Matt (innocent_man) wrote in mageawakening,

Murder in the Pines Update

Last time, which was quite a while ago, the characters had just learned a group of three Proximi and a mage had been ambushed near the Ohio/Indiana border as they were going to Chicago to collect Red Jester to clear up this whole "who's the Hierarch" thing. Three - the mage and two Proximi - had been killed, and one Proximus was missing. The cabal talked with Bailiff (who told them the Consilium was in high alert - Silas was acting Hierarch and it was a member of his (former) cabal who'd died), so the 6s and 7s teleported out there to see what was up.

They found the car had been flipped over, apparently by a well-placed roadside bomb (remember that the Banisher they're hunting, Aaron Murphy, had fought in the Middle East, and knows a few things about such devices). The car had flipped so it was out of line of sight from other bits of traffic, and Asmodeus tried scrying for the missing Proximus, Kenneth Jarmusik, but kept running into weird time skips. Fin looked back in time and saw Kenneth disappear as his compatriots were being dragged from the car and shot. Falstaff looked for spirits and found some big vulture-like things circling - spirits of death, maybe.

About this time, Kenneth (played by danieltallon reappeared. He'd felt everything slow down, and then he woke up in a peaceful forest, but felt drawn to a big, glittering silver tower. The cabal figured out pretty quickly that he'd Awakened (rather peacefully, considering the circumstances) as an Acanthus. Rather than leave him by the side of the road, and knowing that he was schooled in combat as one of Silas' Proximi, they decided to take him along...where?

They didn't know where Murphy was. Kenneth wondered this aloud, and found himself with a vision of Murphy watching TV in a room with corrugated metal walls, with a pool of blood on the floor (the Divination spell). He relayed this, and Falstaff asked one of the vulture-spirits where such a place might be - turns out there's a trailer park nearby. The vulture-spirit accepted payment in the form of dead flesh (sloughed from Falstaff using his first attainment as an Orphan of Proteus) to show them the way. Asmodeus co-located and left the double back on the road, just in case.

They hiked down the road and found the trailer park, and hid by the (now-empty) manager's office. Fin astrally projected and went looking with the others buffed up with spells. He found the trailer with the dead woman and the pool of blood, but no Murphy. There were little death-spirits around, and they pointed out the thing with glowing eyes watching Fin from on top of another trailer. It leaped at him - it looked like a mobile coyote-skin - but it couldn't really hurt him since astral projections don't have a Corpus like spirits do. And then the howls went up.

Meanwhile, back at the building, Murphy and his two Banishers attacked. Murphy himself zipped around the corner and touched Asmodeus on the chest - surprising him before he had the chance to co-locate away. He used Lifeforce Assault and inflicted enough aggravated damage to kill Asmodeus...

...whereupon Kenneth rewound Time a turn. Murphy came around the corner again, but Kenneth yelled a warning. It still wasn't enough to let Asmodeus take a real action, but shifting between duplicates is reflexive. He switched back to the roadside, and Aaron countered the co-location spell, stranding Asmodeus there (until his action, at least), but saving his life.

The other Banisher used Lifeforce Assault on Fin's unconscious body, and the third, standing at a safe distance, shot at Falstaff and Kenneth. Falstaff he just winged, but Kenneth took some serious hurt.

Fin, meanwhile, was sprinting back as fast as his ephemeral body could take him.

Asmodeus teleported back, in time to see Vulcan throw a fire-bolt at Murphy. Murphy threw another Life spell at Fin, and sent his body bleeding out, but his mind was still intact. The other Banisher punched Vulcan and knocked him out, and the third shot Asmodeus with both pistol. Asmodeus responded by using Psychic Assault and filling the dude's track up with aggravated damage.

Fin put his ephemeral hands around Murphy's head, and unleashed that 11-success Psychic Assault he'd hung last time. Murphy stumbled backwards, screaming in the pain, and fell dead, his brain basically mush. Kenneth ran up behind the gun-wielding Banisher and punch him (Acceleration makes you fast!), but one punch was enough to kill him (he was mostly full of agg, remember).

Fin mind-controlled the last guy to run away (since his next action would have been to stomp on Fin's head, probably killing him). Asmodeus used Suspension to freeze him in place. The cops were coming by now, and there were Sleepers looking around. Asmodeus quickly opened a portal back to Bailiff's saferoom, and they threw the casualties and prisoner through. Fin turned the blood to water, and poof.

Asmodeus lost a dot of Wisdom for the fight, but no one else did (even Fin, thanks to his meditation regimen). Kenneth, and ex-Mennonite, was having trouble squaring with the notion that he'd killed someone. Bailiff had one of his Arrow guys take Kenneth aside and talk to him about being a mage and about conflict, and told him that, as an Acanthus, he could learn to predict conflict before it happened and avoid it.

Fin got to the bodies as one of the Arrow's Moros started working on them. She found five different types of blood on Murphy's hands, and the spider in amber in his pocket. "Huntsman spider," she said. "Suborder Araneomorphae." Araneomorphae. Aaron Murphy. Get it?

From the Banisher's dead brains, Fin learned that neither of them had killed Whim. Steven (the one who'd been using guns, that Kenneth had ultimately killed) remembered a conversation with Quentin Ester in which he'd claimed to have seen Whim die, but hadn't taken a hand. Neither of them knew anything about the Guiding Hands, but Aaron Murphy had had an arrangement with the murder spirit back when these crazy murders were taking place - Murphy was turning spiders into people and making them vicious and hungry, just to see what would happen. But the murder-spirit had terminated that arrangement.

The cabal (and Kenneth) regrouped with Bailiff to talk things over. Turns out that normally, the Silver Ladder would get first crack at Kenneth, since he was a Proximus under Silas' employ, but since Silas was now Hierarch and therefore had no cabal, Kenneth was kind of on his own. He elected to hang with 6s and 7s, at least for now. Bailiff told the characters that the Hecatonchire had come to collect the still-alive Banisher (whose name is William Hegl, BTW). The cabal, figuring that their edict from Helen would hold up (here), went to question him. Patience let them in without a problem, and Fin and Asmodeus read his mind.

They learned that he knew pretty much what the others did - no knowledge of what had killed Whim, other than a lot of Paradox was involved. No knowledge of the murder-spirit beyond what the characters already knew, and no knowledge of the Guiding Hands. About this point, Silas showed up, and wanted to know if this guy knew of any other Banishers in town (he didn't). There were tense words exchanged, but the best was when Silas expressed pleasure that Kenneth had Awakened and figured that he'd be training as a thearch. Kenneth said that he would rather stay with 6s and 7s for now (Vulcan cracked a smile; everyone else stayed composed).

So, now, the Banishers are gone. But the characters still need to learn what happened at that house, and to find out how to beat the murder-spirit. And the answers, they realized, must lie in the woods in Kentucky, where this whole mess began.

Oh, one more thing: Kenneth took the Shadow Name "Prospero." Someone who was taken from his home and then learned magic.
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