Saturday, June 6th, 2009, 11:30 AM – Descent (Cipher Deciphered – Hathorne Manor)
- Arachne, and Okazo are up and going about their mostly mundane daily business.
- At 12:30 PM Kronate arrives home from his night of fun and decides to analyze the Cipher before trying to contact Geb regarding his search for Jenny McCallister. Geb’s quest is important, but the Abedju Cipher is fascinating.
- Kronate considers trying to find out how he can get a meeting with Khumeia of the Illuminated Pentad regarding her relationship with Little Cedric, but is much more interested in first learning more about the Cipher.
- At 3:30 PM Kronate decides to determine the Cipher’s capabilities.
- Arachne hands the Cipher to Kronate and he hears the same voices just beyond his hearing that Arachne did.
- He first casts an improvised Fate spell to detect curses [Fate 3 + Gnosis 3 + HS 2 = 8 dice → no curse found].
- Kronate casts Analyze Enchanted Item in the warm glow of the Hallow [Prime 2 + Gnosis 3 + HS 2 = 7 dice → success].
- He scrutinizes the item for 10 minutes and determines that the capabilities of the artifact revolve around the Unveiling Practice [Wits + Occult = 6 dice → 3 successes].
- He continues to analyze the item and after another 15 minutes he determines the following [3 more successes]:
The Abedju Cipher (Artifact 3)
Durability 5, Size 1, Structure 5
Mana Capacity: 11
This golden bracelet has three inlaid gems (ruby, diamond, and lapis) set in a triangular pattern and is ornately etched with designs that appear, at first glance, to be tiny rows of hieroglyphics. When examined more closely, the glyphs are actually written in a far older indecipherable script.
By spending 1 Mana whoever wears the bracelet on his arm gains the benefit of the Death 1 “Speak with the Dead” spell, allowing him to see, hear and speak with ghosts within Twilight for one hour. The bearer of the Cipher does not have to add Spirit 1 to hear and see spirits within Twilight, and does not need to add Mind 1 in order to perceive mental projections. He can automatically see, hear, and speak with them as he can with ghosts.
It regains 3 Mana per day during play and 3 Mana per week during downtime.
- Testing the artifact’s abilities uses one of its Mana.
- Arachne suggests that everyone in the cabal should share the artifact and Okazo agrees.
- Kronate is still suspicious of the item and he gives it back to Arachne and she wears it.
Saturday, June 6th, 2009, 7:45 PM – Descent (Hathorne Manor)
- After eating dinner together for the first time in a few days, everyone begins deciding how they might spend their evening.
- Kronate, Arachne, and Okazo have all of their standard spells active.
- Everyone feels a brief wave of magic come over them coming from the Northwest outside the sanctum.
- Kronate casts Supernal Vision and scrutinizes the resonance signature of the wave [Wits + Occult = 6 → success].
- Another wave follows about 1 minute later and is 25% smaller in amplitude.
- Arachne does not see any Ghosts or Spirits in Twilight.
- Okazo casts Spatial Awareness and Third Eye, but doesn’t find any Space or Mind related resonance.
- After another minute another 25% smaller amplitude wave washes over them.
- Kronate suggests an effort to triangulate the origin of the wave.
- Everyone gets into Okazo’s SUV and he begins driving west.
- After 15 minutes of recording the vector of the ever-diminishing waves, Okazo casts an improvised Space and Forces spell to organize the data on his iPhone and reveal the origin point of the phenomenon.
Saturday, June 6th, 2009, 8:20 PM – Descent (Cemetery)
- They travel north along a dirt road and reach a small cemetery about 3 miles northwest of Hathorne Manor. Arachne has been here before to study Death.
- The cemetery is small, only a few acres. They can’t quite see from one side to the other though, because of a few copses of trees. As the cabal stares out into the dark, they feel a profound sense of disquiet, as though someone has walked over their graves.
- It’s starting to get a little dark. Okazo casts Nightvision on the cabal.
- The cemetery is surrounded by a short two-foot wrought iron fence with a gate locked with an old padlock.
- Arachne remembers that the cemetery is no longer in use. The most recent burials were in the 1970s.
- She doesn’t see anything of interest in Twilight.
- The group hops the south fence to investigate. Arachne mentions that it must have been a pretty substantial event to reach Hathorne Manor from 3 miles away.
- Kronate finds footprints, made by a group of at least three people, that lead from the north side of the cemetery to a mausoleum.
- They approach the mausoleum.
Saturday, June 6th, 2009, 8:45 PM – Descent (Cemetery – The Mausoleum)
- Arachne casts Sense Life and does not detect any human life other than the cabal [Life 3 + Gnosis 3 + HS 2 = 8 dice].
