Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Chronicles of Ceteri - A-Team - S00E08 - Silent as the Dead, Part III


Dramatic Personae
  • Annalise "Annie" M. Murphy (played by +Ann LS): Exorcist extraordinaire, sorcerer, psychic, twice cursed and twice blessed monster hunter. Ex-Gladius Dei. The Murphy. Talks to God, sometimes He talks back.
  • Dr. Francesco "Frankie" Novella (played by +Troy Loy): Doctor and accidental hero. Surgeon with a shotgun. Unflappable. Logical. Sometimes literal. No sense of humor. Always capable.
  • Sir Al-Shams mac Lannageal aka Al MacLannageal (played by +Christian Gelacio): Man out of time. The Last Templar Knight. Warrior. Scholar. Sorcerer. Carries the Blood of Solomon and is the benighted grandchild of Brigid.

Previously...
After grabbing an ogre from a construction site to interrogate, the PCs head back to the Heights to recoup and recover from their battles.


Enhanced Interrogation Techniques
Al MacLannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
The Shadowed Heights

Thursday, April 29th, 1999, 4:00 pm
7 Cathaoir Road, Murphy Island, Boston, MA 02171


After letting their “guest” stew for a bit, Annie and Frankie go to the detention cell to see the ogre and what information they can glean from him. He proves a difficult customer and after he tells Annie he’s going to “skull fuck” her she breaks every bone in his right hand, then switches to the left. nearly thirty minutes she finds out that Jan sent them after her and her allies because Reinhardt thought that they knew where the musician was. After breaking the other hand for spite she manacles the creature fully and goes to share the information with both Ronan and Al who had been making more of his “Works” bullets upstairs.

Surprisingly, they make a good team and do in a hour what takes Ronan around four to finish. After a quick powwow in the kitchen they decide to go see the first victim’s home – Marley Hopewell and see what his shade can tell them.


To Be Mourned and Say No More
Al MacLannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
Marley Hopewell’s Wake

Thursday, April 29th, 1999, 5:00 pm
54 Burroughs St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Once at the Hopewell residence Annie and Ronan (who is incorporeal) go inside. Annie pretends to be one of Marley’s friends from school. Meanwhile, Al and Frankie wait outside in the Duisenberg. Annie introduces herself to the grieving parents and in a moment of compassion composes a eulogy on the spot and then asks them to pray with her. Her simple prayer is so powerful that her angelic patron, Sariel the Archangel hears her. Moments later “Father Sarafino” of the Boston archdiocese comes to give his condolences (again) to the family. 

Annie asks to go see Marley’s room one more time and the parents, in tears, agree. Father Sarafino follows her up the stairs and as they climb he expresses his sadness over the boy’s death and warns Annie that she cannot allow Jan Reinhardt to die or the future will “become more difficult.” He also tells her that “if I were to advise you on this matter – and I’m not – I’d say look for the glass slipper by midnight.” She nods and he turns around conjuring a hymnal in his hands as he turns the corner. 

Upstairs Ronan and the boy speak softly on the bed. When Annie enters, the new shade is in tears and asks her if he is “really dead.” She nods sadly and explains that he didn’t deserve what he got – but people rarely do. She promises to set things right and begs him to move on. He agrees, but before he goes, he asks her to take care of his parents and to tell them to go back to the Cabin in Maine where they planted the ash tree the day he was born. He also asks her to return his best friend Jo-Jo’s Dungeons and Dragons books to him and then disappears as a shaft of purest light envelops him and he ascends to Heaven. 

Grabbing the books, she goes and tells his parents that she remembered him talking about going back to the cabin, gives them a hug, and tells them goodbye. On her way out the door she sees a flyer for DJ Boom Kitty’s Spectacular Seaside Spectacle.

Outside both Frankie and Al notice someone watching them from the shadow of a nearby house and when they confront it, it bursts into a murder of crows and flies away. Al believes it to be a sluagh spying on them and offers to barter with it. Surprisingly it flies back to him and lands on the hood of the car. The monstrous crow opens its beak and speaks (most disturbingly) in a raspy human voice. 

After a bit of back and forth and a slightly nervous Frankie the crow shifts into a human form – that of a beautiful grey-eyed, black-haired maiden. Realizing his mistake, Al bows to the woman as he realizes she is Scáthach the Warrior Maid and trainer of Cú Chulainn. In good faith, he bargains with her offering her the secrets of qeres, going so far as to offer her a sample so she knows he’s capable of making it. Being a contemporary of Airmid and no slouch in herbal concoctions, she agrees to tell him what he wishes to know (where the mysterious musician is and their name). 

