya boosted members of her groups initiative, while Yao boosted many additional abilities of the group as well, restoring some of their strength, boosting their performance and speed.

Yao leaped onto the back of the Aspect and drove his spear through it’s skull finishing it off as Aphrodite headed towards the tower ruins where she spotted the Zodia standing on the remains of the upper floor of the structure.

Nadya rapidly cobbled together a Mud Golem . She sent it after the Zodia.

Aeric, using his tattoos threw Eva the nearly 100-feet to the top floor of the tower, where Eva impacted the Zodia upon landing, knocking her down. Eva immediately activated her Enervating Field to begin impacting the Zodia’s Stamina.

Yao rushed to the Base of the Tower and began climbing, working towards reaching the top, which Aphrodite had nearly reached.

Frederick opened a Portal to the top of the tower, which George and Scrooge used to reach the top floor of the ruins. Aeric then threw Nadya to the top in the same manner that he had thrown Eva.

The Zodia attempted to recover her footing, but before she could, Scrooge went in for the attack. He pummeled her into unconsciousness. Aphrodite recovered the Zodiac medallion and the threat was neutralized.

Yao kept her unconscious using his Warrior’s Bane to prevent her recovery to consciousness.

Homeward Bound

Upon neutralizing the Zodia, the group decided to take her prisoner, until they could determine if she was the last one or if she had any surviving family of the line.

Aphrodite contacted Rennette using her Communicative ability, to advise of their progress. They discovered that they were in Romania, and had, in fact been located at the ruins of the Silk River Health Spa . The group headed to Bucharest where Frederick stated he remembered where the Telluric Gateway was located. It took the group several days to reach the location of the gateway, which was opened by Renette once Aphrodite had notified her of the groups arrival at the site.

The Aftermath

The group had learned that they had been away on this investigation for nearly an entire month, placing them just a few days short of the beginning of the Ascension of Scorpio.

Frederick and Nadya modified the circle in the basement of the house, previously used to hold Akronas prisoner by Nicholas Flame to contain the Zodia.


Personas
Persona.jpg
A Persona is a creature of the Unknown that can be created by a variety of more powerful creatures. In many ways they are similar to the henchmen and servitors created by Vampires, or other creatures.
In 1800 a series of Personas were created by the Libra Zodia. Unlike other types of Persona’s which force a living creature or spirit to do the bidding of the master creature, the Personas created by the Zodia, appeared to be nothing more than a physical vessel for a consciousness.
These consciousness’ take on random skills, and are unable to access their own arts or skills although they do possess some memories. Some short term memories may also be inaccessible to the consciousness inhabiting a Persona.


Shrine
Shrine.jpg
This unidentified Shrine was found inside the mental construct controlled by the Libra Zodia. It was a multidisciplinary shrine that seem to incorporate several different religious beliefs. It was a manifestation of the psychosis suffered by the Zodia and represented at its most base level the death of innocence as a result of violence, most likely at a very young age.


Blood Whip Ritual
Blood_Whip.png
A Blood Whip is a ritual that uses the blood of the caster to create a barrier of whips made from their blood. The barrier is semi-sentient and is intelligent enough to distinguish between the allies and enemies of the caster. The barrier attempts to entangle the practitioner’s enemies when they attempt to cross the barrier. As with all ritual magic the more blood used in the ritual the more effective it is at performing it’s task.


Aspect of Libra
Libra-451x600.jpg


Mud Golem
Mud_Golem.png
A Mud Golem is a moderately powerful servitor creature that is created by Ritual magic. It is a less powerful version of the Jewish Golem. The creature is created by binding elemental spirits of earth inside a makeshift form constructed of mud. The Mud Golem is capable of exceptionally fast movement through soils, although it can not pass through stone or rock. They have moderate attack strengths and are immune to most forms of damage.


Portal
Portal.jpg
A Portal is a magical entryway, which can be opened by a number of creatures of the Unknown, by Ritualists or by Thaumaturges. A portal can be terrestrial, leading to any location in the world that can be seen by the practitioner. Some Portals are fixed, such as a Telluric Gateway. Some can be used to traverse realms, entering a pocket universe, the mirror universe or the Never Never. These portals are dangerous, but offer near instant transportation from one place to another.


Silk River Health Spa
Silk_River_Health_Spa.jpg
The Silk River Health Spa was a defunct and abandoned health sanitarium located in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania. The site had been abandoned for a long time and had somehow become the location fixated upon by the Libra Zodia as a form of her own personal purgatory. Quite insane the Zodia recreated the space in a mental construct to disorient her victims.

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A Once and Future Crime
Season 1, Episode 6

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Society Problems

With issues of trust forming between the various members of the Aegis Society, between those supporting Edwin Silva and those supporting Renette Villefort. These issue are somewhat justifiable by both parties, making the issue even more difficult to sort out.

As the groups cohabited in the house, but grew farther apart, tension arose that threatened to destroy the group from within. Coupled with a strong suspicion, although an unproven one that at least one member of the original society had to be in league with Antonia Seville, a known enemy, which may have been the cause of Akronas’ imprisonment, didn’t make it any easier.

With Akronas unwilling to take a side in the struggle for leadership, Edwin and Renette have both begun maneuvering for the inevitable confrontation.

The Pythia Calls

Renette had a meeting with Eva in the House’s kitchen to advise her that the Pythia had finally given them their next assignment. As it was the 24th of August, the Zodiacal cycle had just entered into the house of Virgo. Renette advised Eve that she thought it best for the group to head to New Orleans, as directed by the Pythia, but that they should consider using the Telluric Gateway in the House, since they already knew that one of the combinations led to an apartment there.

Renette asked Eva to keep it secret from the other members of the society affiliated and supporting Edwin, as she had a suspicion that she wanted to test. She also advised that John would remain behind in Paris to support Renette should it be needed.

Eva advised the others, and everyone prepared to use the doorway at 10:30 that night in secret.

Prior to their departure, Scrooge asked Renette if he could use a Trace discipline on the Leo Zodiac Medallion, in case it was threatened by whatever events transpired at the house while they were away. Renette agreed and the medallion was traced by Scrooge.

Because of the unclear associations between some of the members of the group and even some of their allies, Aphrodite decided that it was prudent to place her Whisperstone under lock and key into Renette’s care. Renette locked it away in a drawer so that it was no longer an issue. Renette also instructed Aphrodite to “contact” her or John, when they were ready to return so someone would open the gateway for the group.

Departing Paris

At exactly 10:30 pm, the group made their way to the Telluric Gateway and dialed in the New Orleans address. They then transitioned through the door, and entered the apartment on the other side. The occupant of the apartment was in bed, and upon seeing the group emerge from his clothes closet, immediately muttered “not again” and rolled over, pulling the blanket over his head.

At this point the group left the apartment and entered onto Bourbon Street in New Orleans 4,800 miles away from their starting point. At seeing the King’s Crescent Hotel directly across the street from their arrival point. The group entered the hotel and hired the rooms 301, 302 and 303.

The group dropped their possessions into their rooms, and changed clothes into something more appropriate for the climate and humidity. George decided to set up the small Alchemy lab that he brought with him, taking only a few moments to provide each member of the group with a treated Earworm to assist with languages. Only Aphrodite, who already spoke French and English fluently declined the earworm.

The Promenade

The group, then left George to his work while they decided to take a walk down Bourbon Street in the hopes that something would catch their attention and point them in the correct direction of their quarry. As usual the Pythia did not provide any information, depending instead on the group to stumbling into the Zodia as usual.

As the group made their way down the street they eventually reached a massive building identified as
The Rising Sun. As it was unusual for the area and very active, more so than any other locations they had seen so far, the group decided to investigate.

The Rising Sun

Entering into the building they were directed to the restaurant where they had an excellent meal, at no charge. The group thought this unusual as well and decided to continue to investigate. To these ends, the group divided so they could cover more ground. Scrooge retired to the smoking and billiards parlor where he hired and escort and retired upstairs to her room.

In the meantime, Aphrodite and Eva made their way to the social parlor, where dancing was the name of the game. They had some drinks, bought cigarettes and entertained a handful of American sailors for a short while, before deciding to dance for a little while. This all took place under the watchful eye of Yao, who remained stoic, enjoying seemingly unlimited quantities of peanuts and some Jack Daniels rye whiskey.

Nadya and Aeric made their way to the gambling hall where they tried their hand first at Black Jack and then at Poker. In an experiment, the two worked to fleece one of the other players, to see what would happen if someone became upset. The group had noticed a distinct cheerfulness among the staff and clientele that was reminiscent of the activities of a White Court Vampire.

During their time in the gambling hall, Nadya spotted a stylized symbol that she thought was remarkably similar to that used by the Astrological sign Virgo. A potential link to the Zodia and their reason to be in New Orleans.

Pinkerton

After the incident was resolved at the Poker table, Nadya and Aeric were approached by a man who introduced himself as Jack Saringo a member of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. He had noted Nadya’s observant nature and was hopeful that she may have noticed something that could assist him in his case. He told her little, but managed to say that he was investigating a missing person’s case and would like to discuss the details with her the next day. Nadya agreed and they set a meeting and place for the following day at 9:00 am.

The Fiance

George finally arrived at the Rising Sun, in much the same manner as the others. He was disturbed to note that no one really knew where his uncle had gone, as he was unable to find him in the smoking parlor.

It was at around this time that Eva thought she saw a familiar face. She followed, pursued by Aphrodite into one of the adjacent rooms, which was a lounge and bar. There Eva realized that the individual that she had spotted was, in fact, her prior fiance, Frederick Augustus VIII.

The watched as Frederick met with an individual, delivered a small package and then entered an unknown room. At this point, Aphrodite managed to determine that the room beyond the door were offices for the business and returned to advise Eva.

Aeric had joined the two women while Nadya had returned to the dance-hall to join Yao, George and the newly returned Scrooge. Aphrodite brought Aeric up to speed on the situation as Frederick emerged from the office and headed towards the exit. Eva moved to intercept him, followed and slightly delayed by Aphrodite.

Aeric however, rushed ahead and pushed Frederick into a Water closet as soon as they were out of sight of Eva, making the man effectively disappear. Flustered Eva was unable to locate Frederick and they returned to the group to head back to the hotel.

Aeric rejoined them on the way.

Discussions

The group shared their feelings about the Rising Sun, which they all agreed was somehow bizarre. They also briefly discussed the issues taking place between the members of the Aegis Society. The group decided to turn in, and Aeric told Eva to meet downstairs in the lobby the next morning, although he did not say whom she would be meeting.

Nadya and Aeric agreed to go meet with the Pinkerton Detective the next morning as they had indicated.

Meeting in the Saloon

Nadya, George and Aeric made their way to the prearranged location to meet Jack, the Pinkerton Detective. Upon his arrival jack told them that he was there in New Orleans to find a missing woman named Emma Crawford who had been kidnapped from her home in Kansas City Kansas. He explained that he had been tracking leads to the city for the last month. Eventually settling on the Rising Sun as a possible location for the woman after tracking the symbol found in the building and on the card backs in the establishment elsewhere in his investigation.

His investigation had uncovered an unidentified individual known only as the Bagman, as well as a potential association between the Rising Sun and two other Brothels, the Jolly Rogers and the Rose Garden. He had also never seen any employees leave the Rising Sun, and never seen anyone seriously unhappy inside, save for a single waiter that the group had also encountered.

The trio managed to convince the detective to allow them to take point on the investigation for the next 2 days. As he had no leads remaining to search, he agreed to head to the library to uncover any additional information on the business, using assets at City Hall and the Library.

The Rose Garden

After departing from the detective, Nadya steered her small group to the Rose garden, a Brothel. There they encountered Willie Piazza, the owner while she was working on some music and some choreography.

An amiable discussion was undertaken, where Willie revealed that she was the descendant of the infamous pirate Jean Lafitte. She also revealed that the Rising Sun was owned by her half cousin,Marianna LeSoleil Levant, who shared grandfathers, while the third establishment, the Jolly Rogers was owned by another of the half-cousins, Gypsy Shaeffer, who was also something of a Voodoo Priestess.

She discussed family history, and revealed the existence of the Lafitte Padlock and Keys, currently in the possession of Marianna LeSoleil Levant, and the existence of three keys needed to open it, each possessed by one of the cousins.

Willie offered a reward for assistance in acquiring the chest and keys, which she claimed held a map to some incredible treasures. To Nadya and the others however, it seemed more likely that the chest could contain the Virgo Zodiac Medallion, which could indicate that all three of the women were possible Zodia.

Willie also told the trio about the Pride Pirate Ship, anchored near Algiers Point. The trio departed the Rose Garden to return to the Hotel, full of new insight and information to share with the group.

Ambushed by Love

In the meantime, Eva was sitting with Aphrodite in the Lobby of the King’s Crescent hotel, when Frederick entered. Unknown to Eva, Aeric had told Frederick to meet him in the Lobby at the hotel. The young man was unaware that he was actually going to meet his long thought-dead fiance. Equally unaware was Eva who did not know Aeric had arranged the meeting.

The two were forced to interact, and despite their efforts, barriers seemed to prevent any reasonable communication. Eva learned that it was Frederick’s hunting dogs that had spooked er horse, throwing her to her death. She also learned that Adam had “…saved his [Frederick’s] life, saving him from an attack by bandits on the roadway.” he had awakened, “…in a muddy ditch with Adam standing over him during a terrible rainstorm…”

This, of course, made Eva suspicious of Adam’s involvement and also made her uncertain whether Frederick was alive, or reanimated like she had been. After some intense discussion, Frederick was told to leave so Eva could think.

The Trio Returns

It was shortly, thereafter that the trio returned from their meeting with Willie to discuss their findings with the rest of the group. These included the teams impressions of Willie’s capabilities, as well as her bitter resentment for her “cousins.” she provided some information that indicated that the owners of the Rising Sun, the Jolly Rogers and her own establishment, the Rose Garden shared a common ancestor, namely their grandfather, the somewhat infamous Jean Lafitte.

This, of course meant that if any one of them were Zodia, then it was possible that all three were Zodia. They were also offered employment, being promised a portion of the treasure, the map to which was said to be contained in a chest, locked by the three-key padlock- if the group would bring Willie the other two keys.

Discussions and Plans

The group made their way upstairs to further discuss their options. Eva departed the hotel, telling Aeric that she required some fresh air. Nadya also indicated that she had some research to conduct. This left the rest of the team working out some of the details of their next course of action while also working to more clearly define what they knew to be true. All agreed that the Rising sun was a place of interest and that Marianna was most likely also a person of interest in their search for the Virgo Zodia. However, it was also discussed that it may be in the group’s best interest to also make contact with Gypsy Shaeffer, owner of the Jolly Rogers.

A Secret Meeting

Eva, found herself making her way to the Imperial hotel, where she knew Frederick was staying in room 1303. once there, she encountered him in the dining room, where they discussed the business that brought him to New Orleans, his history with Adam, and the Aegis Society. He took in all the information, and Eva and he retired to his room to continue their discussion.

Eva demonstrated some of her abilities, brought on by her transformation, and found that Frederick was not put off by these changes. He agreed to assist the Society, once he understood their goals in the city, he was able to tell Eva that he had seen the medallion they were looking for, it’s location and also made note that he may have a way to get them into the office to meet with the otherwise reclusive Marianna LeSoleil Levant.

Eva, satisfied with the conversation and realizing that Frederick was not there as an agent for Adam in any sense other than business to acquire electrical generation equipment, returned to the group to see what new developments had taken place.

Meeting the Gypsy

Yao, Aphrodite and Eva traveled to the Jolly Rogers to attempt to meet with Gypsy Shaeffer. after speaking with the doorman, they were shown into the room to meet with Gypsy. It became immediately apparent that she was a talented Mamon (or Mambo). She occupied a carved throne seated at the foot of a ship’s mast in a large circular room which acted as a Poteau-Mitan marking the large circular room as a Vodou Ounfor possessing no clearly defined Peristil. This marked the worship space of a powerful Vodou practitioner.

A conversation was conducted between the assembled parties, allowing for a limited exchange of information, but also another offer of reward for the keys to the chest. Confirmation was given for the relationship of the three women, and it was also revealed that Willie Piazza was a member of the Quarto, a secret society operating in New Orleans.

Gypsy revealed that she knew a great deal about the group as a whole, and asked to meet with “the Alchemist”, presumably George. The Society members departed and returned to the Hotel to advise George.

George and the Mambo

George and Yao returned to meet with Gypsy as requested. As a result of this meeting George agreed to provide her with a vial of blood drawn from his heart, to aid Gypsy in gaining the favor and attentions of a Loa from the Simbi Nacion, who had apparently taken notice of George for some unknown reason.

In return Gypsy provided George with additional information on her cousins, although she was clear to point out that there were some rules she could not break. She told George that Willie’s father had been a Thaumaturge associated with the Venatori Umbrata although not a member. He was a professional artifact hunter. He was buried alive in a lead-lined chest and deposited into the Mississippi River. to keep him trapped. Willie’s mother was murdered by a pack of alligators which managed to gain entry to her apartment.

Gypsy advised that Marianna, was reclusive, a Virgin and the Zodia. Marianna was also identified as a collector of Artifacts. She also reinforced her claims to the contents of the chest and also touted her strength. She also warned George to beware the Man in the White Hat.

George and Yao returned with some useful information.

A Matter of Public Record

While the majority of the group were talking with Gypsy at some point, Aeric visited the local City Clerk and managed to acquire the only existing copies of some critical records which supported the relationships and claims of the three women. He located the Emancipation Record, Shaeffer Family Record, Piazza Family Record and the LeSoleil-Levant Family Record.

These provided names, dates and tied each woman to Jean LaFitte. The Emancipation Record also revealed the existence of another possible Lafitte. On the document was a signature for a Jean-Claude Lafitte.

Meeting the Zodia

The following morning the group reassembled, with the exception of Nadya, who was still undertaking her own researches and investigations. They were joined by Frederick Augustus VIII, who agreed to assist in getting the group a meeting with Marianna LeSoleil Levant.

Aphrodite, Eva, and Frederick would undertake the meeting, while the remaining members of the Society would position themselves inside the Rising Sun in the event of catastrophic trouble.

The two groups traveled separately.

Upon their arrival the group involved in the meeting made their way to the office. Frederick, managed to get them inside, using his prior meeting with Marianna on Adam’s behalf as a tool to gain the group entry. Inside they met with Marianna and the Man in the White Hat, who was also present.

Having been told that Marianna loved stories, Aphrodite attempted to regale her with the story of her seduction of the you Father Davis in Paris, using her Seducio Phallus, which she produced as proof. Oddly enough however, Marianna did not seem interested in the story told her, and in fact seemed very disconnected and dispassionate. However, when Aphrodite changed stories to something a little closer to Marianna’s experiences, the woman’s interest seemed to rise slightly.

Inevitably the conversation turned to the Zodiac Medallion and the keys to the chest. Marianna offered to “give” the group the medallion if they brought her the two keys possessed by her cousins. The meeting ended shortly thereafter, marking only a minimal gain in information.

Return to Gypsy

The entire group decided it would be best to inform Gypsy of the meeting that they had just left with Marianna. The group was certain that Gypsy most likely already knew that a meeting had taken place and as a result might be offended if they kept the information from her.

They drove back to the Jolly Roger, where they were granted entrance to the Ounfor, as Gypsy was concluding a Ritual with an unknown Loa. The group informed her honestly of the situation and Aphrodite managed to get Gypsy to commit to assist in the acquisition of the medallion under a few circumstances.

There were two. The first was that the group had to figure out a way to get Gypsy into the warded rising Sun without cutting her off from her power. The second was that they had to bring her Willie’s key, and assist her in acquiring the chest and Key that Marianna possessed. in return she would aid them in locating the correct Zodiac Medallion and not contest their acquisition of it.

Gypsy revealed that some years back Marianna had managed to lure some metal-smiths into her establishment and that they had created for her a number of very convincing replicas of the Virgo medallion. She also advised that Marianna was very literal, so if she stated she’d give them a specific medallion, that is exactly what they would get, and it would not likely be the one the group was after.

She produced two exceptional forgeries, giving them to the group who asked it they could keep them. Gypsy agreed as she had no use for them. Once the group had met their portion of the deal Gypsy agreed to assist them in the last portion of the deal. She would stand by patiently until the obligations were met. She did however, manage to get Yao’s word upon his ancestors that she would not be betrayed.

To the Drawing Board

The group returned to the Hotel room where they awaited Nadya and began to work on a means to acquire Willie’s key as the first step to meeting the groups obligation to Gypsy. Aeric Agreed that Frederick could join the Society, since Eva had told him to ask Aeric about membership, despite the fact that he had no unique talents to bring to the table other than the mundane sort.

As the group discussed their options, they were joined by Nadya. She had spent the rest of the previous evening and morning observing the comings and goings from the Rose Garden. As such she was able to confirm the large number of significant contacts that Willie seemed to possess as fact. Nadya also saw the mysterious Man in the White Hat leaving Willies place with four hired thugs in tow. She dispatched Jango to follow him discretely and eventually report back.

She learned of the general nature of the discussion held by the group and added several details as well. The group had been discussing things for nearly two hours, trying to work out a solid angle of attack against Willie, when the phone in the room rang. It was the front desk, notifying Nadya that a package had been left at the front desk for her.

She, Eva and Aphrodite visited the front desk to collect the package. They learned from the desk attendant that it had been delivered by a man in a White suit and hat, but the attendant could provide no other details. At a moment that the desk attendant was otherwise occupied Nadya opened the package and was horrified to see Jango crucified and splayed in the box, in a ritualistic Gris-Gris fashion.

Terribly upset by this, Nadya immediately returned to the room to consider her next action. Eva and Aphrodite brought the bird back upstairs, fearing that leaving it exposed, or discarding it could have dire consequences. Aphrodite arranged for it to be placed in Scrooge’s and Yao’s room in the bath tub, using the faucet and the drain to create an isolating slow running water barrier in the hopes of hindering any negative effects that may be emanating from it.

Returning to the central room, Nadya asked Eva to illustrate the Man in the White Hat, since she had encountered him previously in the Rising Sun. Despite her excellent memory, Eva was unable to comply, and much like the front desk clerk, was unable to describe him. Nadya also found herself unable to describe the man. This led Nadya to conclude that the man may be a supernatural creature known only obscurely as an Abdanjenauex, a creature known as a Hunter, that is associated with being unmemorable to those that encounter it.

A New Plan

Nadya developed a plan which She, Yao, George and Frederick would undertake as an attempt to undermine Willie and get her to place herself in jeopardy. To this end, George created some blank key forms from silver acquired from Aeric. Nadya in turn cast a Glamour upon them to make the viewer see whatever suggested keys they may desire. She tested this effect, by telling George she had his house keys, which George was able to confirm on sight only. The Glamour would only hold up to visual scrutiny, a single touch would break the illusion and reveal the enchanted item as a complete fake.

Nadya decided that she the three would meet with Willie at the Rose Garden at about 10:00 pm, as that was a busy time of night. Nadya hoped to get her to take them to her office, where the discussion could be more aggressive.

To act as a back up to this place, Eva, Scrooge, Aphrodite and Aeric would stand by in a nearby Tenament apartment, which Aphrodite and Aeric would acquire, under the guise of an impatient tryst. As Frederick would be pretending to be Aeric, although disguised with the use of a non-specific Transmorphic Drop, This would allow Aeric any possibility of action from outside the brothel.

Scrooge would possess a pocket watch, which would remain in Eva’s possession and allow very rudimentary communication between the two. He would also provide a tracking point on both George and Nadya. As Nadya’s plan involved her attempting to gain Willie’s trust, by, killing her disloyal man (George), who had been seen in the company of Gypsy. George would use his disciplines to prevent any significant harm and to allow himself to Feign Death.

As there were several hours remaining until the planned meeting, many of the group retired to rest. However, Aeric and Aphrodite found themselves taking a leisurely stroll into the famed Lafayette Cemetery where they entered the Secret Garden which housed the tombs of the original Quarto.

There they inspected the four Quarto Tombs and noted the statues inside. Both Aeric and Aphrodite thought they could somehow be related to Fae, perhaps the Wild Huntsman and his wife, but were unclear. This could potentially prove problematic if this somehow related to Willie, but the two thought it unlikely to be the case. Still it was a curiosity.

Eva and Fredrick went to a nice dinner together.

Time to Go to Work

Aeric and Aphrodite made their way to the tenement previously decided upon, where they bribed the occupant to leave them the use of the apartment for a few hours to satisfy their tryst. Once the tenant was gone, they were joined by Scrooge and Eva. Scrooge then possessed the pocket watch. The support team was in place.

Nadya, Yao, George and Frederick arrived at the Rose Garden by steam car, which Frederick drove. Frederick consumed the transmorphic drop and was transformed into a woman. The group headed into the very busy establishment and were shown to Willie’s table. Nadya indicated that they had the keys, and suggested that they retire to Willie’s office. Willie decline, stating that she could not trust Nadya since her man was seen meeting with her rival Gypsy Shaeffer.

It was at this time that Nadya, “stabbed” George with her knife, inflicting little damage. George immediately activated his Feign death and appeared to die. Willie, wishing to prove a point then shot George 3 times with her pistol, causing him some significant injury. She then order George to be thrown to the “gators.”

George was dumped into a cistern which was used entirely to dispose of bodies, there were some alligators in the cistern which did not immediately bother him, as he seemed very dead and as a result of not much interest to them. As George had used some of his disciplines, he was unharmed by the fall nor by the submersion in the cistern.

However, Scrooge alerted Eva and Aphrodite to the fact that George was in danger. The two women sprang into action, heading towards the rear of the building in an effort to rescue their companion.

Meanwhile the situation escalated with mention of the Man in the White Hat, and Nadya’s reluctance to provide Willie with the requested Keys. Sensing that they were about to be attacked. Frederick, using a “pen” knife. Stabbed one of Willie’s men and then stabbed her in the hand. Threats of violence increased, drastically, but Nadya was able to verbally deescalate the situation enough for them to egress. Yao cleared the path for the other two.

As Nadya and her people exited the Rose Garden, Aphrodite and Eva struggled to find an entry into the building or to the well or cistern. They uncovered and emergency fill, but the pipe was too small to squeeze through. Aphrodite attempted to gain access by climbing to higher floors, but found every room occupied. Eva was unable to open the heavily barred back door.

As Nadya, Yao and Frederick drove away from the Rose Garden, Aeric, who could see Aphrodite’s attempts to gain access to the building at the upper floors fail, sprang into action. He exited the tenement and crossed into the street directly across from the Rose garden, where he hurled disgusting insults at Willie and her people inside.

This drew a significant commotion and the building began to empty as the would be thugs gathered to watch Willie deal with this upstart. Willie moved to the front of the mob and drew a nasty looking butcher’s blade. Aeric activated some of his tattoos, drawing the attention of the crowd away from the location that Eva and Aphrodite had taken up post.

The Moment that Willie attacked him, the two women made their way into the Rose Garden, via the front door of the establishment, and taking their direction from Scrooge via the pocket watch to locate the interior access point for the cistern or well.

Outside Nadya, Frederick and Yao parked a block away in case they were needed to await some additional developments. Aeric destroyed Willie’s hand and blade using his reactive tattoos, bringing the woman down. The mob opened fire on Aeric, whose activated magical shield was more than capable of dealing with the massive wall of lead slamming into his body.

Meanwhile inside, Eva and Aphrodite located the entry to the cistern. As it was very deep. They returned to steal rope from the stage. Tying it off to the legs of the butcher block, anchored by Eva, Aphrodite entered the shaft in an effort to reach George, despite the known presence of Alligators in the water.

Realizing that the rope was too short. Aphrodite instructed Eva to acquire additional rope. Eva returned to the stage to scavenge additional rope as the firefight and battle continued to rage on outside between Aeric and the mob of criminals.

The butcher block slid free, almost shaking Aphrodite free. Eva arrived in time to bolster the block and passed the rope down to Aphrodite. It was at about this time that Georges feign death discipline ended and he realized he was underwater.

George swam to the surface, narrowly dodging an Alligator attack. He started to climb the rope, and as soon as he had a good grip, Eva used her Feat of Strength discipline to easily lift them both from the cistern. Aphrodite unbarred the back door and the trio escaped out the back. Once Aeric noticed that they were free of the building, he used his tattoos to drop a badly injured Willie to the ground. He then took her key and physically ripped her head free of her body with his bare hands.

