At the Edge of All Things
Raw Log - Aurelia Sidequest 2
Aurelia: 8 arcane
<jake2099>: Last time (a while ago ) you traveled to a Victorian townhouse near UBC to meet with Jude and begin taking your first steps into goetia. He led you downstairs to The Chamber of Secrets and put some Jean-Michael Jarre on the hi-fi and then things got :winky:
<jake2099>: as in 40 winks
<jake2099>: You entered your own unconscious, dithered between your imagined obligations to work and the temptation to let your hair down, and confronted your own more assertive archetypal self.
<jake2099>: Which was so inspiring that you then wildly overshot your next roll and ended up in the Dreamtime!
<ell>: There were owls!
<jake2099>: There were. And they are of course watching you
<jake2099>: Now you are reunited with Jude and entering the Temenos at last!
<jake2099>: The mist parts and you find yourself downtown. It’s cloudy and mild, the air suffused with directionless light. The two of you are standing in a busy intersection while traffic moves efficiently around you. The drivers either don’t notice or simply nod at you and then move on their way – there’s no honking, no sense of urgency.
<ell>: (should I bew loggin or do you gots log?
<jake2099>: (I am ghetto logging with ctrl-C but if you have a log function that would definitely help in case something goes wrong)
<jake2099>: Jude looks at you and smiles. “The Temenos of Vancouver. Bit like an ant hive, isn’t it? Notice how all the cars only have single occupants.”
<ell>: “Why is that?”
<jake2099>: “I’m not sure!” The cars aren’t honking, but Jude has to raise his voice a bit just to be heard above the bustle. “I have a theory, though. People are coming and going to and from work, making money, not really finding…human connections…here, let’s get somewhere a bit quieter…!” He gestures toward a street corner.
<jake2099>: He moves through a gap in the traffic to the curb, sitting down on a nearby bus stop bench.
<ell>: Aurelia follows, weaving through the traffic. “We taking the bus?”
<jake2099>: “We can try, if you’d like. The wait’s anywhere from five seconds to a year, depending on the dreamer. There doesn’t seem to be much of a consensus on the quality of public transit. While we wait, let’s see about reading material…” He opens up the newspaper bin next to the bus stop and produces a tabloid-style free weekly newspaper.
<jake2099>: EVERYONE IS RICHER AND PRETTIER THAN YOU, it reads in big block capitals. “Eh,” he says, sitting the paper down on the bench. “Same headline for sixty years now.”
<ell>: Aurelia peers over his shoulder to read “Whose dream is that?”
<jake2099>: “Everyone’s. Everyone here’s, anyway, although I doubt it’s much different anywhere. Everything is represented in the Temenos, big and small, from one person’s most trivial hopes and fears to the cavernous, echoing complexes of a nation – but the things that everyone thinks get the most traction.”
<ell>: “What would happen if the richest prettiest person read that, though?”
<jake2099>: “Oh, they’d read the same thing. It’s not personalized. It’s like…like..oh, I know. It’s like the Neilsens.”
<ell>: Aurelia cocks an eyebrow quizzically “The who?”
<jake2099>: “The TV ratings people in America. They watch what people watch and try to help TV producers and advertisers tune their message accordingly, based on some idea of the national average. This is their fondest wish, realized. The Peoria of the mind.”
<ell>: Aurelia frowns slightly “Seems rather… banal”
<jake2099>: “Oh, it’s just the surface. You can get as profound as you like here, it just takes a bit of digging. Ohh, look at that!” He points at a shadow overhead.
<ell>: Aurelia looks up “What?”
<jake2099>: You see something huge hanging above the skycrapers:
<jake2099>: “It’s the Battleship…whatever. From the TV show. It was filmed here. Getting a bit smaller day by day now the show’s done, though. Still, it casts a wide shadow.”
<ell>: “You know who’d probably recognize that but not cop to it?”
<jake2099>: He chuckles. “Now why do you say that?”
<ell>: Aurelia smiles "I just get a closeted hipster-nerd vibe from her
<jake2099>: “I have almost no idea what any of those words mean. But I’m pleased to see that you and her and the others seem to be getting on.”
<jake2099>: make an intelligence or wits plus investigation check
<critical>: Ell, 7d10h8: 3 [7d10h8=9,3,9,3,6,3,[10,2]]
<ell>: makin me roll dice
<jake2099>: Something was bugging you about the skyline as you looked up, and now you know what it is.
<jake2099>: The skyline isn’t right. Mixed in with the stuff you recognize you see the Transamerica Pyramid, the Bank of China building, Sears Tower and the Empire State Building.
