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Thursday, 24 November 2016

One Night Only

Brother's anxious as they pull up outside the Circus. Kim the Savvyhead gets out of her van and attracts Dusk the Skinner's attention. She offers the Skinner sanctuary back in Lopez, but Dusk refuses, telling her that she lives here (pointing back at Watering Hole). Even with the carnage going on? So Kim tells her to climb in and she'll give her a lift back. Kim motions at Brother to drive back to Lopez without her.

Then, they hear that strange calliope music again, and the sound tugs at Dusk's brain. She's calmed and soothed by it and instinctively follows it back inside. Kim is unaffected by it, but follows anyway. They heads inside the big tent, and it fills up with all manner of people walking in from Watering Hole.


Inside the air is different, sweeter and reminds Dusk of the drug Found the Hocus uses in her cult rituals. Things kick off with clowns and a very energetic band and then the lights dim and Mimi makes his grand entrance. He's pretty good at this show-man stuff, and uses the band and lights to great effect. Kim's spider senses go off, but she doesn't see any tricks, just flat-out weirdness.

Doctor Pain arrives in the ring, and he drives nails into himself - with the terrible damage being inflicted to his body, they notice ghosts beginning to appear; no crocodiles or wolves, but other than that, just the same as they did during Found's augury the other day.

The acts get stranger, but as soon as the crowd starts getting uncomfortable Mimi comes out to settle them down. Throughout he monologues, talking about the sin of the world and how the apocalypse wiped it out, and they bring light to the darkness and redemption to the sinful.


Dusk is starting to feel the effects of the drugged air, but when Sister Sin walks into the ring Kim goes quiet and sits down. It's her lost-lost brother. Dusk wonders why she's suddenly this interested, and realises that they're no sense of nostalgia or love, but just intense interest in what has happened to him since she left him mutilated in the dust those years ago.

But now trying to get something out of the Savvyhead, the drugs in the air start to get to Dusk and she just lies down on a bench (her head in a ghost's lap). Then Mimi comes out to introduce one last act, he declares that he's kept the best for last! He riles up the crowd with some hate for Scum and promises a bloody spectacle...

***

Dusk gets to her feet and stands up on her bench. She grabs Mimi's attention and tells him that's not going to happen. She's thinking quickly - who's the baddest ass in the Valley - that'd be Navarre, the road warrior who terrorises the highway between Lopez and Logger.
She yells out
-Navarre is coming, and you all know what he's going to think of this! He's going to tear through this place like there's no tomorrow. So you all best be gone.
She slowly steps down the benches and into the ring.
Mimi's not having it, and calls in the goon squad - a bunch of savage looking clowns who take care of security for him.

Dusk address the crowd now, telling them they'd better leave, and they all know Navarre's reputation - there are a million stories about him, and in Lopez he's treated like a fairy tale villain. Mimi walks past her to shut that down, and when Dusk spots two nasty looking clowns coming at her, she swiftly draws a knife out of her inside pocket and puts it across Mimi's throat.

She tells him, and by extension his bodyguards, that they're going to walk out of here together, and he'd better keep his people onside. Kim draws her phaser and covers the two clowns and they don't quite know what to do. They all back away towards the crew entrance, Kim keeping her eyes and her gun on the clowns and Dusk picking her way through the detritus, keeping her blade tight to Mimi skin.

Dusk wonders what's taking Navarre, but apparently he's busy right now. But she has gotten his attention.


As they get outside the tent, Kim and Dusk exchange glances and the Skinner switches to grabbing Mimi's collar and they run around the tent and towards the circus perimeter where they can get to Kim's van. They're nearly there when Mimi stumbles, and hurts himself when he hits the ground. Dusk vaults over his falling body, but Kim trips and loses her phaser. Dusk makes to continue running for the gap in the perimeter, but she notices that Kim is still on the ground going for her phaser. The two clowns are running towards them now, raising their weapons.

Dusk turns around to help Kim out. She jumps back, launching herself at Mimi's prostrate body, reversing the knife in her hand and slamming it into his back. The two clowns stop in their tracks as Dusk gets to her feet, wrenches the blade out, dripping in bright blood.
-Drop your weapons and you can take care of him
They ask her to leave Mimi alone and one of them runs to get the doc.
Kim and Dusk back away, but the clown loses his nerve and picks up his gun yelling out to the entire circus
-Kill those sons o' bitches!

They run, but with clowns closing in, they choose to run into the cornfields and the dark of the night rather than go for the van.

**

Kim and Dusk run until they reach the road. Kim catches her breath for a moment and starts running again, but Dusk just stands there in the middle of the road. She hears something in the distance. Kim tries to get her attention to move, but Dusk shakes her head, and then a giant set of headlamps appears down the road.

Navarre's giant V8 buggy stops right in front of Dusk, the two double-rows of glaring headlamps pretty much blinding her. The stern hulking man climbs out of his seat and walks up to the Skinner. He's menacing, but he's not menacing her. Navarre's crocodilian skin is apparent, he used to try to hide it, and even got Dusk to tattoo over the early signs, but now he revels in the changes to his body.

He glances at the bloody knife still held tightly in Dusk's right hand, even the edge of her palm is gory and dripping blood to the road. Navarre wonders why the hell he's here, and isn't impressed when Dusk tells him that the Mimi's planning on killing a bunch of Scum.
Not only does he bristle at her use of 'scum' but he wonders what that is to him. She shakes her head, she thought he might be interested that people were just picking up people like him for killing sport.

Three armed clowns come out onto the road, and they're a little bit confused at the spectacle in front of them. Kim edges around from the front of the car she's behind and points her phaser at one of them. She's dialled up everything on the phaser to 11 and lets rip!
A blast of energy burns the clown to a crisp - shocking everyone in the vicinity. One turns tail and runs and the other opens up with his SMG, peppering the engine block in front of Kim. Navarre blasts him with his shotgun.

Navarre's not entirely happy with Dusk, but he motions behind him and five more warriors jump out of the flat-bed at the back of the truck and they move into the cornfields to hunt clowns. Navarre looks pointedly at Kim hiding behind her ruined car on the side of the highway; Dusk explains that she's with her and he nods and follows the others into cornfields.


Dusk walks over to Kim and hunkers down alongside her. Gunfire and screams erupt from the cornfields; in the distance they can see the circus lights slowly turn orange. Kim is worried, and goes back through the fields to recover her van. Dusk sticks around, keeping an eye out for Navarre.