This act terrorized the mob, who scattered in fear of the gruesome act they had just witnessed. This effectively ended the fight and Aeric, took Willie’s head and the necklace and rejoined Nadya and the others. The head was stored in a hatbox in the truck. Frederick then drove a short distance down the street, where he picked up Aphrodite, Eva, Scrooge and George.

They then made their way to the imperial hotel, where Frederick rented a room under an assumed name, fitting his appearance. Nadya took Willie’s head to perform a speaking ritual upon it, while Aeric gave Aphrodite the key he had acquired. Eva treated George’s injuries.

Returning to the Voodoo Queen

Frederick, Eva, Aphrodite and Yao undertook the next part of the plan. They made a special trip to see Gypsy at the Jolly Rogers. They were welcomed into the building and Gypsy was quick to show that she already knew many of the details of the battle as well as their results. She was somewhat disappointed in the fact that the group did not bring the Key to give to her, but was told she could have it the following morning.

Eva and Aphrodite detailed their plan to keep Gypsy in contact with her source of power, which involved turning herself into a living Poteau-Mitan by implanting long slivers of her sacred Poteau into the soles of her feet, along her spine and into the palms of her hands to create a similar affectation. She was also able to channel the power of her Ounfor by wearing a specially treated hoop skirt containing silver and bone. Gypsy advised that she would require a day to prepare, but they she should be ready to move against Marianna LeSoleil Levant at around midnight the following day, when her power would be at it’s strongest. Provided the plan would work, the prospects seemed good that they would triumph.

Gypsy asked Aphrodite to deliver an additional request to George of a personal nature. It seemed something more was requested by the Loa where George was concerned. Aphrodite agreed to pass on her request and the group parted ways with the intention of meeting again to undertake their plan.

Getting A Head

Nadya, upon returning to the hotel, decided to put Willie’s head to good use. She shaved the head and then carved a ward circle into the top of the Scalp to call and bind the Zodia’s spirit into it’s decapitated head.

Once summoned, Willie provided soem information, but in the send refused to provide any information on the Man in the White Hat or on the Quarto. After some frustration, Nadya temporarily banished the spirit.

It was around this time, however, that Nadya realized that the Spirit in the decapitated head had managed to cause her an issue. Nadya discovered that she was unable to recover Willpower, which would greatly hinder her abilities to use her powers until the problem was corrected. Nadya suffered from restlessness and nightmares when attempting to sleep. Efforts to break this malignant influence were ineffective.

Unable to rest, Nadya turned to creating a plan to transfer the Willie’s spirit into the remains of Jango, which would be bound to Nadya as a servant. To these ends, she wrote up a list which Eva and George went to collect. Aphrodite, realizing that the bird was still in the bathtub at the King’s Crescent, went to retrieve it, but arrived only to discover that all the groups personal effects had been stolen from the rooms. This included Jango’s corpse.

George and Eva returned with the general supplies, and Aphrodite advised Nadya and the others of the theft of their goods. This was an occurrence that may prove potentially hazardous. To make things worse, attempts to shut up the head or to convince it to cooperate were proving both frustrating and unpleasant.

The Following Morning

The group was forced to split into multiple teams in order to conduct some much business. Aeric and George remained at the imperial Hotel. This would allow George the opportunity to meditate without being alone at the hotel. Yao, Scrooge and Frederick would conduct some clothes shopping for the group, who now had nothing to wear after their goods were stolen the evening prior. Aphrodite, Eva and Nadya went to pay Gypsy a visit. They took Willie’s Key, the vial requested of George and Willie’s mounted head.

The Voodoo Moon Rises

At the Jolly Rogers, The trio of ladies provided Gypsy the head, which Gypsy promptly exiled to the latrine. They also provided her with the key, a bone and silver hoop skirt,and vial as agreed. In return, Gypsy confirmed that they would meet her back at the Jolly Rogers at roughly ten o’clock that evening to begin their assault against the Rising Sun and Marianna LeSoleil Levant.

They also learned that the Abdanjenauex was hunting a creature known as a Paludis. In addition it was learned that the Abdanjenauex somehow takes on the abilities of the creatures that they kill collectively, making them very dangerous. The Voodoo priestess even went as far to say that she would not tangle with such a creature if she could avoid doing so.

Time for Action

The group assembled and Frederick drove them to the Jolly Rogers, where they picked up Gypsy for the trip to the Rising Sun. He parked immediately outside the building and the group disembarked and headed inside. As they breached the entry to the building Aeric made verbal note of the threshold, which they had not detected previously.

The Maître De attempted to intercept the group, but realizing that they were not going to stop, it revealed it’s true presence, ripping free of it’s human skin disguise, and becoming a Bordran. It raised the alarm, casuing many others to shed their disguises and rush towards the doors spoiling for a fight.

Nadya incapacitated the first opponent, and Eva used it as a springboard to engage a second. As the remainder of the team made their way into the building, Scrooge activated his Animated Army, providing additional allies, and interfering with the creatures abilities to strike his team mates.

Nadya and Yao both activated group initiative boosts while George, Frederick, Aeric and Aphrodite began to engage the creatures directly.

Gypsy utilized some brambles which sprang up around her, impeding the opposing creature’s movement.

As the battle progressed, the Aspect of Virgo appeared, providing an immediate boon to her minions. realizing that the aspect was Ethereal or Astral, since it had passed through a solid wall, Aeric rushed the Aspect and jumped through it.

Because of the nature of the tattoos he wore, the aspect became entrapped within him, allowing him to remove it’s influence from the battlefield for a short while.

As The group fought to clear a way towards the office door, where Marianna was believed to be located, Gypsy created a Necrotic Field, which began to kill, decay and then resurrect the Bordran nearby as zombie servants.

Aphrodite seeing an opening, leaped to the Chandelier and arced over the mob of enemy combatants landing near the office door. However, she found the door locked. Frederick grabbed up a table and using it as a battering ram, bowled his way through the opposition to take up a defensive position near Aphrodite, using the table as a makeshift barrier. George joined them at the door, using the same method to reach it as Aphrodite. He picked the outer office door.

Nadya, Yao, Eva, Scrooge and Gypsy continued to fight off the horde of enemies, while Aeric struggled to contain the Aspect.

The Outer Office

In the outer office, Aphrodite, George and Frederick encountered three additional Bordran. George attacked with his sword, wounding one, which Aphrodite also attacked. It was at this time that Aeric lost the ability to contain the Aspect, releasing it as a primal blast of raw energy from his mouth and eyes.

The beam disintegrated it’s way through the six upper floors of the building, curving along the wall and destroying the door to the outer office. The Three Bordran were instantly destroyed, but George and the others survived it, although George lost his apparel in the incident. Aeric collapsed into an exhausted heap on the floor, his tattoos gone from sight.

Nadya made her way to the locked door to the inner office, which she picked with ease, allowing the team access to the inner office. Therein, They spotted Marianna, the Virgo Zodia, nude in some sort of trance. George rushed in and began searching her for the Medallion which he was unable to find. Desperate, George performed a perfunctory cavity search to insure that she did not have it in her immediate possession.

As Marianna recoiled, Nadya pummeled her unconscious, neutralizing her as an immediate threat. The rest of the team joined those already in the inner office. Gypsy told the group to recover the chest and Marianna’s key while she located the Medallion.

Aphrodite located a secret passage leading to a set of spiral stairs which, in turn, led to Marianna’s Apartments. She, Eva and Yao made their way upstairs to search for the missing key and chest.

Meanwhile, Gypsy, able to sense the presence of the Medallions, identified the location of Marianna’s safe, in which the medallion as stored. Scrooge, possessed the safe and unlocked it. George nearly fell prey to a Mogatu Mask laying in wait within the safe.

Gypsy confirmed the Authenticity of the Medallion.

The Apartment

Meanwhile, Aphrodite, Frederick, Eva and Yao made their way upstairs to Marianna’s apartment, where they located the Key and Chest desired by Gypsy. In addition, They found a few expensive looking items, which they pilfered and collected up a few artifacts as well.

They returned downstairs, where the Key and Chest were turned over to Gypsy. The Voodoo Queen inserted the three keys into the lock, unlocked it and then released the spirit of Jean-Claude Lafitte who had been entrapped their to guard the contents of the chest. Upon opening the chest, all gypsy found was a single lead brick.

Aftermath

Gypsy’s people arrived and the Voodoo queen ordered her cousin, still unconscious to be deflowered to robe her of her power. She was taken away to be mistreated by Gypsy’s people. In the meantime, Gypsy allowed Nadya to retain the Vanatu Charm she had been give earlier to aid her in dealing with the effects that Willie’s Spirit had placed upon her.

The group, knowing the Quarto were most likely looking for them now as a result of Willie’s destruction, decided to return to Paris.

There they learned the Renette had used John to kill Antonia Seville and frame one of her allies for her destruction. Renette also used Cyprus Archer to perform a Mnemos upon the original members of the Society to make them believe that Renette was the rightful leader of the group, She then destroyed their original memories contained in a Memory Jar, insuring her deception would never be revealed.

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Pride Goeth Before The Fall
Season 1, Episode 5

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The Prodigal Daughter

The group is assembled in the Dafni by Renette Villefort who advises the collective group that they have been instructed by the Pythia to return to Paris, France to track down the next of the Zodiac Medallions, this time the Leo Zodia.

The down side of the mission was that they were told that they needed to stay at the Aegis House. This is the original headquarters of the first incarnation of the Aegis Society. The same incarnation that was believed destroyed by an unknown entity or entities. Only Renette was believed to have survived the collapse of the original group.

How this would tie into the search for the Zodia, was unclear, but the group really couldn’t see any alternative other than to undertake the mission as the Pythia ordered.

The Aegis House

The group arrived at the Aegis House, a large Victorian house constructed from sandstone blocks quarried in Egypt. The house was surrounded by an immaculate lawn and a cold wrought-iron fence. It was apparent early on that the building was protected by some powerful wards. Renette advised that she had, in fact, been told by the Venatori that the building’s wards were fully intact.

Almost immediately upon arrival, Renette seemed to be frightened by the prospect of entering the premises. Due to her hesitation, Nadya and John decided to wait outside the fence barrier, while Aeric accompanied Renette as far as the front porch of the house.

The remainder of the group entered the building, where they immediately discovered a crumpled suit laying on the floor in the foyer surrounded by salts and calcium that seemed to be the remains of the prior members of the Aegis Society.

The team decided to stick together, moving upstairs to the attic to begin their search. They discovered that there was a circular ward surrounding the landing at the top of the spiral stairs. Here Eve asked Renette to invite her into the house, which Renette did. Immediately, Eve was able to pass through the wards there and continue her search. As they moved through the upper floors of the house, they discovered several doors, some of which were equipped with 5-pin slide locks, and others with 11-pin slide locks. it was surmised that these locks were fundamentally binary position combination locks that allowed the door to open to different locations, like dialing in an address specific to the destination.

The team did not explore any of these multi-pin doors, but they did discovered, a total of nine of the collapsed bodies, some suggested that whatever event took place happened quickly and with little or no warning. They were able to search many of the rooms in the house, while Nadya continued to explore the complexities of the Wards on the House.

Everything was fairly safe until members of the investigative team entered the Armory. At that pint the house became angry…

The Aegis Guardian

The front door slammed closed, knocking Renette to the ground. Simultaneously there appeared a Mummy-like figure in the upper hallway. This was the Aegis House Guardian, whose purpose was to protect the house from unwanted intruders. As Renette struggled to overcome crushing fear, the Guardian attacked the investigative group.

It began with using a scouring sand blast against Yao. The team managed to retreat down to the lower level of the house, where they were met by a second guardian barring their way.

Nadya alerted John that the Wards were active on the house and he headed for the front door to assist. Aeric also sprang into action. He activated his tattoos delivering a powerful blow to the front door of the house which rebounded him across the yard and into the fence.

From the first floor Aphrodite attempted to shatter one of the ground floor windows, which translated the power of her strike into a powerful burst of force that tore in a straight line out of the house and ripped through the grounds ending at the fence, providing another clue to the preparations on the house.

John reached Renette on the porch, as the guardian unleashed another scouring sand blast against Yao, a swarm of flesh-eating scarabs against Scrooge and a swarm of flies against Aphrodite. Eve began yelling at Renette to invite the other members of the group into the house, once she realized she was not being targeted by the guardian.

John assisted Renette in recovering her resolve enough to issue her invitations. With no unwanted intruders to defend against the house guardian disappeared without a trace.

The Clues in the House

With Renette’s guidance, the group made their way to the office, where Edwin Silva kept the day-to-day records of the group. They uncovered a journal that detailed the daily happenings within the last couple of days before the disappearance of the members. Oddly enough they could not locate any of the investigation records for the group. It was generally believed that the investigation in progress or just before the disappearance would shed some light on their disappearance.

An Unusual Invitation

It was about this time that an individual delivered a number of admission tickets to the Cirque Céleste Mystérieux, which was taking place in Paris, adjacent to the railway tracks in the industrial portion of the city. The courier indicated that the tickets had been prepaid and that they were to be delivered at this specific time. Renette commented that it was perhaps the work of the Pythia, but it could be something more nefarious.

Continued Investigation of the House

The group moved to the kitchen, where they undertook a search looking for any thing related to the last entry in the journal concerning an unscheduled meeting between the members of the Aegis Society and Akronas, a senior member of the Venatori.

In this room, Eve discovered the word RUN scrawled in lipstick on the underside of the kitchen table, in the position that Renette usually occupied. It was around this time, that as Renette was recounting some of the details of he last day at the house that Eve realized that Renette’s Pendant was more than just a normal tracking aid. When she asked Renette to remove it, it was confirmed that the pendant was somehow also creating the sense of fear that Renette had been experiencing upon their arrival.

In addition to this, Aphrodite made a leap of deduction and asked Renette what her favorite treat was in the house. Renette indicated that she preferred Turkish Delights. Aphrodite found it odd that the treat should be placed on an upper shelf in the pantry, beyond Renette’s easy reach. She removed the box, revealing an enveloped card that had been hidden beneath the box of the sticky confection.

Opening the card, she noted it’s message, Renette, Don’t eat the Turkish Delights! Investigating the box closer, they found a bank box key, marked No. 1401 hidden beneath the treats. It was a key clearly belonging to the Banque De France in Paris. This opened the possibility of an additional line of investigation.

The 5-pin Doors

While the team worked to explore the lower floor and discuss the possibilities that may have befallen the previous inhabitants, Nadya, George and Eva went upstairs to the two 5-pin doors that they had located earlier. The trio then began to experiment with the combinations to see exactly what they did.

The first door, which Renette had told them led to the Laboratory, was the first door to be tested. Nadya took point on this door, with Eve acting as an anchor. They tied Nadya to a rope acquired from John while George stood nearby in case additional assistance was needed.

The team entered two combinations on this door.

01001 opened into an apparent bath house some place where they spoke Turkish. Nadya did not venture through the door.
10110 opened into the closet of an upper floor apartment located in a city that had both English and French being spoken, as well as being hot and humid. Both Nadya and George went into this apartment and they were able to identify the location as New Orleans, LA, USA.

The second door was next.

11111 Opened into some sort of European catacomb. No one ventured beyond the door.
10110 Opened into a cave in an unknown location. No one ventured beyond the door.
00000 Opened into some sort of cathedral ruins, these would have been somewhere in Europe. No one ventured beyond the door.

After determining that the doors did not lead to the same locations when the same combinations were entered, the group headed back down stairs.

The Buffet Table

As they were gathered in the kitchen still trying to work out this new information, Eve posited a theory that the other members of the Aegis Society were not dead after all, and that they may have used one of the doors to escape.

She also mentions John’s unusual desire to search the buffet table in the formal din ing room which struck Aphrodite as bizarre. The group headed to the formal dining room to search the buffet, where George felt the desire to also search it.

After moving it, and removing the drawers to search for any hidden panels or compartments, George located a document that he was immediately able to identify. It was a map of sorts showing the various destinations and their combinations to the multi-pinned doors upstairs.

The group returned the buffet table back to normal, and then identified the document as the source of the compulsion to search the area.

The Banque de France

The group decided to move to the Bank to continue their investigation, specifically to gain access to the bank vault number 1401, to which Renette had the key. To accomplish this, they summoned some cabs, as the group could not all fit into a single vehicle.

In the lead cab was Renette, George, Eva, and Aeric. In the second cab was Scrooge and Aphrodite. And the third Cab contained Yao and Nadya.

Once the lead cab arrived at the Bank, Renette led the way into the building, taking George and Aeric along to play the role of Bimbo, while Eva paused at the steps to the building to deter any interruptions from outside.

Renette was led into the bank account office, where she immediately demanded full accounting of her assets. The banker was hesitant and somewhat unable to do so. As a result Renette demanded the presence of the bank Director. While the banker went to fetch the bank director, Renette began trashing the office. Pulling documents out of drawers, knocking over items, having George throw chairs out the windows of the office into the lobby.

It was about this time that Scrooge and Aphrodite arrived at the bank. They entered the bank under the pretense of exchanging some currency for Francs and opening an account for credit against Scrooge’s assets in Greece. In reality it was to act as support for Renette’s team in case there was an incident that they required assistance for.

When the bank director and two accountants returned, and were unable to provide a reasonable answer concerning Renette’s assets, She demanded that the account manager be fired. He was immediately fired.

She then demanded that the three men strip to their knickers, since she obviously owned the money with which they bought their fancy suits. The three men complied without much argument. She ordered one of the men to give George his expensive Cartier wrist watch. As a result George now had a new expensive watch.

She then had Aeric brush-paint, in India Ink, the words, I am a thief and I liar. on their chests, and the words, I am a banker at the Banque de France on their back. She then ordered the Director to walk across the street to the Chocolatier and bring her some fine chocolates. He left immediately to carry out his assignment.

She then ordered the two accountants to have the entirety of her monies in the bank loaded into sacks and carried to the private bank vaults, where the safety deposit boxes were located, immediately for her own personal accounting, and then once orders had been given they were to return to her.

At around this time, the director returned to the bank with some chocolates, which Renette seemed to disapprove of. She had George taste one, Then complained that they were not dark chocolates. She then commanded the Director back across the street to acquire better chocolates.

At around this time, Nadya and Yao arrived, purposefully later- to distance themselves from the rest of the group. Nadya noted the mostly naked man with some interest. Even going so far as to offer to let Yao have a turn with him for 100 Francs.

Nadya and Yao remained outside.

When the accountants arrived, and Renette could see that the money was well on its way to the vault as requested, she then ordered the two men to each choose a different corner of the street and to hail a taxi for her. They were expressly told that they had to turn away the first two taxis that stopped. Making it impossible for them to end this public humiliation quickly.

Meanwhile, George, Renette and Aeric entered the private vaults room and closed the door. This allowed the trio to look at the box 1401, without witnesses, especially since everyone was currently entranced with the humiliations being heaped upon those at the center of Renette’s wrath.

The trio decided that Renette should be the one to open the box, which she did with ease. Inside, the lock box was much deeper, requiring George to anchor Renette as she virtually climbed into the opening to reach the wooden box.

The box bore the universal symbol of Alchemy, which George immediately recognized. Inside was a strange metallic Lozenge. George had no idea what the lozenge was, but realized it was significant. it was also likely that it was placed here by Maximilian Stole, the Alchemist associated with the prior Aegis Society.

George secured the box and Lozenge, and Renette ordered that they take " one of her bags of money " to pay for any expenses. The group then left the bank.

After Scrooge’s accounts had been set up, Aphrodite and Scrooge also left. This left only Yao and Nadya at the bank.

Unwanted Observation

Earlier, at the house, Nadya had been warned that the group was under observation. She had dispatched Jango to watch those that were observing them. Now at the Bank, Jango alerted Nadya that the individual that had been following them was present. As such, she dispatched the bird to assist them in tracking the individual.

Yao and Nadya followed the bird to a nearby residence, where they gained entry. They discovered three members of the Abontiq cult, which follows the African God Babaluaye.

Two of the cultists executed themselves, while the third fled. He ended up killing himself also, by stepping in front of a horse drawn ice wagon. This left the duo with additional questions.

Nadya, decapitated one of the cultists and stuffed the head into a pillow. She and Yao then headed back to the Aegis House.

Interrogating the Dead

Nadya and Yao went into the back yard of the house, where Nadya created a Voodoo circle and Piton Mateaux. She then placed the head inside and using the correct appeasement for the Nacion of Ghede. She then summoned a messenger loa, with a request to speak to the dead soul that once inhabited the head.

Her request was granted, which forced the deceased spirit back into his decapitated head. Nadya was then able to interrogate the spirit. It was at this time that they discovered a few interesting details:

  1. Onkwani is responsible for the formation and direction of the Abontiq.
  2. The groups’ goal is to assassinate an emissary of the Ashanti King at the Paris Opera House in 2 days time.
  3. They group was supposed to observe Yao when they discovered his presence in Paris. They were not supposed to attack him.

This opened up a new threat to the group.

The Unwanted Visitor

While Nadya and Yao were in the back yard, interrogating the deceased head, there was a knock at the door of the house. Eva answered the door and was met by an older man and dour looking woman. This man turned out to be Akronas and his unnamed body guard.

He was allowed into the house, where he was led to the kitchen, where Renette was awaiting his arrival.

After he was seated, he began t o admonish Renette, only to have the conversation turn against him. He was forced to admit that he had created the illusion of the dead bodies in the house, as well as being responsible for their “disappearances” He would not comment on their actual fate, but did warn Renette and the others that they were treading on dangerous ground.

The conversation came away as more of a threat and warning, rather than a reunion of old colleagues.

After he left, the group began to consider the possibility that he was also behind the plot surrounding Renette’s Pendant, and discussed the possibility that Cyprus Archer was taking his orders from Akronas.

Nadya and Yao returned to the kitchen to share their discovery, when there was a second knock upon the House’s door. This was Cyprus, who claimed that he had received a message from his wife, Amelia, and had been told that the group required assistance.

Cyprus was shown into the kitchen, where the group interrogated him on his involvement with Akronas, the creation/presentation of the pendant to Renette, and where his loyalties lay. He denied knowing about the mind magic on the pendant, as well as confirming that he would not kill Renette if he was ordered to do so without a very good reason. He also was angry at being manipulated by Akronas and threatened to confront the man immediately.

The group talked Cyprus from this action for the time being, but warned that if Amelia had thought that Aphrodite had sent the message for help, that they should warn her that another party was involved that was capable of imitating Aphrodite’s identity while sending telepathic messages. He was also mentioned the existence of objects called the Flamel Tombstone and Flamel Lozenges, which he knew had been hidden in the bank. He had also mentioned that Renette had willingly undergone a spell to cause her to forget some of the details related to these two objects. Cyprus was also able to tell the group that he understood the Lozenges to have something to do with the creation of the fabled Aqua Vitae.

Cyprus agreed that it was important to warn his wife, and left immediately to locate her to warn her in person of the danger.

Meanwhile, the team determined that they needed to visit the circus as soon as possible, realizing that they most likely were now dealing with more than one unrelated issue. It seemed that there were three threads of fate all intertwined in Paris, the first was related to the Leo Zodia, the second to the fate of the original Aegis Society, and the third related to the presence of Onkwani and his Abontiq cult in Paris.

The Jewish Quarter

Prior to heading for the circus Nadya argued for the need to collect information about them prior to heading that direction. To do so, she suggested that some of the group make their way to the Jewish Quarter, known for it’s high concentration of immigrants, including those of African Descent, Romany, and Jews.

She recruited Yao and George to also attend, providing each with advise to carry a “…a little something to be pick pocketed…” The three took a hired taxi to the edge of the Jewish quarter, continuing into the district on foot. Along the way, Nadya bartered for some colorful cloth, as Yao kept an eye open for any of his countrymen.

After a while, Nadya spotted a few gypsies working a bare-knuckle boxing racket.

Approaching the doorman she inquired about the circus and was surprised to learn that the performing troupe was not affiliated with any of the Romany groups, which was unusual. Additionally she was warned that the circus seemed to be quite proficient at apprehending and punishing would-be pickpockets when they attempted to infiltrate the circus.

She and the others were invited inside for a few moments to watch the bout, but more accurately to provide the gypsies to pick pocket George and Yao. There she met someone that she identified as Death.

The individual warned her that she and the others with her were not supposed to be there and that they should leave the building, as there was a terrible fire coming. Nadya collected George and Yao in time to escape into the street, moments before a terrible fire broke out in the boxing arena. There was mayhem as individuals struggled to escape the flames.

Nadya prevented her companions from intervening, by acknowledging that some things are fated and irrevocable.

After leaving the scene of the fire, Yao suggested that the group continue deeper into the Jewish quarter to seek out some of the various African immigrants that were said to live in this area of the city. After a short while they finally came to the portion of town inhabited by African immigrants. Yao made contact with a local merchant, trading for some food stuffs and some information.

During this exchange, Yao learned that there were members of the Abontiq recruiting in the community square nightly, appealing to some of the disillusioned youth. He was taken to a local tribal leader named, Kwanda, a Massai elder respected in the community.

Kwanda

The group was escorted to meet with Kwanda, where Yao was well-received by the elder. A conversation about the Abontiq was had, detailing some of the groups recruiting methods in the community. In addition Yao discovered the current location, although not the identity of the Emissary sent by the Ashanti King to the french government in Paris. He was advised that the Emissary was staying at the imperial Hotel in central Paris.

This meeting gave Yao some critical information, and further linked his cousin Onkwani to the developing plot and cult.

After the meeting the trio began to walk back to the Aegis house but were intercepted along their route by a carriage carrying Anara, whom the group had met in passing earlier. She offered the trio a ride, which they accepted, although Nadya and Yao rode on the outside of the carriage.

George conducted a short conversation with Anara and was given the combination to the Alchemy lab, as a show of good faith. in the context of the conversation was the usual warning about trusting Renette, as well as an offer to be allies should they need help.

The Prisoner

Meanwhile, back at the Aegis house, Renette, Eve, John, and Aphrodite decided that it was time to search the basement level of the building. The moved into the area and discovered a locked door, which seemed to contain several smaller closet-like areas and a fountain.

John opened the lock with the use of his pistol, and the group were surprised to find a prisoner secured in one of the alcoves. The bound prisoner, shackled to a special anchor and placed inside a powerful warding circle turned out to be none other than Akronas.

After some interrogation, it was determined that the prisoner was the real Akronas, while the individual they had met prior was an imposter. It was believed that much like the theory that Renette would lose possession of the house if she had not stayed overnight within the span of a year and a day, Akronas, likewise would have been permanently trapped by a similar mechanism.

Upon her return to the house, Nadya was summoned to assist in affecting Akronas’ release. She added additional wards to the existing circle, to allow Akronas to pass through the wards and not suffer any terrible side effects caused by the passage of time. She also added a small fail safe to the ward requiring Akronas to return to the warded area within 24-hours of his release. Once the wards were effectively neutralized, George picked the locks of the shackles holding Akronas in place and the elder Venatori and patron of the Aegis Society was freed.

An Interesting Development

With the discovery of Akronas imprisoned in the basement of the house, the potential for danger from the Venatori only increased. Finding themselves in need of additional information, Renette suggested that they inquire with the The Twins, a pair of shrunken heads, that she kept in a box in her chest of drawers upstairs.

Akronas retired to the “Green Room” to recover, and the remainder of the team went to consult the twins.

In their consultation they uncovered that there were several people involved in the impersonation of Akronas, although it was not clear whether there was a single impersonator with support, or several people taking turns impersonating Akronas. Additionally a short list of those considered trustworthy was uncovered. Among them a Venatori in Rome and Geric Rowan, believed to be in Paris.

It was explained by Renette that Geric was a favorite spy for Sari Punjarharabi the “Queen” of the White Court in Paris. Renette explained that he was a natural Mimeomorph, a type of thaumaturge that is capable of mimicking the powers of several different supernatural creatures, allowing him to act as a perfect spy. He is an agent of the Venatori.

Upon learning of this, it was suggested that he be contacted for assistance, since Aphrodite still possessed the Whisperstone he had given her earlier. Renette agreed and it was decided that Aphrodite and Eve would make contact with Geric in a public place nearby.

The Alchemy Lab

Aeric had already managed to decipher the combination to the Alchemy lab, confirming the combination the same as that Anara had provided to George. George entered the lab and made several doses of Troll Dust giving them to Nadya for use as she needed.

The Bistro

As agreed, Eva and Aphrodite headed to the nearby Bistro where they ordered lunch and Aphrodite summoned Geric. He arrived shortly afterwards and was brought up to speed on the events, especially the impostor for Akronas. This sparked his interest and he left the pair with the impression he would be digging into things more closely. The duo returned to the Aegis House.