Scáthach informs Al-Shams that this is not a equal gift and instead bargains to train him and give him a single favor owed (in the form of a crow feather). Afterward she drags him off to the house whose shadow she was hiding in to “seal the bargain,” but leaves him on his back before he can reach his own pleasure. Annie nearly bangs the door down telling them they have to leave to go to a strip joint called “The Glass Slipper.” 

A crow lands at Al’s feet with a piece of parchment with a picture of DJ Boom Kitty – a young girl no older than 16 named Erin Tally. Obviously half-fae, the girls features look extremely familiar . . . after staring a few minutes Annie realizes the girl looks a lot like Niallan, which leads her to why Reinhardt wants her so badly.


If The Shoe Fits . . .
Al MacLannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
The Glass Slipper

Thursday, April 29th, 1999, 6:00 pm
22 Lagrange St., Boston, MA 02116


Once inside both Annie and Al get propositioned by the owner to come dance for him. The places is packed despite the crime scene tape leading to the back room. Declining she instead offers one of her business cards and asks him if anything unusual had happened recently. He tells them only four days ago two of his girls danced themselves to death along with five others in the backroom and offers to let her investigate if she wants. Accepting they move into the backroom and Annie asks Ronan to perform a bit of magic. 

Using the bone dust of a blind man, spit, and fresh rainwater he conjures the shadows of the past and makes them live temporarily again. After a few moments they see that the dancers had used a CD as well. The magic so powerful that it radiates through the spell as a multi-hued synesthetic aurora pulsates from the shadow of the music player. Having seen enough they stop by a nearby Hot Topic and Annie dressed up in “rave finery” so they can get close enough to Erin without alarming her.


. . . You Gotta Shake Your Bits
Al MacLannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
DJ Boom Kitty’s Spectacular Seaside Spectacle

Thursday, April 29th, 1999, 7:00 pm
290 ES Warren Street, Roxbury, MA 02119


Once at the huge gathering (over 500 souls) Annie goes one way and Ronan shrouds1 himself, Frankie, and Al as they mingle among the crowd looking for danger. It’s not long before they spot several other shrouded fae, including several ogres, a few sidhe, and even a massive Fir Bolg2. Annie tries to get Erin off the stage, but before she can a ogre bashes her in the back and sends her flying. Getting to her feet quickly, two sidhe grab Erin and try to make off with her. Annie commands Ronan to kill them and he blows their heads apart with his “Works” rounds. Frankie sneaks up behind the Fir Bolg and blows the back of its spine/head apart killing it with a single blast from the Interpreter3. Al cuts down a ogre, but before they can get the girl a wave of magic hits the whole party and paralyzes everyone. When the spell ends for them Erin is gone – but not before Annie grabbed a scrap of cloth and some of Erin’s skin/blood from scoring her with a fingernail. She puts together a hounding spell4 and they stop by the Heights long enough to grab some serious firepower as Annie is “fed up with this shit. We’re going to go start a war.” Eventually, they are led to Reinhardt’s mortal persona’s offices – Raines Musical Production.


Let's Start a War
Al MacLannageal, Annie Murphy, & Dr. Frankie Novella
Raines Musical Production
Friday, April 28th, 2000, 7:00 pm
22 Great Woods Road, Lynn, MA 01904

Having grabbed some mil-spec black-market hardware they prepare the shapeshifting tulpa (Nimbus) to become something “a bit more . . . entry friendly.” But before that happens they contact a very powerful forbidding5. Annie walks forward and speaks a single word in the tongue of God Himself6 “Open,” shattering the powerful magic impeding their way and also opening every window, door, filing cabinet, locker – even files on a computer! – in the process. But it does more than that. Once at the doorway several redcaps greet them before Ronan pulls a minigun from the car and mows them down. He moves in to take out the rest of the welcoming party, but once inside the building the gun jams thanks to firearms impeding-ritual. Dropping the massive weapon he draws his cavalry saber and goes into hand to hand. The fighting is intense, but brief and a explosion rocks the entire building as Frankie throws a Claymore Mine at another Fir Bolg and tricking it to hold it long enough (and the wrong way) for him to detonate it via remote. Inside, Reinhardt has forced the lost teenager (Jo-Jo) to take Erin hostage while he tries to negotiate his way out. Failing he speaks a logos himself (Obey) and tries to ensnare Annie. She quickly shakes it off and since she knows a Word of her own she attempts (and succeeds) to make it her own. Turning it on the half-blood she commands him to kneel and he does. It's all over but the crying. Freeing the kids, she calls in McAllister and the Conclave and asks them to put Reinhardt in the Donjon as he’s violated the Pax Trimountaine. McAllister agrees and offers to clean up the mess they’ve made, while Annie takes Erin to her new guardian.