Slowly, by ones and twos, people start coming out of the cornfields. They're shell-shocked and seem to be just straining to get away as far as they can. Dusk attracts their attention from the rooftop of a car and yells at them to go down the road and head to TumTum's.

Mostly they're the audience from Watering Hole and beyond that attended the circus, but she spots a one from the circus itself, Goddamit! the bus driver. He's really freaked out and tells her that they're killing everyone back in the circus. She wonders if he's a clown, and when he shakes his head confusedly, she smiles and points him towards TumTum's.

*

The gunfire dies down eventually, but there's no sign of Navarre. A couple of heads pop out of the corn, and Dusk hides behind the car. They're not Navarre's people and they're not dressed as clowns. They go back in after a moment, and after a while Dusk climbs into Navarre's truck and drives back to TumTum's herself.

Kim's van is parked out front, and the Savvyhead is looking anxiously at her phaser recharging off the engine.

The crowd has gathered around the bar, but the shutters are still down and the door is locked. But when Dusk pulls up she spots Dremmer peaking out. She wades through the crowd to the front door and Dremmer opens up for her (just a crack). He's not going to let her in, but Dusk tells her he'd better or there'll be a riot - and the bar's bound to do good business tonight.

He shuts up and quickly talks to TumTum, and they open up. Dremmer takes position at the door - he's not checking guns like he usually does, but is checking people and refuses some who give him the wrong kind of feeling tonight.

Dusk goes up to the bar, and asks for a bottle of whiskey - TumTum raises an eyebrow and tells her he doesn't want her getting Dremmer drunk tonight. So she asks for a nearly empty bottle, and he grabs one for her. She tells him that they should put together a posse to run the circus out of town - he's not happy with that - times are changing.

They hear a shot from outside, and when Dusk heads outside, he's gunned down one tough guy and is staring down his two friends. Dremmer's too busy to pay her much heed when she offers him a quick drink, and she tells him she'll be back and heads over to Kim to share most of the whiskey with her instead.

They hear the sound of engines coming from the circus and slowly the noise dies out as it drives away. They're going to go take a look...

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Circus

Previous Session: The Summit

Kim the Savvyhead is fixing a solar lamp for some out-of-town scrounger when one of the Skeleton Crew, name of Bones, tries to cut in line, but Kim pulls out her phaser and tells him to get to the back of the queue. The weapon is weird, powered by the maelstrom and only has a few charges in it, but Bones takes the hint and gets back in line.

Fatz, an old woman who runs a 'lost and found' stall, comes up with a water purification tank. The motor inside is overheated and charred. Kim finds a 'misplaced' screw from a panel in the cogs and reckons it must be sabotage. Fatz identifies Greasy George as the prime suspect, so Kim just tells her to go back to her stall and see if anything's disappeared.


Later than evening, as the fog rolls into Watering Hole, Kim spots smoky fires outside the hold, and quad riders popuring diesel on them - they're all in black and wearing masks. Eventually, two of the local security goons intervene and the quad bikers ride off in a wide arc around the hold. Kim reaches into the psychic maelstrom, and can hear them wondering if they should've set more fires, but while they wish that the goons hadn't intervened the boss should be happy enough with them.

As the convoy pulls up and the fog sweeps through the hold, there are sounds of ruckus, gunfire and fistfights breaking out. Dusk the Skinner raises her eyebrows at TumTum, but doesnt wait and wanders the few hundred yards towards the circled convoy. The vapours are nasty, but Dusk shruggs it off. She sees Wanger and Yozo and a dozen more stringing up someone on a big billboard halfway there...

A couple of the Skeleton Crew are setting a small stall on fire in the market square. When the owner tries to intervene they throw him on the flames as well. Kim drives to a safer part of town, but sees a security goon there shoot somebody walking by for no particular reason.


Fox the Operator is fishing for information about Logger and still trying to sell her wares. Fernie Bill is looking to buy one of the solar panels, but she doesn't want to see for a knock-down price so, contrary to the advice of Brother, she follows the well-dressed weasel avross the highway ot where Fernie says he's keeping his jingle safe. Finally at the verge of the highway, she has second thoughts, and starts to walk away. Fernie Bill entreats her, but Brother sees his three mates standing in the long grass beyond and even when Fernie offers to up the price, Fox plays hardball and tells him to come to her truck to do the deal.

On the way back, she breaths in deep lungfuls of the corrupt air, and gets pissed off - she's hearing the loud howling of wolves.

Kim, almost overcome by the smoke pulls on a gas mask and starts to assess the chemical composition outside her van. It's full of hallucinogens, and beyond sedation there's no cure except to remove the smoke and give people time. She plugs into the psychic maelstrom and sends out a message to all who're paying attention nearby to put out the fires. Within minutes she spots disparate groups of people rushing towards the flames to quench them.

Dusk sees that Yozo is leading the effort to string up Dupriy. She has a bright yellow mohican (set off on one side of her head by a tattoo of half a brain). Dusk tries to distract her and get her away from the mob to talk her down, but Yozo just shouts out
-Hey assholes, we've got another victim!
Dusk pulls a small knife out of her coat's sleeve and grabs Yozo, but the woman won't quieten down so Dusk cuts her throat and leaves her bleeding in the dust. The rest of the mob don't follow her for long, and go back to stringing up Dupriy. Keeping a nervous eye behind her, Dusk keeps walking towards the encircled convoy and is left alone.

Back in Watering Hole, Fox and Brother pass by Chubby, who is looking at a dead body on the ground and then drags it back to his stall - any thought of saying something is put out of Fox's mind when he shows her his cleaver. No dinner at Chubby's tomorrow, then.

**

There's bunting and lines of lights up around the circle of trucks, and inside it people are raising a gigantic tent. There are a couple of people standing around at the entrance, but Dusk just breezes past them. Glancing around for someone in charge, she just spots a couple of clowns supervising. When she tries to talk to him, he just pulls this maddening mime shit. The clown isn't really responding when she looks threatening either, but when she tells him that the boss will be pissed if he turns her away, she catches a sideways glance at a nearby bus. She tells him that she'll be back later for the opening, and when he turns away, she makes for the bus.

