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A Metallic Abstraction

envydeienvydei TravelerFull Members
edited May 2014 in Saving Throw Gaming
The story so far.

April 25th, 2012

On the night of April 25th, 2012, the Beltane Family went to see a production of a play at the local Samhain Art Institute. Jeremy Hanover, a student at the Institute and occasional companion of Henry Beltane, invited the Family to attend his directorial debut. While the play itself was somewhat nondescript, the events following would be a prelude for the Family's next few days. On their way home, they encountered an assault in an alleyway which quickly turned into a murder. With the two involved parties, calling each other "Aries" and "Sight" using methods that seemed inhuman. Preferring to forget about the horror they had witnessed, the Beltane's made for their home and rested for the job in the morning.


April 26th, 2012

On the morning of April 26th, the Beltane Family arrived at the New World Orchard building in downtown Spring District. An office building for some, a fancy apartment complex for others, it was here that the Beltane's found their client for the day, Mr. Gregory Thomson. Over lunch, Thomson explained that he had reason to believe his apartment was haunted by some sort of evil presence. While the Family (sans Marshal) were skeptic of Thomson, they took the job and found that he was correct. A strange creature had taken up residence in Thomson's bedroom and while the Beltane's got recordings of the attack, they only made it out alive due to the intervention of a man named Inya, who, in the late hours of the night, explained to the Beltane's briefly the events that were starting to take hold of the city of Samhain would eventually culminate in an Aether Pool, a place where Demons and Humans would compete for the right to shape the future of the Earth. Demons would manifest frequently, humans would be granted supernatural powers, and the Beltane's were now wrapped up in this via Inya, who left as quickly as he came, saying that he would help them later.


April 27th, 2012

After collecting their payment from Thomson, the Beltane's split up for the day. While Marshal and Henry had a somewhat uneventful day, Chester sought to learn about the murder they had witnessed on the 25th. After following a trail of evidence, he came across a cornucopia symbol that had been imprinted on the murderer's shoe. Later he would learn that this was the symbol for Samhain High School in Spring District. Harold, for his part, took to the park located in the middle of Spring District hoping to snap photographs of the new art installations. He found a strange tall woman there who told a group of onlookers an odd story.

Meanwhile, across town, Inya held counsel with several Demons who were intent on participating in the Aether Pool, and demanded that one of them, a Demon under the cipher of Indigo, that she withdraw and forfeit whatever humans she had given Fy (the small parasitic Demons which are able to give mortals supernatural powers) over to Inya. While Indigo reluctantly withdrew, she said that she had no right to give over the humans.

That night, two of these Humans attacked the Beltane Headquarters in Winter District. One with a power to produce darkness, and the other strong winds. While the man who could produce darkness was killed, the wind woman escaped before police arrived. Chester was able to absorb the Fy of the man he had killed and promptly fell unconscious. He was taken to the hospital for his apparent sickness, as was Harold for wounds he had sustained during the intrusion.


April 28th, 2012

Henry and Marshal spent the majority of their day looking for Inya. They ventured to Autumn District and learned from their man working in the local government, Wally Sheen, that Inya was most likely a man who had owned a house in Autumn for over thirty years. Upon trying to locate this house, the two reached a dead-end, with neighbors saying that the house was right there where no house was visible. Concluding that Inya had used his own powers to mask the location of the house, the two were about to leave when they were confronted by the tall woman Harold had encountered the day before in the park. She was direct about her nature as a Demon and offered the two of them an alliance with her. Refusing by way of running away, Henry and Marshal made for the hospital where Chester and Harold were.

Harold, having woken up well before Chester in the hospital, was released from the ER and made for the High School that Chester had learned about, hoping to find the murderer known only to the Family as "Aries". While at a baseball game at the high school, Harold was confronted by a series of young girls, sisters who conspired to have Harold kicked out of the stadium. Once he was out, another girl approached Harold and told him that she and her sisters had been warned by their employer to be on the lookout for the Beltane's or anyone who came snooping around (presumably for Aries). The girl did not pursue the matter beyond telling Harold to leave, saying he was not worth her time.

Chester woke in the hospital to learn that he now possessed the power which the man he had killed, Gary, held until last night. He could now produce fields of impenetrable darkness solely by thinking. He learned that his bill had been paid by Inya, who was present, and informed Chester that one of the doctors in the building, Dr. Elaine Zemeckis was another person who possessed a Fy and worked for him. Upon his release, Chester wandered the hospital in hopes of finding out more on the man who had died attacking the Family HQ. He did not learn much, and escaped the hospital using his newfound powers.

Upon reconvening, the Family determined that HQ was likely unsafe, and resolved to stay the night at the flat of the Three Beggars, a rival group of odd-jobbers who had once been members of the Beltane Family themselves. Upon arrival, the Family were greeted warmly by the three, Vixen, Japa, and Allan and offered Japa's room for the night, as he had a date he was going on.