A Bizarre Encounter

On the way back to the Aegis house, the duo once again noted the presence of an old woman walking a seemingly exhausted dog. Aphrodite decided to confront the woman, which resulted in a bizarre conversation and the belief that the woman was most likely an Outsider, of some sort.

When the pair left her and returned to the house, they shared the details of their encounter with Nadya, who went back across the street and “saved” the dog from the woman. The dog was taken to the “Green Room” where it seemed to recover. Shortly afterwards, however, it exploded into a messy ichor like spray. The old woman across the street was once again seen walking a new “dog.” Still watching for the “Anomaly”. It was believed that she was not necessarily there for the group and was cautiously dismissed as an immediate threat.

After this event, the group decided that they would visit the Cirque Céleste Mystérieux, the following day, as they felt it unwise to not have Renette stay the night in the house.

Morning Errands

With the knowledge that they would be at some point headed to the Paris Opera, to interrupt the plot to kill the Ashanti Emissary, the group decided that they all required proper attire for the event. As such, the individual members of the group went shopping for attire, and visited salons and spas in preparation of the event.

Afterwards the group reconvened back at the aegis house where they discovered that Aeric had managed to decode the combination to the Esoteric Library. They weren’t able to take advantage of that immediately as they had all decided it best to visit the Circus during the mid-day performance in order to better take stock of the event.

Just prior to leaving Akronas consumed one of the Wandelbolus that George had created the night prior to allow him to accompany the group to the circus without raised suspicion. The group called a pair of taxis and headed towards the industrial train-yards in the city, adjacent to which the circus was arrayed.

The Circus

The group arrived at the site of the circus around 10:00 am. They were able to gain entry into the midway, where there were a small number of side shows and games of skill and chance to be seen. They were able to take in the strength sideshow performed by the Brothers Symphonique and participated in an actual seance of Aphrodite’s Grandfather Eustice, under the supervision of the very real medium Alexander Watson, who was most assuredly a real Ectomancer.

After winning a few cupie dolls and a marionette for scrooge, the group headed towards the Big Top Tent. There they were allowed to occupy the box seats for which they had been scheduled to occupy the day before, but had not used. They were assigned a box serving boy and the group settled into the box for the show, wary of the potential that they may be under observation.

Welcome to the Circus

The circus began with incredible fanfare, and was introduced by the Ringmaster Rudolfo Vizinni. The show progressed through a number of exceptional acts, including Chitock’s Exhibition of Performing Dogs, Mime Mayhem, Patrice’s Ponies, the full Menagerie, Les Pitres Clowns, The dancing of Ms. Jane Nesbitt, The Acrobatics and feats of strength of the Brothers Symphonique, The hauntingly frightening Watson’s Ghostly Illusions, The knife throwing skills of the Rose Widow, and for the finale, the Lion Tamer, Karloff the Lion King.

The exceptional nature of these shows were extremely bizarre, as most circuses at the time perhaps had one or even two exceptional shows, while the others were merely average. But the Circus performance was nearly 3-hours of incredible feats, tricks, acts or skills each exceptional and flawless in their own right.

To have managed to collect so many exceptional performers in one tent was beyond imagination, yet the Cirque Celeste Mysterieux had somehow managed to do just that.

Having already witnessed the very real power possessed by the medium during the seance, the group was left to wonder whether the other performers were also somehow Thaumaturges or talented in some supernatural means. To add to this, the Ringmaster seemed to “soak-up” the applause of the crowd in a manner somewhat reminiscent of a White Court Vampire feeding. While the group was uncertain whether this was the actual case, it was very suspicious.

Tickets

After the show ended, Eve managed to ask the serving boy for the box about their tickets, indicating that the group had received their tickets from an unknown benefactor, and wishing to repay the charity in some fashion. The boy suggested that they visit the ticketing office, where the tickets were issued to see if they could advise on the identity of the groups benefactor.

The group set off to the ticketing office, which was located in a carnies wagon, guarded by a pair of men. When the group made their inquiry known, one of the guards looked at the tickets and realized that they were tickets reserved for the circus for special guests, or employees to use. they suggested to the group that they speak with the Ringmaster, as he would have to approve the distribution of all such tickets and therefore may recall who had ordered them.

The group was directed to the private train car owned by the Ringmaster. Aphrodite and Eve were invited inside and made their plea to know the identity of their patron. The ringmaster was happy to oblige them, looking in a ledger to see when the tickets had been ordered.

He advised the duo that the tickets had been bought through an employee of the circus at the cost of 1,000 British Pounds each, a sizable chunk of money. He also advised that they had been purchased in Bucharest, Romania.

When Aphrodite asked if it were possible for the pair to speak with the employee, they were advised that the employee had been killed in a terrible accident the day after the tickets had been purchased. This made it impossible to speak with the employee and unfortunately the Ringmaster did not know who had paid the employee for the tickets.

This timeline meant that the tickets for the group to come to the circus in Paris, had been purchased three months before they had even known they were going to Paris. In fact, the group had been in London, England at the time that the tickets had been purchased. This made the group a little uncomfortable, as it meant that someone with the ability to either see or predict the future had to be involved in the purchasing of the tickets.

Headed back to the Aegis House

On the way back to the Aegis House, Eva collected one of the expensive posters for the circus that had been posted along the street. The group discussed some of the implications of their discovery, including theorizing that the Akronas impostor could be involved, if they had managed to intercept or acquire Akronas’ powers of Precognition directly. This could have been a result of the ward that had imprisoned him, the possession of some of his body, or bodily fluids, or some other as of yet undiscovered means. The Pythia was ruled out as the originator of the tickets, because it seemed more likely that she would have told the group to just attend the circus while they were in town.

This left the group with a serious deficiency in knowing truly who was involved were against them and whether them attending the circus was in some way connected to the Leo Zodia.

An Unpleasant Reunion

Upon their return to the house, The group encountered an individual who appeared to be a transient sitting near the steps to the gate of the Aegis House. Approaching cautiously, Eva was surprised to see the individual was none other than Adam, the same individual that was in effect responsible for Eva’s current state.

This did not sit well with Eva, and reasonably so. He told her that he had need of her assistance, and offered her information on the Blackened Denarii that was behind the attacks upon herself and other Prometheans. When Eve told Adam that it was Sanja, he denied it, stating that he was only the tool and not the mastermind.

Intrigued, although distrusting, Eva agreed to go down the street to the same Bistro where they had met with Geric. Yao and Aphrodite went as well, in case there was trouble.

Upon arriving at the Bistro, Aphrodite bought the group lunch and she and Yao sat at a separate but nearby table.

At the Table alone with Adam, Eva expressed her lack of trust in Adam, who retorted with the fact that she should be thankful that he reanimated her, because her death woulod have been a terrible loss to the world. Adam then told Eva that one of her “Sisters” (another Promethean) had been ripped apart by Sanja in Amsterdam.

He then made his request. He provided Eva with a photograph of a dead man, currently chilled on ice at the Paris Morgue. His name was Etienne Decontes. He asked Eva to steal the man’s body from the morgue, preferably before midnight to avoid permanent damage, and convey it to a warehouse nearby so he could be reanimated.

Adam told her that there was a storm coming and he needed her assistance because he could not be in two places at once and needed to finish setting up the lab for the operation. Eva reluctantly agreed.

Adam paid Aphrodite 2 golden Spanish doubloons for her generosity and gave Eva a bag of the same coins for all her expenses.

Adam then parted ways, presumably to continue work on the laboratory.

The trio then returned to the house.

Additional Preparations

The group now had access to the library and George found a reference to the Flamel Lozenge and the Flamel Tombstone. He also uncovered some information on the mysterious Aqua Vitae.

The group decided to have some early dinner, do a little research in the now available library and return to the Circus under the cover of darkness.

The Morgue Trip

Eva and Nadya headed to the Paris Morgue to complete the agreed upon task asked of Eva by Adam. In exchange he promised to provide additional information concerning the Denarii behind the attacks on Eva and the Other Prometheans.

The pair made their way to the Morgue, where they made their way inside. After a frustrating conversation with a rather corrupt and dim-witted clerk, they were finally allowed into the back, where a Priest was waiting to provide comfort for those grieving. Nadya, having managed to play the role of the inconsolable sister, kept the priest busy, while Eva located an ambulance driver willing to transport the body to the warehouse indicated by Adam.

Once the arrangements were made, the pair rode with two ambulance drivers to their destination. There, they delivered the body to Adam, who poisoned the pair of Ambulance drivers with poison-spiked whiskey. After the two had died, he then revealed to Eva that it was a Blackened Denarii named Naamah who was behind the attacks, directing Sanja / Sonnellion in their attacks against Promethean women. As the pair were rivals, it was believed that the gambit was a test to determine the worthiness of the vessel. If Sanja was defeated a rival would be out of Naamah’s way, and a worthy vessel for her found. This led to a discussion on whether or not Prometheans possessed souls. And if that would make them more susceptible to possession by a Denarii as a result.

The duo bid Adam farewell, and returned to the Aegis House.

Return to the Circus

The team decided to split their forces and have Renette, Yao, John and Akronas remain at the Aegis House in case of any unexpected developments. This group would be the Calvary for those headed to the circus should they not return by midnight, and also a defense for the house in case of a potential assault against the building.

The remainder of the group consisting of Aphrodite, George, Scrooge, Aeric, Eva and Nadya would further investigate the circus.

Upon their arrival, the group decided to review some of the more fringe locations offered by the circus. These were hinted at by the ticket clerk as something more scintillating, and perhaps somewhat naughty. They visited Pelham’s Steam Machine and eventually made their way towards a large tent that emanated the sounds of ecstasy.

The Orgy Tent

The large circular tent at the end of the trail was a large venue for a massive orgy. With nearly one-thousand individuals participating the magical energy being generated was intense and exceptionally powerful. At the center of the tent was a circular dais, surrounded by pristine white curtains. It was believed that some extremely powerful creature was within.

Aeric, George and Scrooge were asked to remain outside, away from the tent. With the express instruct ions that if things were to go bad, only Aeric should enter in an attempt to retrieve the women. Initially, only Eva and Aphrodite entered the tent and began to make their way towards the centerpiece.

As they progressed their bodies were wracked by ecstatic pulses and they fought to remain on-task. Nearly reaching the dais, their willpower finally failed them and they joined into the events in the tent. Nadya, wishing to help entered the tent, struggling towards the center. Realizing it was too difficult, she withdrew from the tent and summoned Aeric.

After a brief explanation of the situation, She proposed to siphon off all the sexual power being generated and disperse it. Aeric pointed out the difficulties and risks associated with doing so, and instead suggested that she use him as a repository for the energy, since his tattoos were designed to handle things exactly of this nature.

Nadya agreed and using her ritual siphoned all the sexual energy from the ritual and deposited into Aeric, whose tattoos immediately expanded to turn every portion of his body ink black. This was immediately followed by a horrible shriek from the curtained dais, as the spell broke, releasing the participants back to their own self-control.

Eva and Aphrodite quickly made their way out of the tent, beating any chance of possible stampede and rejoined the group. Aeric elected to return to the Aegis House where he would seek assistance from Renette and Akronas to purge the energy he was containing.

Meanwhile, George, Aphrodite and Eva decided to take advantage of the baths for which they were given a pair of tokens , and headed towards the far side of the circus. Scrooge and Nadya remained behind, as people vacated the tent.

Death of a Marionette

Scrooge animated the marionette he had won earlier that day and ordered it to enter the tent and pull back the curtains surrounding the dais. No sign of it’s occupant had been seen yet, and Nadya was persistent to know what was behind it. The moment that the marionette touched the curtain it turned to ask, destroyed instantly.

Immediately thereafter the curtains began writhing, broke free from their mountings and flew, undulating through the air towards Scrooge and Nadya. The duo had unwittingly activated a magical defense from a specific sex magic ritual known as a Sibylline Barrier. The massive Orgy was actually a Sibylline Rite that had been underway.

As the barrier charged towards them, the duo retreated, leaving the scene of the Rite behind them.

On the Way to the Baths

On the way to the baths, members of the group noticed the Ringmaster Rudolfo Vizinni in the middle of a disagreement with an unseen individual. They were unable to identify the individual but noted the occurrence in case it was relevant.

After arriving at the baths, Aphrodite purchased an additional bath for Nadya, who she knew would eventually join them here. She and Eva went inside and were joined later by Nadya, when she and Scrooge arrived at the baths a short while later.

Sneak this Way

After their bath, the group decided to make their way to the train car occupied by the Ringmaster in the hopes of finding some information that could shed some light on their investigation. George and Aphrodite would act as an amorous couple outside the car, acting as lookouts, while Nadya, Scrooge and Eva would gain entry into the carriage.

With everyone in place, Nadya picked the lock on the carriage and the group gained entry. They were surprised to find that they were not alone in the carriage, when Eva discovered an unknown woman sitting in a high back chair waiting for the Ringmaster. She introduced herself as Sari and stated that she and the Ringmaster had made an agreement that he had broken. She was not interested in stopping or reporting the group for searching the car, and so they continued with their investigation.

Besides the normal trappings of an office, Nadya located a locked wooden box with a crucifix carved into the lid. She opened it and spotted a Blackened Denarii coin, and immediately closed the box and re-locked it- the coin was later authenticated by Renette. They also uncovered a wooden box containing 8 vials numbered in succession 1 through 8. The vials contained a light blue effervescent liquid- this would later be identified by George as a completed does of Aqua Vitae. The last thing of interest was a photograph of a man. On the back of the photo the words, “Julian 1879” were handwritten. Eva memorized the image so she would be able to reproduce it if needed.

It was around this time, that Scrooge, while investigating a bust of William Shakespeare, was startled by the bust suddenly opening its eyes. In a panic, Scrooge ran screaming from the train carriage. George, concerned for his Uncle gave chase, abandoning Aphrodite, who shouted obscenities at him as he retreated in order to maintain the ruse.

Meanwhile Nadya and Eva retreated from the train car in a more stealthy manner. Aphrodite realizing that some of the men from the nearby ticketing office was en-route towards her, headed away from the others to draw them off. She was intercepted and after a short conversation was escorted towards the main gates. She sent a Telepathic message to Eva letting her know to meet at the gate.

Eva and Nadya headed that way. They were joined shortly thereafter by Scrooge and George, who together had decided to head towards the gate in case they needed to meet back up with the team. With the group reassembled, they departed the circus and headed back towards the Aegis House.

The Post-Circus Briefing

The group had new questions after their pilfering of the Ringmasters, train car. The women in the group took precautions considering the nature of the ritual they had interrupted and afterwards, Eva retired to the porch for some “soul-searching” and Aphrodite retired to the green room.

An Indistinct Visitation

While Eva was sitting on the porch she noticed the strange woman across the street was gone. She then noticed that some birds were flying backwards. A short moment later and indistinct man appeared. He told her that" …he had little time, because the communication was using a lot of power. She needed to look under his bed post in his room."

Eva rushed upstairs, grabbing Scrooge on the way. They went to Edwin’s room. The person Eva suspected had “visited” her, and immediately began to search. There, under a loose floorboard they found a page torn from Edwin’s Journal. Eva read the Aegis Journal Entry, and immediately realized what they needed to look for.

She assembled the rest of the group together, and she and Aphrodite searched the pantry for a possible Memory Jar. After a few moments, Renette realized that she knew where the memory jar was located and led the team into Edwin’s Office. There she pointed out that Edwin always used Black ink in everything he wrote, but that she had noticed a peculiar bottle of brown ink on the desk.

With some encouragement, Akronas wafted some of the ink and was immediately assailed by some of his missing memories.

The Proposed Timeline

Inundated with these incomplete memories, rapidly returning to him Akronas suggested a timeline of events that led them to the current situation.

With the discovery that Antonia Seville, a member of the Venatori Elder Council was involved and had ordered members of the Aegis Society to steal an Alchemical book from a descendant of Nicolas Flamel named Julian Flamel, things began to fall into place.

Akronas remembered assisting the Society members, Edwin Silva, Augustine Growler, Joseph Ableman, Barry Simple, and Irdouin Ibn Salari to put into place the Mnemos and procured the services of Cyprus Archer to perform it and place the potentially dangerous memories into the Memory Jar.

He believes that when the team undertook the mission and lost the book, as detailed in the journal entry, that they then decided to take Julian hostage. They returned to the Society House, where Seville ordered Julian detained in the Alchemy lab to work on the Elixir of Immortality and the Philosopher’s Stone, two mystical items said to have been created by his father.

It is believed that when Julian was discovered missing, presumably by the Ringmaster of the Cirque Celeste Mysterieux,Rudolfo Vizinni, who was his business partner and likely friend, that he reported the incident to his father Nicolas Flamel.

Flamel then arranged to kidnap Akronas, and become the Akronas Imposter. He attempted to recover his son under that guise, but the members of the house retreated through a Telluric Gateway, taking Julian along. The impostor imprisoned the original Akronas in the basement of the Aegis House. and determined his next course of action. However, both the imposter and Seville lost access to the house, when the other members could not return to the house.

Flamel then worked his way into the Venatori council as Akronas, while Seville turned her attention to seizing the house by keeping Renette away, in an effort to gain possession of the house. Aware of Akronas, being an impostor, it is supposed that Seville manipulated him into supporting her agenda in the council while requiring him to gather the items together to create the items needed, he would turn those over in exchange for his son, but was unaware that Seville was not in possession of Julian.

It was believed that Nicolas Flamel summoned the Circus to Paris to help him in the final exchange for his son.

Meanwhile, working on the belief that the Society members may have entered either the Shard Universe or the Mirror Universe, Eva, placed a photo of Edwin facing a mirror in an attempt to draw him towards his reflection in the hopes of making contact with him. George located a note in the same floorboard hole, which read"

“Trinite del Falcone 17-44 Ch6 Mthw 7:13”

The Biblical reference reads:

13“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat”


George and Aphrodite both concluded that the Ch6 most likely referred to a combination of one of the 5-pin Telluric gateways. George argued that it was most likely 00110 , but Aphrodite thought it would be more likely 01111. each had a strong argument for their reasoning. As neither of these combinations had been deciphered on either door yet, Aeric agreed to decipher both combinations on each door by morning.

The Parlay

The following morning the group gathered in the dining room, where they discussed their situation and the various enemies they seemed to have in Paris. Among these was the White Court, The Circus, The Impostor Akronas (Nicolas Flamel), and Antonia Seville of the Venatori Council. The group recognized that each of these groups had a legitimate reason for considering them enemies, but also knew that they needed to mitigate their opponents if they were going to be somewhat successful in their endeavors.

To these ends, the group decided that the group most likely to allow reconciliation of any sort was the circus. To those ends, Aphrodite, Nadya and Yao agreed to visit the circus in an effort to see what they could do to facilitate a peace, or at least a cease-fire with the group. Of course, the fact that they had broken into the Ringmaster’s carriage and stolen a few things didn’t make this effort any easier.

The trio arrived at 10:00 in the morning and headed towards the main entry gates of the circus. Along the path they were accosted by a pair of circus enforcers, who threatened to just kill the trio outright. Nadya declared a Parlay, and the two bruisers were forced to escort the trio into the circus grounds.

They arrived at the Lion cages, where presumably, they could be dealt with quickly if needed, to await the arrival of the Ringmaster. He arrived accompanied by Rose Widow, the knife-thrower, and threats were made.

However, it soon became clear that the members of the circus were not allies of Nicolas Flamel as had been originally thought. Instead, it came to light that since Julian Flamel had last visited the circus before his disappearance, Nicolas had assumed the circus complicit in his disappearance. Nicolas had kidnapped the Ringmaster’s son and using him as leverage, order the circus to bring Julian back.

For the last year, the circus has been scouring major cities in Europe attempting to locate the missing Julian Flamel, unaware that the younger Alchemist was safe within the confines of the Aegis House.

To make matters worse, the circus had been “summoned” to Paris by Flamel , Sr. against their will, possibly to assist in a potential exchange where the Junior Flamel was returned.

An agreement was struck that as long as the stolen Blackened Denarius Coin, the vials of Aqua Vitae and the Ringmaster’s son was returned, the Ring master would hand over the Leo Zodiac Medallion which was in the possession of one of the members of his troupe. In exchange, the Ring master would arrange a meeting with Nicolas Flamel to take place at Trinity Church at 5:00 in the afternoon.

Satisfied with this arrangement, a blood oath was exchanged and the trio returned to the Aegis House.

Mirror, Mirror

Meanwhile Eva remained sitting in front of the mirror downstairs in the house in the hopes of attracting one of the prior Aegis House members, which the group still believed were within the Mirror Realm. Eventually she made contact with an indistinct figure in the mirror that identified itself as “Irdouin”. It provided her with the combination used on the 11-Pin Door the group was believed to have escaped through, 10000000000. A further meeting was set for 1 hour later, to communicate with or extract those trapped inside.

After everyone had returned to the house, the group was briefed on the both developments and the team created a communications chain from the mirror on the first floor and the door on the second.

At the appointed time, Nadya opened the door, using the combination 00000000001 , which she thought was correct because of the reversed nature of the Mirror Realm. In fact, a being was waiting, and Edwin steeped through. he explained that time was odd there and said he had to go get the others. He then laid his pocket watch chain across the opening and re-entered the Mirror realm.

It was at this time, that at the Mirror Below, the shadowy Irdouin figure reappeared and advised Eva, that the door was not them. This message was rapidly conveyed to the door team, Yao and Nadya, and the pocket watch was kicked into the Realm and the door slammed shut.

Nadya, then using the correct combination, reopened the door and the Original Aegis Society and Julian Flamel returned to the Prime World.

Memories, Get your Memories Here.

The expanded group regrouped in the dining room, where discussions quickly turned to the events that had taken place in their absence. To aid in this, the Original members were convinced to try the Memory Jar, which filled in many of the gaps in the story. It also allowed them to regain trust in Akronas, once they had been advised that there was an impostor Akronas, assumed by Nicolas Flamel.

It was also, at this time, that it was revealed that Julian had not been kidnapped, but had instead been rescued. The book had been destroyed because Julian had initially feared that the group were agent’s of his Father’s. The same father that had slaughtered and dismembered his mother, and had attempted repeatedly to kill Julian unsuccessfully.

Julian was the offspring of two immortals, and as such should not be possible. In addition, it became apparent that Julian while not immune from injury, seemed to be immune to death of all sorts. Julian explained that his father had removed organs, burned him alive, suffocated him, strangled him, stabbed him, crushed him, bludgeoned him, drown him and amputated his limbs, all in an attempt to understand how he could apply his son’s abilities for himself.

Julian had been hiding in a private chamber transcribing some of his fathers manuscripts he had stolen. Knowing that his father would eventually find him and torture him again, he was determined to undo his immortal state. It was at this location that the Aegis Society found him. Once it became known that they were not his father’s agents, he willingly joined the group sharing some of his extensive knowledge. However, When his father eventually tracked him down to the Aegis House, they had escaped into the Telluric Gateway.

George discovered a new recipe in the manuscripts of the Lab called the White Lotus Powder. After following up in the Library to identify some of the ingredients, he created a does of the powder and tested it showing that it worked as intended. This added an interesting new tool to his growing arsenal of preparations.

Corrupting the Priesthood

Nadya, Aphrodite and Eva traveled to the Trinity Church where Aphrodite managed to lure a young priest into aside room where she seduced him using her Seducio Phallus which she used to collect some semen and blood to power a new batch of Transmorphic Drops to assume the exact identity of one of the priest attending the Church.

This brought the attention of an individual that identified himself as Michael, the Archangel. Who warned Aphrodite against continuing to do such things in the church. Nadya’s attempts to acquire a cassock failed, but Eva was able to acquire one by promising to take her associates from the church in exchange. Michael agreed, and brought Eva the Cassock.

Aphrodite allowed it to be known to the Archangel that they would be back at 5:00 pm. Perhaps this was an attempt to have a mitigating power present during the meeting between the group and Nicolas Flamel.

Preparation for the Fateful Meeting

The group returned to the Aegis House where they broke off to undertake some preparations to aid in the upcoming meeting. George and Maximilian Stole went to work creating the Transmorphic Drops. While Nadya began creating a pair of ritualized tracking focus to aid in tracking Flamel to his hideout. These would take the form of a Penny and an Matzo Wafer. These would hopefully be used to track Flamel’s movements after the initial meeting.

The Meeting

The group, now ready for their meeting with Nicolas Flamel, the group decided to approach the church in two distinct groups. The first to arrive was Nadya, after using one of the Transmorphic Drops created by George to mimic the disgraced Priest Father Davis and wearing the “stolen” Cossack from prior.

Of course upon her arrival, she was forced to convince the Rector of the Cathedral to allow her, as Father Davis, to remain in place. Her disguise worked, and the rector, although reluctant to allow it, finally acquiesced to him returning to work the afternoon mass. This, of course, was part of the plan and Nadya was now in a position to be disguised inside the church, prior to Nicolas planned arrival.

in the second group, Eva, Aphrodite, Scrooge and Akronas, disguised by another Transmorphic Drop into a woman, all arrived and took up a position near the entry of the church. Shortly after their arrival they were approached by a man, presumably Flamel, who did not engage in much conversation but insisted that they hold the conversation outside.

Initially, this impulse to allow Flamel to set the terms of the meeting were resisted, but eventually the need to meet with him won out and the group made their way outside to meet with him on the steps.

As they spoke with him, it became very apparent that they could not possibly be speaking to the real Flamel. As they had no idea what he looked like, they had no way to determine who they may have been speaking to. As such, the group realized that the meeting appeared to be an attempt to draw out the group. It was about this same moment, that a young boy arrived bearing a message. It read:

“Arc de Triomphe, 11 pm tonight, bring him. N. Flamel”

Determined not to become potential targets, the outside group agreed to notify Nadya, before departing.

Akronas, somewhat comically, reentered the church and tried to pass the information to Nadya, without too much notice, although he was in the middle of the Mass. this of course, proved impossible and Akronas withdrew somewhat awkwardly.

The group then decided to head to the circus to notify the Ring Master of the new developments. meanwhile, bound temporarily to complete the Mass, and still desirous of attempting to isolate Flamel if he had arrived, Nadya was unable to leave with the others but was determined to be present as the parishioners left the Cathedral.

As the parishioners left the building, Nadya, still under the guise of Father Davis, greeted the people as they left the church. An older man and woman approached her and reached out to shake her hand. Almost immediately, Nadya’s arm began to solidify into stone, as the effect began to move up her arm, she realized it was Nicolas Flamel who was holder her hand.

Thinking quickly, Nadya patted him on the back as she drew as much attention to the exchange as possible. This pat resulted in the destruction of the Matzah Wafer that she had prepared prior for tracking purposes. She then palmed the penny into one of Flamel’s jacket pocket, again placing a tracking spell into place.

The added attention caused Nicolas to stop his transformation of Nadya’s arm into stone. He released his grip, and departed.

Paris Opera House Recon

While some of the group headed to the church to meet with Flamel, George, Yvette Defranc and Yao headed to the Paris Opera House to follow up on the information concerning the planned assassination of the Ashanti Emissary by members of the Abontiq cult.

As such, they gained access to the building, and after a rough start and some threatening of the Opera Management into acquiring the tickets needed and a tour of the building. This bought Yao some much needed time to investigate the area.

Yao located several details that lead him to believe that an explosive had been created. He found nearly four full barrels of gunpowder, a mixing bowl, some pine pith, and some linseed stain. This information was useful, but Yao was unable to locate the explosive, even after searching a number of the private booths at the opera. Eventually, no longer finding any useful information, the group at the opera house departed to return to the Aegis House.

The Circus

Aphrodite, Eva and Akronas made their way to the Circus, where they were immediately escorted to the Ring Master. Upon their arrival, they advised Vizzini of the latest developments. In addition, Aphrodite was careful to make Rudolpho aware that there was a possibility that Nicolas Flamel was inhuman enough, after his long life, to have neglected the basic needs of the Ringmaster’s son. With as much information made available as possible, the group then departed to head back to the Aegis House.

Return to the House

Nadya was the last to return, as she had to wait until the Mass service was completed before she could consider departing the Chapel. On the way back, she reverted back to her original form, all except for her arm. She departed the taxi and attempted to enter the premises, but was unable to bring the arm across the fence line.

She called for Renette to invite “Father Davis” into the house, this allowed Nadya access.

The Arm

The group discussed at length their options to correct the issue. In the end the best choice was to have Nadya use the Green Room. They took her into the room and the moss encompassed her, with the exception of the stone arm. The arm fell off shortly thereafter and Nadya emerged with her normal arm portion missing.