Fox and Brother talk about getting out of town, it's too dangerous for comfort. They head back to the truck and then they'll swing back around to TumTum's to pick up the solar panels in escrow. There's a small riot around the back of a flatbed truck and Brother swings his shotgun around and starts loading it up from his bandolier. He helps fight their way past the riot, and he has to shoot down a few guys, including unloading on one poor unfortunate who made the mistake of hitting Fox. They reach Kim's truck, but then they see a werewolf rear up nearby!

Kim knows it's just a wolf, her gas-mask is proving effective against the hallucinogenic smoke. Fox turns to empty her pistol into the beast, but Brother is in the way so she hesitates. Kim rolls up the window of her van as it goes for Brother, and the bodyguard guns the wolf down.
Kim quips
-If you're finished with the dog?
-Dog?
Brother is confused and wipes the welling blood away from where it bit him.
Fox jumps into her truck and tells them they're going back for the panels and for Dusk.


Dusk climbs the steps into the bus. The dozing guard sitting in the driver's seat jumps up
-Goddamit!
He doesn't want to let her past, but after she reassures him that she won't get him in trouble, and won't get the circus run out of town, he gestures for her to walk through the curtain separating the driver's section from the main cabin, telling her that Mimi, the boss is in the back.

Walking through the curtain she sees another, finer, curtain at the rear - where Mimi must be. But here, there are five or six people engaged in a quiet but intense orgy. She walks past them, but then a beautiful man steps in front of her. October totally distracts her, and she joins in for a while. Mimi can wait.

At TumTum's bar, the doors are shut and the shutters are barred. There's no sign of life inside. As they drive slowly by, looking for any signs of TumTum or Dusk, they hear noise on the roof of their vehicles - but it's a swinging dead body tied to the market square canopy.

Kim reaches out for Dusk through the psychic maelstrom; inside the bus, the eightsome is like an antenna for that psychic attention. Kim's self, her consciousness is elongated and she can communicate with Dusk for a moment
-Sure, come pick me up

*

Dragging herself away from the fun, Dusk dresses and enters Mimi's room. It's more like a dressing room than anything else, but there's a large bed at the back. Mimi is at a dressing table, in scary intense clown makeup.

Dusk sits on the bed, and tells Mimi he'll have to cut the shit out with the hallucinogenic smoke if he wants his circus to stay in town. Though he denies all knowledge of it, he agrees. Dusk walks out; the clown who let slip Mimi's whereabouts gets a stern talking to as Dusk passes. Kim and Fox pull up outside.

Friday, 28 October 2016

New Horizons

Previous Session: Eviction Notice

The Orphans find that they need to find new supplies of spirits and ancient relics to sate the Wicked Mother's hunger. They hatch a plan to smuggle in spirit bottles and artifacts via Leviathan Hunters stopping off at Duskwall.

With Grace's help, the identify the Spitfire, a short-haul hunter that specialises in the sort of smaller leviathans which frequent the sea in between Akoros and Iruvia. Bricks is their contact aboard and he lets them know that Captain Sevoy is heading to Sunfall in the next few days for provisioning before a few longer hunts in the bay down towards the Dagger Isles.

The requisite bribes are made and Quess the Spider, Ghostblade the Whisper and Fancy Frank the Hound get a terrible berth for the week-long voyage down to Sunfall. When they get down there Bricks warns them that they have a couple of weeks before the Spitfire will be back to pick them up and head back to Duskwall.


This city is brighter and warmer than they've experienced before (at least for the two Akorosi). Instead of the dull wind and rain of Duskwall, Sunfall's every surface gives off heat like the sun has just gone down.

Strangford has given them a letter as an introduction to Thena, a local court functionary. She meets them in a tea house overlooking the bay, not a docks location but further up the hill in the city in a nicer part of town. They sit down opposite the elegant robed woman, and she waves over someone to bring spiced tea and cinnamon rolls.
Thena

After reading the letter from Strangford (Quess had checked it before handing it over, can't be too careful!) she raises an eyebrow to look for their assent before burning it in the brazier next to the table - wouldn't do to allow such a compromising piece of evidence fall into the wrong hands.
Discussing how many full spirit bottles she can provide them with a month is difficult. They're pushing for 4 or 5, but she tells them that's the kind of level one of the demonic movers and shakers in Sunfall would be capable of; and she's not willing to attract the kind of attention that would entail. More like 1 or 2 is much more likely.

They'll meet up again when they're ready to leave the city.

***

Ghostblade wanders the curio shops and cult temples, looking out for something interesting to start their fencing of stolen artifacts across the seas. The first really interesting thing she sees is a sacrificial dagger used by a small cult. They're sacrificing a goat into a small fountain outside their temple. From distance it looks like ancient work, and its material is something she hasn't seen before. But the heat is going to be too big so she keeps looking.

Then she spots something very interesting. A blood hookah in a well-hidden but surprisingly large antique shop. Unlike common pipes, this one is ancient and designed to use leviathan blood instead of water; which reputedly gives remarkable effects to the smoke. The shop is run by an old man, Zemira, who must be in his 70s. A young scruffy teenager called Wicker helps out. Ghostblade buys something small and at various points over the next few days the others scope out the place.


So, they buy a small supply of strong weed, strong enough to knock out just about anyone who smokes it. Quess walks in and starts talking to Zemira about the hookah, he tells her that no one's been interested in that kind of thing in years - no one's even asked about it in a dozen. She wonders if maybe she could try it out before buying it, and the old man hums and haws, but agrees. She fills it with her weed and he pulls out a flask of blood. They exchange a conspiratorial smile.

When Quess sits down, she wonders if he'll join her; he shakes his head, but is convinced by her assertion that custom and tradition insist no one smokes alone. Once he's sat down he calls over Wicker, and even a random customer (actually it's Ghostblade!). They all sit down and after a while they conk out, and have strange dreams.

In walks Fancy Frank, and quickly disassembles the hookah and stows it into a carrying bag and sling it over his shoulder. He can't resist putting the old man and Quess into a compromising position, and he leaves...

**

Casta, a bounty hunter
With the door closing behind him, he finds himself looking at the barrel of a pistol pointed straight at his gut - it's Casta, his old nemesis from the Skovlan War. Casta smiles at him; he reaches behind Fancy Frank's back and pulls out the pair of fine dueling pistols and tucks it into his waistband. Then he pulls out a long blade from the Hound's inside jacket pocket - I guess when you work together for years you know where everything is kept (though Fancy Frank has got a single blade left on him).