Now the Beltane's speak in quiet tones amongst themselves, hoping to uncover what they know and piece together events. Chester has just displayed his new powers to the others for the first time.


"So it's real.." Henr said somewhat disbelievingly, "You know, a part of me had thought that this whole thing may have still been some kind of elaborate setup, but seeing it from one of you guys... I'm starting to think this is the real deal now..." He quietly took in a sharp amount of breath, a strange mirror of a scoff. "Powers.. Superhero crap. I tell you if we lay low with this, don't get involved in any of this Aether crap, then we could be set for life." Henry made sure to speak quietly, fearing that the Beggars may have been listening in.
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Comments

  • KhanKhan Heh heh Full Members
    edited January 2014
    "Well Henry, if-" Chester was quickly cut off by Marshal, who was now leaning forward to inspect the older man.

    "Do you have any other symptoms? Do you feel any different?"

    "Well, no, not really. I was out of it for a while, but now I'm fine."

    "That concerns me. You're being possessed by a demonic entity, correct?"

    "Yeah, I suppose. But only a small one." Chester put his hands up, demonstrating the size of the Fy.

    "As if the f*cking size matters. I'm going to touch you with a cross, see if you go up in flames."

    "That seems a little harsh, but go ahead. I don't think it's that kind of demon. Anyway, Henry, how do you expect to 'lay low?' We've seen Aether-related events three days in a row, and one of them knocked on our front door. Really, knocked down our front door, but the point remains. Normally I'd be on the same page as you, but I don't think this is just going to blow over."
  • envydeienvydei Traveler Full Members
    edited January 2014
    "Hmm, you've got a point there.." Henry muttered as he rubbed his chin in thought. "Let's think here.. the incidents we've encountered were that murder the other night, the weirdness at Thomson's, those two freaks attacking us which directly led to Chester meeting a doctor set up by Inya, not counting that as an incident since it seems to me it's a logical step from the last encounter. Harold's meeting at the school and then Marshal and I running into this giant-burqa Demon. Am I missing anything?" He counted, "Not counting ones which were apparently set in motion by other events, we've encountered three... which is still a lot.." Henry noted, realizing that the explanation he was going for had failed.

    "Well if we can't profit off of it, and it doesn't seem like we're going to be able to avoid it, maybe it's best that we fight.. or play along in it? Didn't Inya say there was some awesome prize at the end of it all?"
  • KhanKhan Heh heh Full Members
    edited January 2014
    "A giant-burqa demon?" Harold, used to letting the others plan, suddenly perked up. "Like a seven-foot tall woman in a black burqa?"

    "Yes..." Marshal replied slowly.

    "I saw her too. Yesterday, at the park."

    "Why didn't you tell us!?! That thing tried to bargain for our souls!"

    "Fred, keep it down!" Chester chided. "The Beggars would jump on this in a heartbeat. We can't let them get involved."

    "I thought she was a performer, with the festival," Harold explained. "She was just sitting there, telling crappy stories."

    "That doesn't matter right now, we need to figure out what to do. I think playing along is our best option at the moment. Inya knows what he's doing, and he has powers and connections. We should stick with him at least until we have a few more of our own Fy. Once we figure out what's going on and we can fight our own battles, then we can play it by ear. Until then, Inya hasn't given us any reason to distrust him." Chester glanced around the faces in the room. "How does that sound?"
  • envydeienvydei Traveler Full Members
    edited January 2014
    Henry had to sigh at the latest mention of Inya and all that had befallen them the past few days. Though he didn't like it, he saw that there was a high probability that the interactions he had with Aetherfolk would only increase as the days went on.

    "Inya it is, then...I guess in the meantime, we should work on getting our own Fy... Marshal you don't have to if you don't want to. I understand.. the thought of some little parasite living in me and giving me powers kind of rubs me the wrong way anyways, but just... try not to be so loud about the Demon thing. I have a feeling it'll just bring down a bunch of crap on our heads.."
  • KhanKhan Heh heh Full Members
    edited January 2014
    "Deliberate possession, this is madness..." Marshal muttered.

    "We've seen plenty of people with these powers, and none of them seem particularly off," Harold contributed.

    "You mean except for the ones that were killing each other, or the ones that tried to kill us in our sleep?"

    "Sounds pretty human to me," countered Chester. "If you put a big enough prize at the end, who knows what limits a man will go to?"

    "Sure, whatever."

    "Anyway, Inya explained a little about those hitmen to me. These demons run teams of humans, Inya called a favor in on, Indigo. It was something along the lines of 'give me your Fy and drop out of Aether.' Indigo didn't take it very well, and her team is putting up resistance. Thus Mikey and his friend. Point is, there are Fy out there that we have a claim on. I don't know if every team member will be like the last two we met, but if the team's fractured, we can divide and conquer. Think that's our best bet."
  • envydeienvydei Traveler Full Members
    edited January 2014
    "Okay, so let's see what we know here..." Henry grabbed a piece of paper from a nearby printer connected to Japa's desktop and began writing on it.