Determined to attempt to correct the issue, but somewhat dismayed at the Green Room’s apparent inability to heal her injury Nadya and Eva came up with the idea of asking Adam for assistance.

Return to Adam

The two women traveled to Adam, where they made their case apparent. Desirous of replacing Nadya’s Arm with a feminine one, but finding that Adam had no available materials, resulted in Adam acquiring a woman off the street, killing her and amputating her arm to use as a replacement.

With Eva’s assistance, Adam reattached Nadya’s arm and they grafted it back into place. With Nadya’s arm restored, the duo returned to Aegis House.

The Opera

The group made their way to the opera that evening, knowing that they faced an uncertain task of preventing an assassination. They split up, to cover more ground. Nadya spotted one of the individuals bearing the Abontiq tattoo. She followed them into the offices where she came face to face with the the individual behind the attempt, Onkwani. John, Aeric and Akronas went to the Arc d"triumph

A discussion followed, but through mutual determination the duo agreed to be enemies. Before she could react, however, Onkwani used some mysterious powder to cause Nadya to lose consciousness. The group remained undiscovered.

The Ashanti delegation arrived and were shown to their box, to await the arrival of the French Delegation. When they finally arrived, George, Aphrodite and Eva were able to join their group for a while, as they attempted to get close enough to acquire the Flamel Ring which they knew was in his possession.

They departed their company to allow the Ambassador to meet with the Emissary. George, Aphrodite, Eva and Yao all headed towards the booth, with Yao gaining access to the adjacent booth. Scrooge took up a position in the stairwell and Eva blocked the opposite Hall.

However, when George and Aphrodite decided that it was a good idea to join the delegation in an attempt to search the booth for the bomb, after realizing that the bomb may be inside a chair leg, Yao jumped into the Ambassador’s booth from the adjacent booth.

This created an immediate increase in tension as Nagaro immediately thought that Yao was in league with Onkwani and that they were planning on killing him. Some quick talk alleviated those concerns, but that was the moment that Onkwani sprung his trap.

In the Lobby of the building, his men all revealed themselves, drawing pistols and creating a commotion. The Royal Ashanti guards sprang into action. Scrooge looked into the lobby and spotted Onkawani attempting to leave the building with Nadya in tow. He activated his paper crane and established a trace upon it. He then sent it to hide in Nadya’s clothing.

It was around this time that Yao arrived in the Lobby, and began to fight with the cultists. He stuck Onkwani with a stand-up ashtray as he attempted to leave the premises, but not before the man tossed two explosive grenades into the lobby. The resulting explosion killed several innocents, injured others and set the building on fire. Nadya was left behind in the confusion and recovered by the group shortly thereafter.

Meanwhile as the action exploded around them, Eva, The Ambassador and Aphrodite made their way out the back door, where they were able to make their way to a waiting cab. They gave the driver instructions to take the ambassador to his home, located near the Arc de Triomphe.

Meanwhile Yao managed to get the Emissary and two of his bodyguards out of the building. Despite the immediate availability of the Emissary’s carriage, Yao suspected a trap and summoned a cab off the street. They them proceeded to the Hotel Imperial, where they were staying. The Emissary and his men retired to their room.

As Yao was leaving, he was suddenly surprised by an explosive detonation behind him. The Emissary’s had been killed.

The White Court

Meanwhile, the group with the French Ambassador were escorted by the cab driver to an illicit gaming hall. The group followed the driver inside, uncertain why they were not upset with this development. They were ushered into the presence of Sari, the Queen of the Paris White Court. They were given an opportunity to explain themselves and an agreement was made. In addition, the potential difficulties with the White Court were resolved. It was around this time that Aphrodite acquired the Flamel Ring and gave it to George for safe-keeping and study.

Returning to the Aegis House

With little time remaining, the Society members regrouped to prepare for their final meeting with Flamel. They recovered their strength, healed their injuries and prepared themselves. Aphrodite sent messages to Geric Rowan via the Whisperstone. And also sent a physical message to Antonia Seville, in an attempt to draw them together at the final confrontation with Nicolas Flamel.

Prior to departing the house, Nadya performed a tracking ritual using the map and some dust to track the two items she had prepared and placed on Flamel. This revealed his movements throughout the day, specifically isolating an apartment building, a dock on the river and Notre Dame Cathedral. These locations were marked on the map and Aphrodite carried the map to have it available for the Ring master should it be needed.

The Confrontation

With three of their members, Aeric, John and Akronas already at the site, the remaining members headed towards the Arc de Triomphe. Upon arriving the group were a little dismayed to take in the geometry of the area. In essence the Arc was placed within a pair of circles, which never bode well for dealing with a Thaumaturge. In addition the Arc itself was also a natural thaumaturgical portal which could also be dangerous.

The group departed from the taxi and sent the driver away before entering the roundabout that formed the two circles. They were met by Aeric, who indicated he had seen no sign of Flamel.

Yao hid himself along the edge of the inner retaining wall to provide him with a possible ambush opportunity, while the others just prepared for the encounter they all knew was coming.

Flamel’s arrival was preceded by the erection of a magical barrier that enclosed the roundabout and the Arc in it’s entirety. The barrier walls rose to a height of 30-feet before becoming a dome overhead. This barrier would serve as a means to prevent any escape for the group, and would prevent any unwanted visitors from entering the fray once it began, or so the thought went.

The immediate impact was that John Tidewater, who had taken up a position in a nearby clock-tower, lost any visual of the area, and this rendered his rifle ineffectual. Despite this, John remained firmly focused on the barrier prepared to take a shot in case the barrier suddenly fell and his target presented.

Meanwhile, inside, Flamel arrived. In the center of the Arc, a swirling blue-white portal appeared, through which Flamel arrived on the scene. He had with him a young boy, who was presumably the Ringmaster’s son.

Words were exchanged, and Flamel insisited that his son, Julian Flamel be returned to him immediately. Aphrodite managed to force Flamel to almost agree to an equal exchange, but when Nicolas Flamel did not release the boy, The exchange of prisoners stalled. Nicolas become irate and decided that he could just take his son by force.

He revealed thirteen Simulacra, boosting his perceived threat. As they spread out, the group instinctively understood that the chances of a violent encounter had raised significantly. In addition, he quickly opened a rift using the Arc as a natural containment portal. This rift immediately turned malevolent taking on a vile color.

Nicolas seemed, at that moment to lose his temper, kicking the boy forcefully across the circle towards the group, turning him instantly to stone, which shattered on impact. This immediately caused the entire group to spring into action.

Yao sprung from his hiding place, and using his boat-hook blade heft one of the Simulacra to death. At around the same time, a second simulacra was destroyed in a follow up attack. It was at this moment that a dark thrumming energy shot from the portal striking Flamel and then splitting to intersect each of the Simulacra. This energy was a raw manifestation of Hu which immediately restored the two destroyed Simulacra.

Aphrodite discovered that Nicolas had a barrier in front of him, which prevented her from hitting him with a pair of curry powder covered candies, meant to blind him. With the battle moving into full swing, the group realized that they were in for a seriously difficult fight.

Akronas appeared atop the arch and channeled the Hu away from Nicolas and into a new portal in the top of the dome. Then Nicolas’ true nature appeared. From the two portals, a thick writhing mass of tentacles appeared, both attacking the group and offering some protection to Nicolas.

For the first few moments of the battle it seemed that things were going to be difficult for the team. However Watson, appeared in the form of an astral projection, passing into the area through the ground. After a brief look around, he departed abruptly.

Meanwhile Nadya created a circle around herself, isolating herself from the Barrier prepared by Nicolas, granting her a level of protection and normalcy as things unwound around her. It was from here, that Nadya plucked the strands of fate, enhancing her allies and working to undermine Flamel’s power.

It was around this time, that the Aspect of Leo arrived along with a pride of lions pierced the Barrier and entered the fray. As they fought towards Flamel, the Aspect sometimes was destroyed, but reformed, taking over one of the lions that accompanied it, placing the Aspect directly back into the battle.

At each turn, Flamel continued to transform the aspect to stone, or harm or attack the group. As the group and aspects retaliated though, Nicolas seemed to “Die”, but in each case, one of the simulacra collapsed into dust and their life-force energy restore Nicolas to full strength. Yao was forced to withdraw for fear that Nicolas would turn him to stone with a touch, and also being badly injured in the fighting.

Eva used her abilities to slowly restore her allies stamina and used massive arcing bolts of electricity into Flamel and his tentacles. George and Scrooge added their strengths to the battle. Scrooge was set alight by Akronas, and then subsequently turned to stone by Nicolas. However, Scrooge animated his stone body and continued to fight side-by-side with Akronas against Nicolas.

Aphrodite was able to collect pieces of the boy that was shattered, and also landed a few well-thrown knives into the mix, keeping the pressure up.

It was around this time, that members of the circus arrived. A door on wheels rolled in through the barrier, which apparently was only designed to hold back people. Following the note on the door, “Ouvrier moi” or “Open Me” George opened a portal that allowed the Mime, Ringmaster, Rose Widow and Watson to gain entry into the fray.

Watson rose spirits to wrestle with the tentacles and the Simulacra, The Ringmaster also waded into that fight, with Rose helping to protect him as he moved. Aeric managed to destroy the tentacles, although expending a great deal of power.

The Mime slid the door into position, and suddenly the circus train burst through the open door slamming into Nicolas and destroying another of the Simulacra The final Aspect was able to grab Nicolas in his jaws, piercing his body and destroying the last of his simulacra, but it pinned him in place as it solidified into stone.

To add insult to this, Nadya, during the most harrowing portion of the battle, drew a great deal of her own blood and created a summoning, meant to illuminate Nicolas’ Outsider nature and summon aid from potent powers opposed to them. To further agitate the situation, Nadya then ripped a tear into the fabric between realms revealing a frozen world beyond. She then tossed Flamel’s Ring which contained a Philosophers Stone through the opening, but not before adding two wards to the ring and stone. These Runes warded the ring against anything non-human from touching it, and from the spirit within the ring from escaping, insuring Nicolas was permanently trapped within.

As Nicolas had already attempted to close the rift Nadya had created, she then allowed it to close, trapping the ring elsewhere.

Now, trapped within the jaws of a petrified Aspect of Leo, Aphrodite forced Nicolas to agree to restore Scrooge to his original form and then do the same for the boy.

Nicolas agreed and Scrooge animated the Aspect to release him, reached to restored Scrooge to flesh when fate intervened. It was at this very moment that the barrier dropped and John, who had been waiting patiently for his shot took it. His bullet destroyed Nicolas’ skull, killing his body instantly. His hand brushed against Scrooge as he fell restoring him, but his body now dead could not restore the boy. Nicolas, with his body dead, still remained imprisoned in his ring, now banished to another location.

The Circus

It was now, that Aphrodite shone. She produced the map that was given to her by Nadya and spoke with the Ringmaster, detailing the locations that had been identified prior. She agreed to bring the Denarii Coin and the Aqua Vitae back to the circus, and that as soon as the Ringmaster returned, they would make the exchange and be given the Leo Zodiac Medallion.

The exchange was made, when the Ringmaster returned with his son, who had, oddly enough been well taken care of in the company of a couple living in the apartment complex. The exchange was performed and the group was given the Medallion drawing the situation to a close.

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On Both Sides of the Sky
Season 1, Episode 4

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The Next target

The group was assembled together on June 20, 1880 by Renette Villefort for assignment to the next mission concerning the acquisition of the Zodiac Medallions. As was usual, Renette explained that the Pythia had provided some details of the next acquisition. In this case, it was believed to be the Cancer Zodia, because of the timing. Per the Pythia’s instruction, they had to board a train in Vienna. Austria-Hungary and travel to Moscow, Russia. The Pythia indicated that the first signs of the issue would present themselves while they were aboard the train. This rule out traveling to Moscow with the help of either Cyprus Archer or Amelia Archer.

But there was one slight hiccup in starting the investigation; the Pythia had also indicated that John Tidewater needed to be present as well and that his presence and assistance would be crucial to the group. John, however had indicated to Renette that he would not be available, as he was going on a speaking engagement to Copenhagen, Denmark which could not be cancelled. He had also indicated that he was considering leaving the Society, as he felt his time was better served elsewhere.

His unavailability would place the success of the mission at risk, and so Renette requested Aphrodite to intervene and convince John to attend the mission. Aphrodite agreed, but wanted to use Amelia to take her to Copenhagen. Her plan was to reschedule the speaking event and preferably arrange a better one later in the month in it’s place. Renette agreed, and Amelia was asked to conduct Aphrodite and Eve to Copenhagen.

The Copenhagen Connection

Amelia transported the two to Copenhagen, near the primary loading docks for the city. As the trio had no information concerning the schedule nor location for the supposed speaking engagement, they needed to figure out where they should go to undertake this portion of their plan. Eve suggested that they head to the local Trade and Tariffs office for assistance, and the trio hired a cab driver to take them where they needed to be.

Once they managed to get into the cab, they suddenly realized that they did not have any krone, and would be unable to pay the driver. They weer able to convince him to take him to the bank, first, however, where they made a monetary exchange. They then continued on their way.

Upon their arrival at the Trade and Tariffs Office, they paid the cab driver to wait for them, and then went inside. There, they questioned one of the clerks who was working to assist them in locating Tidewater’s speaking engagement. The group was surprised to find that he was not speaking at the university nor any of the museums in the city. They learned instead that he was conducting a speaking engagement and a book signing for a less-than-reputable book seller. Armed with the book seller’s address, and the information for the University Anthropology department, The tree set off to see what sort of deal they could arrange with the book seller, to best free up Tidewater’s schedule for the mission, without impacting his reputation or finances.

The Book Seller

Upon arriving they discovered that the Book Seller’s shop was located beyond a line in the street. This line was the extent to which the police would venture, basically making this location dangerous. Once inside they discovered that Tidewater was selling erotica to the book seller, and had agreed to sign some copies as well.

The pair, mostly Aphrodite managed to reschedule the event and negotiate a better deal for John at the same time. But they were not merely pleased with this arrangement, the duo agreed to head to the university to arrange a more prestigious speaking engagement for John.

Copenhagen Royal University

The ladies arrived at the university and made their way up to the Anthropology department, where they secured a meeting with the chair of the department. There they convinced the chair of the department to arrange a lecture for Tidewater in exchange for Eve to illustrate his book concerning evolution. this required a great deal of work, as the professor was no fan of John’s and required significant convincing before he would agree. in the end however, they were successful.

Dear John…

With Amelia’s help the ladies returned to Athens, where they made their way to the Hotel where Tidewater was staying, only to discover that he had already left for the docks. The ladies hurried there to discover that John was having his personal effects loaded aboard a long boat to be rowed out to an anchored ship off-shore. He had already sent Kofi and Aslef ahead to Copenhagen.

Aphrodite and Eve convinced him to stay for the mission, detailing their efforts to reschedule his book signing and to arrange not one, but two additional events to take its place, securing better rates for the engagements. These details however were not the main reason that John decided to stay, but he was persuaded by the more direct candid conversation that he and Aphrodite had. As a result of this, John decided to stay for the mission to Moscow.

Preparations

While the ladies had been arranging for John to join the mission, the others were making preparations. Scrooge MacLeod designed and built a life-sized articulated modular Pegasus, which was placed into a number of bags for the trip.

Yao replenished his stock of Fetishes for the trip, while George created 6 applications of concentrated Healing salve. Nadya Simza collected her components for her rituals to complete out the preparations. To round out the group Scrooge would take Harvey Smith and Carter Wesson along for the trip.

With the preparations all set, the group were transported by Amelia to Vienna, where they found a room at the Waldorf Hotel there for the night. The train would leave the following day.

One Wild Night

To pass the time, John arranged for the group to have access to the bar, where he entertained his teammates for the evening. The group played a terrible prank on him, which he was unaware of in the morning. The following morning, they ate a hearty breakfast before catching their train to Moscow.

All Aboard!

The group traveled for two days on the train, moving southeast to Stevastopol before turning north towards Moscow. however, their trip was interrupted in the moderate sized Russian city of Dmitrov. There, the tracks were blocked by a mass of people, forcing the train to stop more rapidly than planned.

We’re being boarded!

As the train rolled to a stop a massive number of people, moving in seeming unison, stormed the train. As they burst into the cars, the group evacuated the train to the best of their ability, as the sheer numbers prevented any other choices. Scrooge crawled out of one of the windows, escaping the mass of people for the moment. Yao ripped out one of the windows in the sleeping car and grabbing Wesson managed to escape out the now gaping hole onto the tracks. Eve, Aphrodite, John and Aeric escaped the train when John pounded a hole in the ceiling of the dining car and boosted the others on to the roof of the train. Nadya and Smith were separated from the group during the confusion and their escape from the train was unconfirmed.

Yao and Wesson caught up to Scrooge and the three decided t make their way towards the possible sanctuary of a nearby Russian Orthodox Church, St Joachim of Rila. Meanwhile, The group trapped on the roof of the train jumped to the roof of the depot and made their way rapidly above the crowd and jumped into the street below.

There Aeric directed his companions to run, as he stepped forward to create a powerful barrier of energy to stop the horde from following the group as they attempted to escape. John followed a short distance and prepared to cover Aeric’s escape.

As the group retreated from the train depot, Aeric’s barrier failed, and he was swarmed by the mob. John, taking action used his rifle to shoot out the supports holding up the massive water tower above the depot, causing it to collapse and knock down the mob with a massive rush of water. John then jumped into the ricketboard of a nearby carriage, but finding no reins for the team, transferred to the lead horse and used his skill to guide the racing carriage towards his teammates, trying to doge members of the thinner crowd. He picked up George, Aphrodite and Eve and headed towards the church.

Meanwhile, Yao tried to toss Wesson aboard the moving carriage but missed, causing the cowboy to be run over by the carriage. This not only badly injured the man, but it caused the carriage to flip, throwing George, Aphrodite and Eve from the carriage and injuring John in the fall.

Yao and scrooge, stopped to recover Wesson, placing him upon some of the broken portions of the carriage for stability and carried him towards the church. As the team approached the building, John destroyed the lock on the gate and shattered one of the windows in the door to facilitate entry into the building easier.

The group made the church, closed and barred the door and decided to assess their situation.

It’s Alive!

The first order of business was Wesson. It was determined that he was very dead, killed in the impact with the carriage. Working together, Eve reset his bones, while George began using his concentrated healing salve on the injuries. When Eve added an electrical shock to the mix, Wesson began to rapidly heal, his body becoming a prime example of the species, stronger, more agile and more virulent then he had been prior. This left George with only 1 application of the concentrated salve.

Aeric lives.

While the group was attending to Wesson, Aphrodite found a better vantage point to survey the area. She was able to spot Aeric sneaking away from the chaos of the mob. She returned downstairs in the church and recruited Wesson to help her locate and bring Aeric back to the church.

They found him in an empty home, not far from the tracks. His tattoos were missing and he seemed exhausted. They recovered him and the three returned to the church.

The group settled in hoping that Nadya and Smith might reappear and the group be reunited. As they waited they discussed the strange purple blotches found on the skin and the blood-red eyes of those in the mob, as well as the existence of thirteen columns of reddish smoke rising into the air over the town.

Separated but not Separate

Nadya and Smith had managed to escape the train and take refuge in a two story house not far from the train depot. The pair were forced to wait inside as the mob milled about looking for them in the streets outside. During this time, The pair made a few observations and preparations of their own.

Among the observations was the children that seemed to be afflicted. They seemed to be acting like rapid scouts, racing through the city, looking for stragglers or potential targets. Their speed and small size could prove dangerous. Additionally, the pair realized that the mob was beginning to disperse in small increments, and that they seemed focused on ground level searches.

After noting these details, the pair made a few basic preparations. They located a couple of additional knives from the kitchen of the house they were hiding within. Smith made some smoke balls, that could be used for signaling or diversion. to make them he used pith resin, honey and bread flour. These ingredients burned readily when ignited and produced a thick gray smoke that smelled nasty and burned the eyes. The smoke was particularly thick as well offering concealment after extended burning.

While Smith was making these devices, Nadya cut out a pane of glass from an upstairs window and sent Jango, her Raven, to scout for the rest of the team. Jango returned not long afterwards and indicated that the group had taken refuge in a large building 6 blocks away. This was the church that the group had hidden within.

So, armed with four of these “bombs”, knowledge of the groups location and a plan. The pair set out to make their way to the church. Nadya attempted to use the roof tops, but found the path difficult and joined Smith on the ground. Slowly they made their way to the church, and entered through the back door of the building.

Reunited and It Feels so Good!

After being reunited the group conducted a thorough body inspection. It was determined that Aeric, Aphrodite and George were infected, as they were exhibiting the purple splotches that also afflicted the mob. This led the group to propose that the affliction may be passed by touch, as those afflicted had made direct skin-to-skin contact with the members of the mob.

The purple splotches seemed similar to Leprosy, yet could not be the same. Nadya remembered a story of the city of Aphek in the holy land being emptied of it’s inhabitants after a powerful Arab sorcerer, named Saphoas used red smoke to cause the inhabitants to throw themselves from the walls of the city, as if guided there against their will.

This made George question the possibility that thew group was dealing with some sort of Alchemical issue that was also being used by the Zodia.

The group decided that they needed to gather additional information, and so they broke into three groups to do so. The first group would be responsible for maintaining the church as a base of operations. This would consist of Scrooge, Nadya, Smith and Wesson. They would stand by to help anyone returning as needed.

The second group would head to the Barber Surgeon’s shoppe that had been spotted on the way to the church. This group would consist of Aeric, George and Eve. Their goal would be to gather some items to help George to make additional salve that may have an affect upon the disease.

The Third Group would be Aphrodite, Yao and John. They would select a random fire/smoke column and investigate discreetly. Their goal was to see if they could acquire a sample that George could test.

The Library Bonfire

The column of smoke that the group selected was the fire burning at the Dmitrov Public Library. The group arrived to find that the bonfire was located in a large open intersection adjacent to the library. The fire was actively under guard by perhaps 15 individuals. Another undetermined number were bringing fuel for the fire from the adjacent library. Prior to their departure, Aphrodite had created a small sample collector using a fine piece of cloth, water and a sealed jar. She hoped to get close enough to the fire to capture some smoke particles and return them to George for study. She left a similar sample container with Yao and attempted to infiltrate the library to gain access to the fire.

Aphrodite managed to sneak into the library, where she witness the systematic destruction of the furniture and books to convert them into fuel for the flames. She attempted to sneak towards the fire, hoping to avoid any direct contact for as long as possible but was thwarted when she encountered a pair of girls, obviously afflicted that were running around the perimeter of the room.

They accosted her, demanding that she give them her hands, quite literally, and demonstrating what was wanted by ordering another afflicted individual to do the same- who summarily cut off their hands with a hatchet. When Aphrodite refused, the alarm was raised and the afflicted workers rushed towards her.

Aphrodite managed to escape the library by body-checking some workers that appeared at the exit. However, she realized she could not easily escape and took refuge on a nearby rooftop. With the swarm throwing themselves from the Library roof or climbing up the side of the building to reach her, things began to look bleak for Aphrodite.

However, upon seeing a shift in attention, Yao seized the initiative and pushed a steam powered truck into the bonfire, scattering the guards, some of which purposefully stepped into the path in an attempt to stop the vehicle. When it reached the fire, the boiler exploded, killing or scattering many of the guards and damaging windows and members of the mob nearby. It also scattered the flames.

The explosion gave Aphrodite a much needed avenue for escape, and she took it. John joined her and they headed back to the church to wait for Yao.

Meanwhile, Yoa charged down towards the fire in an attempt to collect the sample. He misjudged the extent of the damage however and was badly burned collecting the sample. He did, however succeed, and he also uncovered the source of the reddish-smoke, some sort of odd looking pottery known as a Sudno Dzhomon.

This resilient clay pot was filled with holes spewing out the red smoke, and was buried deep beneath the bonfire laying in a bed of coals. It remained undamaged despite the explosion caused by the overheated boiler.

Yao escaped and made his way back to the church.

Upon their arrival there, it was discovered that all three of the members of that group were now infected. Yao was worst afflicted, followed by Aphrodite and then John, showing that there may be a second, airborne vector to consider in the consideration of the disease.

The Barber of Creepyville

While the Library team was headed towards their target, the barbershop team had carefully made their way down the mob infested street to the barber shop that they had spotted earlier. They then slipped inside and prepared to locate the ingredients that George needed.

They were, however, accosted by the barber, Stas Smirnoy. He was armed with a hunting shotgun and was very concerned that the three were infected. This was confirmed, but the group managed to put the barber at ease. They learned that there was knowledge of the Zodia in the town. According to the barber, the Zodia had been the protectors of the city of Dmitrov for centuries. However, recently one of the Zodia, had become political and had failed in an attempt to kill Tsar Alexander I. He fled to Bulgaria, but in reprisal, the other three members of his family had been killed by the Tsar so that they would no longer pose a threat to the throne.

The group learned that a building bearing the mark of an Alchemist had been in town, but it had been destroyed on the first night of the events, which had begun about a week prior. This added credibility to George’s theory that the smoke was alchemical in nature. They learned that the Police, Firefighters and Home Guard had been among the first targets and that there was a chance that some of the plants George was looking for may be at the University.

In a more somber moment, they also learned that the barber had imprisoned 60 people in his basement, keeping them in cages meant for large dogs, as he had run a kennel prior, and that one of them was his own mother. Additionally he offered to imprison the members of the group for their own good and promised them a good christian burial when they died.

The group managed to also acquire some camphor and returned to the church, when they heard an explosion, which they later discovered had been the boiler in the vehicle that Yao had destroyed.

Returning to the Church

When they all returned back to the church they shared information, This prompted them to consider their next course of action. relocating to the University, where a fire was known to burn, and developing a means to extinguish the fires. The night stretched onward as the group deliberated, making it obvious that it would only be a matter of time before they were discovered and/or another train would arrive, providing the now confirmed Zodia with additional reinforcements.

Relocation

After some additional discussion, the group decided that their next best move would be to attempt to locate the University in the hopes of locating additional supplies, knowledge and perhaps an opportunity to get a closer look at the fire generating the red smoke.

John had already identified a likely site for the University from the bell-tower, giving the group a rough direction of travel from the church. Many of the members of the group were beginning to feel the effects of the infection as it coursed through their bodies, and they hoped that they could find some additional information soon.

To make the trip easier, and to draw away any pursuers, The group tied a stack of books to the bell rope and then perched them on the edge of the tower. As John and Smith moved ahead of the group they would guide the team safely past any roving patrols. Once they had neared the intended site, John would use a low charge round to shoot the stack of books ringing the church bell wildly, drawing any rovers towards the Church the team had just abandoned.

They slowly made their way forward and once the team had reached the wall at the perimeter of the university, and were hidden from view, John “rang the bell”, drawing all but the thirteen guards away from the fire at the university.

The University

Once the roamers had left the grounds at the university, the group scaled the short wall and entered the University grounds proper. They made their way to the closet building which turned out to be dedicated to botanical sciences. They discovered the first floor and a significant portion of the second floor stripped of flammables, but found the third floor and the roof top garden intact.

A few interesting things, that may prove useful later but had limited immediate value. The group moved back down stairs and decided to skirt the larger building to reach a second smaller building which they hoped may contain a chemistry lab.

Upon reaching the far side of the building, the group discovered a group of about 20 children sleeping in a huddle near the building. Remembering the story about the wickedness of these children from Aphrodite’s encounter at the library. The team decided to use the Troll Dust that George had made to put all the children to sleep. While this would immobilize them, it would require someone to administer a dose to each child individually.

Nadya agreed to undertake this task. She spent a few moments composing herself and preparing for the task before her, before carefully sneaking in among the nest of children and dosing each with the troll dust, expending their reserve.She was able to do this without being detected and was was able to eliminate the threat the children posed without violence.

Upon reaching the third building the group decided to begin their investigation at the roof, which proved devoid of anything useful. However, in descending through the building, they were able to locate a microscopy lab, and a chemicals storeroom.

In the lab, Eva prepared slides from the water and fabric that Yao had used to collect smoke at the library. She then took thin samples of infected skin from Aeric and Yao, and prepared further slides. She and George were then able to view the samples, identifying small black objects and minuscule crustaceans in the samples. Eve was able to observe some of these crustaceans hatching from the smaller dark objects, which were now identifiable as eggs.

