Where Mortal Men Do Fear To Tread

It took a little convincing that the fate of the world was on the line, but Julian eventually consents to waking up his father for us. We still have to wait for half an hour to go talk to him, but it is a fruitful discussion. He greets us politely and asks our names, figuring out who we are quite quickly from our past with the Magia. Remy starts explaining all our efforts to protect the city, but Klyce cuts him off to say he has something we need to wake up Porter. For some reason, Klyce has decided it’s a drug. I think it’s something to do with that business in Italy. Turns out we’re both wrong.

Once he finds out that Porter is in trouble, he is much more forthcoming. Klyce asks what he needs from us in exchange. He mentions that his family is in the mana trade and they’ve heard about these Machines… All our hackles raise, but then he goes on to say he wants us to ensure they never go into production, nor ever made legal. We are More than happy to do just that. We don’t have a lot of political power, but what we do, we will bring full force against these Machines. Deal? Deal.

Then we head downstairs and he takes a look at Porter. He pulls a serpent ring off his finger and puts it on Porter’s hand. It shrinks down to fit, and in short order, Porter awakes, albeit still in some pain. Excellent! Now we have to figure out how to find Grandfather. Porter can’t track them wherever they are with the magic he was using for the sacrifices. But maybe we can track their teleports, now that we know which teleports to track. This time, instead of Porter’s people, we can track the demons who attacked my house, and stole my brother.

I ask about my sling, that I stole from Porter’s hideout. Apparently it does extra damage to demons. Remy starts talking about Phil, in vague terms, and I’m surprised at Klyce’s restraint, when he simply says that man is not available for this mission because he says so. Klyce leads us all to the one succubus that teleported away from Phil in the mad chase from my house. We get a direction from there. Then we head back to my house, and up to my brother’s room, and the room where everyone’s staying.

I get that feeling again. I know what I did wrong the first time. I was trying to go two places at once. I can do it now. I ask if everyone is ready, and count heads to make sure I’ve got enough power. Philomena agrees to come with us this time, since we’re down Marybeth and Dalish. Everyone grabs hands, and I teleport us. Into an empty stone room, without mishap.

There’s a hallway behind us with stairs up to the street. Nat finds an instability in the center of the room. Remy looks closely and can just see the entrance to a Magnificent Mansion. Except, this one’s a little different. It seems to not really be here, on our plane, more like it goes into the void a bit. How do we get inside? What happens if we dispell it? It could eject them, or, if there’s another entrance, we would just be barred from getting in, or it could kill them all, my brother included. Remy and Gerhardt look a bit closer at the magic while Klyce skitters off to make sure we’re alone.

Gerhardt decides that if he overcharges, he can get the door open for us. It’ll take a ritual, so while he’s at it, Nat rituals up a telepathic bond, as well. It works! We step through the door into one of the most disgusting places we’ve ever been. It reminds me of the dead king’s body. Only, these fleshy walls have faces moving through them, and they’re all screaming and wailing. There are twenty small demons waiting for us in this foyer of the damned. but they fall quite quickly to the simplest spells and we move on. The next room has a fountain of blood and buffet tables of body parts in various stages of rot. There are stairs going up, doors to either side, and a hallway under the stairs. Remy and Porter run forward super fast to scout, but Porter finds something first.

There’s someone hiding in the study. Klyce skitters forward and can sense three beings in there. Remy comes back down and Gerhardt goes up to look as well. Remy sees one hiding by the liquor cabinet and calls out to him. He threatens to shoot him if he doesn’t show himself, so a slightly larger than the entryway demons comes out to talk. Remy asks where the prisoners are? Down the hall, there’s only one left. Who else in our way? Bull demons, Galabrazu, and a large fear shadow fire demon. A what now? Nevermind, how do we get in without passing all these demons? No way he knows around them. How do we stop the ritual? Kill the two masters. Grandfather must have more puppets or clones. Then it tries to get Remy to take it on as a familiar and Ceres is not amused. What help can you be so we don’t just kill you? Don’t go in the succubus room upstairs, never there. Maybe the demons have weapons you could use against the master? He doesn’t like being stabbed. The shadow, fire, fear monster though, he has no weaknesses. Not even magic. Okay, if we have to leave, what’s the password to get back into this mansion? He tells us, but I wouldn’t even begin to know how to spell the infernal word.

We head down the hallway, wondering if we should have just killed those demons, too, but we need all our magic for what comes next. We make plans about what spells to use, and how to use our Iron Bands on Grandfather’s duplicates. We push through the first set of doors to find an ante chamber full of smoke and darkness at the far end. The Balor peers out at us from the smoke.