    "Inya is a human who seems to be helping us out for the time being." He drew a circle around the name Inya, "There's a Demon named Indigo whose team of humans has fractured due to an agreement with Inya. As far as we can tell, these humans know who we are, and at least some of them want us dead." He wrote her name across the page from Inya, as if he were forming columns. He made two headings for these columns "Friend" and "Enemy". "Next, we have the weirdos that we've run into a few times. Aries and that girl Harold ran into today. We don't know who they're with, but it sounds like they aren't exactly lining up to be our friends. Finally, we have the Burqa-lady, who I think we can agree is flat-out a Demon. She has been 'friendly' to us so far, but I don't think we should trust her, especially when Inya's set the bar pretty high for telling us things. I mean, let's be real here.. the guy may be a flake, but when he's around he lets us know a ****load."

    "I agree our best bet for this might be divide and conquer, but so far you're the only one with one o' these parasites, Chester." Henry pointed lightly to the man, pen in hand. "Unless you're thinking we're gonna rough these guys up by making 'em not see, then we've gotta approach this with either some allies, or with a new angle."
  • KhanKhan Heh heh Full Members
    edited January 2014
    "Inya mentioned a few more demons," Chester added. He snapped his fingers, trying to remember the list. "Had funny names. Uh, Dragon. Taste. Saturn. King." He let Henry write them down as he rattled the names off. "And he said something about encountering other Fy-users. I don't think we have to hurt them to get their Fy, or at least we don't have to kill them. Must be something to do with the rules of Aether." He shrugged. "That said, I don't how well we negotiate with any of them, let alone find them. Inya knows a detective, and a doctor with a list of people that have come in with Fy symptoms. Maybe we should talk to one of them a little more."

    "Jesus Christ, I need a cigarette." Marshal threw up his hands. "You guys make your plans, but I don't give a sh*t anymore. Let me know when we actually do something; I've got my own solution for demonic parasites." As he stood up, he casually drew his pistol, waving it around a second before leaving the room.
  • envydeienvydei Traveler Full Members
    edited January 2014
    Henry looked on after Marshal, just wishing that he'd put the gun away. It was things like that that made him regret letting Marshal into the Family. The man could be something of a loose cannon where his beliefs were concerned. "I guess we should give Inya a call then. Or one of his other associates if you've got anything on them.."

    As Marshal left the room he was promptly met by Vixen, who beamed upon seeing him. "'Sup Marsh!?" She called to him from the table that she and Allan both sat at now. Allan with one hand holding a smoke and brushing his forehead and the other holding a copy of The Concerto and Vixen with her feet propped on top of the table and her arms crossed behind her back. "Meeting over? Gonna go kill someone?" She noted the firearm that he had yet to put away.
  • KhanKhan Heh heh Full Members
    edited January 2014
    "Harold, the second number I gave you was Inya's contact in the hospital, Dr. Elaine Zemeckis. Let's go ahead and give her a call. I told her I'd let her know what I found out concerning Gary, though it wasn't much. I'll talk to her." There was an exchange between Chester and Harold, Harold giving his phone to Chester and Chester giving it back for Harold to navigate to his list of contacts. Eventually, Chester had the phone and it was ringing.

    "...Not...Yet." Marshal slowly lowered the gun and holstered it. Noting Allan's cigarette, he produced one of his own from a pocket. Despite his other opinions about his guests, he appreciated being able to smoke indoors. "So is this what you do when you're not on a job?" Marshal puffed. "Just laze around all day?"
  • envydeienvydei Traveler Full Members
    edited January 2014
    "Dr. Zemeckis," The doctor answered, "Who is this?"

    "Having a steady employer comes with the advantage of regular work hours." Allan finally spoke, not looking up at Marshal. "Allows us to spend time off doing other tasks instead of just scrounging jobs up all the time.."

    "We still do heists now and again, but our cons take some planning, man!" Vixen started "Not everyone's a mark, ya know?"
  • KhanKhan Heh heh Full Members
    edited January 2014
    "Hello Doctor, this is Chester. I wanted me to update you on what I found out about Gary. Wasn't much to see, to be honest. The only thing I noticed was that one of his fingers was completely black, like a tattoo or something."

    "Mmh." Marshal let the conversation go, focusing on inhaling deeply from his cigarette.
  • envydeienvydei Traveler Full Members
    edited January 2014
    The doctor hummed a moment before responding "Well that's not really that much to go on unfortunately. No one's come down aside from you to claim the body so there's nothing new on that front. That said, I got a letter today when I got home. It's a really ornate thing inviting me to go to some kind of rally to 'save our city from Demonkind'. Now, I'm curious and all about this, but I can tell you this isn't Inya, and whoever it is apparently knows my address and that I have a Fy, so that's cause for concern. You guys might've gotten one too. I'm assuming you're with the rest of your group." She called into the phone.