-Come on Haig, let's walk
-What's going on?
-Collecting bounty on you; you've made a bit of noise recently, so I'm turning you in

Earlier, Quess had hired a small group of street urchins to keep an eye on things, and they intervene to help Fancy Frank; nothing crazy, one bumps Casta and another goes for his purse. But Casta's having none of it, he smacks one and twirls away.
The Hound jumps at this opportunity, pulling the blade out of his left boot but that extra moment to bend over gives Casta the time to draw a bead on him and he shoots. The bullet thumps into armour, but Fancy Frank is still badly wounded, and he stabs Casta in the armpit, turning and running as soon as the bounty hunter hits the cobbled street.

A crowd gathers and everyone there can relate what's happened. Fancy Frank is pegged as the thief, and inside when they recover Quess and Ghostblade and happy to have a great alibi!

The urchins see Fancy Frank back to their temporary lair, and the others see him to a surgeon.

*

The day before they leave on the Spitfire, they meet up with Thena again. The exchange goes smoothly enough, two full spirit bottles are presented, they are intricately cast glass - artisan work. They asks Thena if she'll consider joining the Cult, and initially she laughs it off saying that they must be weak, having fled from Iruvia; but then there's an awkward attraction between her and Quess and the Spider leans into it.

She tells Thena the secret of the Cult; they only 'ran away' from Iruvia to Duskwall to grow and expand. She gives a full rundown of the Cult's assets, and even tells of the destruction of the Hand of Sorrow at their hands. Thena is impressed and joins to them there and then. She'll have to travel to Duskwall for the full induction, but for now she is Bound in Darkness with them (so they can communicate easily with her) and will ensure their supply is secure.


The return home is swift and smooth, but when they reach Duskwall the news is bad. The Billhooks have made a show of force, and the inevitable refusal to cede territory has been met with a declaration of war!

Thursday, 27 October 2016

The Summit

Previous Session: Market Day

There are a lot of transients in the hold for market day, particularly from Logger. Dusk the Skinner seeks out a friendly face behind the slave auction, she wants to find out something about the Skeleton Crew. She spots Freddie, who is super-friendly towards Dusk, but needs to show a recent tattoo off. Dusk is horrified to hear that she went into Lopez to get inked, and is not surprised at the horror-show Freddie reveals when she pulls down her top - it's a hideous shark biting at her breast and Dusk struggles to think how she can fix it, but tells Freddie to drop in after market day when she's got some free time on her hands. Freddie works for Johnson (who's just a regular asshole type of hacienda owner) and wanted to grab Dusk before he goes to her - apparently he's practically in love with her since A.T. spoke about her and his new tattoo.

Their chatter attracts the attention of the two gang members from the Skeleton Crew who got left behind to look after their interests back behind the Dias. The first guy immediately crashes and burns, but the second guy, Roadrage, is a little bit smoother. Dusk shuts him down, telling him that she doesn't know where he's been, so he's not getting anywhere near her.
This prompts Roadrage to explain what they've been up to. The Skeleton Crew come from the other side of Lopez, and they were brought into the city to clear up dissidents, anyone Lopez wanted to get rid of (though no Scum - apparently he gives them special treatment himself) - when he's not forthcoming with more details of their plans or real relationship with Lopez he won't tell her - he bristles when Dusk calls him a worker bee, but he has to admit that she has a point. Anyway, their leader kills anyone who steps out of line, takes it real personal, and his lieutenants, Stevo and Tim are pretty loyal.


It's showtime! And Found the Hocus has her people ready. An old air-raid siren sounds out and the klaxon attracts attention from all-comers. The routine starts with some tale-spinning, about faraway lands that no one else has seen. Found has her safe plants and rube-baiting set up

As everyone's heads turn, a huge ruckus is raised from the Pit. East Harrow is standing up there with a loudhailer calling people to see his show, a young teenage Scum (who Harrow calls 'Shitface') is about to be lowered in to fight a pack of wolves (snarling now that they're out of their cages). Dusk pushes herself away from the stall from which she was lined up to watch Found's show and climbs the side of the pit to appear at East Harrow's side. He's not entirely amenable to postponing his show for her benefit, certainly not Found's, but when she puts a hand on his ass he takes notice of her. And a moment later when she puts the other hand on his chest and he realises that she can tip him over into the Pit with the slightest of shoves the fear grabs his heart. He quickly postpones the show over the loudhailer (much to the chagrin of the blood-thirsty) and Dusk smiles and goes back to take up her previous position to watch Found.

Found cannot resist an augury and gets so far into it that she cannot stop herself. She makes eye contact with Dusk from across the crowd and somehow Dusk help her reach further and deeper than before. A crashing noise, like a gigantic mirror shattering, fills the air. Everyone hears it and then sees a crack in the sky open and it's like it sucks them in.

For Found this transition is seamless. But for everyone else, the shift to weirdness is intrusive as hell. There are suddenly twice as many people in the market square as before, some are floating, some are walking crocodiles or wolves or tentacled monsters. Dusk can feel something more dangerous, something more ominous for Found, she feels a connection to the Witch Queen, and a disturbance from her attention.
Dusk rushes to Found and snaps her out of the augury; and Found falls back to selling the crowd
-See what we can accomplish together! Trust is me!
and she ends it. Jaws are on the floor all around them, and finally applause breaks out.

**

After the awe subsides, two of Waterhole's resident hard-nuts, Corbet and Grab, invite Found to the hacienda summit. There, the owners of haciendas across the valley air their petty grievances and work to maintain the status quo. Dusk gives Found some quick advice on what to expect; lots of dick-measuring and then the ritual of face-saving protocols.
The thirty or so hacienda owner sit at tables arrayed in a semi-circle and TumTum sits on a stool in the centre. Each of them has just one enforcer and Dremmer has obviously impounded all the weapons. He stands inside the front door.

TumTum gives a report on what's been going on since the last summit. No real detail, just the usual valley guff, aspirational stuff really.

The issue of Found and her cult occupying the Serenity Hacienda is the first item of discussion. Tumtum gets her to state her claim.
-I come from the Witchlands beyond the Wolflands to the north. Only I here have seen the glorious spectacle there.
They sit up, this isn't like anything they've heard before
-I'll give you unity of purpose!
Uproar is kicked off by Fuckwit who yells at Found and TumTum about the injustice of it all, but when he goes at TumTum, he uses his stool to beat Fuckwit down, breaking the piece of furniture into smithereens in the process. He asks the summit:
-So, Serenity is held by Found. Any objectors?