Then it grabs Gerhardt with it’s whip and drags him across the room to stab him a couple times. I storm up and spells start flying. It pulls me in next, but manages to somehow not drop me in one round. We mange to keep running away from him, and Gerhardt heals me enough that we put him down without dying ourselves, but as he falls, things go a little sideways. You’re too late! I have slowed you down enough! DIE! Then he explodes and I wake up to Gerhardt treating some pretty nasty burns on my arms.

We head forward again, and open them on the massive fleshy ritual chamber. In the center, Gerald is chained down with a succubus keeping him occupied. Cultists dance around in a circle. Two images of Marybeth, Grandfather’s work, are on the far end of the room, incanting the ritual. And I will fall over again if a soft breeze touches me.

Death and Harvest

The castle begins shifting back almost as soon as Lord Tepish and Stephen leave. Several of the group go on a mad dash to see what can be salvaged before it all disappears. They return with weapons, armor, money, and a couple floating stones. This seems wrong, I wonder if the castle will reappear whever he’s going without these things. I wonder if he will be upset with us. Perhaps I won’t ask for my boon right away.

We all take a well-earned rest and in the morning, we begin to plan the recovery of mine and town. Dalish thinks he knows what Stephen was on to with Great Grandpa Skull. Klyce plots up ways to cover the hole I apparently made in the mine roof. And the rest of us head into town.

I help with setting up for the Harvest Festival, especially making the Green Witch for this year. Making a quick stop by the seamstress to pay her more for her trouble, and ask she make me matching masks and a black velvet one to cover my hideous face. Nat goes to the grieving families and recruits the dead, or performs the funeral for them. Remy helps with organizing and rebuilding destroyed homes and buildings. Gerhardt stays up at the castle, working to refine mana through his alchemy.

Three days before Harvest Eve, townsfolk find Nat and bring her to the Green Witch. Someone has stuffed a dead body inside with a dagger in her chest! There’s a note on it, that Nat sends HeyHey to go look at for her. “Break the Bones” Nat tries to calm the crowd, assuring them we’ll find who did this and bring them to justice. Some of the crowd wonder about cancelling the festival, but We Can’t Do That!

Offerings to the Green Witch cannot be removed. I offer to stay with the body and the Green Witch until the festival, to keep anyone from adding more. Nat casts a gentle repose on the girl, and Klyce stays nearby, guarding as well. I sit and pray, first to the Dawnmother, but only recieve a sense of anticipation in response. The Green Witch is even less responsive to my pleas.

The all return to the Green Witch with no good information. No one saw anything except a woman in a cloak moving around at night. The girl simply got out of bed, got dressed and walked out. Nat offers to try asking the gods more forcefully than I can, and goes into a trance. When she awakens, she says they were vague as always.

They told her Natalie Rathbone is responsible, could it be an ancestor? Conflice when we go below to Old Town is inevitable, but victory is not. It is not how we can survive, but whether we will. It may or may not be connected to the ritual we intend to perform. And the safety of her people is uncertain.

The group heads up to the castle to rest, drink orange juice, and divy up what is left of our mana. Klyce and I continue standing guard through the night, but it’s no use. The next morning, three more dead bodies are found, not in the Green Witch, but around town. There is even bloody graffiti saying Break the Bones. People are even more upset, convinced the festival is cursed. I try to convince them that the Green Witch will bless them if they just carry on. The festival is not cursed, and we will prove it, if they just wait a little longer.

Nat and Remy come back from the three murder scenes and fill us all in. One looks like a ghost did him in, white hair and terrified expression. One had his throat ripped or blasted out in the street. Another is just dead, not a mark, except for lingering necromancy, on him. Nat also tells us she had a dream of her and Stephen at the Festival, and then him stuffing her into the Green Witch as it was set ablaze. We’re fairly sure, now, that the one behind all this is the one burned all those years ago, come back for revenge.

Klyce and I take a daytime nap while the rest of the group researches the Rathbone family line. They don’t manage to find many records of that time, even ripped out pages in the family library. In the early evening, we go with Nat into town to talk to her people, encourage them, and let them know we are going to help. We break up into groups to patrol the town. Klyce and I stay up all night while the others take shifts. Dalish stays by the Green Witch since he still cannot walk.

In the night, I come across a young man wandering in a daze. I wake him up and help him back home, after taking a knife from his hands. Not long after, HeyHey comes flying up and I follow him off to find Mummy Dalish, Nat and a badly bleeding child. The boy has apparently bitten his own thumb off when MD took away his bucket of paint. I heal his thumb back on, but it looks a little funny, and Nat takes him home.

Come morning, we all have breakfast and a short rest before gathering up everything we need, and heading down to Old Town. Klyce makes quick work of the blockage he had put in place, and quickly morphs into a giant scorpian once we get inside. The boys throw up light and we walk into a darkness even more opressive than last time.