- Kronate casts Supernal Vision again and notices that the graveyard is saturated with magical energy. Someone recently cast a spell that covered the area, but the spell went awry, possibly due to Paradox. The energy is receding and should be gone in roughly 30 minutes. The epicenter of the phenomenon seems to be the mausoleum.
- Arachne tells the group that she doesn’t detect any Life, but to be cautious in case someone occluded might be inside.
- The group approaches the mausoleum. The door leading into the mausoleum is ajar, and they can tell that it was forced. Inside, five people – three men, two women – lie on the stone floor around a stone casket. Their eyes stare lifelessly upward and their mouths gape as though amazed. There are no visible signs of what killed them.
- Arachne still detects nothing in Twilight.
- She casts Forensic Gaze and determines that they died as a result of a sudden shock to their systems. Their bodies simply couldn’t handle the strain. The shock was magical in origin and involved the Death Arcanum.
- Kronate notices with Supernal Vision that the casket is saturated with magical energy, but it isn’t a Hallow or an Imbued Item.
- Okazo uses Spatial Awareness and realizes that the casket is a portal, but that it is not designed to be opened with the Space Arcanum. It’s beyond the purview of Space to determine anything more.
- Kronate looks for identification and finds some personal affects and a little cash, but no wallets or identification.
- Arachne hears a low female voice behind her, “Are you here to claim your due, necromancer?” She turns to see a humanoid shape standing in the shadows nearby, but it does not come forward.
- She notices that it is a spirit in Twilight and she tells the group.
- It turns to flee through the mausoleum wall.
- Arachne casts Lesser Spirit Summons to force it to come back [Spirit 2 + Gnosis 3 + HS 2 + Shard = 8 dice vs. Resistance → success]. The spirit grudgingly returns and stands before Arachne.
Arachne: What did you mean? Claim my due? What happened here?
Spirit: You who are called Arachne must open the door and enter so that you may claim your due.
Arachne: How do you know this?
Spirit: I am a guardian. I remain here in the Fallen World and protect this gateway from Sleepers.
Arachne: What happened to these people?
Spirit: Their leader attempted to open the gateway to the Palace, but she was unworthy. The power of Death consumed her. As she was the Pathfinder, the others shared her fate.
Okazo: Can you pass me the Cipher Arachne so that I can share in the conversation with you?
- Arachne passes the Cipher to Okazo and he spends a Mana to activate its abilities.
Arachne: How does one use the gateway?
Spirit: You may open the gateway mighty Pathfinder.
Okazo: How is she to do that?
Spirit [ignores Okazo]
Arachne: Was the person trying to open the gateway trying to bring her companions along?
Spirit: Likely, but that is allowed. Her death is the result of her unworthiness. Only a Disciple of Death may descend into the Palace.
Arachne: What can you tell me of the Palace?
Spirit: The Obsidian Palace is a temple to knowledge and patience. To learn more, press forward and see for yourself.
- Arachne scrutinizes the casket with Grim Sight as the spirit hovers in place and believes that she could open the gateway with an improvised extended vulgar Death spell.
- She calls Cuchulainn, but he does not answer.
- Arachne is intrigued and decides to attempt opening the gateway.
- Okazo and Kronate decide to look around while she is casting the spell.
- Arachne asks for the Cipher back to use its mana in the casting and then begins the ritual.
- Okazo suggests they follow the footprints north.
- They do so and arrive at a large sedan parked on a dirt road on the other side of the north fence.
- Okazo casts Sense Minds and finds no minds present.
- Kronate scrutinizes the car with Supernal Vision and finds that the locks on the car have been enchanted with a Forces spell.
Okazo: Well, you said there’s only a spell on the locks so maybe we can get around that…
- Okazo uses Gain Skill to reach into the Temenos for Brawl and then kicks the driver’s side front window of the car [1 Mana]. After a few attempts he breaks enough glass to reach in and open the door from the inside.
- Okazo takes care not to dirty the scene. “I don’t want another talking-to from Ogma, if you know what I’m saying?”
- The interior is clean and looks as though it has been vacuumed and shampooed repeatedly. The glove compartment contains a map of New England and a map of Boston, which Okazo just tosses on the seat.
- Okazo pops the trunk and it contains a large plastic tarp, a can of gasoline, and a long coil of rope.
- Kronate looks for a GPS, but doesn’t find one.
- He casts Synchronicity using Little Cedric’s apprentice manual and comes up with three words – Banisher – Seeking – Power [Fate 3 + Gnosis 3 + HS 2 w/ EL = 8 dice → 3 successes].
- Okazo concludes that the dead bodies are Banishers who came here to seek some sort of power. “Didn’t really work out for them, now did it? Chalk one up for the Pentacle.”
- Okazo and Kronate put everything back in the car as they found it.