Chappie, a skinny tall guy stands up. Talks about how his pop built his hacienda with his own two hands, can't understand how this harlot (pointing at Found) can just wander in and steal land!

The only people who seem to care are against it, and they're not too convinced when Found says that there was no sign on it when she moved in. Dusk laughs at them bringing over a new stool for TumTum from behind the bar.
-If it was so valuable you would have all moved in to take a piece
The neighbours who surround Serenity all look at each other uneasily, they've probably already stolen some land by moving fences or digging new trenches.

Blackjack is the next owner to object; and TumTum needs to let the grievance air, but is looking for a plausible reason to back Found's claim. Bringing some beer back to a few owners who're running empty, Dusk says to no one in particular
-It'd be nice to see a fine building get some use; be a real shame to let the ground run to ruin.

TumTum calms down Blackjack's objections down, and invites Found to the empty seat in front of him. That closes the issue.

Onto the security of Waterhole; everyone must contribute two heavies per month. Found volunteers two of her cult (Steve and Jack are also part of Wire's gang) to take the duty.


The other major issue is the large number of vagrants out of Logger. Rumours of an overthrown hardholder and a lot of crazy shit explains that, but most of the hacienda owners want to keep those people out of the valley. They talk about hiring four guys and a truck and sending them out to block the road, and Snaggletooth even mentions that they could grab some up to use a free labour.

Dusk laughs at them. First off, it'll take a hell of a lot more than four toughs to stop the flood of refugees coming in from Logger. Second, and more importantly to them, if people can't pass freely through Waterhole without getting enslaved they'll stop coming; and then there won't be any market for their corn. Snaggletooth turns on Dusk with a savage look in his eye, but she stands up to him
-Are you any fucking use, or is your twelve year old son ready to rule?
TumTum motions to Dremmer, who calls in Ruby, one of the door guards (one of TumTum's, not one of the ones volunteered by the haciendas) and Dremmer walks over to Snaggletooth to shoot him in the face.
TumTum sits back down, and that seems to have settled the issue.

Next up is the matter of a border dispute between Chum and Johnson, and immediately, Chum just flips his table and goes for Johnson's throat, whose bodyguard gets in the way. There's a flurry of violence between them and Dremmer doesn't raise a finger to intervene; he's not there to protect the hacienda owners. Chum's guy, LT doesn't join in, but Johnson does, kicking Chum in the head and then grabbing the poor unfortunate by the throat, choking him to death slowly. Chum is flailing ineffectually until everyone hears the cartilage cracking and Chum's lifeless body slumps to the floor.

*

As the summit finishes up, they hear strange music from outside, a calliope with a few strangely missing notes. When they exit the bar, they see a thick fog enveloping Waterhole and through it the sound of many engines. Twenty or thirty trucks, vans and buses drive along the road, with will-o'-wisp lanterns hanging off booms from the vehicles. The unknown convoy parks beyond the market area...

Next Session: Circus

Saturday, 22 October 2016

The Venom of Monsters their Wine

Previous session: Whoever Fights Monsters



Brie
At the pool, Brie charges at Chloe the Infernal as she makes a run for safety, and a red blur intercepts the katana-wielding slayer. Brie stabs Emily (the wolf) and Chloe turns around to intervene, jumping on her and starting to throttle her. With Emily skewered, Brie fights Chloe off, but can't make her advantage count before Chloe drags the sword out of the wolf squealing in pain beside her. Chloe cuts at Brie, decapitating her in one stroke, and collapses to the ground, badly beaten.

She regains consciousness a moment later and climbs to her feet, raising the mortally wounded Emily to her feet and dragging towards the school, but she's fading quickly.



Madison, the Witch
In Sister Beatrice's rooms, Lilith is preparing the potion for Oberon's demise. There's a blood-curdling scream from outside, where Maria and Madison the Witch were talking. Maria comes back inside, fangs showing and blood all over her face and throat. She's horrified and shaken, and screams at Lilith
-what did you do to me!
-what I did was save you, my dear. Ingrates, never appreciate what you do for them
Maria runs at her in a rage, she couldn't control her hunger and just killed Madison by drinking all of her blood. But Lilith picks her up with ease and throws her across the room, knocking her out.

She hands the potion to Aster the Fae.
-Don't fuck this up
Aster looks a little sheepish
-What exactly do I do with this?
Lilith looks at him, and moves over to Victor the Ghoul, still tied to a chair
-Why don't we untie you and you can supervise this affair
Victor looks at her blankly
-Do I know you?
and she chuckles, ruffling his hair
-I suppose you don't


As Victor and Aster walk towards the dark pool, they have a few awkward exchanges
-we're going to give a gift to my father...
-...that'll kill him. It's a strange thing to do
-Well, ideally we'd just lock him back up. But if he gets free, it'll be bad for everyone

They see Chloe and Emily coming across the grounds from the forest, Chloe spots them, but is too tired to avoid them and even veers towards them. She ignores their hostile stares and tells them that Brie tried to kill them both, and she needs their help to get Emily to the nurse. They won't help her, and Victor lets slip their plan; Chloe shakes her head, because she knows now that Oberon knows they're coming.

Chloe is dragging the now completely still Emily towards the nurse's office, when Sister Beatrice's door opens and Lilith steps out. Chloe is too tired to argue when she's ushered inside, and can't breathe when Lilith offers to heal Emily if Chloe promises herself to her service.
-I can't, he'll hear me
-Don't worry about him, dear. This is my domain and he cannot interfere.
-Just bring her back the way she was!
-You. You're brighter than you seem
Chloe is too distraught to play games
-It's a low bar, with those two idiots working for you
Lilith's necklace flares with light as she begins to heal Emily. Chloe feels free from Oberon's influence, but at what price?

Aster wishes that Victor didn't just tell Chloe that they were going to kill his dad. He explains how Oberon can listen in on his minions. And then the earth shakes and thunders, they barely make it through the forest, and then they spot Ambrosia covered in blood and holding a gory dagger. Aster is concerned for his sister but she shrugs it off; the blood isn't hers. She looks at the bottle he holds, and asks if it's the potion, and she goes with them

When they reach the Dark Pool, they spot Jimmy's dead body half-submerged at the edge of the water. Victor (only half in jest) wonders
-Did I miss the Rapture?
and they jump into the pool.

