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-   -   Ultima Ratio Regum, Scene II (http://www.myth-weavers.com/showthread.php?t=184140)

NeoTiamat Sep 25 '12 1:14am

Ultima Ratio Regum, Scene II
 
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"After Buddha was dead, his shadow was still shown for centuries in a cave — a gruesome, terrible shadow. God is dead, but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. And we, we still have to vanquish his shadow, too."


Friedrich Nietzsche

When I am asked how many demons there are, I answer with the words that the demon himself spoke through a demonic: 'We are so many that, if we were visible we would darken the sun.”


Fr. Gabriele Amorth, An Exorcist Tells His Story

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Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

The dawn was close at hand. All the Kindred of London had returned back to their hovels and havens to wait for the first rays of light. The Lady of London had left, and so had the Seneschal, and so had the High Sheriff, and so had gone all the Great and Good and Vile and Foul. Yet Bartholomew's Hospital was not yet empty of its nightly denizens, for two remained.

------------------------------------------

Perched high in the rafters of the Great Hall was a blackbird. This was the first of the nightly denizens. He had spent much of the evening there, a tiny blackbird with gleaming eyes -- one black, one blue -- watching all that had happened. This had always been one of his favorite vantage points, for he could see and not be seen, but mostly it was just a game. A magpie's curiosity consumed the god (for, when he thought of himself, he considered himself a god, and named himself after a god), but tonight he had seen something that actually mattered.

What
had happened so many years ago? The blackbird frowned, trying to work through the shards of what might be charitably called its mind to piece together a picture. The big man had been there -- his name was Solomon -- and he had driven the god because machines were complicated, operating with cause and effect, and gentle touches, and strange requests. But the big man had stayed outside? Yes, yes he had. And the little girl, she'd been so beautiful, he'd loved her then, and loved her hatred, and he set her forth -- he was a god, he had made her a saint, yes? -- but she had eaten her brother's soul. He had made her a saint. That was the important part. So she could go and murder and debauch and destroy. And the big man had only driven the car? Or had he come inside? He had come inside. Or was the god's memory playing tricks on him? And now the big man wanted credit for the god's work. And the other one... Othello? Why did that name stick so... he had... he had lied! They were going to steal the credit for his work!

The blackbird shook its little head, the difficulty of connecting so much time and space wearying. He'd see the amber-eyed woman. She was always so very good at explaining things... There. That was a decision. The blackbird took flight, and flew away, out of the darkness and into the night sky. But one thing was certain to the god. He wasn't going to take this
lie sitting down.

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Were Eddie Treadwell mathematically inclined, he might have noticed that when he had arrived, he had brought sixteen of his mortal herd. He also left with sixteen of his mortal herd. If he was
particularly clever, and had been paying very close attention, he might have noticed that given how mortals went in and out of the main room, sometimes one of them came back a bit more quickly than expected. And how that one always seemed to go away whenever Erin and her friends came near.

Right now, the seventeenth meal -- though he'd never actually gotten around to being bitten, funny how that had worked out -- was unwrapping the ribbon and barely managing not to burst out laughing. Really, did anyone expect him, who had engineered this entire drama, to sit back and get second hand reports?

"Erin, you wonderful girl!" He chortled, shaking his head and letting his usual dark skin tone flood his face. "You delightful,
devious little girl, that was sheer genius. I'm going to buy you a pony. Green Park!"

This time he did laugh, and when he opened closet door, he stepped through into a Land That Was Not. He had friends and allies in the Hedge and in the Goblin Markets, they'd keep him under wraps for the moment. And then, he'd need to get ready. There was still so much
work to do!

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Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Lauren

Squick -- Lydia's boyfriend -- had consented to take Lauren to the Ebon Engine, though this had first required Lauren to visit the Battersea Water Tower and ask Lydia for a favor. Squick was a nice guy, anyway, and he took Lauren to a station in the Hedge, a little platform surrounded by marble statues and ancient Roman mosaics, ice-encrusted vines crawling about them. There, they had awaited the Ebon Engine, and it was there that Lauren had her first glimpse of the Unseelie Court's headquarters.