- They head back to Arachne at the mausoleum and wait as she finishes the last twenty minutes of her ritual. Okazo is poking around on his iPhone, but Kronate simply waits as he can’t get a signal on his.
Saturday, June 6th, 2009, 9:55 PM – Descent (Cemetery – The Casket)
- Arachne completes her ritual and there is no Paradox [Gnosis/2 = 2 dice → 0, Gnosis 3 + Death 3 = 6 dice → 2 successes, 1 Mana]. She uses the Cipher to power the spell.
- The casket turns as black as obsidian, losing any trace of being made of stone at all. It seems to be made of pure shadow, and it spreads out like black water. It covers the floor, and the cabal, along with the five bodies, begin to move forward, downward, into the darkness.
- The spirit warns them: “Don’t look back!”
- Okazo comments: “I sure hope you know what you’re doing Arachne.”
- After what seems like hours of freezing blackness, they emerge into the Obsidian Palace.
Saturday, June 6th, 2009, 11:20 PM – Descent (The Obsidian Palace)
- They see a set of immense stairs leading up. Everything around them seems to be made of black stone or glass, and a pale blue glow with no apparent source lights the place. Arachne feels mildly uncomfortable, though it takes a few minutes to pin down why. Nothing here has a spirit. Rock is only rock, shadow is only shadow.
- Grandma is no longer ephemeral, wearing the clothes she did when she died. “Mercy me!”
- Arachne gives Grandma a big hug. Okazo: “Aren’t family reunions nice?”
- Arachne feels that the place is connected to the Supernal realm of Stygia, where Moros mages draw their power. Uses of the Death and Matter Arcana are +1 dice and uses of these are never vulgar here. The Spirit Arcanum, as the inferior Arcana of Stygia, suffers a -1 dice penalty.
- Arachne decides to cast Quicken Corpse on the five corpses [Death 3 + Gnosis 3 + HS 2 + 1 + WP 3 – 5 targets w/ EL = 7 dice → 5 successes → Power 2, Finesse 2, Resistance 2, Speed 3, Defense 2, Initiative 1, Health 7].
- Okazo is non-plussed by it after seeing so much occult activity over the last few months.
- Kronate is impressed with the display of power.
- Arachne feels that in this place, the zombies will remain animated as long as she wishes.
- Ascending the stairs is tricky. The bad light and the dark glass blurs the lines of perspective, making it hard to find footing. Eventually, however, they arrive at the top of the staircase and find themselves on a vast plain. They cannot see the horizon, nor is any ceiling evident. Nothing moves except their own reflections in the dark glass of the floor.
- The shadows coalesce into a human form. It stands nearly 10 feet tall but possesses no features – it is an automaton of shadow and glass. It steps forward, and a deep voice rumbles forth. “Who is your Pathfinder?”
- Arachne steps forward.
Obsidian Gatekeeper: I am the guardian of this place. Welcome to the Obsidian Palace. May I have the key?
Arachne: Uh oh.
Okazo: She forgot it in her other pants.
- The guardian grows another several feet taller. The strange blue light intensifies, throwing the shadows all around into stark relief and casting the cabal’s reflections into the floor. “No key?” the guardian booms. “Pretenders, then? Apprentices? Thieves come to take the secrets of the Alae Draconis [Atlantean – Wings of the Dragon – The Mysterium Order]? Very well. You will face the tests to earn your key, but know this: Without your Pathfinder your lives are forfeit. Have you any questions before you begin the tests?”
Kronate: How long will the tests take?
Gatekeeper: They will take as long as they take.
Arachne: What’s involved with the tests?
Gatekeeper: I’m not at liberty to divulge anything about the tests. If you wish to go forward though, you must face them.
Kronate: What is the purpose of the tests?
Gatekeeper: If you pass the tests you will receive the key to the Palace.
Okazo: Do we have to go forward? Can we leave?
Gatekeeper: You may give up at any time, but know this: If you turn away from the tests, you cannot return without the key.
Arachne: We will face the tests.
Saturday, June 6th, 2009, 11:55 PM – Descent (The Obsidian Gatekeeper)
- The guardian inclines its head slightly, and then explodes upward. Shards of glass burst from the ground as it grows to almost 20 feet in height. Okazo and Kronate draw their Glock 17s.
- The Obsidian Gatekeeper swings a massive fist at Arachne and she attempts to Dodge, but he connects with a glancing blow to her shoulder and she staggers back a few feet [Power 5 + Finesse 5 + WP – Defense 2 – Armour 3 = 8 dice → 1 Bashing].