Aftermath
The rage and loss of growing up a orphan eventually gives way to tears and Niallan takes the child he never knew in. He asks Annie to train her like a Murphy (who receive extensive combat training, and both mental and physical conditioning) to better prepare her for life at court. She agrees and in turn asks for a few lessons from Niallan since her bladework is “a bit rusty.” Niallan enrolls Erin in East Boston High School despite her having a GED as he wants her to get a diploma. Annie invites the Rejects back to her home and Jo-Jo runs a DnD game for everyone as they say their own goodbyes to Marley. Weeks later, Scáthach begins training Al-Shams, but is angry he hasn’t brought the “rest of his fianna to receive [her] wisdom” and accuses him of a unbalanced trade (not a good thing in the world of the fae).

Eventually he asks the other members of his “fianna” to join them in practice in the woods and Scáthach trains them. Al-Shams signs his contract with East Boston High for a six-month span and agrees to teach both History and Woodshop. He even starts up a “Slayers Club” for role-players and begins to teach them the basics of supernatural lore disguised as a game in his efforts to spread his knowledge. Annie and Al give Det. Riviera a good plausible excuse for the deaths and whips up a new drug that appears to allow a user to ignore fatigue (it’s good enough to pass a chemical test, but not actually do what it looks like).

Riviera plants it in the evidence room from the various crime scenes and the case is shut. Unfortunately, he attracted the attention of Internal Affairs officer Bradley Bradshaw who puts him under investigation so heavy is he forced to go on leave. Bradshaw then turns his ire onto EHI and shuts down the whole business having its license suspended and assets frozen as he investigates Annie. He never officially accuses them, but he “leaks” that he thinks she killed her uncle and took over his business so she had an “in” into the police force and conjures a scheme that involves her tricking Riviera to steal money in evidence. Despite it sounding ridiculous, they do have Riviera on camera being in the evidence room unauthorized. The case drags on for months despite both Frankie and Al-Shams offering their personal time to get things back up and running. Not letting a little thing like lack of a license stop them, Annie and her “fianna” continue helping people in need in the good city of Boston.


After Action Reports/Game Notes
This final bit of the arc was full of a LOT of action and took almost 12 hours of real time to complete. There was a lot of back and forth between the players on what they wanted to do and lots of bargaining for time and studies at the end. I feel if I can get a player invested enough that he starts talking about something as boring as the study rules then I've done my job as a GM.


Footnotes
1Shrouding is the ability to “pull” yourself closer to Between (the Astral Plane) and modulate the vallum just enough so that you partially phase out of reality. The world becomes muted (sights are grey, scents faint, and sounds white noise), but while shrouded you can move around effectively invisible to all those without Othersight.
2 Fir Bolg are a extremely tall and broad form of giant (over 21’ and several tons) that are closely related to fae enough that they effectively are (a Inlander variety). They’re nasty, always hungry, and like to flatten foes beneath their feet.
3 Frankie’s old military buddies called his shotgun “the Interpreter” after he stopped a small band of Kurds from ambushing his team. When he told them to step back they refused at first until he racked a round at which point they moved back and Frankie quipped “You rack [a shotgun] round and suddenly every motherfucker speaks English.” When he retired from the military they took his weapon, prettied it up, and put a engraved plate with its name on it.
4Hounding spells (a closely related class of magic) are spells that seek people, places, or objects. Those who employ them often (a thriving business) are sometimes called “hounds” or “dogs.”
5Forbiddings are a complex form of magic that are almost like old TV show force fields, but combined with semi-intelligent wards that can selectively screen out those who are not wanted. Sufficiently powerful forbiddings can take missile strikes without any damage to those inside.
6Logos (sometimes called “power words” or just “Words”) are a extremely potent form of magic. They represent the words God spoke to create the universe and are jealously guarded by those who know them. The only way to learn a Word is to have someone teach or if you already know at least one you can attempt to learn one when used against you. This is however dangerous and causes several auric dissonance resulting in damage to the body. Actually speaking the word aloud is fatiguing depending on what you try and make it do.


Session Soundtrack
"Behind Blue Eyes" by The Who (opening song)
"O Death" by Jen Titus
"Tears in Heaven" by Eric Clapton
"C'mon C'mon" by the Von Bondies (Annie preparing to go to war)
"Head Like a Hole" by Nine Inch Nails (closing song)

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