Aether and Ashes

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.

​h2. 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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