Ell: Aurelia stares out at the building and taps Jude on the shoulder. “Hold on, why are they here? More dreams? Dreams of tall buildings?”
<jake2099>: Jude nods. “In a sense. Celluloid dreams, you know. We’ve stood in for half the cities on the globe, and it…confuses the geography here sometimes. When that Jackie Chan movie came out in the 1990s, there was a few months there where some blocks of North Vancouver were replaced with a bad copy of the Bronx.”
<jake2099>: The bus pulls up. It says “Metro Transit” on it.
<jake2099>: The door opens. “You gettin’ in, mac?” an old man says in a stereotypically New York accent.
<jake2099>: Jude looks at you. “Are we? It’s up to you.”
<ell>: Aurelia looks between the driver and Jude"Where does it go?"
<jake2099>: Jude shrugs. “I’ve honestly no idea. Everything here is protean and ephemeral. Except for the things that aren’t, of course. Coming here is an exploration that never ends.”
<ell>: Aurelia shrugs and steps on the bus. “Let’s go then.”
<jake2099>: He follows you and takes a seat. The driver grunts and the bus begins to move. The other passengers barely acknowledge your presence.
<jake2099>: “There it is again,” Jude points. “That route map.” You look, and it doesn’t seem to correspond to anything you recognize. There are street stops labeled “5th Avenue” and “Wabash” and “Rebellion Headquarters.”
<ell>: “Rebellion Headquarters? Whose rebellion, I wonder?”
<jake2099>: “Maybe they know.” Jude points out the window ahead. The bus is approaching another stop and three young people with close-cut hair and space marine uniforms are checking their watches.
<jake2099>: They march up the bus steps single file, the lead – a young brunette – waving a beeping metal gizmo around. “We’re clear. No cybernators detected,” she says to her companions. They nod and take up positions in the aisle warily.
<ell>: Aurelia addresses the space marines directly. “What is a cybernator?”
<jake2099>: The woman looks at you. “The Cybernators were built by humans. That was humanity’s mistake. In 2060, war was declared. And this time – there could be no surrender. CYBERNATOR 3: UPRISING. Starring Blake McCoonan, Renee Park, and WIlliam T. Binden. A Jeff Markos film. Available on Blu-Ray September 4th.”
<ell>: “Ah I see.”
<jake2099>: Jude leans in. “These people are all ‘bit players’ – they have a line here or there, something appropriate to everyone’s conception of them, but no, uh, interactivity beyond that. Which is just as well. If it doesn’t say something inane, it must be actually intelligent, and there’s no guarantee anything actually intelligent here is human.”
<jake2099>: The woman, still looking at you, overhears Jude. “Human? The Cybernators were built by humans. That was humanity’s mistake…”
<ell>: Aurelia smiles at Jude. “Of course not. And that’s where the fun begins, isn’t it? It’s like… a grand voyage in search of alien life. Forgive my romanticizing. I wonder though, does this place have its own Temenos?”
<ell>: (incidentally and unrelated: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_kennings awesome
<jake2099>: He tilts his head sideways. “What an interesting question. That’s…not one I, or anyone I know personally, has ever thought to ask. It’s worth investigating, though I’ve no idea how one might even begin.”
<jake2099>: (oh rad )
<jake2099>: The bus stops again. This time, a woman runs up, her expensive clothes torn. She’s bleeding from the shoulder, and her mascara is running, but she’s beautiful. And you recognize her – it’s Valentina, the Free Council mage and star of the small screen.
<ell>: “Perhaps the same sort of meditative magic could be used here. But it does seem like it might have risks. Is that Valentina?”
<jake2099>: “Oh my god,” she says, looking at Jude. “Thank god, I’ve found you.”
<jake2099>: you and Jude, rather
<ell>: Aurelia sits up straight, holding Jude’s shoulder. “Are you alright?”
<jake2099>: She holds a hand to trembli
ng lips. “They’ve taken Joachim! The servants of the Final Days. We have to help him!”
<jake2099>: She’s pointing behind her, into the distance. Jude looks blandly calm.
<ell>: “Jude? Are you there? Valentina? Who are the servants of the Final Days?”
<ell>: Aurelia looks a bit panicked, unsure what is real or not.
<jake2099>: (three times I almost typed “blandly clam”)
<jake2099>: Jude smiles and grasps your hand warmly. “It’s okay, love. It’s just another show for our benefit.” But Valentina continues breathlessly. “I know who you are! You’re servants of the Secret Masters, empowered by them with special abilities for the good of all! Please, you have to help Joachim! I know he’s a werewolf, but he’s my truest love!”