    "Sooooo Marsh! What's it like working for Henry? You were just being brought on around the time we flew the coop, so how've things been with them?" Vixen rocked back and forth as she tried to make conversation.
  • KhanKhan Heh heh Full Members
    edited January 2014
    "An invitation?" Chester relayed the information to Henry and Harold. "We haven't gotten anything of the sort. If we had, Marshal would already be there by now. It does seem somewhat fishy, though. And it didn't say who it was from? Where's it going to be?"

    "With," Marshal corrected Vixen. "I'm working with him, for now. Do a job now and then, get a meal out of it, and I can stay vigilant with a low profile. Works for me."
  • envydeienvydei Traveler Full Members
    edited January 2014
    "It didn't say who it was from, no..I think it might be one of Inya's buddies though, because of the emblem on it.." Elaine called over the phone.

    "What emblem?" Henry called into the phone, pressing speaker on it so that all three could hear.

    "It's a really stupidly ornate thing, a snowflake, a sun, and a tree all sharing a crown between them. As for where it is, it's going to be at the Solstice Shopping Mall in Winter District. I guess that's a decent abandoned place. If I'm right about this, there should be a good number of other people with Fy going there. I'm thinking I'll go myself if you guys decide to go too.." Elaine noted.

    "No lasting attachments?" Vixen called out as she went over to the door and retrieved a letter that had been slipped under it. She tossed it over to Allan, allowing it to land on the table before him as he read. He picked it up and silently opened it while Vixen continued talking to Marshal, "What was it you did before this again?"
  • KhanKhan Heh heh Full Members
    edited January 2014
    "That mall's a great place to get shot," muttered Harold. "It's a popular hangout spot for a couple gangs."

    "If there are other Fy-users there, it won't be the normal gangs we'll have to worry about." Chester stroked his chin. "I have to say, I'm interested to see what it's all about. If they're associates of Inya, then it can't be all that bad."

    "I am a proud member of the Witchfinder Army," Marshal exclaimed. "While the ignorant laugh, while the weak hide, while all others sleep, we fight the sinister forces that threaten our world. Of course." He spoke as if the Witchfinder Army was a well-known organization. "I am here to determine whether or not we need to develop a Samhain branch."
  • envydeienvydei Traveler Full Members
    edited January 2014
    "Yeah, I've got to think that this may actually work in some weird way.." Henry began, spinning the pen he had been using between his fingers as he sat on a chair at Japa's desk. "If there are other Fy users there, and they only sent these invites to Fy users, then all we've got to do is play it cool while we're there and no one knows that we're unarmed. If anyone starts whipping out their freak-flag, then we just have to lose ourselves in whatever crowd's around and hopefully they're not going to be dumb enough to possibly attack some other mutant."

    "Easy on the mutant thing..." Elaine called from over the phone.

    "Just call it like I see it, doc." Henry threw back. It was true, he really didn't care for how people with Fy took his judgment of them.

    "Huh.." Vixen said, while examining Allan as he read the letter. Allan crumpled the letter and took his lighter out, setting it alight and letting it burn out on the tabletop. "You'd think that there'd already be Witchfinder's here, given that Samhain's one of the only city's where paganism and Wicca are really a thing." Vixen called to Marshal. She gave Allan an inquiring look, and the man briefly nodded before she brought her attention more fully toward Marshal.
  • KhanKhan Heh heh Full Members
    edited January 2014
    Chester continued the train of thought. "If we go to this deal, convince everyone that we're just as loaded as them, it could take some heat off of us for a while. Might get a chance to find a few more Fy before we get another unwanted visitor. On the other side of that, what would it say about us to the other players if we didn't show up?"

    "Did you just call them 'players?'" Harold gave Chester a raised eyebrow.

    "This whole Aether thing is a competition, with some crazy prize at the end, and after dealing with that Aries punk I have no doubt that it's just a big game to a lot of them. We need to start getting into their mindset, especially if we're blending in. I say we go."

    "Lost cause," shrugged Marshal. "No need to find witches when you can't go into a bookshop without running into one. They're not the real threat anyway, with their love spells or nature dances or whatever. Just smoke and mirrors, all there to keep the general population ignorant of what real magic is like." Frederick had begun to enjoy himself, having found a willing outlet for his message. He leaned back, crossing his arms behind his head. "Pagans aren't Samhain's problem. Demons are. I'll be reporting to my superior soon, once I figure out if it can even be contained."
  • envydeienvydei Traveler Full Members
    edited January 2014
    "...Yeah, better than sitting around here doing nothing. Information is key and Inya hasn't been that helpful there.." Henry concluded, "We'll see you at this thing, eh Doc?"

    "Guess so," Elaine answered. "I've got a few things to take care of. It says the meeting will be at 10 PM. I'll be there by 9:45."

    "Good, see you then." Henry looked to see if Chester or Harold had anything to say to Elaine before they hung up and he continued onto the next order of business.