Armed with this new information the group began to consider their options. George began to rework his formula for his healing salve, ideally to include some formic acid, since it is known to be lethal to crustaceans of all types. However, they could only identify a gallon of Carbolic acid in the store room, so they decided to bring it along in case it was useful.

Meanwhile as the majority of the group was looking through the building, Nadya decided to leave the building and acquire one of the children that she had previously affected with the Troll Dust. She took the child to the roof, and drew several circles around her for her protection and then proceeded to use her as a Foci, in an attempt to isolate the location of the Zodia in the city.

Nadya was surprised to find such a strong connection present and as she began to trace the connection back towards the Zodia, The Zodia manifested inside the child. It threatened Nadya, who responded with a warning that the Zodia was within one of her binding circles.

The Zodia, seemed to have the ability to remain connected to it’s servants, as it immediately dispatched the townsfolk towards the University. The thirteen that had been guarding the fire, charged towards the building the group occupied, changing the situation significantly.

Still The Zodia seemed unconcerned about being within the circle and began to gnaw at the girl’s wrists, an act that would eventually kill her forcing the Zodia out of the binding circle. In order to save the girl, Nadya knocked her unconscious, rendering the Zodia out of the circle and back towards it’s own body. Nadya bandaged the girl.

Meanwhile, Eve spotted the oncoming thirteen Afflicted and gave warning to the others. She drew the mob into the lecture halls on the first floor to slow them, providing an opportunity for the others to escape the building.

As Nadya was still on the roof, and spotted the Aspect of Cancer closing in on the University. hoping to draw it away from the rest of her group, she leaped the 25-feet and one floor up between buildings to draw the creature away from the building the remainder of the team was within.

As the stairs were blocked, the group headed to the roof, with the exception of Eve, who made her way outside to the building that Nadya had landed upon, and Scrooge who had grabbed a short bookcase and charged down the stairs, sweeping the thirteen Afflicted aside.

During this time, the Aspect had managed to climb the building upon which Nadya had alighted, but he was unable to locate her, as she had decided to hang by her hands from the far edge of the building. In this way, the Aspect began to produce a great flood of the red smoke, which carried the contagion, infecting Nadya.

At around the time that Eve arrived on the roof, Aeric decided to throw the jar of acid across the gap between to the two buildings striking the Aspect squarely. The acid burned through the shell rapidly, as it began to react with the Calcium in the Aspects shell. This caused the Aspect to fall from the building, destroying it for a short while.

Eve rushed to save Nadya, whom she rescued from a potential fall.

Knowing they had little time remaining before the mob arrived, the group made their way to the courtyard. There they quickly located a nearby steam powered car, with a boiler full of water. Yao pushed the vehicle into the flames which exploded, scattering the flames.

They then recover the Sudno Dzhomon from the flames. They doused it in the fountain, which turned bright red. They were then able to open it to reveal the source of the disease. They decided to take the Sudno with them, to prevent the Zodia from recovering it.

They then decided to leave the university and take up shelter at an unusual colored house.

The House

At the house, George collected stinging nettles and extracted the formic acid from their leaves. He then added it to a new batch of salve. The infected members of the group were treated and a rapid clearing of the infection followed, freeing the members of the group from their affliction.

Once this was done, Aphrodite decided to search the house for any sort of lady’s skin cream that may be used as a substitute for the enhanced Healing salves, as a medium for carrying the formic acid to the infected. While doing so, she heard a suspicious “thump” from upstairs. Concerned that there may be an afflicted in the house, she grabbed Eve and the pair headed upstairs into the attic.

The Priest and his Charge.

The two women were surprised when a Russian Orthodox priest named Lyosha Popov leaped out from his hiding spot to strike Aphrodite on the head with his crosier. After some apologies and explanations, he realized they were not Afflicted as soon as Aphrodite cried out. He told the women he had been hiding with a young girl, named, Varya Egorov whom he claimed as his charge. Eve disarmed the priest and they led him down to the remainder of the group.

There, they learned more of what had befallen the city from the priest and the girl. The group realized they needed to recover their strength, so Eve and the priest went to a nearby creamery, where they entered the icehouse to recover some buttermilk and some water.

These would be used to supplement their hardtack biscuits and tinned pressed ham that John had brought along for the trip. The group treated Aphrodite’s injuries and then rested near a warm smokeless fire Yao built in the wood stove.

The Forays

At about 9 pm the group rose from their rest and planned their foray into the city square to investigate the mechanical fire engine said to be near the burned down esoteric book store. To these ends, The group split into three teams.

The first team would consist of Nadya, Yao and Varya. The team’s goal would be to capture one of the Afflicted without being seen or detected and bring him to an underground location to use him to goad the Zodia, while the second team attempted the inspection and possible recovery of the Fire Engine. Varya knew of a place, that had once been the powder magazine for the garrison, but was now a shop for surveyors and miners. She led the team there, climbed down through the chimney and opened the heavy barred door for the others to allow them entry.

Once inside they made their way down into the basement, where Nadya chose her site and made preparations in anticipation of using her ritual magic to bind and vex the Zodia once he was summoned. Varya would keep watch upstairs while Yao went to acquire an unwilling subject from the nearby Dmitrov Home Guard Barracks.

The Second team consisted of Eve, John, Aeric, George, Aphrodite, Scrooge, Smith, Wesson and Father Popov. Their goal was to infiltrate into the town square, inspect the fire engine, right it if needed and remove it from the square for future use. If time permitted, they also wanted to search the remains of the Esoteric Bookstore in the hopes of finding Alchemical supplies, as the owner was a suspected Alchemist. When the team was ready, they would signal Nadya using one of the gray smoke bombs to begin her interrogation/goading of the Zodia. This was hoped would prevent him from manifesting the Aspect in the square or correctly directing his mob against those attempting to work with the fire engine.

Action is for the Brave

The group moved towards the square, carefully, but Scrooge tripped over some debris alerting some nearby Afflicted to their presence. They spotted George and gave chase. George decided to outrun them and double back to the site as the others waited.

Aeric had the other’s hold their position as he was certain that there was a second group of Afflicted nearby. As they waited, he had Aphrodite set off the gray smoke bomb to signal Nadya that it was time to initiate her portion of the plan.

While the team had been getting into place at the square, Yao had used his incredible stealth to sneak past the guards and into the Barracks, where he managed to isolate and successfully ambush one of the Afflicted without being seen. However, Yao noted that immediately upon rendering the captured Afflicted unconscious, the others nearby began a search pattern for the missing individual.

Yao therefore took the captured Afflicted to a random location to see if it was possible that the others were capable of tracking it. Satisfied that it was not the case, he returned to the Dmitrov Powdery, where Varya let him inside and barred the door behind him.

With the subject in palace, Nadya created several circles and waited for the signal. When Varya reported the column of gray smoke, she began her efforts to goad the Zodia. She summoned him, upon awakening the captured Afflicted and the two bantered threateningly until Nadya realized that the Zodia had identified their position and had sent a mob to kill them. As the mob began ramming the heavy door upstairs with a make-shift battering ram, She knocked out the Afflicted, and the three were forced to flee. Varya fled up the chimney and on to the rooftops, while Yao ripped up the grating in the floor that led down to the storm drains. He and Nadya escaped through there, replacing the grate afterwards. They headed down hill towards the river.

In the meantime, the plan seemed to be working. Aeric gave the team the go ahead, and they moved towards the Fire Engine, only to have the Aspect of Cancer arrive at the square. Aphrodite and scrooge fled as the Cancer began flooding the square with his contagion, they choose a building with a Glockenspiel as a rally point. Meanwhile George had returned to the square, and Eve had rushed to the Fire Engine to see if she could right it.

In an attempt to buy his team more time, Aeric goaded the Aspect and fled the square, with the creature in pursuit. However, John using his rifle, created a tangle of messes that partially trapped the aspect, rendering it temporarily immobile.

The Priest seeing his opportunity charged forward, proclaiming his faith in an effort to strike down the creature. As he rushed forward, Aphrodite, perhaps intending to warn the priest off, used her telepathy to deliver a message. However, this had an unintended side-effect, the priest redoubled his efforts.

Meanwhile, Eve continued to work to right the steam engine, but it was proving too heavy. George had collected a massive block of stone from a nearby construction works and carried it to the roof of a building overlooking the Aspect. He then pushed the block over, slamming it into the Zodia’s shell. This coincided with the priest landing a powerful blow against the creature, which seemingly killed it.

The creature exploded into a mist of red ooze, seemingly destroyed for now.

Aphrodite reached the rally point with Scrooge close behind. Upon opening the door to the building the pair found themselves facing an old man with a rifle. He quickly realized they were not Afflicted and sent them upstairs to safety. Meanwhile, the Priest, seemingly unstoppable in his faith manged somehow to overturn the fire engine, where the team realized that the pump tank was badly damaged and unable to hold water.

The group retreated from the square before any other Afflicted could be summoned to their position and joined Aphrodite and Scrooge at the rally point.

The Dmitrov Partisan Movement

The group at the Rally point were introduced to the two members of the self-proclaimed Dmitrov Partisan Movement. They were Alexi Nimsk and Vlad Stolga. They were happy to see other survivors that were not infected, and were glad for the reinforcement. The pair indicated that they had another member of their group in the city and they would introduce them as soon as he returned.

The Volga River Docks

As Yao and Nadya continued towards the river, they eventually reach a position where the river was backed up into the pipe. As they were considering their options, a flood of River Crabs began to pour into the pipe. The Zodia seemed to finally figure out where they had gone.

They back tracked up the pipe a short distance, ripping out one of the street grates and emerging near the Dmitrov Volga River Docks. There, they encountered an individual named, Leninov “Lenni” Zayorkoff, who was a soldier. He was planning on destroying a nearby barge that was being repaired by the afflicted. It was his belief that they would be using it for moving the infected out of the city. He was the third member of the Dmitrov Partisan Movement. He set the explosive, and Yao snuck inside the boat and planted the charge.

Along the way, both Yao and Nadya noticed that the Afflicted seemed to be running on autopilot, as they did not react to them in any way. The three retreated back to the partisan headquarters, the rally point, picking up Varya along the way.

A New plan

Once the group reconvened and information as shared. The members of the Society discovered that another train was supposed to arrive in roughly two hours. A plan was discussed to destroy the tracks, but Lenni volunteered to ride down the rail line and stop the train well short of the city. The others agreed and he departed immediately.

They now had a map of the city and the locations of all the fires marked upon it. The group decided that they would conduct another plan, this one to limit the movement of the Afflicted and irritate the Zodia to no ends. The group would divide into two teams. One team would draw and deal with the Aspect, while the other would attack the train depot.

The second team’s goal would be to disable the train engines already at the deport, rendering them useless. Put out the fire at the depot, And acquire a large shipment of baking soda that had been part of the cargo of the overturned train.

While this was underway, the first team would draw the Zodia’s attention, deal with the aspect and draw the mob away from the train depot.

With the plan decided, the group would implement it at midnight to maximize fatigue and darkness.

Seeking Guidance

To help by perhaps discovering some additional details, Aphrodite asked Aeric to assist her with meditation and focus to help her use her prescient dreaming prior to the launch of the attack. Aeric agreed and the pair retired to a quiet room with Eve to monitor Aphrodite, to apply special Tibetan wards and provide instruction for the meditation.

Implementing the plan

After Aphrodite’s Dream was shared with the group, a basic plan was devised. The plan consisted of three groups, each with a different agenda. The first group, consisting of Scrooge, Wesson, Eve, George, John, and Yao would raid the Dmitrov Train Station, with the goal to disable the two trains on site, collect up a shipment of baking soda to extinguish fires. This would prevent any escape of the Afflicted by train, provide an opportunity to extinguish a few of the fires and draw the attention of the Zodia to the area. The second group would consist of Nadya and Aeric. Their entire purpose was to goad the Zodia and draw it’s attention in an attempt to split it’s focus. The third group consisted of Aphrodite, Smith, Popov and Varya. This groups task was to confront the Zodia and try to acquire its medallion.

During the discussion of the events, it was discovered that the man who previously claimed to be the Barber was not, but was, in fact, the Alchemist, whose book store had burned at the outset. It was further discovered that the man thought to be the Zodia was in fact the Barber, Pyotr Lev, whose radical ideas seemed to be the cause of the events unfolding in Dmitrov.

The Clerk, Alexi Nimsk, agreed to guide the first team, through the storm drains to the docks, and then the other two teams to their staging points. Leninov Zayorkoff would hold the acting headquarters to provide a rally point as needed for those in need of rest, rescue or retreat.

Putting the Plan into Action

As planned the teams used the underground storm drains to move into position. Waiting until a pre-arranged time, Nadya’s team deployed the gray smoke bomb to signal the others to begin their portion of the plan.

At the train station, the group took refuge inside a closed box wagon, which Scrooge then possessed. Using his power, he carefully moved the wagon closer to the site, backing the opening directly towards one of the overturned car without tipping off the enemy.

As the group unloaded, Yao noticed that a group of the Afflicted had managed to upright and re-track the steam engine and the collier car. As he realized that they were beginning to pull away from the depot, headed towards a second city, he realized that the Afflicted could potentially spread their influence beyond Dmitrov.

Rushing from behind cover, he charged the steam engine and using a burst of strength, overturned the train car, warping the boiler and casuing it to explode. Caught at point-blank range, with no means to avoid the explosion, Yao was killed instantly by the blast.

As the explosion rung out from the train depot, Nadya attempted to taunt the Cancer, but was unable to gain his attention. Instead of draWing him into splitting his attentions between two events/locations, the Aspect maintained singular focus on the events at the depot.

As his minions became aware of the presence of their unwanted guests, they surged forward, forcing the train depot team to fight a vanguard action taking the few bags of baking soda they had managed to off-load from the overturned train. As the minions changed their tactics to boarding the remaining train, John used his rifle to punch seevral large holes in the boiler which effectively disabled it, as it was unable to build up pressure or steam inside the boiler.

Meanwhile, angry at being ignored, Nadya began to weave fate lines, forcing the Zodia to take notice of her presence. She used a modified form of Joss Paper inscribed with mystical symbols which extinguished several of the fires around the city. This acheived the desired effect of splitting the Zodia’s attentions. He dispatched several of his minions to dela with the new threat.

Signaled, by the relocation of the exterior guards at the Dmitrov City Hall Plaza, Aphrodite, Smith and Varya made their way across the square towards the building. There they encountered Afflicted that had been painted to appear stone-like. There was a short fight, but Aphrodite and Varya left Smith to handle that aspect and to secure their line of retreat.

The two made their way to the roof of the building, where they finally encountered the Cancer Zodia, Pyotr Lev. A fight ensued, but Lev was defeated, when Varya managed to steal his medallion. Aphrodite pushed him from the rooftop, where he shattered into clay pieces upon impact.

It was at this time, that the real mechanistic behind the events in Dmitrov showed himself. He was none other than the pretend Barber, Stas Smirnoy, who revealed himself to be the Alchemist Saphoas, who was also the Capricorn Zodia, and behind the events taking place around the city. As the Capricorn rose up to strike at Aphrodite, Lyosha Popov struck him on the head with his crosier killing him.

As the train team rushed from fire to fire, smothering as many of them as possible with their purloined baking soda, Nadya’s team headed towards city hall to help Aphrodite’s team.

A fight ensued upon the roof, and when things were beginning to look bleak, Varya, leaped upon the old man, and drove him off the roof. The two slammed into the fountain in the plaza, but only the Zodia was injured. Varya survived and recovered the Capricorn Zodiac Medallion.

With the mob leaderless, the team was able to extinguish the remaining fires burning in the city, which reverted the inhabitants back to normal. The team left the city, taking Varya to Athens with them. The girl would be employed at the Grecco Theatre as a cigarette girl.

As a result, the team returned to the Dafni with two Zodiac Medallions.

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The House of Broken Angels
Season 1, Episode 3

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The Briefing

On May 20, 1880, the group was assembled in the Dafni by Renette Villefort and given their next task. The team was advised that the Pythia had another vision. And that this vision was directly related to the Gemini Medallion.

The Vision

In the vision, the Pythia advised that she witnessed someone stealing the Gemini Medallion. This in turn led to a terrible series of events which resulted in worldwide devastation and destruction. The Pythia’s suggestion was that the group would be able to steal the Medallion first and prevent the later theft, in turn preventing the destruction she foresaw.

Just One Tiny Little problem…

There was just one tiny little problem… The Medallion was locked away inside a vault located somewhere in London, England. The Location of this vault, known as the Eternal Vault had been lost. The site originally belonged to the catholic church, but with the destruction of church records in The Great London Fire of 1666, and the murder and persecution of priests during the Protestant Period in England, all records and memory of the site had been lost.

London

It was therefore suggested that the team travel to London, with Cyprus’ assistance and gain an audience with the Maaramphium and artifact forged from Primal Clay, said to possess great knowledge. This object’s abilities were enhanced to allow it to see into the future and past to a limited degree, thanks to the presence of another artifact known as the Sands of Time.

Cyprus Archer would make the necessary introductions at the Locus Antiquis Diebus, the Venatori vault that contained the artifact. He would then arrange access to the artifact to allow the team to question it.

After opening a short portal to the Tidewater Estate, the team settled into the expansive estate and prepared to travel to the Locus via the Tidewater Carriage.

The Locus Antiquis Diebus

The carriage arrived at the Locus, which was hidden in an old cemetery mausoleum with a family name of “Venatus.” Upon entering, Cyprus used a thaumaturgical spell to reveal a descending staircase, which led beneath the floor of the mausoleum and into the Locus.

There they met with the overseer for the Locus, Phineas Genwyck, the Curator of the site. Phineas was unhappy to see Cyprus, and it became apparent that they had parted ways on unpleasant terms prior. However, the fact that Renette had sent Cyprus, seemed to assuage any serious objections and Phineas granted the team access to the Artifact. He also offered Nadya Simza and George Papageorge an Earworm, which would facilitate their ability to communicate while in London.

The Maaramphium

The Maaramphium was located in a circular room. Cyprus advised the group that it was a somewhat egotistic artifact and that compliments would probably be helpful. Evangeline Frankenstein was selected by the team to question the Maarampium, a task which she performed well. She was directed to seek out a Professor at Kings College who was a researcher for the Venatori. His name was Rory Culpepper.

upon leaving the chamber the group encountered members of the Cabal Obliatum, a faction within the Venatori Umbrata determined to withdraw the organization from the Unseelie Accords. They all seemed to know Cyprus, and asked him to join them. They were Baltasar Ketola, Azara Rolse and Simone Veritie. each dangerous in their own way. Cyprus did not commit, and the two groups sized each other up for a potential future conflict.

King’s College

The team traveled to King’s College to locate the professor, but was uncertain in which department he may be found. After some debate, it was decided that they should look in the philosophy department, which turned out to be the correct answer. It became readily apparent that he was not quite sane, and forewarned with the knowledge that he was a White Court Vampire, and had likely been touch by an Old One.

It turned out that he was something of a Shakespearean, and Aphrodite Vago agreed to let him feed upon her in exchange for a clue he had located in the Lost Diary Folio which had at one time belonged to William Shakespeare. The folio had at one time contained all the clues needed to locate the Eternal vault, but the pages containing them had been torn out and secreted away, in an attempt to protect the location from the enemies of the church.

The clue the group received was:


“Before the stage
Within this winded sphere,
Blackened by Hades wrath,
beside waters brackish and despoiled,
In rush-filled pit,
beneath cannonade in ale cask,
kept hid by groundlings olde,
alights the gaoler’s chest.”

George was certain that the first clue referred to the Globe Theater, once owned by William Shakespeare. They were able to decipher the meanings of the clues, but were not immediately able to pinpoint the location of the Globe theater directly.

There were two iterations of the theater, the first which had burned down in 1613, and a second which had been dismantled by Puritans in 1644-45. This meant that there was no standing globe theater and that the group would need to figure out the site where the first theater had stood, and then further determine the orientation, so they could locate the exact spot where the chest would be located containing the second clue on their journey.

To help with this, they first needed to narrow down the date, which was easily done by engaging a professor of history in a very one-sided argument on the subject, which provided all the date related information that the group required. The professor also directed them to peruse the land records form the period, which conveniently enough were available in the college Library in the rare books section.

King’s College Library

The group arrived at the Library, and John Tidewater was able to gain access to the rare books vault for Aphrodite and George. There George met Carlotta Brianza, whom was later identified to him as a Red Court Vampire. At the time however, she was rather helpful, even pointing him towards the very books he was seeking. It is likely that she was unaware of his affiliations or search, as the group had been warned that the members of the Red Court were also looking for the Eternal Vault.

George was able to locate enough information to identify the rough lot of land that the Globe had once occupied, and when this was revealed to Aeric Falkenberg, a distraction was created, which was enhanced by Nadya. The end result allowed George to abscond with the book, while creating maximum chaos in the library throwing off any pursuers. John remained behind to thwart any potential legal pursuit and would rejoin the group later that evening.

The Globe Theater

The group traveled to the lot which had once held the Globe Theater indicated by the book, and as the hour was getting late, found no real interference with their efforts to walk the property. Nadya, performed dowsing and located a couple of dead ends, but after refining her search, located the location of the Ale Cask mentioned in the folio. Additionally, the location was confirmed by Aphrodite’s discovery of a caisson wheel adjacent to the site, which would have defined the cannonade.

The team set about uncovering the cask, using shovels. They uncovered 12 Bogmen at the site, with another 2 stuffed inside the Ale Cask.

After emptying the uncovered cask of it’s foul contents, Kofi was asked to acquire the iron lock-box from inside. He did so and the group decided it would be best to open the chest at the Tidewater Estate.

Return to the Estate

The group returned to the estate, where they opened the chest, revealing a DaVinci Puzzle Cube. Before it could be solved, suddenly Kofi collapsed, and became feverish. Evangeline and Aeric rushed to assist him, and they discovered a number of blisters forming on his hands and arms, which had been in contact with the bodies in the cask. Withdrawing some of the liquid inside, the group believed that the blisters were caused by an incredibly virulent Bubonic Plague.

While George made modifications to his healing salve by adding Silver, provided by Nadya, Aeric suddenly fell ill as well. Evangeline remained unaffected. Aeric’s, tattoos purged the disease which was purified with fire by Nadya. She also destroyed Kofi’s clothes and with the aid of the other members of the team they disinfected the area.

George and Evangeline applied the enhanced salve to Kofi’s blisters and purged the disease from his body.

The team was now able to turn their attention to the Puzzle Cube. It was Nadya, who solved it with amazing Alacrity. Her innate understanding of the ratios, revealed the puzzle to contain 5 paintings. It also opened a spring loaded storage area, which in turn yielded a pair of additional clues.

These clues were fragments of the Lost Diary Folio. the first Fragment read:

“Within the walls cold and serene,
secured by angels hardly seen,
Deep inside hollows deep,
where ancient evils locked in slumber sleep,
the twins medallion burnished gold,
and burnished coins eons old.
Of dark Gods blood and ancient threats,
of mortal woes and widow’s fret,
stripped of foot and wings be clipped,
from lights caress they rest eclipsed.”

The second fragment read:

“In the hall of Lions,
hang I proud,
cast above adored crowd,
In full delight,
all day and night,
to search beneath her robes.”

Currently it is believed that one of the fragments is a confirmation that they are on the correct track, while the other may lead to the second location in their search. The group believes that they need to visit the National Gallery to view the only painting depicted on the cube in England, the Virgin of the Rocks.

It was around this time that John returned to the estate and advised the group that he had been stopped by an unknown individual and that he and the rest of his Society members were invited to Dinner at the Duke’s Estate. The name on the invitation card read: Duke Ian Tewesbury. intrigued the group decided to attend.

The Duke’s Dinner Party

The group arrived at the Duke’s Estate at 9:00 pm sharp and were immediately shown into the parlor where a number of individuals were waiting for their arrival. The members of the Aegis Society were introduced to those present; Duke Tewesbury, Simone Noctus, Geoffrey Hawthorne, Cecil Atterleigh, and Geric Rowan.

The Duke was very clear that he understood the Society’s mission and readily identified his group as members of the Revisionist Faction, which advocated a change in the Red court leadership. Specifically they desired to replace the Red king with the Crown Prince Luis Salabert, his brother. They were firmly opposed to the Unseelie Accords, which the Society also rejected and saw opportunity to be of mutual aid.

They proposed that once the Eternal vault was located, that the members of the society advise them, so that they could recover the Blood Prince Crypt and begin their revolution in earnest. In return they would shield the group from any Royalist Faction intervention and offer them safety from prosecution once the new Prince had ascended to the throne.

They indicated that they were loosely aligned with the Cabal Obliatum a faction of the Venatori that had similar goals. After some discussion, the group agreed to aid the revisionists. But all was not as it seemed.

The Wolf Among the Sheep

One of the members of the Revisionist faction, Geric Rowan revealed himself to the group as an ally. He claimed to be a member of the Venatori, who had managed to infiltrate the Royalist faction of the Red Court and then in turn infiltrated the Revisionist faction for the Royalists. He has suggested that the group find a way to plays all the competing groups off each other, forcing the Cabal, the royalists and the revisionists into a conflict that will weaken or destroy them through the use of misinformation. He has made himself available as a resource.

Yao arrives

Early the following morning, Yao arrived at the Tidewater Estate, thanks to the assistance of Cyprus Archer. He joined his companions for an extensive breakfast, where the group brought him up to speed on the prior events leading up to the present. They detailed also the plans to visit the National Gallery, and provided him an opportunity to study the fragments recovered to date from the Lost Diary Folio. Yao was uncertain whether the two clues should be taken together or separately.

The National Gallery

Upon the group’s arrival at the National Gallery, they were surprised to discover a massive exhibit underway, entitled, “The Tidewater Expeditions into Darkest Africa.” It seemed that John had taken Aphrodite’s off-handed suggestion to assist the group by doing something at the Gallery that would draw people away from the main exhibit hall where the Virgin of the Rocks was located.

The group received directions from one of the Docents and were guided towards the Renaissance Exhibit Hall located in the east wing of the gallery, as far from the Africa exhibit as was possible. They found the wing mostly empty, except for a single Englishman sitting on a bench midway across the room. As the group spread out with several members moving to investigate the painting, the Englishman spoke, immediately revealing to Yao that he was the Blackened Denarii, Oliver Cromwell.

Almost immediately Yao sprung into action, as Cromwell drew the entire room into shadows. As the two battled, Nadya grabbed a handkerchief from George and lit it using a match to create a small pocket of illumination. This allowed the group to see the arrival of the other members of Cromwell’s group. Blocking the west exit was Yomiel while Sanja blocked the East exit. Also joining the fray was the Cabal member Baltasar Ketola.

As Chaos rapidly spread, Nadya decided to change the equation of the battle. Rushing towards the painting, she threatened to burn it, unless the Denarii and Balthazar withdrew. There were a few tense moments, but eventually, despite the cabalist’s objection, they withdrew leaving the group to their own devices. As a result of her quick thinking, Nadya stole the initiative from the enemy and forced them to withdraw. It is unclear whether this was a bluff or would have actually be an action Nadya would perform if pressed on the issue.

The Virgin of the Rocks

The team began to inspect the painting Virgin of the Rocks, which possessed several differences from the French version. Armed with the fragment from the DaVinci Cube, they attempted to determine the next clue. Evangeline decided to find a Docent who was knowledgeable about the paining in the hopes of collecting some additional information that may present itself as a clue.

The Docent went into a detailed history of the piece explaining it’s origins, it’s removal from the Monastery Chapel in Italy, and it’s eventual acquisition by the Gallery 20 years ago. He explained that the painting was torn, but the restorers were able to conduct a repair by adding a second stiffer canvas beneath the repaired original to stiffen it. He also explained that the frame surrounding the canvas was made from Olive trees brought to England by the Knights Templar during the course of the 1st or 2nd crusade. The trees can still be seen growing in the graveyard of St John the Baptist upon Walbrook chapel. The Chapel burned in the great Fire of London in 1666, but the graveyard remains.

Armed with this new information, the group realized that there was a chance that the fragment they were seeking was located between the two canvases, beneath either Mary’s or the Angel’s robes. As the Frame was bolted into the wall to prevent theft, George used his incredible strength to loosen the bolts, so the painting could be removed. As a result Nadya was able to precisely cut the second canvas backing to reveal a pocket-like space behind the original Mary’s Robes. Inside this cavity was the next fragment from the Lost Diary Folio. It reads:


“Guiding hands from on high,
beneath the stones where bodies lie,
In John’s repose,
the story goes,
Spirit And Angel Guide the way,
uncovering in night that
hidden by day,
for Prospero master
all things be done,
seek ye here
and prize be won.”

