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Ethereal

WoD: 13 Nights in Pleasant Glen

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Steven

"There's always something happening in this town. It sits on cursed soil after all. Please, not tonight. Just leave us be. Leave this town while you still can. The spirits here are earthbound and cannot follow you elsewhere in the world."

 

With that, she re-enters her room. You decide to leave her to her grief and head to another location. What will it be?

 

Jaegar, Jiri, Marissa

The three of you make an uneventful trip back to the hotel. When you enter, Ed is by the reception deck, reading a book. He waves to you shyly as you approach.

 

"Good day. Marissa, we've replaced the table in your room. Anything else I might assist you with?"

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"As Miss Warrens retires to her room, I decide to head out of the museum. I wonder where the others are? I decide to head back to the hotel to pick up my lucky coin from my luggage, as well as look for my friends to update them on everything which I've learned so far. Perhaps Ed would have a recommendation for places to have lunch too!"

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"Oh hi, Ed," I said, feeling a little discomfited by his seeming shyness. She had never seen a shy hospitality person before. "There shouldn't be anything for now but I'll tell you if anything happens."

 

Just then, she heard footsteps behind her. Steven was back, just in time! She sprinted up to him and breathlessly related the unbelievable tale again.

 

"What do you suggest we do? Jiri, is there anything you know about folklore and demonology that can help us?"

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"I know some little of the occult" I say, adjusting my glasses, "Mostly that it is more often than not just some tricks played by devious people. There are many things people can't explain: fortunately, science can explain most of the time."

 

Given I had defeated Jhui before, I was okay with believing he was just frightened. As long as he isn't allowed to get hold of a knife again, I was fine with helping him.

 

"Steven has been checking out the occult museum, I'm sure you can ask him about that stuff. I'll help guard Jhui, but I don't expect anything to happen."

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"Well, apart from meeting the ghost of a recently deceased man, I found out quite a bit about talismans and objects which might help us if the spirits attack us tonight as you said. The first place that I went to was the Protective Talismans section of the museum, where I gleamed a few pieces of useful information. One particular paragraph in the pamphlet which I received states the following:

 

Most charms derive their protective powers from faith. Rather than conferring protection upon the bearer, charms act as a conduit through which he can channel his will to resist the malicious forces that are attempting to break his spirit. The more fearful a bearer is, the stronger the charm is by virtue of the faith he vests in the object.

 

One type of these charms was called "touch pieces", and their design seemed very familiar to the lucky coin which I always carry around with me. I was just thinking of going up to get it to test out its properties. It is said that touch pieces can confer good luck, cure diseases, or even ward off evil spirits. I will bring it along with me tonight. In addition, I notice that the talisman that Jiri always carries around, the I-Ching, has an occult power as an agent of exorcism. Perhaps it might be useful if one of us gets possessed. I'd recommend that you bring your talisman along tonight too, Jiri. We can never have too much help."

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All

Jaegar, Jiri and Steven return to their rooms to retrieve their equipments. As they do so, they notice that the salt lines Steven had created the previous night are gone! They also find new bedlinen on the bed and towels in the bath-room.

 

I-Ching - If this item comes into contact with a certain body part of a possessed being, the being is immediately immobilized as long as the item stays attached to that body part. Twilight beings cannot remove the I-Ching. (small item)

Steven's Lucky Coin - Grants a +1 bonus to any single Resistance trait (Stamina, Resolve or Composure) for bearer when rolling to resist Twilight curses or compulsion. (small item)

 

You all gather again in the lobby. Looking at each other, you wonder if the four of you constitute adequate protection. You have 4 more hours before night falls. Are there people or places you might approach for help? Or is it time for lunch?

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"Well, this is a problem. If we're going to defend against spirits, we're probably going to need more salt barriers, ineffective or not. I'm going to pay Miss Grace a visit. Perhaps she has more salt for sale, or has some other artifacts that might help us ward against the dead. Also, perhaps I can think of something else we can use along the way."

 

Roll Intelligence + Occult: 1 success.

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Steven

As much as you rack your brains, your mind inevitably wanders back to the Warren's Museum. Surely that's a veritable vault of weapons right there? There is the camera obscura at the very least...

 

You cross the short distance from Bedlam to Grace's Groceries. There, you see the familiar figure slumped over the counter in yet another snooze. The angle makes it look rather uncomfortable though and you wonder how she manages it. You gently nudge her awake.

 

"No, pa… get off my bed… oh."

 

She slurps noisily and lifts herself upright in her seat, invoking in you a sense of deja vu. You ask her about the salts.

 

"Salts? Eeeeh, no. We're still out. You bought the last packet last night, didn't you? Or was it one of the folks from the parish? Anyway."