Ten massive cars of carved black steel and prismatic crystal, racing down a set of icy steel tracks. It was huge, and it looked somehow ever so faintly alien, like a train out of a dream, or possibly out of some opium nightmare. The carvings on the outside of the train had been repaired, and they reminded Lauren of something not quite right, something not quite human, a little too organic to be natural.

A helpful, if rather sardonic, crow-faced woman had taken Lauren to the Archives, and this was where Lauren found Rebecca and Horus, working in the great library. It wasn't actually very large, as libraries went (the entire train car, though wide, was still only some ten feet across), with the shelves stacked so close together that one couldn't slip so much as a hand between them. They were on a set of rails, and had wheels on them, so that they could be pushed apart when access was necessary, and then pulled shut to save space. It was an ingenious system, certainly.

Rebecca was sitting at a little table, copying out the writing of some ancient scroll into a typewriter -- electronics tended to perish in the Hedge, and even a typewriter was pushing it. In the background, Horus puttered about, sorting books. "Hi Lauren." Rebecca had smiled when the vampire had entered.

Outside, the Thorns shot by at great speed, covered in snow and frost. The Ebon Engine was at the heart of its own personal blizzard, always and forever, and Rebecca was wearing long sleeves to ward off the chill.

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Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Erin, Underwood, Cynthia, Mary

Erin had told Mary Mack what Birch had said -- in very, very, very vague terms. Using very generous terminology. And being very vague. So it was that Mary didn't kill anyone, hadn't broken anything, and hadn't even frenzied, though Cynthia had taken one look at the other vampire and spent the rest of the day keeping Underwood between her and Mary. Cynthia was many things, but she had a keen sense of self-preservation.

Right now, she was sitting on the other side of Underwood from Mary in the attic of the Russell House, while the Harbinger's in-house occultist searched through dozens of books for the diabolic sigil that had been inscribed on the door of Mary's home, in that dream so long ago.

"Erziel... no, that has ten points..." Rakesh Morgan, the aforementioned in-house occultist, was muttering to himself. There was a stuffed hyena standing in the corner, a new addition, and Erin noticed a row of human skulls on which Rakesh had been apparently practicing trepanation. One didn't ask. "The Rider in Dreams has the ends bent counter-clockwise..."

"Where did you find this sigil?" Cynthia asked, very quietly. Her eyes flicked to Erin and Underwood, and then to Rakesh, lost in his work, and to Mary Mack, who had been singing softly to herself for the last hour and staring off into the distance.

Chivere Sep 25 '12 1:36am

The Ebon Engine was nothing like Lauren had expected. She'd known it would be a huge, black train, but not quite that huge and not quite that... otherwordly.

When they entered the Archives, Lauren's first thought was that this place must turn into a disaster area if they ever had to hit the brakes. Or maybe there was some magic keeping it all in place.

"Hi, Rebecca." Lauren returned the smile and took a seat at her table. "Sorry to interrupt you." She glanced at Horus. "I wanted to talk about the letter." She guessed that Rebecca would know which letter she was referring to. If not... well, she wasn't sure what she should mention in front of Horus.

The Whistler Sep 25 '12 3:01am

"Trade secret," Underwood quipped. If Mary wanted to spill about their mutual dream-travel, that was fine, but again: her prerogative. "Should be accurate, though."

The reporter casually flipped through some of Rakesh's back catalog, while Sparky eagerly (and literally) scanned some more books in the corner shelf. Underwood had to hand it to Mr…Morton, or whatever his name was again. The guy was one heck of a resource.

Underwood Academics:
Dice Roll: 3d10s8ez
d10 Results: 5, 3, 3 (Total Successes = 0)
(0)
Sparky Academics:
Dice Roll: 10d10s8ez
d10 Results: 10, 5, 3, 7, 1, 6, 6, 9, 9, 1, 2 (Total Successes = 3)
(3)
...And what's the Glamour roll for commiserating with the sad drunks at a bar?