Meanwhile Back at the Tidewater Estate

The team returned to the Tidewater Estate, where they discussed the lack of viable threshold on the property. They were able to determine that there was a threshold in the servant’s quarters, and Archibald agreed to stay there with Aslef and Kofi until the investigation was completed. Meanwhile Smith and Wesson were dispatched back to Metanopoli where they would be safe from harm.

With the threat of two red Court vampire factions, the cabal and now Blackened Denarii, the group realized how precarious their position had become. In an effort to gain some assistance, Aphrodite contacted Geric Rowan using a Whisperstone that he had provided them on their first encounter. She advised him of the Cabal’s involvement with the Blackened Denarii, and gave him a small tidbit of information that he stated he would use to mislead the involved factions into an orchestrated confrontation, to see what would shake out of the results.

Afterwards the team discussed the notable absence of the other two cabal members, Simone Veritie and Azara Rolse wondering if Balthazar was working alone, or if they were on some other thread that would be troublesome. It was noted that the general habit of Venatori, perhaps doubly so with Cabal was to work alone whenever possible, leading the team to believe that Balthazar was working with the Denarii on his own.

Not one to take any additional chances, and knowing that there wasn’t any means for the main group to reside in the servant’s quarters, where the only threshold on the property existed, Nadya decided to seek out any nearby Gypsies to see if they could provide a safehaven off the beaten path.

Ucigași Gintă

Nadya, accompanied by Aphrodite rode out into the country side to locate the local Gypsy tribe in the area. They encountered the Ucigași Gintă, a tribe from the old world dedicated to Monster Hunting. The two were granted an audience with the Elder of the camp, where they made their request for asylum with the group. They told the gypsies what sorts of creatures were chasing them, and their plea was accepted. They were told that the only condition to the agreement was that the camp closed it’s borders at midnight and no one was allowed to enter or exit until dawn.

Back to the Estate

Nadya and Aphrodite returned to the estate to advise the group of their arrangement taking care to relay the restrictions provided by the Elder of the Ucigași Gintă. As a result the team planned to visit the graveyard at the site of St John the Baptist upon Walbrook during the day to attempt to figure out what they needed to do that night, in hopes of returning to the camp before midnight.

St John the Baptist upon Walbrook

The group headed to the known location of St John the Baptist upon Walbrook. They had already discovered that the church was a casualty of the Great fire of London in 1666. They had also learned that the church had not bee rebuilt, but that the graveyard associated with the church had been absorbed by the nearby St Antholin Church, keeping it active. They also learned that after the foundations of the destroyed church was removed from the site, that space was used as an expansion to the original graveyard.

A medieval era debris wall surrounded the lot, reaching a height of 3.5-meters. The wall was in good repair and unbroken save for a single gate-less arch allowing access to the premises. The wall lay adjacent to the eastern bank of the Walbrook tributary, which led to the Thames River. Upon crossing the entryway leading into the graveyard, the group could feel the results of a strong threshold. As only Humans (or once humans) living in a specific area for a long time can create thresholds it was feasible that something was actively living within the confines of the graveyard.

Upon entering the graveyard the group noted a few things. There were two ancient trees in the graveyard along the south wall. These were a White Oak and a Black Walnut tree. Additionally they were able to identify the latest burial in the graveyard was no later than 1756.

It was posited that the trees could represent the “Spirit and Angel” related in the fragment, or alternately they could be “day and night”, although it could be a literal need to return at night.

Thinking that there was a valid chance that the group was being watched, Aphrodite, George and Yao made a big show of going to the river adjacent to the graveyard and swimming out to the center to dive beneath the surface as if looking for something. They did not actually anticipate finding anything, but Aphrodite located a gravestone, which You confirmed as such, when he was able to discern the following characters carved into the worn surface -A-R-L S-Y-R-A-X 1-1-1-1-1 . Aphrodite then swam a short distance away and repeated the process, once again discovering another unexpected item; this time a ship’s bell bearing the name Tempest II. The group deciphered the letters as reading Ariel Sycorax ; names of two characters mentioned in the Tempest. The numbers were determined to be parts of a pair of years. Because of the number of numbers involved it was clear that each of the dates began with the year 1000, and ended in 10, with the second date ending in 11. This gave the possible dates, assuming they did not Predate Shakespeare, as 1510-1511, 1510-1611, 1610-1611, 1610-1711, or 1710-1711, later dates being ruled out since no burials took place in the 1800s. This was narrowed down, when it was realized that the Tempest was written in 1610-11, so this fit with the remainder of the clues.

The base of the stone was shattered as if struck by a hammer. this allowed the group to narrow down the possible graves to three all of which were located to the west of the Black Walnut tree which was believed to be representative of night. The group decided to head back to the tidewater estate and collect up some digging equipment in case they needed to dig up a grave that night.

Return to the Graveyard

That night, about an hour after dark, the group returned to the graveyard at St John the Baptist upon Walbrook bearing their digging tools. They found it impossible however to cross the threshold, preventing their initial attempts to gain access to the area. In a stroke of insight Scrooge asked the Trees for permission to enter and was then able to gain access to the graveyard, making the group wonder whether the trees had once been human. It would later be determined that they were Knights Templars transmogrified into Dodona an ancient Celtic Grove guardian possessing great powers. They are also known to be very mischievous, becoming more so as they age.

Once the group regained access to the graveyard they then set about determining their next course of action. Yao swam back out to the center of the river, but found three tombstones in total. One was the prior discovery, but the others read Prospero and Wm Speare respectively. They were also exactly identical at the broken base, meaning they had been severed by magical means, but it also meant that the stones could be reattached in any order as well.

As a result the brainstorming and rationalizing began. This was complicated by the use of the Tempest II ship bell that turned out to be a wasted effort. Eventually the group determined that the solution was to place the William Shakespeare tombstone in the center of the three broken headstones. The argument was that as an actor, he would want to be “Center Stage.” While it will never be known whether that was the best reason for the placement to be made, it was the correct answer. As a result the slab covering the grave site slid aside, revealing a locked iron box.

Remembering the last iron box they had encountered at the site of the Globe theater, the group regrouped at the Tidewater estate, where they would open the chest in relative seclusion.

Opening the Chest

The chest was opened with little difficulty. Inside was an elaborate Puzzle Sphere, intricately carves in Ivory. Once again it was Nadya who was best suited for opening the puzzle. After some deft manipulation the puzzle locked open, aligning all four openings in each of the nested spheres. Inside was a fragment of the Lost Diary Folio, which Nadya extracted with a pair of tweezers.

It reads:


“Where Plantagenet and Somerset
their conflict mind did brew,
upon the courtyard strong,
with scent of rose and yew,
Within the halls that lie between,
the hawks of higher pitch,
stands flanking there,
beside the beds a rich,
the crystal tresses to the sky,
scourge bad revolting star,
pick thee the thou bed,
but take thee care,
lest bleeding
you do paint the white rose red.”

Research

The group knew that this would be one of the more difficult clues found and retired to the library, where they grabbed every copy of Shakespeare they could find and began to pour over the copy. After some time, links were made to some of Shakespeare’s histories, and eventually the group was able to narrow the references down to Henry VI part 1, SCENE IV. London. The Temple-garden. With so many mentions in this piece, the group was certain that they had located the next stop on their seemingly endless marathon of clues.

Temple Garden and Church

The group made their way to the Temple Church, beginning their investigation outside the structure. They identified the rose beds, yew trees and olive trees, all of which were either directly mentioned in the current clue or in a prior clue indirectly. Despite searching the grounds thoroughly, however, there was no way to move forward with their investigation. After inspecting the clue again, the group determined that they should go inside the temple church, to continue their investigation.

Inside they group took in the round rotunda that comprised the oldest portion of the church. As they inspected the area, they were joined by Azara Rolse and Simone Veritie, who had obviously followed them.

After a short conversation it was revealed that Balthazar was working with the Blackened Denarii. As a result, Azara left hurriedly to confront him, while Simone remained behind. She would plead her case to be allowed to stay, noting her ability to provide support should the Denarii attack. In exchange for her help, she would be allowed to acquire any of the books held within the Vault.

She deployed some animated Voodoo Dolls as guards and then assumed the aspect of an unknown Loa. She then scattered a handful of human finger bones across the floor and raised a number of Voodoo Zombies as support.

Once they were ready, the team continued their investigations where they discovered that there were special roses on each of the four sides of the six stone columns. In keeping with the “star” theme, Aphrodite attempted to create an enclosed pentagram tracing the circle and star using her own blood to close the circle.

The ward had an immediate effect and Aphrodite disappeared in an instant, leaving the rest of the group behind.

Mental Attack

While Nadya worked to discover a means of returning Aphrodite to the group Aphrodite had her own experiences in whatever place she had been transported.

The area seemed to be a combination of manipulated real memories and illusions designed to breakdown Aphrodite’s willpower and force her into a situation where she was endangered. The initial image was a half-memory of her and Archibald sitting in the Parc d’citi in Paris discussing their upcoming plans to travel to New York. While the majority of the memory was true, there were tiny inconsistencies that Aphrodite keyed in upon that allowed her to resist the impulse to accommodate the image of her husband. After a short while thwarting the attempts of her “not-husband” trying to get her to eat or drink something, which was of great concern to her, Aphrodite found herself strangle disoriented as she was thrust into a second vision-like state.

In her second vision, she was sitting in a psychoanalysts office being asked a umber of questions related to her history and childhood. These took the form of a therapist questioning her during a session. Repeatedly the Therapist questioned her morality and even suggested that she have medications and or a drink of water to help her alleviate any anxiety she was feeling. When she refused she found herself in a new vision.

Her third vision took place in some sort of institution, where she was sitting looking out a window at the grounds below. patients were in the yard and she found herself sitting in a wheelchair. It was apparent that she was a patient there, and she didn’t seem to have any idea what she was there for. She was visited by Cyprus Archer, in her vision, but her attempts to communicate with him seemed ineffective, making her think that perhaps he was not actually present.

Her last vision was the most disturbing. Once again, the setting was an institution, and she was told that she was going to be released from care. by this point she had seemingly lost three years of her life, as she was told it was now 1883. She was led down a corridor towards what she felt to be the exit, but instead was ushered into a room that seemed to be an operating room. She was strapped down into a chair and it became very clear that they were about to perform a lobotomy upon her. She felt the pick going up her hose and watched in horror as the doctor prepared to strike the pick.

She then awoke from the nightmare, once again in the central circular room of the Temple church. Nadya had saved her just in time.

Bad News

As the group was working to gain access to the vault, The arrival of the Blackened Denarii, Oliver Cromwell, Yomiel and Sanja and the Cabalist Balthazar arrived at the site. They were held at bay for a short while by the three Voodoo dolls that Simone had created, and a murder of crows brought down upon them by Nadya.

However, since she had created a circle previously, Nadya informed Aphrodite that there would only be one way to open the portal again, this time presumably to the Eternal Vault. Nadya required heart’s blood to complete the ritual. And more importantly it could only come from one person, Aphrodite. After a moment of thought, Aphrodite agreed, and Simone provided a bone needle to facilitate the letting of the heart blood. As George and Yao held her down, Nadya pierced her heart with the bone shard needle, drawing the needed blood and nearly killing Aphrodite. This took place right as Cromwell was gaining entry into the room.

The Ritual worked however, and the group and their ally was transported into the Eternal Vault.

In the vault

The Eternal Vault was a haphazard mess of artifacts and mystical traps designed to harm, confuse and disorient those not authorized to be present. The initial attacks were from a sort of animated shadow that pressed physically against the dim light possessed by the party. As it struggled to gain access to the party, something in the darkness moved.

A rain of silver coins fell from the ceiling, first in an attempt to break concentration, but then escalating into actual chests filled with coins which burst upon crashing into the floor. This created a stir, but no one was struck or injured by any of the falling boxes. Nadya created a massive silver light globe to push back the darkness revealing the extent of the Vault and the four strange articulated and animated elephant behemoth creatures that had animated to attack the group upon their arrival.

They also found the Blood Prince Crypt, wrapped in chains and bounding in excitement in an attempt to escape it’s bonds. They discovered that one of the likely chests to contain the Zodiac Medallions was connected to the Crypt, indicating that when one was freed, the Prince would also become unbound.

It was at about the time that Nadya began to enhance the fate of her colleagues, that the arrival of the Denarii occurred. The battle began to rage, with each side exchanging fierce blows against the other. Into the middle of this conflict the Revisionist Faction members also arrived, creating a true free-for-all battle royale. As the sides exchanged blows. Nadya freed the Blood Prince, using blood from a cut upon her hand. The Prince immediately attacked Balthazar, dragging him off into the darkness to be brutally consumed. With the battle going poorly for the Denarii, Sanja ripped Eve’s heart from her chest and used her heart blood to evacuate the premises.

Eve watched in odd fascination during all of this, somewhat surprised that she was not dead as a result, but also in some fashion not surprised at it as well. She collected up the remains of her heart, put them back together and replaced it inside her chest. She then resumed the battle.

Meanwhile during a temporary respite in the conflict, George had opened one of the chests that had been identified which contained some sort of hand mirror. The mirror seemed to have an effect that could not be easily defined or described, but George took it with him when the group left The vault. Aphrodite also absconded with a Seducio Phallus.

Having recovered the three boxes, the group departed the vault using some of the heart-blood Sanja had spilled prior. On their way out of the Temple, they met the Royalists and advised them how they could enter the vault. Once they had done so, Nadya soiled the portal in an effort to slow their escape and prolong any conflict between the groups.

Return to Athens

The group returned to Athens via Archer and turned over the contents of the Gemini Box to Renette Villefort as agreed. There were also four Blackened Denarii coins within that box, belonging to Ananel, Asael, Baraqiel, and Haggado. Rennette advised that she would return the coins to the Catholic Church for safekeeping.

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The Devils Watchtower
Season 1, Episode 2

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Berlin, Heart of Germany

Word reached the members of the Aegis Society that the Pythia foresaw some event related to the Zodia taking place in Berlin, Germany. After introducing the group to their newest member Aeric Falkenberg, the team is instructed to travel to Berlin, find the issue , acquire the medallion and return to the Society headquarters in Athens. To reach Berlin, the group traveled by steamer to Istanbul, and then by train to Berlin.

Upon arriving they were conveyed to the Falkenberg Estate, which would act as their base of operations during their stay in Berlin. After several days on a steamer and a train, Aeric rented a beer-hall and treated the group to a celebration, complete with food, drink and dancing. It provided an opportunity for him to learn about the members of the group, as he was appointed their new field leader.

Oddity Revealed

The cause for their dispatch to Berlin was not difficult to surmise. The morning following their arrival, the local newspaper, the Lokal Anzeiger 599 ran a story of an unusual trio of bodies located along the banks of the Spree river. The description was so unusual, that the group had no difficulty in identifying the situation as the reason for their visit.

After reading the newspaper, the group realized that they had a couple of locations to follow-up on, in order to begin their investigation.

The Bridge

The scene where the bodies had been located the night prior was at the foot of a bridge, known as the Oberbaumbrucke, which crossed the Spree river. It bordered the notoriously dangerous Rixdorf neighborhood, and had been the scene of other corpse drops. However, due to the description of the bodies as published in the morning paper, the team decided to head to that location to investigate the scene of the crime. Yao, John Tidewater, George Papageorge, Aphrodite Vago, and Scrooge MacLeod would conduct the local investigation at the scene.

Upon arriving, the group discovered that the scene had been badly despoiled by the efforts of the police to remove the bodies. very few clear clues remained, but the few that did, were quickly noted by the team. Yao and john investigated the bridge, where they found signs that a wagon or cart with red wheels had stopped for an extended period of time. This was determined by the large pile of horse manure located on the bridge indicating that a horse drawn cart had stopped and waited here for at least a half an hour. Judging by the traffic flow, the two surmised that it would have taken place late at night, the previous evening, since the street cleaners cleaned the bridge in the early evening. And this time would have been between cleanings. The traffic also would have prevented extended stopping for any length of time any other time of day or night. They also determined that the horse was very well fed, seeing signs of oats, and grains prevelent in the droppings. The two headed across the bridge into the neighboring forest to see if they could track the route of the wagon further.

Unfortunately they lost the trail and decided to split up in an attempt to relocate it. It was during this time, that an African man, later identified as Sanja, met Yao and provided him with a letter, requesting that he post it for him. The letter however was addressed to Evangeline Frankenstein, so when Yao asked for assistance later with the letter, it was immediately suspect and held for later testing. oddly enough, it was around this time that john did not return to the group or the estate. It was unclear what had become of him, but attempts to locate him in the Forest were unsuccessful at the time.

meanwhile back at the bridge, George was able to locate a silver pocket watch that had been trampled into the mud at the river bank. It seemed likely that this was a possession of one of the victims, or the murderer, so it was taken into evidence. Additionally, a series of regular holes were also found in the mud, indicating that someone had been present who had been using a walking stick. This was certainly a clue. George also located a patch of mud that was textured. After some inspection it was surmised that the textured pattern was caused by the presence of a burlap bag, commonly seen in use for grains and flour. This unusual pattern was definitely out of place and also regarded as a clue.

Unable to locate any additional clues at the scene, most likely due to the extensive damage caused by the police recovering the bodies, Aphrodite, George and Scrooge decided to drive along the river into the Rixdorf neighborhood proper. They had been forewarned that the neighborhood was dangerous, so they were careful in their exploration. Upon reaching the more built up portion of the neighborhood, they encountered a fence, selling various silver items. They engaged him and offered to sell him the watch they found, in an attempt to collect clues, but the moment that the fence noted the maker’s mark on the back of the silver casing he refused it. He warned that people with those watches were being killed and that they should get rid of it. The watch it appeared was more than a mundane clue. the pocket watch also bore the hand scratched initials " HB" on it’s back

After completing this portion of their investigation the bridge team collected Yao, looked for John, but were unable to locate him and returned to the Falkenberg Estate.

The Medical Operating Theater

according to the newspaper report, the bodies were sent to the Berlin University Medical Operating Theatre to be inspected by famed physician Anslo Weir. As Aeric was acquainted with Weir already, he decided to take Evangeline Frankenstein and Nadya Simza with him to investigate the corpses while he distracted the Doctor.

Upon their arrival, Aeric convinced the doctor to take a short walk with him to discuss funding for his research while his companions studied the bodies. While the two were away, the women went to work.

Initial investigation showed that there were three bodies all in an exceptionally desiccated state, nearly mummified, despite the fact that they were located on a wet muddy riverbank in a relatively wet climate. All were in the same state and showed signs that the drying was exceptionally rapid, bypassing the normal decomposition and Rigor Mortis cycles associated with death.

They all wore workers garments, most in fair condition. each man bore the same Tattoo Marking located on the webbing of their left hand, indicating that they were somehow connected, perhaps as part of a group. Each had some money in their pocket.

In addition one of the men carried a silver pocket watch in excellent condition, with only the maker’s mark scoured off and a wooden coin bearing the words “Kalkhaus Mietshaus” on one side and a dot of red paint on the other. He would later be identified as a man nicknamed “The Nose”

The second man had a Family Photo in his pocket, with no indication of who was in the photo. a Cheap engagement ring, barren of any engravings, and a silver pocket watch bearing the initials “KG”. He has not been identified.

The third man carried a silver pocket watch chain, which had been broken and a Handwritten Note. This man has been identified as a man nicknamed “fingers” since he was missing hid ring finger from his left hand.

Realizing they were short on time, as Nadya and Eve could hear Aeric and the Doctor approaching, the pair returned the bodies and their possessions to their original positions, with the exception of one of the pocket watches, bearing the initials and the wooden coin.

Conference and Discussion

The teams returned to the estate and discussed what they had each found. The most obvious lead was the wooden coin. This coin bore the name of a notoriously nasty tenement house located in the Rixdorf neighborhood. Although it was not known what the significance of the red paint was, the coin could potentially be important. considering the dangers associated with the neighborhood, it was decided to travel as a group to the tenement and see what information could be uncovered.

The Tenement House

The Kalkhaus Mietshaus is known across Berlin as one of the dirtiest and most dangerous tenements in the Rixdorf. They rooms do not have doors, and they pack as many as 20 families into the rooms that are available. When all the rooms are full they charge people for the right to sleep in the halls and on the stairs. The result is absolute squalor, disease and unsanitary conditions.

Upon arrival at the site, the team decided to split into two groups. The first group would consist of Aeric, George and Aphrodite, who would guard the carriage that they arrived in. They would use the pretense of George acting as pimp, Aeric his muscle and Aphrodite his prostitute, for the purpose of attempting to blend into the neighborhood.

The second team would consist of Yao, Nadya, Eve and Scrooge. Their job would be to gain access to the tenement and see what information they could acquire, then return to the carriage afterwards.

At the door, the tenement team were forced to relinquish their wooden coin and an additional 60 DM to gain entrance into the building. There they discovered a man named Marx, who claimed to have once been an economist. describing the man with the missing finger, Marx was able to tell the group that he was a member of the Echmanner, a local gang of thugs. He also advised that they all stay on the third floor with their friends. He also provided them with a room number commenting on the fact that the rooms on the third floor had doors, when no one else did. In return for his assistance, Eve gave him some money to buy himself a new pair of shoes and perhaps a little for a decent meal.

As the group were weaving their way through the mass of destitute people on the stairs, another situation was beginning to brew outside. In an attempt to aid the tenement team avoid unwanted attention, Aphrodite began performing acrobatic feats of prowess seductively using the sunshade poles from the carriage. This began to draw attention of the crowds outside and to aid in the illusion, Aeric began to collect pfennigs from those assembled, while George looked on.

It didn’t take long for the local members of the Echmanner gang to take notice. They advanced in force on the show and demanded their “share” of the take. Knowing that they could not cave in without some sign of resistance, the outside team attempted to talk their way out of it, but were unable to defuse the situation completely. perhaps he was interested in seeing what his associates could do, as Aeric attempted to rile the gang members into attacking, but George intervened with a challenge. He challenged their strongest member to knock him down with a single punch. If they could do so, they could have the money, otherwise they would leave.

Thinking they had an easy win, the gang members accepted and their largest member approached. George, using the extreme body control techniques used in his show prepared himself and took the impact with ease. The man cheated, taking a second punch, but was unsuccessful in knocking George down. When things threatened to escalate George casually lifted the entire carriage over his head, intimidating the gang members who withdrew back to their corner.

As the display of physical strength was underway, the tenement team reached the third floor of the building where they encountered an individual on guard. The guard challenged them, and all attempts to talk their way past him failed. He whistled loudly alerting the floor and the group inside was suddenly plunged headlong into combat with a rapidly increasing number of Echmanner.

The group waded into the fray, all except Nadya, who subtly manipulated fate into her group’s favor without any outward sign of activity. A vicious fight ensued, and the Echmanner were trounced, but not without cost. Scrooge was incapacitated by a series of violent attacks, but not killed. Eve kicked the last Echmanner out a third floor window into the street below, which triggered the Echmanner outside to attack the group at the carriage. As the battle raged outside, the tenement group rushed out to assist their companions. Within a few moments, most of the Echmanner that had been involved in the attack were laying dead or terribly injured and the remainder had retreated in panic.

With the gang members handled and with no additional likelihood of danger, the group recovered Scrooge and took him to the carriage. As they were tending to his injuries, Eve and Yao searched the apartment discovering a large stash of silver and around 500 DM. One of the watches bore the same makers mark, so Eve procured it to assist in the investigation. Yao collected the cash and as they departed the site, he scattered the money among the masses of people crowding the corridors.

The team then returned to the estate to treat Scrooges injuries.

New Course of Action

After assisting in Scrooge’s recovery, the group assembled to discuss their leads and where they may be able to find additional information. They suspected that a mill was involved in some fashion as a result of the horse droppings and burlap bags that had obviously been at the scene, although the exact connection was unclear and very tenuous at best. As such, a review of the local mills were decided upon. To achieve this, A team consisting of George, Scrooge and Naomi Johnson was assembled. Naomi although not a member of the Society, spoke German, a skill that the group had in short supply collectively.

The prior evening Aeric had managed to locate and interview the police detective working the case, Gustoff Marx of the Prussian Royal Police. After a significant amount of drink, he managed to gather significant details, some of which led the investigation in new directions. As a result of his inquiry, the group learned that the detective had witnessed the actual murder take place, although he was unable to provide fine details, it seemed that they were dealing with three distinct parties. The murderer, which appeared to be some sort of creature, the victims (all Echmanner), and an unidentified man in a mask carrying a walking cane. He had also uncovered the the fact that there had been a robbery prior, and knew the name and address of the robbery victim. As a result it was decided that Eve and Aphrodite should head to the victims house/business as potential patients. He was a doctor specializing in treating Female Hysteria. His named was Doctor Henri Zolner.

Also the prior evening, George and Nadya had conducted some tests upon the envelope sent by Sanja, which turned out to be dangerous and poisoned. They also disassembled one of the pocket watches, where Nadya discovered a hand etched symbol resembling a bulls head on one of the interior cogs. This reminded her of the Zodia, specifically Taurus. George and Nadya also did some work with some alchemy, which proved potentially useful if used at the correct time.

It was the discovery of the bull’s head symbol, that offered a link to their original purpose for being in Berlin. With no good leads to locating the watchmaker, short of going to every business, it was hit upon that Nadya and Yao could head to the watchmakers Guild-house to see if the mark were registered. Eve provided an illustration of the Mark in question to aid them.

The Doctor is in

Eve and Aphrodite arrived at Zolner’s business and made their way inside. There they arranged for Eve to have a physical and Aphrodite to undergo treatment for Female Hysteria. As Aphrodite underwent her treatment, Eve was free to move about the lower floor and investigate. She discovered an unusual papyrus and linen book in the library, a sandstone block holding a cast iron quadrant compass marked with the date “1858” on the bottom, and evidence of the break in and theft. Unable to go upstairs, she returned to the waiting room just as Aphrodite was finishing her treatment.

Next Eve and Aphrodite went into the exam room with the doctor, who began Eve’s examination. Befuddled by her difficult to detect vitals, he left the room to retrieve additional equipment, which provided the two women an opportunity to share information. When the doctor returned, Aphrodite convinced Eve it was necessary for her to undergo the hysteria treatment as well, giving Aphrodite an opportunity to investigate the upstairs uninterrupted.

As Eve underwent her procedure, Aphrodite slipped upstairs where she discovered several damning photographs of prominent women in very compromising positions. She pockets a few of the photos in case they were useful, and then headed downstairs to steal the unusual book and inspect the sandstone block and iron compass. She then slipped out to their waiting carriage, deposited the book and photos before returning to the waiting area at the last possible moment.

The women left after noting the arrival of another patient, with the promise of a follow up appointment on Friday. The returned to the estate to share their findings.

The Watchmaker’s Guild-house

Armed with the illustration of the watchmaker’s mark, Nadya and Yao made their way to the guild-house, in order to connect the mark with an individual or business. Once there, the clerk was easily able to identify the mark as belonging to one of the longest running family watchmaking business in the city. He identified the mark as belonging to the Geberhart und Sohne business and identified the current owner as Kurt Geberhart. As the conversation continued, it was mentioned that the family had been responsible for building and maintaining the central clock tower in the old city hall building. This become the pair’s next stop.

The Clock tower

Nadya and Yao next made their way to the old city hall building, now a city revenue office. They were able to gain access to the tower without being noticed and made their way to the works of the tower clock. Unable to locate the Taurus head markings on the back of the clock, You made his way to the front and was able to locate the symbol on the front side of one of the component pieces. This all but confirmed Nadya’s suspicions that they may have found the Taurus Zodia. rather than confront the Zodia at that time, the pair returned to the estate to share their findings.

When leaving the clock tower Nadya and Yao saw John Tidewater entering a red carriage. he departed before he could be hailed.

The Mills

Naomi, Scrooge and George made their way to the north-side of the city along the river. There they located the only three mill sites. The first was abandoned, the second was small and showed no obvious indication of being suspect, but the last mill named the Rote Kornschrotmuhle, seemed different. It was a large quadruple wheeled mill, with a large workforce and central building. The trio witnessed a number of bright red painted wagons being loaded on the premises, which could easily fit their suspect wagon on the bridge the night of the murders. Additionally, they witnessed a number of workers leaving their job for the day receiving wooden tokens with red paint on them, very much the same as the token that had been found on one of the murder victims.