    "Demons?" Vixen asked, her face betraying a significant interest in this newest bit of information. Had Marshal been facing him, he would also have noticed Allan glancing over to him for a moment, silently seeing what his next statement would be. "What do you mean Demons?" Vixen feigned worry in her voice, as if she were actually concerned about the Demons that Marshal mentioned.
  • KhanKhan Heh heh Full Members
    edited February 2014
    "Sounds good." Chester nodded. Harold looked at the other Beltanes a moment before hanging up his phone and returning it to his pocket.

    "So, there might've been one problem with this rally thing."

    Chester turned to face him slowly, his expression blank. "... And what would that be?"

    "When I ran into Aries' friends, goth triplets or something, I might've tipped my hand that I didn't know jack about Aether. If they're there, they'll know I don't have a Fy."

    "Hmm. Probably shouldn't go then." The wheels in Chester's head were turning. "We'll play you off somehow. You're our errand-boy or something, and we keep you in the dark about our real plans. What do you think, Henry?"

    "Not your textbook demons, per se," Marhsal lectured. "Something different. Guess Henry doesn't want me talking about it, but it's clear to me he doesn't care about you guys very much." He breathed the rest of his cigarette in. "If he did, he'd have told you to pack up your things and run." Marshal jammed the butt out on a nearby end table.
  • envydeienvydei Traveler Full Members
    edited February 2014
    "Fine by me.." Henry agreed. "I'm beginning to get a bad feeling about this whole thing.. seems like it's too widespread.. we need to find out about this no matter what. If we come across trouble we'll work around it somehow.. we'll have two Fy users on our side, three if this detective shows up too. Marshal should come along too actually, provided he can keep his trap shut and not get us killed. Let me get him in here.." Henry briefly popped his head out to find Marshal talking with Vixen and Allan, "Yo Marshal! Get in here a moment, will ya?"

    Vixen gave an odd look at Marshal's comment about Henry. She probably would have said something had Henry not interjected, as it became clear to her that Marshal did not know Henry as well as they did, and that perhaps she should have been going along with Marshal's prescribed actions. Allan gazed hard at her so as to try to tell her not to interject.
  • KhanKhan Heh heh Full Members
    edited February 2014
    Marshal glanced casually over to Henry, nodding. "My expertise is needed. Maybe next time if you buy me a beer, I'll tell you about an encounter I had with a real witch. It was back in 94', she had this little town in Massachusetts completely... Eh, I'll save it." He lurched up out of the chair and ambled into the bedroom.

    "Chatting our hosts up? Now I'm worried." Chester watched Marshal come in, mostly-joking.

    "What'd I miss? You guys come to your senses about demonic possession yet?"

    "The opposite, actually. We'll be attending a rally tonight, to 'save the city from Demonkind.'"

    Marshal sat up. "A rally? The Witchfinders have tried to raise awareness through public speech for years, and it's never worked."

    "Well, here's the catch: the only people that got invitations are Fy-users."

    Marshal had to pause, trying to grasp the situation. "So... We're walking into a trap?"

    "Come on Fred, get over it." Chester threw up his hands. "Fy are not the same as demons. Not everyone that has a Fy will be out for our blood. Just some of them." He cleared his throat. "But we have to show up. Not expecting you to know anything about putting on appearances, but we have to mingle with these people, get a sense of them and assert ourselves so that we don't get torn to pieces in our sleep!"

    "We're going to identify the attendees?"

    "Yes, Frederick, of course." Chester sighed.

    "Good enough. You're obviously all sold on this crazy plan, and I'm not leaving you to your own devices in such a concentration of supernatural energy. As long as we can get some names and faces, we can hunt these bastards down later."

    "Great. Glad everyone's on the same page."
  • envydeienvydei Traveler Full Members
    edited February 2014
    The hours passed and the Beltane's mingled lightly with the Beggars, until about 8:30 at which time they excused themselves and made their way over to the Solstice Shopping Mall in Winter District. The Beltane's had briefly pilfered the Beggar's foodstuffs before leaving which their hosts were apparently somewhat surprised by, but accepting of nonetheless. They made plans for meeting on the 30th again for the annual Beltane celebration and Henry hoped that they'd be back in the Factory by then.

    9:30

    The Solstice Shopping Mall had been one of the biggest indicators that Winter District would remain something of a slum to Samhain. Built in 1975, it was a very large structure that sprawled out over a very large area and held numerous stores therein. However, between maintenance costs, large payments made for the land, and several owners who lacked business-savvy, the mall was shut down shortly after the installation of the Weather Generators, officially going out of business in 1995. Now, 17 years later, its hull stood as a large abandoned reminder of the failures of Winter District. Caked in snow on the roof, the interior had many leaks in its empty courts and shops, and many suggested it was simply a matter of time before the building caved in on itself. Despite the shoddy interior and the generally unsafe conditions of the building, it served for a time as a gang hideout and even as a meeting place at times, given that it stretched over the space of several blocks of the city. Now though, it seemed more abandoned than ever, as several portions of the roof had fallen in and a recent string of arrests at the building deterred many from using it as their base again. Despite all of the criticisms of the building however, no official movement had ever been made by the city toward its demolition. Rumors abounded as to why this was, but the one that most people settled on was that somewhere within its bowels, it held the Weather Generator that kept Winter District in its permanently miserable state.