<ell>: “I… what?”
<ell>: Aurelia sags in the bus seat. “It seems my lack of pop culture knowledge is a distinct disadvantage here. I really don’t have time for TV.”
<jake2099>: Jude smiles and laughs. "This one’s a bit more vivid than normal. It must be that show of hers. The new season starts soon; it must be on everyone’s minds. We’re probably catching the echo of some water-cooler conversation about the thrilling cliffhanger. Here, I’ll show you a trick. Use your Mind Sight.
<jake2099>: “It’ll be a bit blinding, swimming as we are in the psyche of the city, but you’ll be able to pick out actual entities readily enough. At least sometimes.”
<jake2099>: Valentina kneels before you. “Please, I know our world is just a place you visit sometimes from above on behest of your secret masters, but we have lives and thoughts too! We matter! My love matters. For Joachim…and for our unborn child.” Her voice cracks.
<ell>: 5d10h8 Aurelia puts her goggles on
<critical>: Ell, Aurelia puts her goggles on: 2 [5d10h8=7,3,4,[10,9],3]
<jake2099>: Jude puts his on at the same time. And he frowns. And then an instant later, you see why.
<jake2099>: There’s something here. Not a mind, not a human psyche or other consciousness, but…something between it and one of the phantom automatons that fill the rest of the bus.
<ell>: Aurelia looks at Jude, then stands up. “Jude, she’s right. She isn’t human, but she does have a life, a mind of a sort…” Aurelia turns to her. “What is your name. You look like someone we know, Valentina, and you obviously know who we are”
<jake2099>: "My name is Constance Harrow. I’m a reporter with the Chicago Herald. I covered the world of high society and fashion. But six months ago I was attacked by something beyond fear – but was rescued by a man beyond imagination. Six months ago I discovered a new world – a world of darkness.
<jake2099>: “Now, together with the person I love but can never be with, I fight to prevent…Nightfall.”
<jake2099>: The bus passengers begin humming a tune in unison. Jude stands up. “It’s Valentina’s little echo here. But it’s picked up something real. Maybe because she’s Awakened….?”
<jake2099>: The bus stops. Valentina/“Constance” tugs at your wrists. “Please, I know where they’re holding Joachim. You can save him, I know you can.”
<ell>: Aurelia facepalms. “The trailer-speak is getting old. I hope we can teach you how to talk without sounding like bad copy on the back of an airport paperback.”
<jake2099>: “Everyone off for the End of the World!” the bus driver chuckles merrily. Passengers begin exiting out the front and rear.
<ell>: Aurelia smiles. “It’d be far too interesting not to. Come on, Jude. Let’s go?”
<jake2099>: He smiles. “Lead the way. I wasn’t expecting to make any discoveries on this trip, but I believe I called this place ‘protean’ earlier…”
<jake2099>: Stepping off the bus, you see that while this may not be the end of the world, it certainly is the end of the line. The Lion’s Gate bridge lies ahead of you, but the span is broken, the supports bent and twisted. Fires roar on the shore opposite.
<ell>: “It certainly looks like Armageddon…”
<jake2099>: The passengers neither notice nor remark on this, bustling off to take up new positions on the sidewalk, the bus stop bench, or walking back the way they came.
<jake2099>: “Hrm, yes,” Jude says. “Apocalyptic imagery. Always a bit of it here and there, but this is a bigger display than I’m used to.”
<jake2099>: “Yes!” Valentina says. “The apocalypse. You understand. That’s what they want, you see. If they kill Joachim with the silver dagger, there will be nobody to fight the End of Days.”
<jake2099>: She points across the river. “That’s where he is….where we must go.”
<ell>: “But the bridge is out.”
<jake2099>: “I know. Their work has already begun. We have to find a way across.”
<ell>: Aurelia looks to Jude. “I’m not risking any mojo until I know how it interacts.”
<jake2099>: Jude looks at you. “Magic can be worked here – it just behaves…differently. What do you think you’d like to try?”
<ell>: “Getting to the other side. Not sure on specifics.”
<jake2099>: He nods. “If it hasn’t become another realm entirely, I can teleport us there with Space. It’s not too far away. Any guesses why that matters here?”
<jake2099>: He’s quizzing you, you realize.
<ell>: “Because space here is an illusion?”
<jake2099>: He clucks. “Space is an illusion in the Fallen World. But here we’re walking in the dreams of people who think that England is harder to get to from France than from America, because France is closer…you see? It takes on the properties it’s been imagined to have.”
