Family Reunions

I headed out back with Klyce and Orrin, and watched him make quick work of the burial. Then I asked about my brother. He tells me that he let the succubus take him, and they’ll be back by tomorrow, after Phil is gone. He really believes she’ll do it, and that she loves him. UGH! They’ve only known each other for a couple of Days! He does agree we can hunt her down if they don’t show up.

Then the conversation turns to demons and the Machines, as Klyce wonders about feeding them into it for Mana. He’d rather that then all the human suffering of the mines, or the fae suffering in the current machines. I’d rather it just be undead in the mines and not have to deal with demons anymore. But that’s all long term, how are we getting Mana for the group now? 

He says he’s going to be talking to the Magia soon. I ask him to be careful, but he isn’t worried about them anymore. Not after everything we’ve gone through. I mention his family could be in danger, and the look in his eyes, as he said he would take them All Down… I tell him I’d help, my family’s all gone. He reminds me that I still have Gerald, and he’ll be back tomorrow. Then… Klyce gave me a hug… and went to take his family home. I wish he’d been my big brother instead of Gerald.

I stay outside for a long time after that. Looking at the graves of all the household staff. The people who had been my real family, when my parents and brother had been cruel to me. These people who had cared for me my whole life. Gone in one afternoon, to Demons! I still had to tell their families. I’m not sure how I’m going to do that. It’s all my fault they’re dead. I shouldn’t have brought this trouble home. I sit there, and I cry, finally, for all of them.

The sky is starting to get dark by the time I look up. Nat is laying on Orrin’s grave and Dalish is floating above it. I… I can’t deal with that, too. I head back inside, and find Maribeth and Remy drinking in the lounge. I stop to tell them that they and their families are welcome to stay here as long as they need. She asks what happened, and Remy and I tell her the story of the fleshy mansion and the ritual of Hell. I ask about how it affected Grandfather, and she said he was awful the whole time, but we did make him sweat so much she had to prove she was really there.

I head up to bed, and send to my brother. Tell me you’re alive. I expect to see you tomorrow. He replies that he’s alright, and with Crystal, and he will see us tomorrow. Ugh!!!

In the morning, Remy goes to fetch fresh food, Klyce brings over baked goods, and even Philomena comes to breakfast, though she doesn’t eat. I fetch Nat and Dalish from the grave, and we have a meal. They immediately go into a debate over spell scribing and mana, so I just enjoy the fresh bread. Ethereion’s Machine comes up, and then the voice’s desire for a body. We really shouldn’t let a spell free to roam, but they discuss it for awhile.

Then it turns into a discussion of mana versus genocide. Porter chimes in that demon machines would be far more difficult and dangerous, with less return. Plus, summoning demons usually requires murder in the first place. Klyce wonders about mechanical solutions to mana mining, but mana would rust out machines faster than it does people. Julian offers to get them a good deal from his father, and I tease him a little about the theft ring from school. A suggestion is made to check with Rictus, but Dalish doesn’t think we have enough new evidence for more mana.

What else is on our plate? The Church of the One God seems super sketchy, and we should probably do something there, but what? Nat wants to start by countering their anti-mage campaign with our own soup kitchens. Klyce suggests we use the Dawnmother’s church, since it is close to the One God church. We have the Deliberative coming up, where we have to vote on new primes and campaign against the Machines. We still have the Black Knight on the loose, not to mention Hank and friends who we have to meet up with again “when the time is right.” Nat wants to buy up some property somewhere, and Dalish has to write a report on the planes for the Deliberative.

Philomena then asks if we have plans for Remy’s Dad and Philomena’s Mom. They’re okay here temporarily, but there was a big financial hullabaloo, and we’re not exactly safe to be around in times of upheaval. Remy says he wants to send his Dad to join up with the rest of their Royalist family, just teleport him away south. But that’s tricky, so he suggests they both go live with the Rathbone family for a while, to get away from the city politics. I can take them in the afternoon, and we can get some raw mana for Gerhardt to refine while we’re there. Dalish and Gerhardt are going to set up an alchemy lab in my house for that.

Porter says he has to hash things out with Rictus, and then take care of things in the south. He allows that we can contact him through Dreams, but not with anything traceable. Klyce suggests they go check on his hideout first, make sure everything useful is cleared out of there before anyone else finds it. He agrees, and he, Klyce, and Philomena plan to do that in the afternoon, after Klyce fabricates me a new wall where the demons exploded part of my house and starts cooking up stew for the soup kitchen.

So, we break for the morning. Dalish goes shopping for scribing and alchemy lab materials. Remy goes to Etherion’s to get the last of the mana from his Machine. Maribeth, her mom, Nat, and I head down to the Dawnmother’s church. Maribeth takes the chance to talk to her mom about heading up to Bangoria in the afternoon, and she seems agreeable, though sad that she will be away from her children.