Isabella Sep 25 '12 3:12am

Erin sat next to Mary, peering at the symbols. She did not particularly feel like divulging these sources either. In fact, the Harbingers had spent all morning making it very difficult for anyone else to find out said sources. A large number of libraries were now missing bits of their newspaper archives, courtesy of some bleary-eyed fetchesques carrying scissors. Very fortunate that libraries were never open at night. Some very very go-getter vampires might have already gotten on the scent, though Erin wondered if any of them would care enough to go to such lengths.

In the meantime, Lauren had been sent off with a chocolate box (not containing chocolates), and Underwood had been given a hat box which did not contain a hat. He'd been firmly told by a serious looking ant-girl that he was not to open it in the presence of anyone else, nor was he to tell anyone where he'd gotten it, and Erin was not dealing with it if he disobeyed. What the hatbox contained was a pair of gloves. They weren't quite Underwood's style, but the iron shot in the knuckles made them his speed.



Dice Roll: 8d10s8e8
d10 Results: 3, 1, 9, 3, 5, 3, 4, 2, 3 (Total Successes = 1)
Int+Academics - Assisting Rakesh?

NeoTiamat Sep 26 '12 12:04am

Lauren

Rebecca looked at Lauren, her expression inscrutable. She sighed and rolled up the scroll once more, carefully slipping it back into its case -- a leather tube like thing. Lauren noticed that there weren't really very many books here. They were all folders and scrolls and notebooks, many of them with little mechanical locks.

"So they actually read it out loud?" Rebecca said, looking away for a moment. Nearby, Horus jotted down a few numbers onto a slip of paper, looking up to favor Lauren with a smile. He was a genial-seeming man, old Horus, with his carefully inscribed skin and snail-like horns. A less-intimidating faerie was hard to imagine.

"I'm not certain why you're surprised. My friend has ever been gifted with a silver tongue." Horus said, smiling gently. "It gets him out of trouble almost as often as it leads him into it."

"Yeah... Okay, look, Lauren, I'm pledged, I can't say anything about what will happen," Rebecca put a certain emphasis on the words. "So there's no use asking me about Othello or Mary's sire or cults or Bar--" Rebecca stopped, realizing what she was giving away. "F***."

"Watch your language, miss." Horus wagged his finger.

"Sorry." Rebecca muttered.

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Erin, Underwood, Cynthia, Mary

"Miss Mary Mack / All dressed in black..." Mary whispered to herself, staring at a scrap of leather that was hanging from the wall in front of her. There was a tattoo on the leather, like a sinuous emerald worm burrowing through the body of a naked woman, while lightning flashed behind it. It took one a moment to realize that the leather was human skin, and old.

"I'd hate to be wasting my time." Cynthia snorted, stretching. She had only gotten a few winks in the Thames before coming here to help Rakesh, and the sun was up, and she was feeling sleep-deprived and antsy. Not that it showed in her wardrobe -- or lack thereof. Last night, Cynthia of the Mara had at least been wearing a gown of black water. Now she was wearing what amounted to, in Underwood's eyes, a pair of skin-tight shorts that barely covered half her thigh, and an equally painted-on top that left most of her pale, blueish midriff exposed. In Underwood's day, it would have gotten her arrested, and even now it was just barely decent. It was pretty much a bikini, really. "Does working for you gentlemen cover meals?" She smirked.

"EUREKA!" Rakesh suddenly crowed, the lanky werewolf looking up. He seemed singularly young for such a serious occultist, just past thirty, a scrawny, dusky-skinned Indian man with unusually pale blue eyes and blue tattoos scrawled over his arms. "Nine-pointed star, in blood... painted on a door."

"The Dweller Behind the Night, known as Chachradin in certain parts of Central Asia and as Messaltricé in northern Italy." Rakesh peered at the old English grimoire he had open before him, a translation of an earlier French work. "Associated with skill-at-arms, blood and strife."

Chivere Sep 26 '12 12:31am

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rebecca
"So they actually read it out loud?"