Oberon awaits them from his throne. They've interrupted him in the middle of strangling Amanda and he puts her down. Aster bows to him, lifting the bottle to him
-This is a gift for you. Since you are almost free of your bonds, we pay you homage and make amends for our resistance.
Oberon looks at his son and smiles.
-Most generous of you. I'm extremely pleased that you've finally joined me
He leans over and picks up two goblets and pours the wine into them both.
-A toast then, to my freedom!
They clink goblets and both drink deeply...

Swifter than expected, Oberon begins to choke, and collapses from the throne, dying. Aster also collapses, but he rises up again stronger and darker, spitting out blood and wine from his raw throat.
-This is what it takes to balance out what you've done
-You know not what you've done. Wrecked the balance. Allowed her to win...
and Oberon, the Faery King is dead.

As Aster recovers, with Ambrosia freaking out for his safety, he sees Brie's head and body lying in the cavern. Freeing Javi and Amanda from their bonds, Amanda tells Aster that Chloe killed her and the Fae furiously promises vengeance and extracts a promise from Victor also.

Returning to Lilith's they find a handful of slaughtered Fae lying in the clearing where Ambrosia was captured. Victor and Aster exchange glances at this; more dangerous than they thought.

*****

Emily wakes, breathing heavily and wrecked. She glances at Chloe who's still holding her and questions how it's possible. Chloe explains that someone else, not Oberon this time, brought her back, and Emily looks more emotionally wrought than ever.

In walks Aster, bearing the remains of the bottle. Surprised to see Chloe here, he relates their victory over Oberon to Lilith with a smile. Lilith leaves to speak with the awakening Maria. Aster grabs a couple of solo cups and pours out the remainder of the wine into them. Offering one to Chloe in celebration, she doesn't take it.
Chloe can't move, she feels sick. If she could've held out for another half hour, she would've been free. But she looks at Emily and can't imagine letting her die for that freedom.

Victor, seeing that she's not taking it hands drinks Aster's and gives the other cup instead to Emily, who downs it in one gulp. She starts convulsing and as Victor dies in front of them he whispers
-Brie says hello

Emily whispers to Chloe as she draws her last breath
-Please don't bring me back again
Chloe can't believe that they've done this, killing Emily for petty revenge, when Brie is the one who attacked them, but Aster tells her it's because she's weak and dangerous and has to be punished. Chloe rises to her feet, picking up the katana which has lain unnoticed alongside Emily through all this.
-I heard that you have to be intact to become king
and she reverses the katana to slam its pommel into his eye, Aster collapses to the ground in agony and then all of a sudden, Chloe is slammed against the far wall by an invisible force as Lilith reenters the room
-What a mess you've all made!
Aster and Chloe play the blame game, but Lilith is having none of it. She tells Aster that if he can't control himself he should leave. Aster snarls at Chloe
-This isn't over yet
Lilith moves to Emily to bring her back again, and Chloe tries to stop her, but can't even. When Emily breathes again she looks at Chloe and gasps
-Why Chloe? Why couldn't you let me die!
-I know it's shit right now, but how can being alive and having a chance at better things be so much worse than being dead.
But Chloe's sure that it barely makes a dent in Emily's misery.


They go to the Dark Pool with Lilith. Initially she is unable to enter, but summons her magic to breach the barrier. Drawing an ancient tapestry off one of the walls, they see ancient script etches into the stone. Her magic doesn't work on it, so she direct Emily to destroy the gate with Oberon's hammer. Emily resists, and while Lilith is distracted Chloe works her way over to Oberon's corpse to get her mother's necklace back. Stuffing it deep into her pocket she returns and asks Lilith to let her go, she's no use to Lilith now.

Lilith dismisses Emily from her presence and Chloe hefts the hammer up and smashes the wall down, destroying the ancient script of the gate. The ground shakes and Chloe hears ancient (creepy) whispers around her as she heads down a passageway deeper into the earth.

Another, more solid gate await them, with even more arcane script (which Lilith avoids touching when she examines it) and Chloe wonders where this leads to? Lilith tells her they're going to open the gates to Hell and let loose those within. Soon she'll wreak vengeance for the slights she has endured over these past ages.
Chloe's eyes narrow.
-So, you're telling me that you want to destroy everything I hold dear...
Lilith nods and smiles in anticipation
-...and you stand here, in a narrow passageway, with your back to magical writings that you daren't touch, and I stand here with this hammer...
Before the thought can finish, she raises the weapon and smites Lilith in the chest, knocking her back and apparently causing severe pain to her. Lilith grabs her and begins to whisper something, the hammer is thrown from Chloe's grasp. she drives Lilith back into the wall and holding her forearm against Lilith's throat, smashes her fist into...the wall. Lilith has vanished and grabbed her from behind. Tutting with pity in her voice:
-What an impertinent thing to do!
She disappears and Chloe collapses into heap.

****

Aster goes to Cameron, who answers his door on crutches and all beat up. Aster's looking for something to use against Emily and Chloe.
-I hate to ask you for something else, but I need to humiliate Chloe and Emily
Cameron's interested but can't think of anything
-I might know somewhere we can find a bit of dirt on them


They hobble to the library, where they find Amanda behind a stack of books in the classics/literature section.
-Emily's room-mate should know something
Aster moves the books aside, surprising the quiet girl on the other side of them, who drops one of her Oreos to the ground. Telling her what he's after, Aster slowly disassembles the cookie, licking the filling suggestively
-What kind of information are you looking for?
-You know what kind
-They're dating?
Aster sighs. Everyone knows that, right?
-I was thinking of something more concrete, something we can use against them
-Emily's drug dealing?
Bingo! Taking another cookie and standing up to leave
-I'll be back with some more Oreos for you

In the cavern under the Dark Pool, Chloe feels something like magic affect her, but she shakes off the feeling. She's suspicious but can't bring herself to wonder too deeply about it. Grabbing the hammer and climbing out of the cavern, she's freaking out a little bit.