We arrive at the chuch in time for morning services, and it’s nice and relaxing to sit in worship. I’ve said my prayers, but hurriedly of late. After service, I have a chat about our soup kitchen idea. He’s happy to help easily listing off all the contacts and resources we’ll need. I let him know that Klyce will be helping on the food side of things. He says what the people really need is economic activity. Since the Petals were completed, a lot of mage business has left Brooklyn, and they are all hurting. I check my purse, and hand him all my money, about 500 gold, to get started with whatever he thinks is needed for the soup kitchen. Hire people to clean up the church, build an extension, whatever he thinks best. Nat adds on another 100g as well, leaving him astounded and eager to get to work.

Gathering back up for lunch after a productive morning, Remy explains to us that taking all the mana from Etherion’s place would collapse the mansion, killing the voice. That might not be a bad idea, and Porter and Klyce both agree. We might want to at least bring Rictus in on the decision, this is above our pay grade. Dalish ponders giving the voice a body still, but will talk to Rictus this evening about it. He was able to get 40 spell levels worth of materials, and discussion quickly falls into who gets what supplies.

Then the door opens, and Gerald arrives with Crystal. My heart is pounding in my ears, I’m so mad at him. I barely hear when he tells me they’re in love, and he’s sorry. She says she was just trying not to die, and that she was summoned here against here will. But she likes it here a lot better than Hell. They’ve even brought a picnic basket of food. I snipe a bit more about the murder and death, but we all head out to the front veranda for lunch. Klyce suggests they stay here for now, and Crystal asks me if that’s okay. I tell her sure, I have friends that can banish her if she doesn’t behave. Dalish takes this awkward silence and starts grilling her on Demon society and the history of the Towers. I just glare at my idiot brother for a bit, and then tune out, concentrating on images of the Rathbone residence for my spell this afternoon.

Demons Run

The rest of the polic station is alright, and the Chief assures us that he’ll just get some mages up to fix his wall. What are we going to DO?

The conversation shifts off the demon attacks momentarily and onto the cultists. They’re the best link we think we have, so Nat suggests trying to get their attention. She wants to graffiti the Dawnmother symbol around town, and then catch someone trying to change it to their symbol. To either question or follow them. The group ponders paying homeless people to do the painting and the monitoring. I think this is ridiculously dangerous and will just get those particular people taken and killed. But I’m overruled, and Remy buys paint and brushes. Then he convinces eight random people to agree to paint and watch the symbols around Manhattan. He tells them a bar to come to if they see anything. But then we don’t tell the bar, nor do we go to said bar. I’m not so sure about this plan.

Next, we go looking for Porter. We all head out to the military base outside of town. Dalish uses his authority to get us inside and we have some dinner in the mess while waiting to be seen. The general has time for us after dinner, so we head off to his office. General Burns used to be in charge of Porter’s unit and says it’s all classified. Dalish says he thinks Porter’s gone AWOL and has become an enemy of the state. Marybeth pipes up that he’s her brother. The general relents. He says that Porter was under his command for three years, but then his unit was reassigned to New Gnosis three month ago by Prime Wiest, for unknown reasons. He has not further information, other than he’s somewhere in the city. With Wiest dead, no way of telling whose orders he is following now. There were 18 men and women in his unit, and all of them were called into the city to serve Wiest. The general gives us a paper so that we can go to Records and get the names of the people in that unit. We are then dismissed.

Remy suggests checking in on the house before we do any more running around, so I send to Gerald. He replies back, repeating the words “Everything’s Fine…” over and over in a dreamy voice. We RUN back home. There’s a black plume of smoke, once again rising from my home. Rushing in, we find it contained to an outer wall, and Philomena is working to put it out. There is a Lot of Blood. Philomena shouts at us, and Klyce sends us all inside while he helps her. The house seems alright, until we get up to the study where everyone was sheltering. The room is covered in blood and demon gore. Marybeth’s mom, Klyce’s mom and sisters, Philomena’s parents are all there and okay. Gerald and Philip are gone. I start shouting for Gerald, when they tell me Philip chased the demons away, but no one had seen my brother. Nonononono!!!

I send to him again. This time I get a female voice back, saying Gerald is otherwise occupied. What? Dalish! How could that happen? How could someone else answer my sending?? It sounds like those succubus ladies we met! Dalish says she could be controlling or possessing him. Remy and Nat check his room, but there is simply the smell of sulfur and perfume. Dalish cleans the study of the blood while Remy checks Marybeth’s mother for signs of Grandfather, and Nat looks around at the remants of the fight. It looks like there were eight demons. The three closest to the family were obliterated, and the other five busted out the wall to get away. I try to send to Philip, to tell him the family is okay and ask where he is. The reply is a strange, chilling tone, saying he’s not done, yet.

