Matt (innocent_man) wrote in mageawakening,

Murder in the Pines Update

The 6s and 7s cabal headed out of town in early August (this game takes place 8/5/05) on their way to the Pacific Northwest to hunt down the Via Lunari. Fletcher, the werewolf that they nearly killed last time, was going to meet them later (player was out of town) and Fin had stuff to do (player was out of town suddenly, but hopefully is going to blue-book what he was doing, otherwise he was wearing a tutu and dancing around).

They stopped through Chicago, which, as you'll recall, was Echo's hometown. They met with Kuklukan, Echo's point of contact in Chicago, who immediately had an assignment for her. Turns out a mage named John Butler, an Arrow mage belonging to an odd cabal called the Abbatoir, had gone rogue and fled. He was headed for O'Hare, and if he made it there, he'd be done. Since the cabal included both Arrows and Guardians, Kuklukan wanted them to find him and apprehend him - unhurt - and bring him back to the Guardians.

Privately, he told Echo and Asmodeus the truth. Butler was a Guardian spy and had learned something important. He needed to be brought in for debriefing, but Kuklukan didn't know why he was running. Something was wrong, and he wanted the characters to find out what.

Asmodeus teleported to the Abbatoir's Sanctum, which was, in fact, a fetish club called the Abbatoir. The place had a bizarre carnival theme, complete with a performance by Sardtori's Satanic Sideshow (the mages). He met the mages, including the Ringmaster (Chevalier), a Gypsy fortune teller (Madame Strega), a Haitian woman with a boa constrictor around her neck (Princess Kundalini), and a man in a red leather bodysuit with his face painted up mime (the Red Jester). When he mentioned he was from Cincy, he noticed Red Jester look away as though nervous. He questioned the cabal about Butler. They told him that he'd always been quiet and secretive, but they didn't know why he'd run. Kundalini mentione that, when drunk, he had once slipped into an accent, but she hadn't been able to place it.

Meanwhile, Echo plotted out a few possible routes from the Abbatoir to O'Hare and Whim, now a Master of Fate, pulled the cabal's fate toward their targets at an El station. They headed out to the station, and Asmodeus met them there. The group arrived first, and spread out at the station. Whim cursed the station so that people would stay away, reducing the human traffic. The next train let out four people. Bolg checked one - not a mage. Whim magicked herself to trip over the guy they were looking for, and stumbled into a skinny, nervous-looking guy who looked nothing like the man they were looking for. She tried to distract him, but he kept moving. Finally, she cast a Fate spell to make him trip, but he resisted (seriously, my dice were on fire last night).

Echo rewound time to let Whim cast the spell again - twice - and each time the mage beat her. Finally, Echo got sick of it, and drew her gun. The guy ran, she popped him in the leg, and he turned around and threw a Psychic Sword at her that, combined with the Paradox damage she'd already sustained, nearly dropped her. Whim finally got her "make him trip and fall" spell to work, and Bolg ran up and told him to stop in the name of the Abbatoir.

The mage claimed that he wasn't Abbatoir, he wasn't even an Arrow. He made a Guardian sign at Echo and Asmodeus, and said his name was Lefty. He was a Chicago mage, but not the one they were looking for (he also healed the damage to his leg, while they talked). Whim looked back in time; in response, he blinded her, but she heard someone talking on a phone in a Russian accent and saying, "When I see you, I'll be Lefty." Whim was convinced this was the guy they were looking for, some of the others weren't so sure. He led them into a more secluded area to talk about this, and then dashed off and hid.

They looked for him, but he was quite cunningly hidden. Suddenly, they all went blind, and he shoved past Falstaff to run down the track. Whim called down fate (Swarm of Locusts) and blanketed the place in darkness - also got herself a Branding in the process (I switched Havoc and Branding on the Paradox chart, because Havoc is so harsher). Falstaff grew a mole's nose to track him, and smelled him off the end of the track. They ran to the track's end (Whim canceled her spell), but then the train rumbled by them, and Whim looked up and saw a man fitting the description they'd been given.

Bolg fried the train's electrics, and Asmodeus cast Suspension on the mage. The others ran up to the train, and Falstaff boarded. Bolg used Light Mastery to make the car go black, and Falstaff got kicked in the face and nearly knocked out. Whim tried to geas the mage into cooperating, but called down an Anomaly Paradox - a black cat jumped across the tracks, and for the rest of the scene, everyone had to re-roll successes to see if they kept them (it's harsh, but totally appropriate). This pretty much hamstrung everyone, including their target, and he finally agreed to talk if Bolg got the train moving. They agreed, and the scene (and the Anomaly) ended.

On the train, the man (now tall, muscular and speaking with a Russian accent) asked if they were from Cincy. When they said they were, he said he'd expected Helen to send someone, but not this soon. They, of course, said, "Huh?" The mage then asked how much they knew about the Cincinnati Compact, the charter by which the city's Consilium ran. They knew that the Hierarch could not belong to a cabal, and that Helen's cabal (Guiding Hands) had all died some years back.

The mage asked for a moment to "change," and made Bolg swear as an Arrow not to harm or detain him. His shirt got wrinkly and his bearing got older and slight, and he introduced himself as Max. Max told them that in his time at the Abbatoir, he'd discovered that the Red Jester was also a survivor of Guiding Hands - meaning that Helen was ineligible to be Hierarch of Cincinnati. The cabal bond, magically sealed, for Guiding Hands stated that the cabal was intact until there was only one surviving member, and it had never been dissolved (Whim pointed out that she could dissolve it). Max didn't know if Helen was aware of Red Jester's survival, but didn't see how she could be ignorant of it.

The characters discussed the possibilities. What would Helen do to keep power? Would her son, Arathnos, kill to keep her in power? What would Silas - or Crescendo, for that matter - do if they found out? Max said he'd been trying to get to Bailiff to tell him, because he trusted Bailiff. But, since the characters knew (and at Echo's insistence) he said he'd go back to Kulukan and report. If anything happened that made him think that Chicago's Guardians were going to get involved, he'd go to Bailiff.

The cabal, meanwhile, decided that Helen was a good Hierarch and they didn't feel the need to help oust her. They would continue on their way to find the Via Lunari.

Before leaving, Max pulled Asmodeus and Echo aside and told them to get trained in the Masques. That was how he had gone from Sergei, the Good Death, to Max, the Opener of Ways. He also told Whim that throwing spells around like that was rude, and dangerous to boot. He did mention, though, that if she needed a focus for her curiosity, no one really knew much about the night Guiding Hands died.
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