In the center of town, we toss up more light and spread out to allow Dalish to work. He has to repair the ritual circle before we can do anything else. Klyce’s scorpian body is helpful in clearing the space. Nat and Gerhardt help him redraw damaged sections. Remy and I offer magical guidance in making the necessary alterations. It takes some hours, but the circle is ready in plenty of time.

As it grows darker, and dusk settles outside, the time has come. Dalish and Nat will perform the ritual while the rest of us must protect them at all costs. Angry, restless voices whisper all around us. Nat appears to be arguing with herself, but I’m too far away to hear what is going on. Then a ghostly outline dives into Nat’s body, and a smoky blackness coalesces into an inky, large humanoid form.

Cannibal Murder Cults… I mean… Gentlemen’s Clubs

I woke up when the fighting was all over. I remember being grabbed by the Black Knight. I remember Klyce climbing up the building nearby. Then, Nothing. I woke up to Nat standing over us all, fresh as the day she got to school. We’re in Remy’s hotel room, even. Not lying on the street in pools of our own blood. So glad Nat found us, that could have been really, really bad. What if the red-capped creepers had found us first??

We immediately start asking her about the drawings. She didn’t see them in her hurry to leave the infirmary and find us, but they were all part of her dreams. She asked which ones had happened, and we told her all about the man in the sewer who tried to kill us all. We ask for more details on what she saw, but it’s all a bit hazy and she’s not sure which have happened and which are going to happen. She really wants to go after her brother in the south again, but we have to take care of the murders going on first.

Nat mentions that the women who were eating the man were surrounded by men in masks, like from her other drawing. I think real hard, and have a vague memory of my own father wearing a mask like it. Late at night, when he would come home loudly drunk. I never asked him where he’d been, you just don’t ask things like that.

But, if he’s been wherever this is happening, we have to find out where it is. The others talk about asking him, or following him. But we have no idea if he’s even going anymore, and I have zero desire to talk to him. Hey Dad, are you involved in a cannibal murder cult? Could you tell me where? Um…. NO, Thank You. Maribeth mentions her grandfather had a similar mask, too, and maybe we could search his office. Klyce mentions that we could also ask Philomena about her father’s activities, seeing as how they had weird creatures living below them.

We all end up back at school in the morning, and we let Klyce do the talking. Philomena isn’t terribly happy about our implications about her father, but she lets it go on account of all the dead. She says there are lots of gentlemens clubs, and they all tend to wear masks for anonymity. She’s sure her dad is a member of one of them. She tells us that they are in the better parts of town, generally not advertised, but they tend to have a mark on the building somewhere.

We go round in circles talking about our plan and their plans. Why now? Are they building up to something? Nat says the darkness is increasing. They were trying to open gates in the rituals we stopped. The symbol is a fertility rite, are they trying to make more? We decide to look at the other sites from the night before. Remy decides to get all dressed up in his adult body and see if he can score an invite to a club or two in the nice areas adjacent to the dumping grounds.

Heading out to talk to our cop allies, they tell us there were four body dumps last night. One was not on our list of possibles. The cops say they don’t have trouble with fancy gentlemen in this part of town. All the sites are bloody messes, as we expected. At the freshest site, we head down into the sewers to look for the redcaps. They turn out to be quite a ways down and away from the bodies, but I can feel their hunger again.

With some light tossing and slow spells, we draw two of them out and end them. I can sense more nearby and call out to them. They talk to me, for once, actually answering, unlike the rest we have fought. They are hungry, but not working with the humans. They just want food. I ask why they don’t leave, and they say they can’t, it’s not time yet. They won’t tell me what that means, or about the war. I ask how to make peace with their people, and they say they must be fed. Klyce won’t attack them if they aren’t attacking us, so I tell them we’ll leave. If they start killing people, though, I tell them, we’ll be back.

We head back to sleep, and in the morning, when Remy arrives, he looks like death. Before he can fill us in, Dalish arrives as well. He tells us about his lessons with Rictus the night before. The tub of Garian goo, when fed to a non-mage, gives them the ability to cast magic. He’s not sure if it’s permanent or temporary. We discuss whether Rictus is looking to make Loyal Soldiers, or Suicide Squads.

Remy gets up the nerve to tell us about his night. There was drinking, partying, and then a circle of of men, where three fae women devoured several men before their eyes. Dalish wonders if there are multiple clubs like this, all feeding people to the fae. Dear gods, if they exist, I hope not!

Okay, so the horror show of our lives continues, but what do we do now??? Maybe we can get the knights to help us, they like fighting against magic. Maybe we can find the creatures before the next ritual? Should we try protection spells? Someone thinks there’s a banishment spell? Oh man, this is going to be terrible!

(authors note: sorry, I ran out of time last week to get this typed up.)