We have to go find him. Demons are running loose in the city and he’s chasing them with a butcher knife. Klyce stays with Orrin and Philomena to protect the families, and we race north. HeyHey and Dalish fly above the streets to see if they can spot the wake of demons. They find two more alleys covered in blood. Then we hear a disturbance ahead and rush forward. There is a crowd surrounding another splattered mess.

Police are draped over Philip, trying to arrest him or at least restrain him. I toss up sparks to get their attention, and Dalish tries to use his authority to declare it a mage matter. They say he’s disturbing the peace. Remy tries name-dropping the police, but then Philip throws one of the men into a lamppost, probably breaking his back. We all freeze in shock, long enough for him to throw another man through a wall. Dalish rushes over to save the first man. Nat puts a couple officers to sleep. I fail to levitate Philip out of the mess. Remy convinces the last guy to just let go, then sames some curses and the officer who was pointing a gun at Philip disappears. Nat sends HeyHey through the broken wall to stabalize that cop, and tries to get the crowd to disperse. I rush forward, and tell Philip I just want to get him out of here, and Dimension Door us out of the crowd and ahead. He immediately takes off through an alley, and I rush back to tend to the wounded, praying to the Dawnmother to heal at least a little of the damage he caused. Remy wakes the sleepers and tells them to get medics for their friends, and we’re on the chase again.

By the time most of us catch up with him, he’s standing over a dead succubus and is back to confused, scared Philip. Nat wonders about casting speak with dead on it, but we go back and forth on it. It doesn’t have to tell him the truth if it knows she’s an enemy. Can we trick it? What questions should we ask? What could it answer? Dalish mentions that there’s a nest somewhere, and that takes high priority. We need to know which side it’s on, and if it knows where Grandfather is. What about Rictus? If we say they’re interferring with our investigation, maybe he’ll take us seriously. Maybe he can make it talk? Let’s take it home, at least. We shouldn’t do this here.

We get home, avoiding the police, and explain to Klyce what happened. Okay, we have a lot of pots on the stove. We have to take stock. We could talk to the newpaper/penny dreadful publisher, but he’s in Brooklyn. We need to go to the Hall of Records for the names in Porter’s unit. We could visit Professor Wiest and see what she will tell us of her father’s plans. We could try to get into his office in the Tower of Justice. We could talk to Rictus and the Succubus corpse. We start with this last because we have a body, somehow, still.

Dalish sends to Rictus, and we head downstairs to meet him. In my father’s study, it turns out. We lay the body out on the table for him to examine, and he does, at length. Remy mentions the nest we think is in the city. Dalish says there are many variations of these creatures that are hindering our ability to investigate the Black Knight. Dalish tells him about the trade of souls. Rictus reforms its head and then sets it back to normal, messing with time around it’s skull. He puppets an arm. He stabs it a little and smells the blood. Dalish explains the between place. Remy mentions one kidnapped my brother, and Rictus isn’t all that concerned about Gerald. He asks what we need, and we explain about asking it questions about the next and the cult. He asks where we learned of such a spell, and when we say Satiel, he nods. She made the spell, it turns out. He doesn’t have any better ways to go about it. He can’t force the truth without a soul present.

We then set to creating a list of questions. Where’s your next. Who’s your boss? Where is Mr. Pumbleby? What’s your plan? Where’s Gerald? Nat wonders about using detect thoughts, and if there’s enough of a brain left to do that. Rictus says no, but won’t stop her from trying. Nat settles down to cast. The detect thoughts doesn’t work, but the corpse does start talking.

Where is your lair?

The nest is unreachable by mortal man.

What is your connection to the cult of the anti-Dawnmother?

The Blood of the Dawn will usher in the Dusk.

How is Peter Pumbleby connected to you and yours?

He is the bridge between this world and the next. He will usher in the great dark.

Where is the ritual happening?

Within the nest.

How do you access the nest?

I teleport.

And then she went silent. We ask Rictus if he knows what Wiest was doing with Porter’s unit of 18. He was not aware of what he was doing with them, but they were quite a capable assassin squad in the south west and Central America. Nat asks if we can have his authority to check his home and office. He agrees, but warns that his daughter may not care about his authority. Remy asks for mana so that we can “deal with this like mages, and not Police Officers.” Remy asks for 150 motes when prompted, and Rictus give us 100. Saying we can revisit if needed. Then asks Dalish to stand very still and tosses the corpse through his shadow. He says he expects Dalish to stay in touch and then steps through his shadow himself. We divy up the mana and gather up to take watches and rest for the night.