    Henry and the others stood at a distance from which they could observe the Eastern Entrance to the building. The other entrances held no one but on this side the Beltane's spied a group of three people milling around the doors and talking to one another from time to time. The Beltane's had decided to wait until they saw others approaching and eventually, they began to appear. A few people at first, and then more began to appear from various locations, all working their way to the doors in their own fashion.

    Henry was sweating nervously, but decided that it was now or never. "Chester, be on the lookout for this doctor. Marshal, you and me are going to be playing lookout. If anything looks like it's going south, we get out and call Inya. Harold, if you see those goth girls, avoid them, and try not to look like an idiot doing it." Henry rose up from their cover place in an alleyway and began to walk toward the mall.
  • KhanKhan Heh heh Full Members
    edited February 2014
    As Chester moved to follow Henry, he turned back for a moment. "Guys, a little advice: ((Failed an Instruction roll)) don't screw this up." The old man was nervous as well, but not in the same sense as the leader of the Beltanes. It was an eager anxiety, and the glint was in his eye. He strode ahead with confidence.

    "Thanks for the tip, moron." Marshal rolled his eyes, clutching his pistol through his jacket pocket. He lit his fifth cigarette of the day, shook his head, and fell in line.

    Harold gulped audibly. He decided to pause for a moment, pulling out his camera. He zoomed in on the people around the door as much as he could, trying to pick them out without getting any closer.
  • envydeienvydei Traveler Full Members
    edited February 2014
    What Harold saw through the camera would not prove especially helpful, especially because the Beltane's soon found themselves at the door standing next to the three figures. Each of them wore black hoodies and two of them, women presumably, wore long flowing black skirts. What made them notable, however, were their faces, or lack thereof. They each wore Volto masks that held different designs on them. One of the women's masks was silvery and held many crystalline white decorations on the mask that produced an eerie glow in the moonlight of Winter. The other woman's mask was decorated with green vine-like appearances, and upon closer inspection, Henry noted that the woman who wore it was quite old, as she was shorter than the other two people and appeared hunched over. The man's mask was adorned with yellow flame ornamentation, and he was the one who spoke to the Beltane's first.

    "Welcome friends, I see your invitation has reached you well." His voice, though muffled by the mask, was sonorous and resonant, warmly melodious against the cold backdrop of the snow-covered parking lot and the austere building before the gathered people. "Enter, please" he gestured toward the building, "We only ask that we keep this meeting civil and without incident until we three have made our announcements. Then there will be time for gauntlets to be issued." The two women looked on silently as the man gestured Henry and the others in.

    Walking in past the strange hosts, Henry found that they had entered through the old food court. A large window rotunda that was caked in snow produced a blue glow onto the floor where a large fountain that had long since stopped working. Carved in stone were a male and female figure, the male with large antlers and a spot upon his head that at one point would have produced a flame, and the woman a pale figure with a crescent moon adorned to her forehead. The two faced in opposing directions, but twirled out of a central base composed of stone plant life. Around the statue were seated a number of people, some taking effort to conceal themselves through hoodies or masks, others not bothering as much. People of all races, genders, and ages spanned these seats and, to Henry's surprise, there were even some families with children present. That made him more uncomfortable than anything. None of them presented their Fy in any notable manner, though some people seemed to group together with others as if they knew one another already.
  • KhanKhan Heh heh Full Members
    edited February 2014
    The Beltanes milled about for a moment, trying to scout the crowd out. Chester stood at the front of the group, looking for Elaine. Harold hid in the center, trying to find Gem and her sisters. Marshal stood behind them, peering at every face and into every hood he could.
  • envydeienvydei Traveler Full Members
    edited February 2014
    Shortly thereafter Elaine appeared, wearing a hoodie and a mask as she walked over to the Beltane's, she spoke in a rough voice, attempting to disguise her tone. The effect may have come off as somewhat more comedic than intended though.

    "Chester, it's me. Elaine." She noted gruffly

    Henry took note of the woman for a brief moment before turning his attention back toward the others in the room. He looked over and saw no signs of the Burqa figure or anyone else that looked suspiciously non-human. Everyone seemed to be just people picked up off of the streets. He quickly noted someone who might have been one of Harold's goth girls, a young high school student by the look of her, sitting next to a middle aged man with thin glasses and a sweater vest and jacket. Both her and the man looked unhappy to be in Winter District.