Victor wakes up, alive again and sees Maria reading a book. There's some very poor quality quipping about vampires and zombies, but when Victor gets up to leave Maria tells him that she's supposed to keep him here. When he grins
-You've met me, right?
She leaves him go

Aster has gone to talk to Miss Carter. Despite her emotional state and protestations that it's so late he insists
-Someone's selling drugs on campus. I'm pretty sure it's Emily I thought you'd need to know, I trust you and something should probably be done sooner rather than later.
-Oh, that is serious. We'll need to report it.
She fishes out Officer Dominguez' card (who was here the previous day when Victor killed Mr. Armstrong) and passes along the report. She then calls Sister Beatrice and arranges a search of Emily's room.

The room is empty, and when Miss Carter starts searching under the bed, Aster remembers that someone said the stash was in an old duffel bag, but there's not many places to hide such a big bag. Miss Carter immediately goes to the closet and discovers the duffel bag, stuffed with drugs; mostly weed, but with a supply of Ritalin and other ADHD prescription pills.
Miss Carter shows all to Officer Dominguez and under the watchful eye of Sister Beatrice, Aster tells her some generic made-up story of how he knew of Emily's dealings. Having done his civic duty, Aster leaves to buy another packet of Oreos for Amanda.
As he hangs out in the common room with Amanda watching TV, they see Emily arrested and brought away.

***

Chloe walks slowly across the playing fields towards the school. She phones her mom to check in with her. She hears gunfire and shouting in the background, typical. Luke is playing Call of Duty with his friends like nothing's wrong; he's the only one who had no cause to hate dad.

Her mom tells her that the police found his body in the East River, horribly bludgeoned to death. So now that she officially knows, Chloe should go home for the funeral arrangements. Her mom will send a driver to pick her up. Chloe tells her about Oberon, but the news about the Gates and the hammer mean nothing to her.

Victor is wandering around the grounds, doing some soul-searching about his past and his identity and is feeling unsated. He spots Chloe and walks towards her. She tells him that she knows he has no reason to like her, but can't he understand that they had to kill Brie to defend themselves? But Victor is having none of it. He accuses her of being a piece of shit, who can't even own the bad things she does; just to get the approval of people more powerful than her. At least he gets something out of the terrible actions he takes!
Chloe can't speak, she drops the hammer in the grass and turns towards the car park. She's crushed and by the time she reaches the crowd of teachers watching Emily being driven off in the police cruiser she's sobbing.

Officer Dominguez
Chloe tells Miss Carter about her dad's death, and as Sister Beatrice looks on coldly, she gets a hug and some kind words from Miss Carter. Across the car park, they see the police cruiser has rolled to a halt. Office Dominguez' bloody body falls out of her door, and a hand-cuffed wolf, growling and snarling climbs through the window.
Chloe goes towards the car but the wolf runs past her and after Miss Carter who's attracted her attention by fleeing. Chloe grabs the shotgun out of the cruiser, but when she tries to pull the trigger she can't; she's prevented from taking action by some kind of magical force. She can hear Lilith's triumphant chuckles.

After eviscerating Miss Carter, Emily turns back towards Chloe and as the red wolf charges, Chloe tries to negotiate with Lilith, who won't accept anything less than total surrender along with an abject apology. Chloe won't and the wolf starts to tear into her and she feels her blood pool in her throat.

Emily rises from her, sated for now and turning back into her human form. With the last piece of her willpower drained away, she caves to Lilith's demands and grabs the shotgun again. Talking to Lilith in her mind
-So, do you want me to kill her now?
-No, but I like this new attitude
Emily is amazed
-You're still alive! I don't believe it. I just lost it!
-You'd better run
And Emily escapes into the woods as additional police cars arrive

Emily
Aster is snuggling with Amanda.
-I'll keep you safe from the wolf
-It's weird how you're still here, we're not supposed to have boys stay late
-They're distracted by Emily
-I guess I'll just have to enjoy your company so

In the woods, Victor happens across Emily. She begs for mercy, she's already been brought back three times
-Let's make that four
And he swings the hammer at her head, killing her.

**

When Chloe gets home, she tells her mom everything. 

Victor drops into Cameron, to have a serious chat with him about them overstepping the boundaries that seemed clear enough to Victor previously. Victor was the muscle and Cameron the brains, but Victor doubts that Cameron is all that anymore. When Victor reminds him about their uneasy truce, Cameron doesn't take it in the manner Victor expects
-Duh!
-Don't! Tell me how this is going to be!
Victor backhands him sharply across the face.
Feeling his jaw Cameron says
-Truce
and Victor is happy with that

Aster sleeps over in Amanda's room. They talk about Brie, Amanda thought they were dating, but Aster tells her that she never listens to him. It's hard to be with someone so single-minded.
He takes the bandage off from around his eye. With shock, Amanda gets out the first aid kit and after she re-bandages it, he goes to kiss her, but stops, wondering if Miss Carter will be checking on the dorms tonight. She kisses him then, and Aster asks her not to tell anyone that he ratted out Emily.

In the morning, there's a special assembly as classes are cancelled for a few days and the deaths of so many students and Miss Carter are announced. Just about everyone is looking at Victor at the assembly, but no one saying anything (at least not to his face). Aster is checking around for Chloe and when he doesn't see her, so he heads to the nearest sink and gazes into the Abyss to find her.
He sees a fancy house in a upmarket neighbourhood, and Chloe in a sombre but expensive dress. He sees her mom and his vision goes wonky and he sees her with Oberon, raging at her and then hitting her; she's pregnant and then giving birth to a blue-haired baby; then screaming in agony as her powers are stripped from her...
Victor sees a couple of police officers approaching as he leaves the assembly so he runs and as he's about to get clear he bumps into Sister Beatrice; somehow there when she couldn't possibly be.
-Seems like you found yourself in a spot of trouble
Victor shrugs
-It's Tuesday
-You're a problem right now, that I don't know what to do with
-I hear you're bringing people back
-What is it that you want? What's the point of you right now?
-You tell me
Lilith takes a deep breath
-You do not wish to be subservient to Adam. You are cursed, you murder your brother and you get chance after chance
Victor suddenly remembers family life with Abel, his brother. Lilith, Adam's first wife, who fell in love with Lucifer and they were all punished for that breach of faith. Time after time, he would be reborn after his death. But this latest time, the car crash was different somehow. Instead of triggering a rebirth as usual, he just came back as he was.
-Motherfucker!
-Ah, that's more like you Caine. I wondered if I could bring you back
-It's Victor...
And it's clear he means it. In that moment he doesn't seem to want any of this other identity
-...you know there's no point to me. Did you do this?
-I was curious. To try to break your cycle, if it makes a difference?
-I appreciate it

So Victor brings it back to what he really wants
-So, necromancy. Can you bring back Emma?
-What would I get out of it?
-What do you want?
-Loyalty! My plan is to break the system. Break the gates of Hell. Force Him to change things, and get my boyfriend back.
-Well, I can't do alliances very well, but I can raise hell!
Lilith laughs marvelously
-I do like you.