Into Vlad’s Domain

Back to the castle, to find it even more changed than when we left. Even the tapestries have changed! That poor old hunchback is still lying, shot full of bolts, by the door. Remy pulls them out, and they guy wakes up! What?? We just left him there for days, unconscious!

He starts asking for his Master, then notices the curse has taken root and asks how long it’s been. We tell him a few days, and that his master and the crazy man (he says Van Helsing), are still running around the place. He says Van Helsing has a vendetta against his master, then starts listing off a bunch of weird names for him. Including Vlad the Impaler! What Is this guy? He also calls him the Prince of Caprathia or something, and Remy says that was 400 years ago. When we ask if his master is undead, he says ‘beyond death.’ Like that means anything.

Okay, but the castle? Can we fix it? He just laughs, but does agree that if the master leaves, he’ll take his curse with him. Every place he stays becomes his home, he says. Okay, how do we find him? Beyond the throne room, but all his servants will attack us if we haven’t sworn fealty to him. But we can’t swear fealty unless we find him. Oh great! He won’t even help us, says it’s against the rules! Ugh! Stupid adults and their stupid rules!

We leave him behind. Nat says she doesn’t know of any throne room, but maybe she can get us to a library where we can learn something more. She can’t, and we wander for a while, dispensing with various dogs, bats, and zombies in the hallways.

Heading back to the front entrance, we start over, mapping the first floor as best we can. This time we find a giant glass arboritum filled with impossibly green trees and plants. I hesitate at the door. I don’t… last time… there were so many bodies… Philomena calls back to me, taunting me to come in so she can have someone to banter with. Deep breaths, I can do this. It’ll be different this time. If she can do it, so can I. Nevermind that she’s riding atop her fiance turned giant scorpion.

There are eyes on us as we walk, but we can’t see the watchers. Klyce clacks a warning and we proceed carefully. Right into a clearing with an overgrown and blackened fountain. Where we are immediately surrounded by gigantic wolves and werewolves. The leader shouts “All glory to the Master!” as they attack.

The wolves breathe out ice! It nearly takes me down, and as soon as I can, I thunderstep Philomena and myself up into the trees. Gerhardt puts a bubble around the leader and his biggest wolf that lasts most of the fight. I eventually toss a few rocks up at the glass ceiling so I can call some lighting inside to help finish the fight. The werewolves all crumble to dust, leaving only the wolf corpses behind. How odd.

We take a few moments to rest and heal folks up while Nat looks around the fountain. She finds a key with a blue shiny gem in it. Pocketing that for later, we head on.

The trees give way to a manicured garden, full of the pungent smell of flowers and fruit. There’s another fountain here, but this one is fresh. There are frollicking nymps in the water and a demonic woman nestled in the arms of heroic statue. The nymphs dive into the water and disappear as soon as they see us approach.

I ask if she knows where the Master is so we can go swear our fealty to him, hoping to avoid another fight. She suggests we stay with her, to eat, drink, rest and have fun. Oh, um, sure, that sounds nice. I promised the hag that I’d always accept hospitality, so I try to get the rest of the group to agree. They aren’t so happy with the idea. Nat notices that she has a key around her neck and tells her that we need it. She asks what we’re offering for it, and when we waver, asks for a kiss. Nat’s not so keen on that.

She starts looking us over for something else to ask for, but when her eyes fall on Marybeth, she screams. Bloodfeud!!! And starts a fight.

She’s so pretty though, why would I want to hurt her. And her hugs are so nice. Okay, her kisses hurt a lot, but that’s okay. Everyone should just leave us alone. I toss a storm sphere out to keep the rest of the group away. Marybeth is mean to her, so I pull a couple lightning bolt out of the sphere to try and chase her away. Then there’s darkness as Dalish calls out dark words.

When I wake up, I still don’t feel good, and everyone insists we all take a long nap. I wake up from nightmares and remember I was going to ask Hank a question. So, I send to him, asking about the six-armed, green, glowing figure from the mine. Is that what the Green Witch looks like? He says yeah, he felt it happen, but it’s not time yet, and he’ll be in touch. I go back to sleep, but I don’t rest easy here.

When we get up, I feel a whole lot better. On from the greenhouse and find a grand hall with a big locked double door. Nat pulls out the two keys she gathered in the greenhouse, but there are spaces for four keys with different shaped gems. So, she tries to pick the lock on one of the ones she doesn’t have.

Black smoke pours out of this lock and forms into a hooded figure with a scythe. “Die, Interloper!” It shouts as it attacks her. Remy tries to help, but his shots just cause another one to form and attack him. “Do not interfere!” So, the rest of us sit back while these spectral figures carve up our friends, until they put them both down. Gerhardt patches them up after the fight, and we head on towards the kitchens.