In an attempt to gain additional information they three decided to enter the main administrative building in the hopes of questioning someone. Instead, they learned very little concrete, but overheard and unusual language being spoken, noted the extreme unease and obvious protectiveness of the individual who met them at the door and the odd answers or lack of answers to their questions. These facts firmly established the mill as a place of interest.

As they were leaving scrooge managed to track one of the wagons, which led him to believe that he was seeing the group making deliveries. They were able to intercept the now empty wagon on tits way back to the mill and after waving it down were able to engage the drivers in some questioning. The drivers first negotiated 50 DM each for their thirty minutes of time, which the trio paid. The drivers answered the questions oddly, but one piece of information was gained that may prove useful. They were able to identify the name of the mill’s foreman as Frische Uldermann.

As the wagon was leaving scrooge managed to possess the wagon to use it to spy upon the drivers and was surprised to watch them discard the money and then drive their wagon, horses and all into the river. Armed with this disturbing information the pair returned to the estate.

Sharing the joy

The group reassembled at the estate where they learned the name of the Berliner Lokal Anzeiger journalist, Stefan Torst, who had written the news story. It was agreed that it was very likely that he had seen more than he had written down and should be questioned for additional knowledge. this task was assigned to Aslef, Yao and Aphrodite. Aeric also revealed that all the Echmanner had their tattoos drawn by an English ex-pat named Milton Knowles who owned a shop named the Shangri-la Tattoo Parlour

It was also decided that Nadya and Aeric would visit the watchmaker and his family to test the situation there. They would try to gauge the theory that they were Taurus Zodia, and see if they could connect the dots to the other events.

They all agreed that they should investigate the mill further and that the Rabenkopf was still someplace that needed to be visited as well.

The others would conduct research on the description of the creature the policeman described, as well as the strange compass and book found at the doctor’s office.

The Watchmaker

Nadya and Aeric arrived at Geberhart und Sohne, where they noticed a distinct lack of silver goods for sale. There were a number of gold items and jewels still available, but the lack of silver only deepened the abnormal connection to recent silver thefts in the city.

Nadya questioned Kurt and it seemed as if the man had no idea that he was a member of the Zodia lineage. in fact it was only through significant convincing that he was willing to even entertain a possibility. Through her skillful work, Nadya was bale to gain access to the family and was able to sit down with them and discuss their history a bit.

It was discovered that there was an old book, containing the names of their direct lineage that stretched backwards for a millennia or more. In the front cover of that book was a circular indentation, where nadya surmised the original medallion of the Taurus was originally embedded.

It became apparent that the family was under threat by the Echmanner, but the exact nature of the threat was difficult to coax out of the family. Only after Aeric asked the father to walk outside with him, was it revealed.

While Kurt was away on a trip to buy components for his watches, members of the Echmanner smashed up his business, stole his silver and brutally raped, his oldest son Dieter Geberhart, his daughter Birgit Geberhart and his wife, Margarethe Geberhart. To insure future compliance, they had also kidnapped the family’s youngest member, Stefan Geberhart holding him at an unknown location until the father paid them extortion money and ongoing protection fees. It was during this captivity that Stefan contracted Tuberculosis, which would eventually be fatal.

In order to gain the trust of the family, Nadya instructed Aeric to find a goat or pig and bring it back to the house. Aeric returned a half-hour later with a goat. The goat became the receptacle for the young boys tuberculosis, which Nadya transferred using strong ritual magic. Afterwards, Aeric was instructed to cut the goat’s throat and burn the remains. he did so, adding his shirt and jacket to the fire as well. The pair took their leave of the family to allow Nadya some much needed rest.

The Newspaper man

Although they did have a name, the group did not have an address. In order to better locate the newspaper man, Stefan Torst, Aslef, Aphrodite and Yao visited the newspaper office, where they managed to talk their way into acquiring the address.

They then made their way to the man’s apartment but arrived to find a murdered body in the room. It was quickly determined that it was not the news man, but was actually a member of the Echmanner, who had been murdered for some unknown reason in the newsman’s apartment.

Using her acting skills, Aphrodite spoke with the neighbors acquiring the name and address of Stefan’s cousin, while ruining a potential courtship between Stefan and a young lady living down the hall from him. Using the story that she was pregnant with Stefan’s child, Aphrodite was able to collect much needed information, which led them to their next location.

The Opium Den

It seemed that Stefan’s cousin was actually running an opium den. Yao broke down the door and disarmed the man. Intimidation revealed that Stefan had fled to his employers estate. The owner of the paper, Wilhelm Mardunst. Not entirely trusting the source of the information, Aphrodite insisted that he accompany them to the estate.

The Mardunst Estate

The trio arrived at the outer gates to the Mardunst Estate and were forced to climb over the wall to gain entry to the property. However, when they rang the bell to the house, they were surprised to be granted immediate interest. The chief butler was very grabby and it soon became apparent that Mardunst must regularly invite prostitutes to his home. This worked in the women’s favor as they had been mistaken for such and were therefore able to gain easy entry into the house.

While they waited in the Kitchen, Yao watched the cousin in the carriage. Conversation tipped Yao off to a possibility that Onkwani may be in Germany, somehow taking an interest in Opium. Little other information could be gathered, as the man knew nothing else about it, but it was something to keep in mind as they moved through the city.

Meanwhile, inside, Aslef and Aphrodite were able to identify Stefan. Aphrodite was able to entice him upstairs, but it became obvious that there was going to be difficulty communicating as she did not speak German. Fortunately, Aslef arrived and helped to interrogate the newsman.

The pair discovered several significant details about the murder, confirming the third party theory and adding a new element to the story unmentioned by the policeman. The duo escaped from the upper balcony and rejoined Yao. They ejected the cousin and returned to the estate.

Next Stage Planning

The team reconvened at the Estate and discussed all the things that they had previously uncovered. They determined that there was a need to investigate the mill and the Rabenskopf, as critical locations for the next step of their investigation. Less important, was the need to revisit the Watchmaker and his family, and to visit the Tattoo parlor that they had discovered earlier.

As they felt that further investigation of the mill would be best handled under the cover of darkness, and that visiting the Rabenkopf in the evening would also be best, they turned their attention another mystery which they were determined to investigate further, namely the disappearance of the horses and wagons into the Spree River following the interactions with George and Scrooge.

Since it was along the river and most likely not critical an investigation would take place late at night, the team opted to investigate that site sooner rather than later. To make this easier, the team needed to make a few preparations so that the event would go smoothly.

Prepare to Dive.

As the scene was underwater, and it was unclear what might be found, it was determined that George, with his ability to hold his breath for incredible lengths of time would act as the diver. To help him find his way in the murky water, Aeric fashioned a makeshift lantern from a sealed canning jar, some marbles, some cotton balls and an electric torch. They then tied a rope to their carriage and around George’s waist.

To help hide their activities, the group had arranged the appearance of a picnic at the river’s edge. This would shield the underwater exploration efforts from unwanted attention.

In preparation, the team activated a variety of abilities in anticipation of a potential fight. Scrooge then animated a newly modified rope snake into a more eel-like shape which then followed and aided George on his search.

The Coffin in the Deep

George waded into the Spree river and despite the aid of the light, found his visibility reduced to approximately that of three-feet. As a result he moved slowly. Once below, he discovered an object which was later identified as a modern coffin. It was weighted down with weights tied to the pallbearer’s rail and resting in the mud at the bottom of the river.

Looping a rope through the pallbearer’s bar, they were able to draw the coffin out of the river. Once the majority of water had leaked out of the top seal, they were able to pry the lid open to discover a series of eel-like animals writhing in the remaining water trapped in the bottom of the coffin. Cursory glances indicated that the animals had circular tooth-filled mouths reminiscent of a remora or lamprey.

Beneath the writhing mass, the remains of a body could be found. It was decided to dump the strange animals, and kill them all. The party dumped the coffin, and Yao used a tree trunk to roll them into paste. The eviction of the nasty creatures led the party to discover the remains of a man, well dressed whose bones were completely stripped bare. The clothing was in good shape, indicating that his remains were not in the water very long nor that the creatures had burrowed through his clothes. It was surmised therefore that the creatures had eaten their way out, stripping the bones clean on the way.

Equally disturbing, was the fact that the body had been chained down to the bottom of the coffin. He would have drown slowly as the creature ate him from the inside out. Worried that there would be some sort of supernatural backlash, the party loaded the coffin and body into the back of the carriage and returned to the Estate.

Wards and Wanes

The team arrived back at the estate and immediately took the coffin down into the basement. There, Nadya created a spirit and physical ward around the coffins, measuring 8-feet in diameter. She then tested the wards by asking George to step into the circle and then attempting to leave. George found himself trapped inside the circles, until Nadya created a pass stone, which allowed the bearer to pass through the circle unharmed.

After wards, Nadya and Scrooge both decided they needed some rest after the exertions of the day.

Aphrodite, Yao, George and Evangeline remained behind to attempt to collect any information they could. At this point they found almost nothing beyond the facts they had surmised, leading Eve to retire to the library, Aphrodite to retire to her room for the night, and George and Yao to stand watch over the body. To aid them in this task, Yao placed a large mirror above the open coffin so he could more easily see the interior of the casket.

During their watch, Yao uncharacteristically fell asleep.

What Dreams May Come

The group was unaware that they had absorbed some of the psychic trauma experienced by the victim or victims of the coffin. It was not clear whether it was the coffin or the body that held this trauma, but Yao, Scrooge and Nadya all experienced terrible dreams.

Scrooge’s Dream

scrooge dreamed that he was trapped inside the coffin, watching the water fill the small space slowly as the air leaked out. he experienced the pain, as the creatures inside him awoke and began to burrow their way out through his flesh, eating as they went. He watched as he scratched frantically at the roof of the coffin that held him. The dream ended as the creatures burrowed into his eyes.

Nadya’s Dream

Much like Scrooge’s dream, Nadya also dreamt of being trapped inside the coffin. She was also watching the water fill the container, but was also watching the creatures burst through her skin until the flesh beneath her clothing was writhing with the creatures. She watched as they burst in massive numbers from her flesh.

Yao’s Dream

Yoa’s dream was entirely different from the other two. Perhaps it was his proximity to the coffin during the dream. In his dream, Yoa was in a room with walls constructed of wood. There was a large pool of water there, and he was neck deep in the water with his hands above his head. On a nearby walkway he saw a creature, which he was later identified as a Lebensdieb. Yao was suspended by a chain, with his hands above his head into the water.

The creature was keening, and Yao noted the pattern as well as the rhythmic sound of sluicing water. As the creature keened, Yao began to feel pain as the small swimming creatures began to consume him.

Recounting the Terror

Upon awakening or being awoken, the group discussed the dreams, taking notes of the things encountered. This information would be used later to assist in identifying the creature. It also confirmed that the Mill was a point of interest for the team’s investigation.

Time for a Drink?

Determined to explore at least one of the two most dangerous of the sites they had identified that night, the group settled upon the Rabenkopf, which was a tavern. With a name that translates into English as Raven’s Head was most assuredly connected to the Legend of the Rabennarbe currently sweeping the city. The connection was unclear, as the tavern was a well-established gang hangout, especially for the Echmanner.

The group also knew that this location was somehow connected to one of the murder victims, as a handwritten note bearing the name of the tavern and the name of the bartender were found in the pockets of the victim. Hoping to make additional connections, perhaps to the mill, or to uncover additional information on the mysterious vigilante, they headed to the tavern located in the Rixdorf.

Arriving at the site, the group parked the carriage across the square and then entered the tavern. As they made their way to the bar, they noted the distinct sea related songs, despite being located in a land-locked city. There were gang members drinking, some dancing and singing and knife throwing all taking place.

The group made their way to the bar, where they bought drinks and surveyed the room. They noted an individual sitting at a table surrounded by several men, all Echmanner. It was believed that he was some sort of Boss. He would later be identified as Tomas Thorn, while the bartender would be identified as, Heinrich Manstein.

Attempts to gain information were foiled by the difficulty of dealing with Thorn, but a few details were noted by the group.

First, he never seemed to speak, although he never looked up and held his hand in a manner which hid his mouth. As a result it may be that he is unable to speak or speaks using some sort of art. It was even surmised that he may be some sort of thaumaturge. he also asked for a Talent of silver. however, this price was bypassed after some initial conversation began.

While there was little information that was uncovered, a couple of important bits were acquired. Chief among them, was that all the gangs were collecting silver and providing it as a sort of tribute, which would guarantee them a level of protection from the River Monster. In addition, it was proven also that the gang was no friend of the vigilante.

The conversation degenerated rapidly, when a reference to the Masons was mentioned. The group was forced to leave the tavern. but things began to degenerate into a brawl. Suddenly Echmanner members flooded from the tavern into the street, while a whistle brought two additional groups towards the team. This rapidly devolved into a free-for all.

Bull-headed Luck

As the carnage spread, a sudden bellow sounded and the Aspect of Taurus knocked over the carriage in the square and began to attack the combatants using some sort of exploding stone ability. This panicked the Echmanner who retreated. Suddenly the Vigilante, Rabennarbe appeared, fighting the Aspect. Attempts to overcome the creature were unproductive, but the Rabennarbe was able to trick the creature into charging through the front of the Tavern. This allowed the party enough time to escape, as the Rabennarbe disappeared.

The Interview

After returning from the fight at the Rabenkopf, the group settled in for some rest, settling the badly beaten translator up in a room on the estate. The others turned in after a difficult evening, but some were unable to rest effectively due to the lingering effects of the nightmares they had seen the evening prior.

The following morning, Aphrodite and Scrooge conducted an interview with the Translator, Eduardo Telamondo, revealed several interesting tidbits of information on the echmanner, as well as his own story. The most critical pieces of information was concerning the identity of the man at the Rabenkopf as Tomas Thorn, as well as identifying Heinrich Manstein as a member of the Gang despite not bearing the tattoo.

The conversation also firmly connected the mill and the Gang together, including the use of the wooden tokens to pay for housing for the workers from the tenements. He had indicated that he had attempted to get employment at the mill, but that they refused to hire him because he was “too smart” and “healthy”. He indicated that there were at least one or two workers dying at the mill each week. The mill would send money to the family of the deceased worker and handle all burial expenses for them.

This information, when taken in context with the grim discovery in the river likely implied a more sinister cause to the deaths of those who “died” at the mill. To show appreciation for the assistance provided, Scrooge offered Eduardo the position of headmaster at [[Metanopoli | Metanopoli], and agreed to relocate his entire family.

The Artist

George and Aeric paid a visit to the Shangri-la Tattoo Parlour run by the British expatriate, Milton Knowles. With little prompting the pair learned that Milton performed tha tattooing on the Echmanner in exchange for his parlor to remain untouched by the gang. As such, he was intimately familiar with the membership. He was able to identify four major figures in the gang. They are , Heinrich Manstein owner of the Rabenskopf, Tomas Thorn an under-boss for the gang in Rixdorf, Felix “The Finger” Mendelsohne second-in-charge, and Viktor Stroppe, the leader of the gang.

While the tatooist did not know the location of the two leaders of the gang, he advised that rumors placed them somewhere in the Templehof neighborhood. While on site, George took the opportunity to have a full back Tattoo of a Greek Hoplite in Gold mail standing his gorund against a violent looking hydra.

Revisiting the Geberharts

Nadya, Yao and Eve decided to return to the Geberharts in an attempt to further narrow down the location of the missing Zodiac Medallion belonging to the Taurus Zodia. After Nadya’s assistance with curing their sick son, Kurt Geberhart was happy to tell them that he had a cousin named Stefan, who had changed his last name to Torst. This meant that the group had already encountered the Zodia in possession of the medallion without realizing it. he told the group they could take the medallion if they desired with his blessing.

The group also learned that a bank was aggressively attempting to collect a massive debt against the watch maker and his business, in an attempt to seize his land. Seeing an opportunity to turn Geberhart into an ally, they convinced Aeric to use his wealth to purchase the debt or to provide the balance of the debt to prevent this from happening.

Ambushed

As the trio headed back to the Estate, their carriage was attacked. A group of Ashanti Tribesmen killed their driver and caused the horses to run out of control towards the river. Knowing what lay beneath the surface of the waters of the Spree, Nadya attempted to climb out of the carriage to regain control of the horses. The door of the carriage, however, gave way, causing her to be badly injured when the carriage’s rear wheel struck her in the chest.

Realizing they were easy targets for the Ashanti’s arrows, Eve and Yao managed to leap from the moving carriage in enough time to avoid being drug into the river. Yao headed for a nearby building where the tribesmen were located, and Eve rushed to aid Nadya.

Honey, I’m back!

As Eve reached Nadya, a single figure leaped from a nearby roof top. It was the Blackened Denarii Sonnellion, known also as Sanja. He was determined to finally settle his anger with Eve and the two fought back and forth across Nadya’s exhausted and injured body. Despite Nadya’s assistance by afflicting him with a Malediction, neither were able to land a blow.

Just as it seemed that Sanja may finally get the upper hand, the fight was interrupted by the arrival of Elizabeth Wortham a Knight of the Cross. Unwilling to fight the Knight and Eve, the Denarii fled. After brief introductions, Nadya and Eve made their way back to the Estate, while Yao’s quarry escaped due to the timely arrival of the local Prussian Royal Police. Yao also returned to the Estate.

Return the Wayward Wanderer

The team was surprised to find John Tidewater waiting for them at the Estate. He was questioned and provided a recounting of his absence, which included the location of a massive store of stolen silver located in a warehouse in Aachen, which had been transported by red wagon to the site. He had also been unfortunate to have been delayed unexpectedly over night upon his return to Berlin, and was only able to return to the estate that morning.

Next Steps

With the knowledge of the medallion’s location finally known, the group realized that they had a choice to make. By technicality, they were in no way required to deal with the Lebensdieb infestation that they had uncovered. They knew there were at least five of the creatures in the city, and that given enough time the infestation would grow to terrible proportions. However, their goal was to acquire and return the Zodia medallion to Renette Villefort for safekeeping.

Additionally, they had no real desire to deal with, or against the Rabennabe vigilante running around the city.

After some discussion, they decided that the right thing to do was to deal with the Zodia and the Lebensdieb. This meant dealing with the Mill, four leaders of a large street gang and destroying any young that may be active in the river. It also meant finding a way to deal with Stefan Torst and acquiring the Zodiac Medallion.

The group sat down for further planning, looking for a way to resolve their issue as efficiently as possible. To this ends, they send a message to Amelia Archer in the hopes of locating additional information concerning the creatures and a decisive means of effecting their destruction.
h4. A Plan of Action

After Aeric discussed the new names with the police he was told that two of the men, known leaders of the Echmanner, lived somewhere in the Templehof district of the city. Further investigation identified one of the likely properties, as it contained an unusually high concentration of pools fountains and small canals on the property. This gave them a second potential location to set up their final conflict with the Lebensdeib. They only needed a plan to draw them all together and also a means of actually defeating them.

Eve and Nadya had each found some references to an affliction to yew wood, but they were unable to substantiate this at first as the stories in which this played a role were anecdotal and could have been merely coincidental. However, When Aphrodite had a follow-up discussion with Eduardo, an unusual fact came to light. Eduardo reported that a few weeks ago orders from the gang leadership had been sent to the foot soldiers to cut down a large number of “spindly looking trees”. The groups cleared away all these trees from the river banks, before scouring the neighborhoods and removing them from the common streets as well.

These cuttings were hauled by hand and by red wagon to a vacant lot located behind a brothel named the “Golden Pussycat”, where they were burned. Once they were set alight, the gang members were ordered to create a human barrier to prevent the fire brigade from interfering with the burning.

The identity of these trees were made out to be yew, when George was able to look it up in one of his botanical books which, although illustrated by hand made identification of the tree as Yew possible.However, with the cities Yew supply already destroyed by the creatures, difficulties to acquire the wood would be significant.

Eve, however, had the forethought to inquire with Aeric’s gardener, who confirmed that there were in fact several Yew trees on property. The group was then able to harvest some, creating a number of throw-able spears and handheld stakes. These primitive weapons, it was hoped would allow the group to destroy the creatures if they were encountered.

Implementing the Plan

As had been decided, the group made their way to the mill after dusk. They were surprised to find that a ring of wagons had been placed as a barricade and at least 100 Echmanner had been summoned to the courtyard to protect the facility. The initial plan was to set fire to one of the mill buildings, in hopes of drawing out the creature and scattering any innocents. With only gang members present, the group would focus on just drawing out the creature, which they were hoping to destroy by testing out their Yew weapons on the creature.

Yao, Aphrodite and Nadya crept closer to the barrier in anticipation of making their way into the encampment and setting the building on fire as originally planned.

However, before they could implement their scheme, an unexpected event occurred…

The Attack of the Masked Vigilante

Riding through the darkness, the Rabennarbe jumped his horse over the barrier, then used his massive speed to engage the Echmanner at the site. As this created an excellent distraction, the group launched their assault as well. Eve, Yoa and Aphrodite rushed into the fray, followed by Scrooge, Aeric and George. Scrooge deployed a Yew wood hummingbird toy which he used to attack enemies and later harass the creatures as they made their presence known.

The group had different portions of the plan, George and Scrooge would sow chaos into the mix, by using some specially designed smoke crystals, which blocked and limited lines-of-site across the rapidly spreading battlefield. Yao and Eve engaged enemies, thinning the ranks of the Echmanner, and hoping to identify and engage the creature they believed to be present.

The Fray

There were in fact all five of the creatures present at the site. The Echmanner, although a large mob, quickly became food for the creatures as they bulked up their power by consuming their followers. The creatures displayed their paralyzing powers as well as their feeding process. In addition, it was revealed that the creature possesses a number of odd tentacle-type appendages, which were capable of delivering a corrosive acid-like mucus.

As the battle unfolded, Yao and Aphrodite found themselves in the immediate vicinity of the creature they suspected to see at the mill. They were both frozen by the creature, which then began to feed upon their energies. It was surmised that the creatures either consumed the life-force, or the temporal energy of the victim. The Paralysis power seemed to pulse, weakening periodically, which permitted those affected an opportunity to recover the use of their bodies.

During one such weakening, Aphrodite was able to break free and throw one of the Yew stakes at the creature. She stuck him, destroying him. This was the confirmation that the Yew was the weapon needed to defeat these terrible creatures.

From that fateful moment, The group managed to gain the initiative. With the Rabennarbe and then the sudden appearance of the Aspect of Taurus, the Lebensdeib found themselves suddenly outclassed.
Between the humming bird and Yao’s amazing Spear throwing abilities three more of the creatures fell in the battle. Eve finished off another, leaving none alive to continue the assaults against the people of Berlin.

Nadya’s entanglement of fate both advantageous and disadvantageous, played a critical role in the destruction of the creatures.

The Aftermath

When the conflict ended, and the remnants of the Echmanner had scattered, the Rabennarbe brought the rampaging aspect under control. It was noted by the group that he referred to the creature as “cousin.” This led the group to initially believe that the vigilante may be Kurt Geberhardt, but instead, when Rabennarbe revealed his identity, it was clearly an adult version of Dieter Geberhart, the second cousin to Dieter Geberhart.

It was revealed that the Taurus lineage had the ability to manipulate the flow of time, allowing the normal 13-year old boy, to accelerate his age to that of an adult, and back as desired. Torst had dropped the use of the Aspect at the end of the battle, and was unaware that the group had managed to talk Deiter into revealing his location to them.

He was captured, and with much conversation, was convinced to turn over the Medallion without a fight, proving out his cowardly traits and bringing the Society’s mission to an end.

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The Embers of Ages Past
Season 1, Episode 1

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Event of the Year

The event was marked by an African-themed masquerade ball, which encouraged the attendees to dress in costumes inspired by the dark continent. Besides the obvious purpose of celebration, members of the Society were advised by the Pythia that some unforeseeable event was destined to take place sometime during the party that would be critical for investigation. Though the details were vague, the members of the Society arrived prepared for a night of mystery and danger.

The Gardens

After several hours of dancing and carousing, in some cases painfully so, Evangeline Frankenstein and Nadya Simza decided to take a stroll through the expansive grounds of the Aries Estate. While doing so, they noted a sudden flare of bright light in the Gazebo, which prompted them to investigate.

The Gazebo

Arriving at the gazebo, they found a body partially consumed by flames. The patterns of the damage was not natural and the pair realized quickly that they had most likely just stumbled upon the reason that the Pythia had dispatched them to the party in the first place.

While Eve stood watch, Nadya returned to the party to advise the others of the discovery so that they could begin their investigation as quickly as possible while they still had access to the site of the body.

With only Tidewater and Mrs. Villefort unable to break away from their social engagements to investigate, the remainder of the team arrived at the Gazebo to catalog the clues.

The body was that of a man. He was dressed in a costume that had become dubbed “the Crimson Man.” Earlier in the evening, he had been seen in the company of a woman, similarly dressed, dubbed “the Crimson Woman.” The torso of the body, stretching from clavicle to pelvis had been completely consumed by fire. The flames had not spread beyond that area, an unusual occurrence for a natural fire. He still clutched a cut crystal rocks glass with Whiskey and ice in his left hand and a still smoldering cigar in his right. This indicated that there was no real struggle and that the death had been sudden.

His singed mask and hat were nearby, indicating that he had been wearing them at the time of his death. The attacker had unmasked their victim and tossed them aside. his pants, but not trousers were down, as if preparing to engage in a carnal act, but interrupted part way through. The man wore two rings. The first an elaborate knuckle ring, and the second a simple appearing Iron Band.

The Gazebo itself was built using dimensions consistent with factors of thirteen. There were thirteen portals, thirteen steps, a radius of 13-feet and a dome height from base to dome top of 13-feet. Aphrodite Vago discovered that there were cold spots above each portal and surmised that it may be associated with thaumaturgy, or some sort of wards. It would turn out to be associated with Astrology and the Zodiac.

Returning to the Party

Once the team had uncovered all the clues they could find at the gazebo, they returned to the party, in order to avoid any suspicion. The majority of the Society members had filled their dance cards, or added themselves to the dance cards of others, and could not easily avoid questions if they were to miss too many dances.

Only George Papageorge and Scrooge MacLeod were able to keep watch on the gazebo from the balcony of the house. It was an attempt to see if they noticed anyone else interested in the gazebo. It paid off.

While the majority of the group mingled inside at the masquerade, taking note of those present or missing and collecting gossip, George noted an individual making his way through the gardens towards the gazebo.

Choosing to attempt to follow the individual, he was discovered, but managed to have a short conversation with the man, who called himself Robert. George was unable to tie the man to anything suspicious, but as they were on an active investigation, Robert’s presence was immediately suspect.

Robert deviated after the conversation and returned to the carriage house followed by a homonculous to observe his movements.

Inside at the party, some juicy gossip was collected that later turned out to help identify the victims and provide a possible motive for the murder. Additionally, The rapid departure of the Crimson Lady was noted. Those inside during this time, were able to visually note who had been present the majority of the time, providing a possible list of suspects.

Near the end of the night, there was a noticed interruption with the host, Andros Aries, indicating the discovery of the body by the staff. Shortly thereafter, they performed the unmasking. It was noted that during this time both Andromache Aries and Astrid Aries had each disappeared for a short while during the party.

After the unmasking several notables were revealed. They included many of the city’s business and political elite.

The Next Morning

The following morning the group found themselves facing several gaps in their knowledge. They needed to know the identities of the Crimson Man and Crimson Lady, The identity and involvement of the mystery man “Robert”, and the possible identity of the creature or creatures responsible.

To help find the answer to these questions, Nadya decided to conduct some research into the creature (s) in the library, while Aphrodite and Renette Villefortdecided to attend the social tea that morning. In further preparation for a potential upcoming encounter, Yao created a number of fetishes

George conducted some chemical tests on the tobacco and the whiskey found near the body in an attempt to identify it. Eve assisted Nadya in the library, while John Tidewater prepared his rifle for extensive use.

Tea

Aphrodite and Renette attended social tea in the city that morning, working diligently to gather some information and gossip about the party the night before. As they worked their way through the room, they were summarily invited to attend at the center table where they were joined by the queen bee Andromache Aries. During this last round of gossip mongering, it was uncovered, with a little help from Katerina Haverly that Paulos Anakos had supposedly left the city in a hurry the night of the masquerade and also that he had amde a claim that Andros Aries, his political rival , was having an incestuous relation with his own daughter, Astrid Aries. This fit nicely as some individuals claimed that he had attended the party, but left early. It therefore became possible that they had identified the victim. One inconsistency however was the iron band.