- Kronate puts himself between Arachne and the Gatekeeper [+1 WP], casts Perfect Timing [1 Mana, 7 dice w/EL → +2] and fires five quick shots of his Glock 17, hitting it squarely in the side with two bullets shattering away chunks of stone and glass [8 dice + WP 3 + 2 PT – Armour 3 w/SL = 10 dice → 4 Lethal].
- Okazo unloads three shots of his own and one of them connects and shatters part of its left arm [10 dice + Destiny 2 – Armour 3 = 9 dice → 2 Lethal].
- The zombies shamble up to interpose themselves between the Gatekeeper and Arachne.
- Grandma steps back out of harms way.
- The Gatekeeper raises both of its arms into the air and brings them crashing down onto the floor below, causing large shards of glass to rise up from the floor, cutting everyone nearby [Power 5 + Finesse 5 + WP 3 – Defense 3 – Armour 3 = 7 dice → 3 Lethal].
- Arachne attempts to cast Decay on the Gatekeeper, but it reflexively counters her spell [Decay 13 dice w/EL vs. Counterspell 10 → 2 vs 2 → Spell fails]. She backs up 4 yards.
- Okazo: “We better finish this thing. We can’t take another fuckin’ hit like that!”
- Kronate remembers that Atlantean Temple Guardians can often reflexively counter Supernal magic [Wits + Occult + Mysterium = 7 dice → success] and opts instead to use his pistol and fires one Perfectly Timed [1 Mana, +4] bullet at the Obsidian Gatekeeper and shatters its right arm [Firearms 8 + PT 4 + WP 3 – Armour 3 = 12 dice → 6 Lethal].
- Okazo casts Perfect Timing [1 Mana, +4] fires two more shots and blows a hole right through the Gatekeeper’s abdomen [Firearms 10 + PT 4 + Destiny 2 – Armour 3 w/EL = 13 dice → 5 Lethal].
- The Obsidian Gatekeeper shatters into a million shards of stone and glass that coalesce into shadows and sink into the ground, until nothing remains but the slick surface of the dark glass floor.
- With the guardian spirit vanquished, the cabals sees a luminous path leading off into the dark.
- Arachne casts Pain Harvest and cuts herself with her ceremonial dagger for 2 Lethal [Pain Harvest Pool + 2].
- Arachne casts improvised healing spells on each member of the cabal [Life 3 + Gnosis 3 + HS 2 = 8 → various, 4 Cipher Mana].
- Kronate and Arachne gain all health back and Okazo gains 1 back.
- Arachne casts an improvised Life + Death spell to heal her zombies and they each regain 3 Health.
Sunday, June 7th, 2009, 12:01 AM – Descent (The Path)
- As they walk, the black glass on either side of the path shifts and roils, until they realize that it is liquid. Ahead is simply an expanse of that liquid, covering the path.
- Arachne immediately notices that the liquid is the stuff of Death itself and that no living creature can abide contact with it.
- Arachne commands a zombie to enter the liquid and it is immune to its effects.
- She also guesses that she can affect the liquid with the Death Arcanum [Death + Occult → success].
- Arachne casts an improvised spell to part the liquid and succeeds.
- Twenty yards away the cabal notices a trap door previously covered by the liquid.
- The cabal begins making their way down the path and Arachne casts her spell intermittently to keep the liquid at bay.
- Okazo: “Please, don’t fuck this up.”
- The door is circular and there is an enormous combination lock that secures it.
- Kronate casts Supernal Vision and does not notice any magical resonance at a quick glance.
- He begins picking the lock [Dexterity 3 + Larceny 2 = 5 dice → picks the lock in 4 turns].
- Arachne continues to successfully keep the liquid parted.
- The trapdoor opens and Kronate notices a ladder.
- Arachne orders her zombies to drop into the hole and they each take 2 Bashing as they hit the floor.
- Kronate casts Beginner’s Luck and achieves 4 successes and he descends the ladder [Athletics 3 + Dexterity 2 = 5 → success].
- Okazo succeeds as well.
- Grandma is hesitant, but Arachne tells her to go through. She slips and falls to the floor [2 Bashing].
- Arachne closes the trap door as she descends, but looses her footing and falls to the floor [2 Bashing].
- She casts Pain Harvest again, cuts herself and gains 3 more Pain Harvest points.
- Arachne uses the Cipher’s Mana to cast another healing spell to heal herself again gaining 2 Health.
Sunday, June 7th, 2009, 12:24 AM – Descent (The Treasure)
- They are standing in an immense, round room with a low ceiling, perhaps only seven feet high. Piles of gold and jewels blanket the floor – the black glass is not even visible in most places. The light here comes from burning sconces on the walls, and the flames cause the riches in the room to glitter hypnotically.
- There are no visible exits from the room, including the trapdoor they came from.
- Okazo looks through the riches for something small and valuable as the cabal decides what to do.
…. to be continued ….