 

She smiles at you dreamily.

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"Hmm, no luck here. I'll go back to the museum to see if I can borrow anything useful. I also look for a local payphone to call back to the three others, telling them that there's salt to be found at the parish, and that they should try to get some for tonight if possible."

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"Hey, there anything like a talisman that we could put on my gun that would allow it to effect spirits? Some sort of like...exorcist charm or maybe a little holy water or something?"

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"I'll see if my assistant at my university can find any information about Jhui's stories." I said. I went to the phone and made the call, asking after facets of Jhui's story such as ancestor worship and the Seventh Month.

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Jiri

While Steven is visiting Grace's Groceries, Jiri utilizes his Status within the university to contact his assistant, a young, impressionable college student who is also a big fan of the eccentric professor, has bought all his books and has obtained his signature of every single copy of them that she owns.

 

She uses the university's academic database to conduct the requested research.

 

[Research Roll: Intelligence 3 + Academics 4 + Bonus 2 (Access to a university library)

Result: 3 successes Link]

 

Despite her zeal, she returns half an hour later with information that are mostly facts about the Hungry Ghost Festival and the practice of ancestor worship. Most of it pertains to the appeasement of the spirits under ordinary circumstances, which you deem to be irrelevant to your exorcism needs.

 

She does, however, tell you that Ox-Head and Horse-Face are the Chinese guardians of Hell dispatched specifically to capture souls that have somehow escaped Hell to roam among the living. You also find it interesting that these ghosts are described as "having a thin neck such that they cannot swallow actual food and a fat belly such that they are always hungry". Lastly, she describes an image of how an altar for making food offering looks like; it has pieces of clean food in bowls, candles, incense and a white table cloth atop a small square table made of wood.

 

The information takes a while to relay over the phone, and by the time you get off the phone, it is now 3PM. There are 4 hours left before night falls.

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I looked at the text message on my extremely old second-hand phone, squinting through the blurry screen.

 

"Salt. Let's go to the pariah- I mean parish, to get some salt then." I tried to remember how to get to the parish.

 

"Anyone with me on that?" I asked the other 2.

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"Sure." I sighed, scratching the back of my head. "Kinda bored right now so might as well."

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Steven

You hurry towards the Occult Museum, slightly anxious at the approaching deadline. Along the way, however, a police vehicle pulls up next to you and slows down to match your pace. Sheriff Rick sticks out  an arm to attract your attention.

 

"Hey, there, tourist. Fancy bumping into you again so soon. We couldn't find Jhui at his stated residence, so we've issued an alert for the man for now. If any of us find him, we'll bring him in for questioning. How's your friend coming along?"

 

Marissa, Jiri, Jaegar

The Carmody Cathedral is just fifteen minutes away, and the short trip there occurs without any drama. The building itself is fairly large, dwarfing its neighbors, and boasts a rather ornate set of wooden gates along with a smaller door by the side. Both entrances are shut, so you approach the smaller entrance and knock. You notice that there's a small ceramic bowl next to the entrance; it is shaped like a grail.

 

The little slit on the door is unshuttered on the third knock. A pair of eyes peer out from within, and then you hear a male voice,"Good day to you, strangers. Before you state your business with the Lord, I must ask all of you to cross yourself with the water from the grail on your right. It is imperative that your fingers contact your skin when you do so."

 

The grail fills up with what appears to be water from a small opening slightly above its mouth.

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"Afternoon, officer. Jiri's doing fine, looking at the way he's moving. I believe he barely feels the wounds anymore. But a more troubling issue has come to my attention, officer. Well I know you aren't a firm believer in the occult, but I have reason to believe that something otherworldly is threatening the safety of me and my friends tonight. Of course, it could just be all a trick pulled by a particularly insane criminal, but either way, I believe that me and my friends might be in danger. Is it possible to requisition some protection from the local authorities, at least for one night?"

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Steven

The sheriff rubs his stubble thoughtfully before asking,"An insane criminal? Jhui? Well, I have trouble believing that still, but judging by those wounds your friend sustained, maybe I should play it safe. Done. I'll send one of my men to the hotel tonight to keep watch over your group."

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"Let me check it first." I said. I dipped a finger into the water then held it near my nose to smell, before dabbing it on my tongue to taste test. "Not very mineral rich, but nothing unusual." I proceeded to do as the voice asked.

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"Oh, is the water safe?" I hissed to Jiri as he started performing the rite of crossing. I didn't want to embarrass myself by looking too closely at how he did it, and so I clumsily took the water and poked myself on the forehead and chest, trying not to look at the person at the door.