    "Greetings fellow competitors!" A booming, deep voice sounded out from the doors as the three masked figures filed in with the last of the people that were meant to attend. The man walked at a brisk pace, confident in his stride as he spoke. Behind him, the older woman walked at a slow pace due to her posture and the other woman at a calm, deliberate step. "I know it's a Saturday night and our wonderful city never sleeps, even in these harsh snowy neighborhoods, so I'll be as quick as I am able to!" He called out as he made his way onto the fountain from where he intended to speak. It was odd that despite his mask, his words boomed out as if he were speaking through a microphone.

    "Allow me to introduce myself, I am Vicca!" He flourished for the audience. Despite his expressionless mask, it was apparent that the man beneath it was animated. He seemed a charmer, or a liar depending on who was watching. "My associates here are Seran!" He said pointing toward the older woman, and--

    "Ronno." The other woman called out as the two made their way up to stand next to Vicca. Ronno's voice was not as loud as Vicca's, nor as expressive, but it cut through the air like a razor, and it was mostly evident that the face beneath the mask was not a smiling, genial one.

    "Yes," Vicca continued, "we are three of the four Human Overseers of this event that has begun in our fair city, known as an Aether Pool the fourth one, well he-"

    "Must have caught an error in the post!" Inya's voice called as the man entered the food court. He was not wearing any kind of mask or disguise, and in fact was breathing somewhat quickly, as if he had run to the meeting. He took his place standing next to the other three, "Milady, it is lovely to see you again" He bowed before Seran. "Ronno." He nodded to her and she tilted her head back in response. "You'll pardon me, sir." Inya began speaking to Vicca, "I was only informed about this meeting within the past hour or so. Sometimes letters don't reach my house." He said by way of passive-aggressive explanation.

    "Not a problem at all, Inya!" Vicca nodded and continued. "Before we begin, we want to dispel any misunderstandings about us, and explain to you all what the stakes are here. As many of you know, our city has recently become inhabited by several beings who may be best termed 'Demons'. These 'Demons' are here in concordance with the Aether Pool that is meant to take place in our city. They are each incredibly deadly individuals who should not be engaged with if at all possible. Now, I am a Samhain native myself, and I don't want to see any of our city's people come to harm. Which is hwy I have called you here tonight, in order to equip you with as much knowledge as possible, and send you forth with some suggestions as to what we can do to make our city safe for the upcoming months."

    "Yes, you there" Seran called out, pointing to Henry, who had raised his hand to speak.

    "What District you from, Vicca?" Henry called to the man.

    "I'm sorry sir," Vicca began, "But I'm trying to avoid any potentially identifying information about myself tonight. Now then, if there are any opening questions regarding the Aether Pool or any of the events that have begun around Samhain, feel free to ask and I shall begin explaining"
  • KhanKhan Heh heh Full Members
    edited February 2014
    Marshal stood up, beginning his question just as the first one was answered. "Elaborate upon the origin, nature, abilities, and weaknesses of these 'demons.' It's obvious that you're not using the term in the conventional, textbook manner." Chester silently wondered whether or not there was in fact a textbook on demons, and knowing Marshal he decided there probably was. Harold simply tried to shrink into his seat, biting his nails at how much attention the Beltanes were drawing.
  • envydeienvydei Traveler Full Members
    edited February 2014
    "Well that's certainly a forward way of phrasing a question" Vicca responded, looking directly at Marshal alongside the other three standing next to him. Some other members of the crowd began looking over, but most of them looked toward Vicca quickly. It seemed as though they wanted to know as well.

    "I'll answer that.." Seran began, and it became apparent that very few would be able to hear her. She leaned over toward Inya and the man nodded, removing the mask from her face. Seran was an elderly woman, as the Beltane's had surmised, pale as a sheet and with an Eastern European accent to her speech. She spoke now, unimpeded by the mask, and her voice, wavering though it was, carried throughout the court.

    "The Demons that have made themselves at home in our city are life-forms that have, according to them, always been present on our world. They come in a variety of forms, many of which we cannot see nor interact with in any notable manner. They are beings born of a sort of human collective unconscious, if you will. As such, fear or anger or mistrust breed new ones into the world. After that, the actual scientific process becomes a bit muddled, and the tangible Demons that I'm sure many of us have met have their own religious explanation for their lifespans. However, it should be noted that some of these Demons predate even the earliest of humans, born from the beginning strings of consciousness found in the early animals of Earth. Most of these have died out however. As to the Demons you are likely to encounter, there are three: Fy, Hasil, and Haisal. The Fy I believe we are all familiar with, even if you did not know their actual title. Fy are the small symbiotic beings which have merged into the vast majority of us here and now grant us powers. Fy, like all Demons, feed on emotion, and in their case, they feed directly on the emotions of their host. Fy are otherwise harmless on their own, and it is unclear whether or not they have any effect on the human mind, and if so how much." Seran was long-winded, but it was clear that she had done some degree of research on the topic being discussed.