<jake2099>: *easier, rather
<jake2099>: He produces a red pen and begins tracing runes while chanting in the High Speech.
<critical>: jake2099, 9d10h8: 2 [9d10h8=6,2,4,2,3,8,9,6,7]
<ell>: Aurelia rolls her eyes. “I work in immigration. It is easier.”
<jake2099>: You feel a bit fuzzy. "Hrm. It’s hard to bring the, ah, the whatsit – " he jabs at Valentina. " – along. One moment…"
<critical>: jake2099, 9d10h8: 3 [9d10h8=7,6,7,4,2,8,6,4,[10,8]]
<jake2099>: “/There/ we…” and then his voice disappears as if it’s coming from someplace very far away, and then dopplers back at you with the shriek of an incredible velocity. The ground underneath your feet is suddenly, unceremoniously blackened ash and slag. The air smells like a tire fire.
<jake2099>: Jude doubles over coughing before producing a cloth handkerchief. Valentina coughs a bit too, but theatrically.
<jake2099>: You’re standing in a shallow crater. Around you are bits of walls and twisted piles of metal that may once have been cars.
<jake2099>: It’s hot, like standing in front of an open oven.
<ell>: Aurelia grits her teeth and stands, pulling her hoodie up against the smoke. "ugh… *cough So this must be hell. Where is he, Constance?"
<jake2099>: Valentina holds a hand to her mouth. “Not hell. This is the world they want to create. His world – the End of Days. Marcus, king of the vampires, told me to look for a pillar of smoke.” She scans the horizon, then points. “There!” And sure enough, a plume of acrid smoke is rising into the sky from about a mile away.
<jake2099>: “It’s not too far, either. Are you ready for a fight?” she says.
<jake2099>: Jude brushes ash from his lapels. ‘If you insist."
<ell>: Aurelia shrugs "Not ever, but I don’t have much choice do I?"
<jake2099>: “Ugh, it’s hot,” she says. “And this jacket will only slow me down in a fight.” She tosses it off with a quick motion, and then her torn blouse follows it. Her bra is cherry-red, lacy, and filled to bursting. Jude rolls his eyes. “I’m told this happens every week without fail.”
<jake2099>: “Let’s go,” Valentina says, holding a .38 snubnose pistol that seems to have materialized from nowhere. “The father of my half-werewolf baby needs us!”
<ell>: Aurelia blushes slightly. “Maybe I should watch more TV…” and follows behind.
<jake2099>: You cover the intervening distance with some difficulty – even moreso than might be expected for crossing a mile of broken, melted ground. A couple of times the pillar of smoke seems further away than before.
<jake2099>: “The realm’s resisting us,” Jude says, almost to himself. “It really doesn’t want us to reach that spot. Fascinating.”
<ell>: “Yeah well, the realm can suck it because we’re getting there. Our half-naked friend needs us!”
<jake2099>: Jude smiles broadly. “You’ve gotten into the spirit of the proceedings! I have to admit, I’m beginning to as well…”
<jake2099>: And you do reach it. A circle of wrecked cars turned on their sides surrounds a clearing housing an enormous bonfire of trash and tires. A group of robed and cowled figures circle the bonfire, chanting.
<ell>: Aurelia grins a bit, wolfishly, at this conformation to her will.
<jake2099>: “There they are!” Valentina says, sotto voce. “The servants of the End of Days! They’re calling his name now, can you hear?”
<ell>: Aurelia steps forward. “Hey, you know there’s laws against trash burning!”
<jake2099>: The cultists turn to face you. Their hoods utterly conceal their faces – or there’s nothing there. One points a gloved finger at you. “INTERLOPERS!”
<jake2099>: “Joachim!” Valentina cries. Near the opposite side of the bonfire, a group of cultists struggle with a bound, mostly naked man with long black hair and lean, granite-like muscles.
<ell>: Aurelia turns to stage-whisper to Jude. “Does that happen every week too?”
<jake2099>: He raises both eyebrows. “If it does, nobody told me. Apparently I need to have words with some people about that.”
<jake2099>: Valentina vaults atop a car with a highly improbable and wire-fu-looking standing leap, then races along the perimeter to be closer to her man. A group of eight cultists rush you and Jude.
<jake2099>: (we don’t need to have a full-on combat, just let me know what you try and make a roll for it)
<ell>: 6d10h8 Just mentally controlling what passes for a mind for them
<critical>: Ell, Just mentally controlling what passes for a mind for them: 0 [6d10h8=7,2,1,1,2,6]
<ell>: and failing miserably
<ell>: Aurelia struggles with her spell. “I guess mind control doesn’t work?”