Post-funeral, Chloe is showing the guests out and then talks to her mom as they clean up. With Luke out of the room, Miranda tells Chloe
-I don't know how to get you out of it. Oberon was terrified of Lilith. You're lucky you survived when you defied her.
-Who's next in line to the throne?
Miranda has a emotional and guilty face.
-Not sure. There's a danger she will see us if we go to the woods to speak to the Fae.

Out the kitchen window, Miranda sees Aster turn up, walking out of the line of trees in the back garden. She drops a dish and runs outside. Chloe isn't sure what's going on and can't see them embrace outside as Miranda rushes out to her long-lost son

-I never thought I'd see you again
-I'm here for Chloe. She's done bad things
-That's my fault. My husband's fault
But Aster brushes her excuses aside
-There's just one person left to pay
-She's already paying for all this
-Chloe's not strong. She keeps running to worse things

As Chloe walks to the back door, she sees her mother collapse to her knees, whispering to Aster
-You're right. I thought I could save her. If she helps Lilith...
-I knew you'd see sense
And he walks towards Chloe
-You've done terrible things
-It's not me.
But Aster isn't even listening to her, and Lilith isn't impressed by Chloe's attempt to foist responsibility onto her. Aster grabs at the nearest kitchen knife and Chloe runs for it, getting away from her half-brother easily and ending up on the street, screaming for help.

Aster goes back inside, where his mother tells him to go back to the woods. They hug and she brings out an ornate sword, which was given to her by her father and is now his.

Chloe finally ends up running into a police patrol, and then bring her back home, where her mother doesn't back her story. Smiling like her daughter has had an emotional day and isn't well, Miranda shoos the police way and brings Chloe inside.

Chloe pulls away from her
-You were helping him to kill me! I thought you loved me! But you're just as bad as dad was. You bitch!
Miranda has the knife Aster abandoned on the counter, and Chloe bares her throat to her mother
-Maybe you should just kill me. It would be easier than this hell-forsaken so-called life I have now!
Miranda puts down the knife, she was almost there, but she says
-You know I can't kill you

And Chloe walks out of her home, still in her funeral dress, and makes her way back to school.

*

When Chloe gets back there, Lilith calls to her. Showing her all of the activity at the Dark Pool
-None of this would be possible without you!
The witches have broken down the 2nd Gate, and Chloe spots Emma Carter there, brought back as a vampire and helping out with the dig. Victor is there fawning over her and she can't stomach his joy. She's tired and beat. Her usual anxiety has fallen off her, she's just beaten and can't even bring any sass to bear.

Aster lurks in the woods beyond. He wonders if it's possible to balance the scales without killing Chloe.
He has a vision of the Fae at court. They would call for old-school, eye-for-an-eye justice. Human values can't win out, only Fae vengeance. He grabs his sword and goes hunting.
Meeting Ambrosia, he notices her new gold tiara, embedded with green stones. She sees the weapon at his side
-That sword has been missing for decades
And in her mind, she connects the dots back to Miranda
-I have to get rid of our half-sister Chloe
-Your half-sister, not mine. As the new queen, I give my blessings to your endeavour.
-Hopefully you do better than Pops did
-Well, the Regent is pissed to hear that the King has officially died, and he has to give up his power.
Aster swears fealty to her, and she heads off to quell the remains of rebellion in the realm.

At the last Gate, as Lilith examines it, Victor and Emma talk about her vampirism. She asks him
-Not what you imagined?
-A blood-sucking fiend, opening the gates of Hell?
-I was weak and spineless. All my good deeds didn't matter in the end. There's no point to bring good. Lilith can be rather convincing
-You mean cryptic and self-aggrandizing?
-Lilith says that humanity doesn't deserve to be here. The legions of hell won't destroy everything, it'll go back the way things were at the beginning. A garden of Eden.
-I'm not a big picture person. But the chance to give God a big "fuck you" would be neat. After all I invented murder! Were you annoyed about Peter?
-I heard about that. You really smashed his head in.
He gives Emma the complete, unfiltered gory details, they kiss and he can feel her fangs.
-I wonder what you taste like
and she bites and drinks deep

Lilith needs to think about getting past the final Gate, and sends everyone home for now.

Walking back, Chloe falls in alongside Maria.
-Can we talk?
Maria shrugs, like she couldn't care less
-Among everyone here, you probably have the best reason to be upset with me. I mean, I almost think it would be nice if you were annoyed with me. Before all this started I was coming to see you to talk about what happened at the dance with Cameron and Jimmy and then Oberon said he wanted you and I couldn't say no to him.
-You were coming to see me about that?
Maria remembers how she felt that night, even though it seems a million years ago
-And then I thought Oberon could give you what you needed, but then...
-Well, how about we wreak some vengeance?
Chloe smiles. A real smile.

As they walk along a narrow forest path, Aster leaps from the bushes, sword lunging at Chloe's heart. But Maria grabs his arm with preternatural speed. She breaks his arm and is on the verge of crushing his neck when Chloe stops her with a glance. She stoops to pick up the sword and places it in the hollow of Aster's throat.
-Listen. I'm not going to apologise for Brie's death, and I'm not sure I can forgive you for Emily, but we're not doing any good with this carnage. Can we just let bygones be bygones and try to forget all the damage we've done? I'll spare your life and you'll stop this hunt.

Chloe looks at Maria and shakes her head at Maria's obvious intent to kill Aster. Maria can see the half-siblings' heartbeats synchronise, as if the sword has brought them together and wants Chloe for the first time.

Aster thinks for what seems like an age. And then he nods. He can do that, some kind of balance will have been restored if he takes up Brie's mantle as Chosen. He takes the sword out of Chloe's hand and leaves them.

Maria walks over to Chloe
-Your emotions are intoxicating
and Chloe surrenders herself to Maria; she can finally relax. She passes out, already drained after a long day. She awakens a Vampire.