The Docks

after discovering that the tobacco from the cigars that were found on the body were imports, George, and Nadya went down to the docks and went to see if they could find some indication of who may have purchased them from the tobacconist on the docks. While visiting, they took note of a group of British marines being offloaded from a anchored ship. At the reception for the newly arrived soldiers was Colonel Adam Cartwright and his secretary Robert Brennan. When Brennan noticed them, since he had seen George in the garden at the Andros Estate, he immediately became suspicious.

As a result, he attempted to warn off George with a warning and a slight demonstration of his power. This immediately raised Brennan as a potential suspect, despite any attempt to warn them off from the investigation.

After this encounter they went to the tobacconist where they were able to identify the cigars as purchased by only one person in Athens: Paulos Anakos. Armed with a name, and knowing that there were no rail routes out of the city, the pair quickly realized that there were only two ways that Paulos could have fled. He would need to take the highway, which was dangerous and in poor repair; or hire a ship as a passenger.

When considering the rumor that Paulos had taken a hurried departure for Istanbul for business, it seemed most likely that a ship would be the best choice. After inquiring with the dock master, they could determine that there were no legitimate ships that could have taken on passengers.

This led Nadya to discover that there was a smuggler who would have been in a position to ferry their suspect off the island. Nadya and George were directed to the Midas, captained by Kanetan Manos. after a short discussion and some money exchange they were able to determine that Paulos had not left the city by ship. This meant that his only other options would be to hide somewhere or to attempt to escape by highway.

The Paulos Estate

This information, when paired with that acquired at tea would be the impetus for a late evening visit to the Paulos Estate that night. As they felt that it was likely that Paulos realized he had been in danger, and the subsequent discovery that the victim had been Paulos’ secretary Sevros Antopoles, they decided that it was most likely that he would take refuge in his estate.

However, upon their arrival, the house seemed abandoned and quickly prepared for storage for a period of time. The team gained access and separated into smaller groups looking for clues.

The Basement

One of the teams consisted of Eve, John and George. These three ventured along the lower floor eventually heading down towards the basement. As they moved along the steep dark stairs towards the door at the base of the stairs, their torches fizzled leaving them in darkness. despite this, they continued downward guided by the slight amount of light from above until they reached the lower basement door.

There, they found the door seemingly stuck. John forced the door open, which opened away from him, and discovered a pile of bodies just inside the door, piled up to prevent the door opening. he forced the door open further, until he was able to gain entry. Eve followed him inside, leaving George to make certain the door would not close unexpectedly trapping them inside.

As the pair began to investigate, they suddenly felt a presence and then saw a shift of rapid movement from the corner of their eye. not desiring to be in the room with an unknown creature or person, they rapidly withdrew, closing the door just in time. Something massive slammed into the door, and began to pry it open from the inside in an attempt to escape. George and john held the door fast, while Eve called for Yao to assist.

The Estate Grounds

Meanwhile outside, Nadya and Yoa began an investigation of the grounds. They discovered nothing out of the ordinary, and soon moved into the lower level of the house, attempting to find any clue as to the whereabouts of Paulos Anakos. After a thorough search, in which it was determined that the house had been prepared for storage hastily, the pair head upstairs to assist in the investigation that Aphrodite had begun up there.

The Upstairs

Nadya and Yao took one end of the upstairs while Aphrodite continued to investigate the other end. As they moved through the house, they noted a complete lack of packing by the staff. in fact they could not tell whether the staff had left or should still be on the premises.

Meanwhile, Aphrodite had located a room with an unusual circular poster bed. Seeing something of interest underneath it, she slipped under the bed to investigate only to finder herself trapped by powerful warding magic, called the above and below. As she screamed and clawed at the bed in an attempt to escape, a strange creature seemed to rise up from the floor and attempt to pull downward towards oblivion. Yao and Nadya ran to her aid hopeing to free her from the bed, but were unable to do so. Yoa attempted to use his strength to physically break the bed, While Nadya began using her ritual knowledge in an attempt to free Aphrodite from whatever was attacking her.

It was about this time that Eve arrived to ask for Yao’s assistance downstairs. Seeing that strength had no bearing on Aphrodite’s situation, Yao went to the basement to prepare to fight the creature should it escape the basement, while Eve remained to assist Nadya in the room with the dangerous circular bed.

Nothing to Fear…Yet

Yao arrived downstairs and the three there struggled to keep the door closed and the creature they feared locked inside. realizing that they were losing the struggle Yao prepared to attack it, as George and John prepared to retreat to the top of the stairs. When the door flung open, they discovered the basement empty and undisturbed, with no sign of bodies nor of a mysterious creature. They quickly cleared the basement, pulled the door closed and locked it.

Meanwhile upstairs, Nadya, with Eve’s assistance managed to free a terrified Aphrodite from beneath the bed. As they withdrew from the room, a new danger presented itself.

Is that smoke I smell?

Suddenly the entire house was ablaze in flames. Thick chocking smoke began to fill the room as an uncontrolled blaze ripped through the structure with unbelievable speed. The two groups, from upstairs and the basement, rushed towards the easiest exit- the front door, where they encountered a new danger.

There standing near the entrance was a creature unlike anything they had ever seen. It was upright, walking on two legs and possessing the features of a massive ram. The creature was sheathed in flames and the team knew they were outclassed.

The creature attacked and the team responded in kind. The teams attacks were ineffective due to the extreme heat and the team called an immediate retreat. The creature showed remarkable speed and agility, chasing the members down easily. They would have died, had it not been for Yao’s heroic actions. The Tribesman turned and struck the creature in the shin with an ironwood club, drawing the creature’s ire.

determined to lead it away, Yao ran as fast as possible for the sea cliff and in a desperate attempt to escape the creature’s wrath leaps from the clifftop to the sea below, badly injuring himself on some submerged rocks. Despite his injuries, he survived the dive and the other members of the group were able to escape the creature. They returned to the clubhouse and Yao rejoined them later that night.

The Dafni Briefing

The group reconvened in the central hall at the Dafni, where Yao recovered with the aid of Villeforte’s whiskey. The group shared their information, and Nadya headed to the Library to try to uncover exactly what they were facing. The others recovered their injuries and rested to restore their spirit while she worked.

The following morning, the group decided to revisit the Paulos Estate again, this time during the day to see what additional clues could be discovered after the appearance of the creature. They were convinced that they were on the right track, or else they would not have been accosted by the creature. Nadya’s research had uncovered a tie to a group of ancient lineages known collectively as the Zodia and power enhancing artifacts associated with them, called the Zodiac Medallions.

The Legend of the Zodia

Nadya’s research indicated that the Zodia were a group of family lineages each directly descended from the manifestation of the primal forces associated with the Zodiac as understood by the Ancient Sumerians. This legacy would later be adapted and adopted by the Greeks, for which the current names of the Astrological houses were named. originally 13 lineages, the thirteenth was believed nearly destroyed,and so over time was forgotten, leaving the traditional twelve known today. They are in order: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. The forgotten thirteenth was known as Ophiuchus.

The details were vague, as little information has been passed down over the generations, but the medallions, somehow amplify the powers that these lineages already possess. Among the common powers shared by all Zodia, are the ability to create a manifestation of their line, akin to an avatar, that is completely controlled by the summoner. this Avatar seems to be able to manifest roughly one every 13 hours, and possesses enhanced versions of the powers associated with the sign it represents. It is also exceptionally resilient to all damage and exceptionally powerful.

Another commonality shared by all Zodia is the ability to use any Zodiac medallion that they can possess. So it is feasible to collect multiple medallions and utilize the powers from each. This meant that the Zodia were generally in contest with each other for the control of the medallions. In the legend it is said that possessing the twelve medallions would lead to the possession of the final thirteenth medallion which granted godlike powers to the possessor. This power is known as the UNITY.

Return to the Paulos Estate

The next morning the group returned to the Paulos estate, where they discovered a large group of the Sacred Band, the personal military for Andros Aries already present. They managed to convince the captain to allow them to stay and separated to gather clues.

Nadya discovered that there were some sort of wards located on the threshold of the now burned house. It was her belief that these wards were responsible for the encounters in the basement and under the bed the night prior. They had been destroyed in the blaze, so it was not possible to be certain. This discovery was enhanced by the discovery of a secret hidden circle surrounding a portion of the house. Both Yao and Nadya discovered it, and were able to trace it’s borders, confirming that the ward would have been assisted by the presence of the circle, strengthening the suspicion that the wards were responsible.

Furthermore, the members of the Sacred Band had located the staff of the household. The bodies were scattered in the woods adjacent to the property. John, George and Scrooge were able to determine that the staff had been forced to kneel near the edge of the forest before being chased into the woods. The staff were then shot in the back while attempting to flee. John was able to retrieve one of the bullets from a tree, identifying the caliber and most likely rifle used to commit the heinous crime. They were the same rifles carried by the Sacred Band, and it suddenly became possible that the group may well find themselves executed if the band’s involvement were made known.

Eve and Aphrodite were able to speak with the captain, discovering that the Band had been on patrol on the nearby highway, when they had spotted thick black smoke from the burning estate. They had arrived to find the place burned out and a search of the nearby forest uncovered some of the bodies there which caused them to expand the search and discover even more bodies. These bodies were being recovered presently. They also determined that Paulos was not among the dead. With new information that the Sacred band was patrolling the highways, it seemed unlikely that Paulos, a political enemy to Andros would attempt to escape the city via highway. That meant that he was in hiding. He was somewhere within Athens, but where.

Return to Safe Ground

Nadya managed to convince the captain of the Sacred band that the group would feel safer if some of their men could be spared to escort them into town, specifically to the tidewater estate. The captain agreed and assigned four of his men to act as escort. On the way, Nadya hatched a plan to gather additional information from the band. To make it work, she would enlist Aphrodite to seduce one of the Soldiers in order to separate him from his group.

The Tidewater Estate

Upon arrival at the Tidewater Estate, the troop of soldiers was invited in for a meal. as one of the troopers went to take the horses to the stable, Aphrodite, Kofi and Nadya made their move. First Aphrodite seduced the man into the stable with the belief that an intimate tryst was likely. Kofi was standing by, in case things got out of hand. Once his attentions were engaged, Nadya arrived, and using her Hypnotism skill, questioned the man extensively on his knowledge of the Sacred band and the Aries Family. It was discovered that the soldiers in that group encountered at the Paulos Estate had not been involved in any slaughter, leading to the belief that different troops were used to carry out the slaughter. It was also uncovered that the troop was exclusively loyal to Andros and not his mother or daughter. This meant if they were responsible for the slaughter, the Andros would have been the one ordering it.

Once the troopers had eaten and left the property, the group retired back to the Dafni, where new theories developed.

The Crimson Woman

With no other leads to the location of Paulos Anakos, the team revisited the unknown identity of the crimson Woman. With the identity of the Crimson man now known, and the disappearance of Paulos also known, it seemed that the most likely candidate for the identity of the crimson woman was Paulos’ mistress, Antonia Xydakis. With no way to locate her, they team devised a means to track her down using hounds.

Kofi had a pair of bloodhounds he had trained at the Tidewater estate. If the group could find something belonging to the crimson woman, he could use it to provide the scent for the hounds and track her down using the dogs.

Remembering that the crimson man and Woman had hurriedly arranged their costumes at the last minute and used the costumer at the Grecco Theatre, Eve and Aphrodite went to the theater to see if there was anything that may have been left behind at the theater during the fitting.

Upon arrival, they encountered Katerina Haverly, who was purchasing tickets for a show. Katerina had been at the tea and brought up the scathing gossip that an incestuous relationship existed between Andros and his daughter. While this fact was not particularly helpful, it would oddly enough lead to a clear indication of involvement in who was using the medallion to summon and control the Aspect of Aries.

After the brief encounter, the two spoke with the costumer who claimed that no article of clothing had been left behind. The only indication that the woman had been there, were located in the trash bin, as she had used a menstrual cloth while there and discarded it before leaving.

This, of course would be the best possible scent item that could be found, and the pair collected it and returned to the Dafni, where Kofi had brought his dogs. Using the bloodied fabric, he scented the dogs and departed on the woman’s trail.

Meanwhile the team began to formulate a plan to locate and deal with the Aspect and the Aries Family. Upon hearing that Katerina had been killed in a mysterious carriage fire, they knew without a shadow of a doubt that The Daughter, Astrid Aries and the grandmother Andromache Aries were the ones responsible for the murders and the use of the aspect. With new instructions to acquire the medallions and deal with those responsible if needed, the group needed a plan to deal with those responsible.

After several hours, Kofi returned with the crimson Woman, Antonia Xydakis, whom he rescued from members of the Sacred Band that were holding her to gain information on Paulos’ location. He knew that one of those responsible for the kidnapping would return to the Aries family, where the rescue would be reported. This would make the perfect bait to lure out the Aspect.

Taking the Offensive

The team decided that there needed to be two separate parts to their plan to deal with the Aries. This would involve drawing the aspect away from the city, and simultaneously dealing with Andromache and Astrid. To this end, they would split into two teams.

The first team would return to the Paulos Estate and would be comprised of Amelia, Yao, Eve, John and George. They developed a chain trap, connected to a wagon loaded with a heavy block of stone. This trap was set up near the sea cliff, and everyone would lay in wait to spring the trap while Yao would vex the creature and draw it into the trap. The trap when triggered would entangle the Aspect, dragging it over the cliff and into the sea below.

The second team, consisting of Chang Lee, Nadya, Scrooge, Brennan and Aphrodite would attempt to gain access to the Aries house, acquire the medallion and if possible escape without discovery. To make certain the aspect would show, the team carefully leaked information that the group would be meeting with Paulos at his burned out estate at midnight. This information would be plausible since they were now in possession of his mistress, and seemed the most likely to work. To let the entry team know that the aspect had arrived, Amelia agreed to create a pyrotechnics display alerting them to the Aspect’s presence.

To further aid in the chaos, Nadya arranged a meeting with Colonel Cartwright at the British embassy and accompanied by Eve, managed to recruit Brennan to the plan. They also managed to use hypnotism in the Colonel causing him to believe that Andros’ Sacred Band was planning to attack the British Embassy and that he should take preemptive action. As a result he led his troops in an attack against the Sacred band Surrounding the Aries Estate.

With their plan in place, all they could do was wait for the Aspect to arrive.

Springing the Trap

As expected, the Aspect appeared almost exactly on time. As it did so, the capture team sprung into action. John and Yao grabbed the creature’s attention, drawing it towards the trap, while Amelia alerted the second team to the aspects arrival. Standing by to insure that the counterweight to the trap activated properly, George stood ready to push the heavily laden wagon over the cliff face to entangle the creature.

Intense moments followed, but they were unable to entrap the creature due to an unforeseen development.

No Plan Survives First Contact with the Enemy

Meanwhile back at the Aries Estate a skirmish was unfolding between British troops and the Sacred band Guarding the Aries estate. This drew Andros away from the estate to oversee things, leaving the estate defenders occupied in defending against the attack.

The entry group staged themselves near their infiltration point and upon seeing the pyrotechnics promised by Amelia, began their entry to the estate. As they made their way across the garden, they moved adjacent to the gazebo where the body had been found. To their surprise they discovered that there was a secret stair leading beneath the floor of the Gazebo and into a chamber occupied by Andromache, Astrid and a group of fanatical cult of followers dedicated to the family known as the Heliades.

The team was discovered and a fight ensued. At the Paulos Estate, the aspect disappeared before the trap could be sprung and reappeared at the Aries Estate. Aphrodite, using her telepathy, notified Amelia, who immediately gathered up the remainder of the team and teleported them using her thaumaturgy to the garden outside the Gazebo.

A Battle Royale

The situation rapidly degraded into a nasty free-for-all conflict. The team struggled to deal with the large number of cultists, they also found themselves dealing with the Aspect, which Andromache had summoned over her physical form to protect herself.

Nadya noticed that Andromache’s garments had a special clasp between her breasts that held the medallion. John and Aphrodite notified of this fact, each damaged one side of the clasp loosening the medallion, which fell from Andromache’s control. This caused her to lose the ability to manifest the Aspect and resulted in her death.

They recovered the medallion and discovered that Astrid was escaping into the garden, they pursued her, but stopped when they encountered her standing with her father awaiting the group. Unprepared and injured, the group steeled themselves against the upcoming attack that they were convinced was coming. However, Andros, already angry with his daughter and mother for their lack of discretion, brutally incinerated his daughter while the others stood by.

He then issued them and ultimatum, either unaware on uncaring that they had taken possession of his medallion.

Aftermath

Upon returning to the Dafni, The team was able to recuperate from their injuries with Villeforte’s assistance. The Medallion was locked away in a special vault and the team set out to unwind from a very stressful mission.

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From Darkest Beginnings
Season 1, Episode 0

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Vignette 1: A Dark and Rainy Night

In a small Swiss Village on a stormy night, Evangeline awakens upon a metal bed located on the upper floor of a villa at the edge of town. With a flash of lightning a singular figure is revealed standing in the window looking out over the town square. This is Adam. He warns Eve of the gathering mob below, and then departs through the open window.

The mob surround the building and begin to break in the doors. As they do so, Eve rushes down the stairs, and is shot by a musket wielded by one of the mob, but watches in surprise as the ball bounces harmlessly off her body. As the crowd begin to gain access to the building, Eve manages to escape through a second exit, and flees the town.

However it doesn’t take long for the townsfolk to realize that she has fled. They immediately summon the hounds and set off in pursuit across the Swiss countryside, along a wooded path during a terrible thunderstorm. Evangeline is running frantically along the path, attempting to escape the mob chasing her. The mob, bearing pitchforks and torches, are spurred onwards by the hunting dogs guiding them towards the frightened woman.

In the distance she sees a raging river, swollen by the downpour. along the shore stands the decaying husk of a dilapidated old windmill. Seeing no other option, she takes shelter inside as the mob moves in for the kill. As she hides on the upper walkways, the mob gathers outside where they set the building alight.

Faced with what appears to be near-certain death, the flames rise quickly, while the angry mob outside prepare to kill her as she attempts to flee. But they do not get the chance, dropping in through the roof of the building, an individual (Sanja) crashes through the walkway, causing Evangeline and him to fall to the ground, where he lands on his feet. Dazed, the character has little chance to reac before he attacks.

The individual starts tossing Eve around effortlessly, slamming her into supports and structures. During this entire fight, he is making comments about her, “being just like a woman”, and also about “being an abomination.” Eventually, he slams her into the ground and begins to choke her. As he is doing so, and she is losing consciousness, a pulse of energy appears nearby, separating the two combatants.

An additional figure appears just then, as her assailant recovers his footing. A swift exchange of blows is traded between the assailant and the newcomer. During this exchange, the mob outside remains ready, the building is still burning and parts of the structure are beginning to collapse. The Character is struck by a falling burning support and loses consciousness.

She awakens later, hundreds of miles away in a horsedrawn carriage, traveling through the streets of Athens. She is seated across from Renette Villefort, who explains that she has the opportunity to join a group dedicated to protecting humanity from evil, much like the evil that attempted to kill her. All she has to do is join the Aegis Society. Eve agrees and becomes a member.

Vignette 2: A Dark Day for the Stage

Aphrodite was approached by Amelia Archer with an offer to steal an expensive Faberge Cigarette Case from a wealthy patron of the show named Augustus Schell. Schell was an important Tammany Hall political financier in New York city. He happened to have a box seat at the showing of that night’s Vaudeville variety show, a show in which Aphrodite is performing.

In actuality, the case was an artifact known as the Imperious Stalwart, an item that protects against certain types of thaumaturgical attacks. The artifact was stolen by a Black Court Vampire named Baron Barstow after a prominent Venatori was assassinated for it.

Aphrodite along with her assistant JE Beau and Husband Archibald Burchild were hired to steal the cigarette case. To make this happen, an indecent proposition was made and Aphrodite was able to gain access to the box under the guise of a prostitute.

After the show ended, Aphrodite made her way up to the box where she managed to filch the case and escape the box without being caught. However as she made her escape the disappearance of the case was discovered and Schell’s two bodyguards, both Vampires, began their pursuit.

They chased Aphrodite and Beau into the alley behind the theater, where Amelia and Evangeline are waiting for them. Forewarned by the Pythia that they would be facing vampires, the pair were able to successfully protect Aphrodite and her people from the attack. Afterwards, Amelia transported them all to Athens where Content Not Found: renette-villfort was able to recruit them into the Aegis Society.

Vignette 3: As Darkness Descends

A Romani caravan has set up camp for the night in a wooded area north of Athens. That night the caravan’s members begin their normal festive night, dancing, singing and drinking the night away. After many hours, a sinister danger approaches the camp.

Slowly the darkness of the woods begin to take on a sort of life all its own. The shadows begin to stretch into the camp, seeming to defy the various lamps and campfires until they eventually go out completely. When this happens a troop of creatures emerge from the darkness and attack the Romani encampment. At this time, Nadya Simza, now alerted to the danger befalling her people attempts to fight the creatures. She is assisted by the sudden arrival of Amelia, Evangeline and Aphrodite on the field of battle.

As people panic, the Erebosii begin to murder members of the camp. As these events unfold, Nadya Simza is convinced by the newcomers to seek refuge inside her wagon , which she must “dark-proof.” While this is happening, the women notice a mysterious “cloaked figure” (Mortigern) enter the camp. This figure goes directly to the caravans belonging to the matron of the clan, and rips the door open. despite a desire to seek revenge, the women remain safe inside the wagon. through a small slit in the door they witness the figure exit the matron’s wagon carrying a sacred item known as the Acriobus.

Sensing their opportunity for escape, Amelia transports the group and the wagon to the Dafni where Nadya is recruited to join the Aegis Society by Villefort.

Vignette 4: The Dark Side of Show Business

George Papageorge was an escape artist and stage magician performing in Prague, in a Bohemian neighborhood, near the Vltava River. He has gathered a small crowd in the at a local festival where he performed a series of tricks to entertain his audience., alongside his assistant Naomi Johnson.

As the show progresses, the feats become more elaborate and dangerous. At the pinnacle of the performance, Papageorge performed a water tank escape trick, which was well received by the audience. All that is, except for a single woman. She instead heckled the performer claiming that he has done nothing particularly amazing. In fact, she claimed, she can do it herself, it so easy to perform.

At this point, several men in the audience take up her cause, insisting that Papageorge allow her to attempt the trick, despite the dangers. Reluctantly, but somewhat unexpectedly, he agrees and they chain up the woman and lower her in to the tank.

At first all goes well even as the woman struggles to escape her bonds. But then suddenly there was a problem, she began to convulse, and it appeared she may be drowning. Using a sledgehammer, George rushed forward to slam it into the glass tank, which cracks. Repeated blows weakened the glass until it shattered.

At that very moment, the woman (a Blood Siren) transformed to her grotesque form and thrashed across the stage, terrifying patrons. Simultaneously, Amelia, Evangeline, Aphrodite and Nadya arrive to aid Papageorge. The creature began to use its ability to influence men to create additional chaos, but Aphrodite was able to draw away the majority of the influence trouble makers by enticing them to chase her. Working to control the crowd and minimize injury, the team could do little as the creature made its was make makes it’s way to the small trailer that Papageorge and Naomi used for their residence while on the road. The creature destroyed the trailer, only abandoning the area, escaping into the river once it had found an artifact known as the Alethiometer hidden amongst Papageorge’s belongings.

With the creature’s influence rapidly diminishing, Amelia transported the team, Papageorge and Naomi to Athens, where Mrs. Villefort recruited Papageorge into the Society.

Vignette 5: The Darkest Heart

At the Oxford University lecture hall, John Tidewater was concluding a lecture entitled, “Evidence for a Lost Tribe of European Settlers in the Heart of Africa.” began to take questions. As he does so, he notices a group of four or five individuals entering the lecture hall. These are Cyprus Archer, Evangeline, Aphrodite, Nadya and Papageorge. they have been sent to convince Tidewater to join the Society. The initial contact and attempt at recruitment progresses with difficulty. As the discussion continued, a group of “rough looking” identical looking men, entered the lecture hall, blocking off all the exits. The individuals begin to approach the podium and begin to demand one of the artifacts on display, the Windstrider Mask.

Suddenly the group of men escalate the situation and attack in an attempt to take the mask by force. They are a single creature, known as a Salbieine. They have the ability to duplicate their numbers significantly, quickly outnumbering their enemies and overpowering them to exhaustion. A fight ensues, in which the group attempts to protect the mask and John. However, as it becomes more difficult and victory seems unlikely, Papageorge uses his strength to throw the mask through a skylight, distracting the creature long enough to allow Archer to transport the group and Tidewater back to the Dafni in Athens. Villefort then recruits John to join the Aegis Society.

Vignette 6: In a Deep Dark Place

Late at night, a small group of cultists moved into the company town of Metanopoli to acquire a buried artifact. In order to do so without dealing with the inhabitants of the town, a powerful thaumaturgical spell was used to lull the townsfolk into a deep slumber. However, the owner of the company town, Scrooge MacLeod, and some of his men were somehow immune to the affects of the spell.

Alerted to the presence of some trespassers, Scrooge and his men ride toward the center of town where they encounter the Saaleene Cultists. The Cultists have captured some of the toensfolk and upon seeing the men, order an attack. Scrooge managed to notice that they are digging something up. It is later identified as the Pyxidium, a powerful artifact. Scrooge takes shelter inside one of his factories, to wait for the Cultists to finish him off.

Before that can happen however, The Aegis Society members arrive at the factory to rescue Scrooge. They were sent by the Pythia specifically to save him, and they advise him that he residents at the dig site have been murdered and that the artifact has been stolen. After they depart with him safely, the factory is attacked by cultists, but the men remaining there manage to fight them off.

Villefort recruits Scrooge into the Aegis Society.

Vignette 7: Darkest before the Morning’s Light

Over the last few years, the British have been driving farther and farther into Ashanti territory, stripping the land of it’s treasures. Recently there has been a new thrust back into the Ashanti territories, specifically by excavators, engineers and miners trying to get at the rich reserves of gold, silver and precious gems.

In the last few weeks, there have been three separate incursions by the British into Ashanti territory. These groups consist of geologists accompanied by soldiers. These groups have little friendly contact with the villagers they encounter. In fact, more often than not, the villagers are taken as slaves to work on the new railroad pushing inland towards the mineral rich territories controlled by the Ashanti.

When the reports of another raiding party reach Yao a small war party is dispatched to deal with the intruders. They make their way a moderate distance away where an English encampment has been established. The small group consists of an engineer, a geologist, several black slaves, and a group of 10 soldiers lead by a Lieutenant.

A Battle ensues, and the English group is vanquished. As the raiding party is digging through the loot remaining after the destruction of the English camp a lone warrior arrives to tell Yao that there has been an attack upon his village. Yao leads his war party back to the village where they spot a column of smoke rising from its burning remains.

Concerned, Yao, leads the war party back into to their home village, expecting an ambush. When they arrive, they encounter what appears to be a group of soldiers raiding the village. An English “gentleman” seems to be overseeing the events. The soldiers were rounding up members of the tribe, and a fight ensues. It ends quickly however, when the Englishman threatens to have all the women and children captured executed if the Ashanti do not surrender. Yao orders his men to surrender, and once they have been restrained, the British execute Yao’s warriors.

The Englishman are finally face to face. The British man forces Yao to willingly enter a cage as a captive. Onkwani, an enemy of Yao has assisted the british in taking the Cup of Okeilea, a sacred relic.Cromwell uses his cane to knock Yao unconscious.

When he comes to, he is locked in a pair or iron shackles attached to massive posts driven into a beach. Present is Onkwani, the Englishman and a number of Saaleene Cultists. additionally a number of natives from Yao’s village are also chained to posts. It appears that they are to become sacrifices.

They are on a small island, off the coast of Greece. As night falls, it becomes apparent that an artifact (the Pyxidium) recovered from Metanopoli is the centerpiece of the ritual. it has been placed in the middle of the circle, and a ring of flame is placed around the entirety, and another ring encircles the main individuals performing the ritual. As the ritual gets underway Cromwell and Onkwani stand nearby, as the cultists begin to execute the slaves one-by one.

About halfway through the event, it is interrupted, by the concerted efforts of the newly arrived Aegis Society. They were sent to rescue Yao and stop the ritual. The cultists begin to rush, trying to murder all the sacrifices as quickly as possible. Just as they are reaching the final sacrifice, Yao; Tidewater manages to shoot the bonds holding him in place.

Joined together, the team manages to stop the ritual and capture the Pyxidium. However, the Englishman and Onkwani managed to escape. Villefort recruits Yao into the Aegis Society.

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