<jake2099>: Jude raises his red pen and points it at them. “No…it’s something resisting us….!”
<critical>: jake2099, 9d10h8: 1 [9d10h8=3,9,4,5,5,4,3,5,1]
<jake2099>: A few of the cultists wobble and fall over. You hear gunshots and see Valentina pick off a pair.
<jake2099>: You can feel what Jude means – again, they’re not sentient, but like Valentina they seem to be on a more complicated program than the other ‘bit players.’
<jake2099>: A cultist runs at you, waving an archetypal wavy-bladed sacrificial dagger.
<critical>: jake2099, 3d10h8: 1 [3d10h8=3,3,9]
<ell>: Aurelia tries a more direct approach, trying to simply fry their mental circuits. “This is strange. Do you think this is an experiment?”
<critical>: Ell, 5d10h8: 1 [5d10h8=9,7,5,2,6]
<jake2099>: "It warrants….ugh – " narrowly dodging a blade – “investigation. It does seem to have that Awakened stink to it, doesn’t it?”
<jake2099>: The cultist doesn’t quite get you, but as he gets within striking range you hear what he’s been chanting this whole time. “Twenty-one twelve…twenty-one twelve…twenty-one twelve…”
<jake2099>: As you strike out, you feel that resistance, like something pushing back, and then it evaporates and the figures attacking you and Jude collapse.
<jake2099>: There’s a howl on the other side of the bonfire, and you see a somewhat unconvincingly-CGI’ed wolf tearing into the remaining cultists.
<ell>: Aurelia jumps back in what she hopes is a graceful and athletic move, managing to land on her ass but not getting stabbed. “Twenty-one twelve?”
<ell>: Aurelia groans. “Come on! this is a dream world you have the budget for better here!”
<jake2099>: you can make a Wits plus Academics or Streetwise roll to see if it rings a bell
<ell>: 5d10h8 (wits+academics)
<critical>: Ell, (wits+academics): 1 [5d10h8=6,9,3,3,3]
<jake2099>: You think it could be a date.
<jake2099>: And then a second later it clicks. /That/ date. The one everyone’s going on about.
<jake2099>: After a few seconds the fighting dies down, the remaining cultists having fled. The wolf drops a dead robed body from its jaws, then lunges at you and Jude.
<jake2099>: “Stop it, Joachim! They’re friends! Friends!”
<jake2099>: The wolf rumbles, not entirely convinced.
<ell>: “Constance brought us along. We’re friends of hers… of a sort.”
<jake2099>: He sniffs at the air a few times, then nods warily.
<jake2099>: Valentina jogs up to you and Jude, bouncily. “You helped us. Two strangers, and you helped us. Why?”
<ell>: Aurelia looks at jude, then looks back. “Well, you do look quite a lot like someone we know. Also you have quite a lot of… um… agency? for one of your kind here? I guess you could say we were curious, investigating. Plus I guess I can’t say no to someone in need of help.” Aurelia looks down
<jake2099>: Valentina smiles lblankly. “Well, regardless, I’m glad the secret masters sent you. Warn them about the End of Days. Tell them we need help. Please.” She turns back to Joachim, who picks her up in two hairy arms and begins loping off into the distance. You aren’t entirely sure if she registered any of what you actually said.
<jake2099>: Jude frowns slightly. “..Hm. Something’s going on in the Temenos, that much is clear to me. And right now your guess is as good as mine what it is.”
<ell>: “Some sort of apocalypse.”
<ell>: (god Kingdom of Heaven makes me mad)
<jake2099>: (are you watching it right now? )
<jake2099>: “Everyone’s worrying about that Mayan nonsense at the end of the year. That would be the likely answer. But something..something has tapped into that. Or maybe it’s not nonsense after all…” he blinks. “Ugh, I shouldn’t say that. I just made it that little bit stronger here.”
<ell>: “Yeah, this place is giving me a headache. Does Valentina really look like that?”
<jake2099>: He shrugs. “Oh yes, so far as I know. She does her own scenes, it’s been the subject of some jokes, as you can imagine.”
<ell>: “Huh… So how do we leave?”
<jake2099>: “Well, you start by finding a pair of very special slippers…” he smiles. “No, we just…end the spell. Wake up.” He moves to you and snaps his fingers near your ears, loudly, a bit painfully. “Wake up, Aurelia.”
<jake2099>: And you’re awake.
<jake2099>: (And now I have to dash, I’m off to meet my dad and granddad at their accountant’s. 8 arcane exp to you!)