    "Hasil I hope none of you will meet. They are Demons of malice and fear that manifest in places tied to the Aether Pool where a competitor, that's those of us with Fy or influenced by Fy, live. They appear as a means to coerce us into competition, for if we do not compete, they will continue to manifest physically. Once a Hasil has physically manifested... well, god help you. If you see any sort of large black stain developing on your walls in your house, and you are plagued by nightmares, I suggest you speak with one of us immediately after we are finished here tonight."

    "Finally there are the Haisal, Demons who are physically tangible at all times and can masquerade as Humans. They act as other Overseers in this Aether Pool and, while less dangerous than a Hasil, they should not be crossed. A Haisal is something like an advanced Fy, they have grown beyond their symbiotic origins and are able to maintain a physical form at all times. Haisal each have powers, that may very loosely be grouped into four categories, though I will not attempt to explain this as they have always been very close-mouthed about their powers. Haisal, and Demons in general, are solitary creatures; for this reason it should be noted that a person may only have one Fy in their body at a time, and may only possess up to three in a lifetime. As for weaknesses, well, I'm not exactly sure how to 'kill' a Haisal such as it were, as they are beings made up from ideas set forth by the human mind. They dislike sunlight, though, and extended exposure to sunlight will kill a Fy who does not have a host, at least for a time.. I have not known anyone that has attempted to physically destroy a Haisal and lived to tell about it, though." Seran concluded, shaking her head. "I think that's all, dear." She nodded to Marshal. "Anyone else?"

    "So why were you calling us competitors?" A man asked.

    "Because we are competitors!" Vicca answered "By virtue of having a Fy, we are awarded the chance to compete in this magnificent set of events! The ultimate prize of which-" He breathed out a sigh of joy "To choose the new path that humankind and life on our planet shall take." He seemed to relish the notion of this prize.

    "Remember." Ronno began, unannounced "This Aether Pool is one of several. Doing well here doesn't mean you win. I've seen it happen. You do well here, by whatever the standard is, you're vaporized and brought to some other dimension. You get to wait until the finals begin there."

    "It's true!" An older man in the audience started "I saw it happen!"

    "Were you in-" Inya started, before being cut off

    "Colombia!" The man answered, "1988! I saw my friends disappear into thin air. I remember you." He pointed to Inya "Standing there with the rubble around ya."

    "To the matter at hand!" Vicca started, his voice easily overpowering the old man's. "As we've mentioned. Competition isn't really an optional activity. If you do not compete, a Hasil will manifest. For that reason, I wanted to discuss safe competition, if we can get off of the matter of Demons that is." Vicca looked toward Marshal, seeing if he had any further question.

    Henry looked sidelong at Marshal, ready to stop him if he began to make a scene.
  • KhanKhan Heh heh Full Members
    edited February 2014
    "Of course, it all makes sense! If Aether involves this much demonic activity every time it happens, then Colombia was definitely an Aether event. I'll have to get some more information out of Inya later." Marshal, now wrapped in his own thoughts, waved at Vicca to move on. Meanwhile, at the mention of "safe competition," Chester leaned in reflexively to listen.
  • envydeienvydei Traveler Full Members
    edited February 2014
    Vicca continued to explain "From what we've gathered, the only way to access the final round of Aether is to have 'done well' in one of the Aether Pools. Now, what this means exactly is pretty subjective and hard to pin down. However, we do know that of us humans, the only ones who can advance to that final round are those who have Fy. As mentioned before, you can possess up to three Fy in a lifetime, and from what my compatriots have explained, this has meant in the past, that we humans often compete to loose one another of their Fy. After a person has lost a Fy three times, they can no longer come into possession of one, and so they may be considered 'out' of the tournament. These competitions over the Fy can take any form, I've learned. From life and death struggles to games of chess or even more abstract gambles, like becoming engaged to someone within a particular time limit. It should be noted then, that aside from the life-or-death match, all of these competitions require the consent of all parties to acknowledge that it is an Aether Pool Duel with the competitor's Fy as ante. For that reason, I would very much appreciate it if we agreed to avoid deathmatches when possible. We are all citizens of this great city and I would hate to see innocent blood spilled over this tournament when alternate methods of competing exist." Vicca continued.

    "Why don't we just not do this?" Someone asked from the audience "I mean, we'll use our Fy to keep those weird wall-stain Demons away, but do we really need to do this tournament?"

    Vicca sighed, "Now that's where things get a bit fuzzy" he began, "It's been explained to me that, luckily, within this most recent span of Aether Pools, a 'New Dawn' as I've heard it called, has not occurred. A 'New Dawn' happens when there has been very little activity over the span of time that an 'Aether Pool' is meant to take place in. Beyond the three Demon species I mentioned earlier, there are apparently others who have less presence but more interaction with humanity, or more presence but less normal interaction. These larger demons, that remain dormant for most of the time, can be thought of almost like Gods to the Demons, and may awaken if an Aether Pool has been uneventful. They wake and we all lose. I'll just leave it at that, not just us, but everyone in Samhain."
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