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I sighed, not the first time I've had to do this shit to get into a place. Had to kill a group of priests in conclave once, the people felt they were corrupt and paid, so who was I to judge. Though I'm sure their god is displeased with me. I just follow suit, waiting a moment to walk in and dipping the tip of my gun in the water. If it 'was' holy water, it could help with the night ahead. Whatever worked.

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Marissa, Jiri, Jaegar

There is a terse pause, as if the person on the other side of door were waiting for something to happen. A minute later, you hear the sounds of the door being unbolted and it swings inwards to admit you. As you file into the narrow room within, Jaegar hears a discreet sound from above and looks up in time to see the barrel of a shotgun disappearing behind a small trapdoor none of you had noticed earlier.

 

The room directly beyond the entrance is the small narthex, which in turn precedes the nave. You see that the person who invited you in is a middle-aged clergyman, neatly dressed in full-collar shirt and a cassock. His fringe is combed to the left, and his forehead is wrinkled with premature aging.

 

"Good day, friends. I am Paul Goodman," he tells you. 

 

He stretches out an inviting arm to his right and tells you,"This way, please. The Reverend Mother will address you directly."

 

The cathedral is only dimly lit by candlelight and a central chandelier with incandescent light bulbs. Curiously, where you might expect to see stained glass windows high up on the walls, there are instead opaque tiles that depict various scenes from the Bible. In fact, the entire interior of the cathedral is completely insulated from the outside. There are also various paintings with a strong Caravaggio influence. You feel slightly intimidated by the dark immensity of the place.

 

A resounding voice suddenly breaks the silence,"He that covers his sins shall not prosper: but whoever confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy!"

 

A middle-aged woman, dressed in a verger's robe, emerges from behind the ambulatory at the end of the building. She is flanked by two more clerics, both of advanced age. She strides down the central aisle and pauses before you, looking at each of you in turn with a stern and appraising expression on her face.

 

"And almost all things by the law are purged with blood; and without the shedding of blood is no remission. My name is Carmody, and I shall test your sins and your resolve in the name of the Lord."

 

This is uttered in a near-whisper. She steps closer to Jiri.

 

Her face softens slightly as she says to him,"I bid you, young man, give me your hand."

 

She reaches out a welcoming hand to you. At this distance, you see the scars in the shape of a cross on the wrist.

 

One of the reverends steps in closer; you see in his hands a knife and a small goblet.

 

Do you comply? [Jiri only]

 

(You may make Social rolls if you wish.)

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I pause and look to the others, but decide to go ahead, and offer my hand.

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Marissa, Jiri, Jaegar

One of the clergymen grabs Jiri's fist firmly and slices across his palm with the knife, leaving a bright line of red. [1 Lethal damage] He collects several drops of blood in the goblet and then presents it to Mrs Carmody, who dips a finger into it and then brings it to her lips to taste. Her eyes seem to glow with a faint purple hue, although  it's so brief you wonder if you might have imagined it in the dim lighting. None of the clergymen seem to flinch at this bizarre act. The reverend sets down the knife and goblet on a pew and withdraws a roll of bandage. Then he administers to the wound meticulously without a word. Meanwhile, Mrs Carmody begins mumbling to herself.

 

"Mmm, yes. This is the Black Horseman at work, no doubt about it. Curious, very curious."

 

She turns to regard Jaegar and extends a hand towards him as well, her face crinkling into a warm expression again.

 

"If you'll be so kind."

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I cock an eyebrow in response. I'm not sure what this lady expects of me but this looks pretty nuts. Then again, what the fuck was I gonna say about it to her face. She's an old lady, in my career I actually haven't met many evil ones. "Yes, miss." I pulled up my sleeve a little while extending it to touch her hand, hopefully this will be over with quickly. I don't have all day to be stuck in wacky cult world. "If you're going to cut me, mind cleaning the knife, I don't wanna contract something."

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Marissa, Jiri, Jaegar

Mrs Carmody smiles, presumably at your wit, as she turns your palm to face skyward. You do not actively resist, but you can feel the strength of her grip and it surprises you.

 

The other priest reveals another knife and slices across your palm in the same manner as with Jiri. [1 Lethal damage] He collect your blood in a small, brass dish and Carmody repeats the same ritual - for ritual it must be, surely - with your blood. Her rather pale lips crease into a slight smile before she utters her diagnosis, which seems to be directed at Marissa.

 

"The Red Horseman. Very fateful company you're keeping, lady."

 

You expect her to request the same of Marissa, but instead she waves the priests away and invite you to be seated at the pews.

 

"That will be sufficient. Now, tell me why you have sought us out."

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