"Yes... Underwood did. And then Erin swore on her True Name that it was all lies." Lauren ran a hand through her hair and frowned.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rebecca
"Yeah... Okay, look, Lauren, I'm pledged, I can't say anything about what will happen," Rebecca put a certain emphasis on the words. "So there's no use asking me about Othello or Mary's sire or cults or Bar--"

Lauren raised her eyebrows. Cults... so maybe Lake was part of a cult? What had that last word been? "But you can tell me about what did happen? I'm guessing he picked you to be involved since you already knew the details of that event." Rebecca had been with them when they'd been in Mack's nightmare. "Did you write the letter? And why weren't you on the list of witnesses?"

Lauren tapped her fingers on the table. "What does the pledge cover, exactly?"

The Whistler Sep 26 '12 4:46am

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cynthia
"Does working for you gentlemen cover meals?"

"Not an open bar over here, respectfully, but hey, I don't speak for everyone." Underwood shrugged noncommittally. He was getting more and more used to the fact that vampires had Needs, honestly -- he just chose not to opt in. "Ask around."

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr. Morrison
"The Dweller Behind the Night, known as Chachradin in certain parts of Central Asia and as Messaltricé in northern Italy. Associated with skill-at-arms, blood and strife."

"Hm." Underwood leaned in at Rakesh's shoulder, musing. "Well, the 'blood and strife's' appropriate…any more specific reason why it could've showed up where it did, aside from just being a call-out? Like, I dunno, 'it's usually used in summoning circles' or something; you tell me."

Isabella Sep 26 '12 7:29am

"I have bloodwort, if you're into that sort of thing," Erin replied to Cynthia, setting her arms around Mary's shoulders. Were Cynthia dying, or badly starving, Erin might consider opening a vein. Until then, she could eat strange goblin plants.

"Are there any particular groups, or persons, that would know of this demon in particular?" Erin asked, wondering if they could trace the murderer via the sigil. "Or is it a demon for hire?"

NeoTiamat Sep 27 '12 1:54am

Lauren

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lauren
"But you can tell me about what did happen? I'm guessing he picked you to be involved since you already knew the details of that event."

"Uh, more like I'm the one who went to him with the details of that event in the first place." Rebecca sighed and chewed her lip. She didn't really want to talk about this, but she owed Lauren some honesty.

Horus merely sat off to one side and smiled. He knew something, of that there was no doubt.

"I can tell you about stuff that's already happened, because it doesn't really matter and you'll find out soon enough anyway. But I can't tell you what Othello's planning, or... another thing. And he doesn't tell me everything." Rebecca said, then blew out a breath slowly. "Are you sure you want to know? Horus knows, but some of this... it's going to be dangerous to know. Really dangerous."

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lauren
"Did you write the letter? And why weren't you on the list of witnesses?"

"We wrote it." Rebecca corrected. She looked away. "And I'm not on the list of witnesses because who cares about me? I don't have the sort of impeccable reputation Chambers or Dana does. Besides, I might know a little too much. Better if no one notices me."

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Erin, Underwood, Cynthia, Mary

Quote:

Originally Posted by Undrwood
"Well, the 'blood and strife's' appropriate…any more specific reason why it could've showed up where it did, aside from just being a call-out? Like, I dunno, 'it's usually used in summoning circles' or something; you tell me."

"To dedicate a sacrifice. Demons require energy to survive, to grow, to manifest in this world, to use their supernatural abilities, or to empower their worshippers. But energy doesn't grow on trees." Rakesh smirked. "It comes from furthering a demon's raison d'être, their Malpraxis. A Malpraxis is a kind of specific category of sin that a demon is the patron of -- so in The Dweller Behind the Night's case, it's the intersection of strife, combat, and it would appear to be family. The more heinous the actions, the more energy it gets."

"So signing the sigil on the door is a way of attracting the demon's attention to what happened inside, and offering it the energy of those crimes." Rakesh said. He clicked his tongue against his teeth -- quite a lot of energy. "Presumably this would either be an act of worship, or as part of some kind of demonic pact."

Quote:

Originally Posted by Erin
"Are there any particular groups, or persons, that would know of this demon in particular?" Erin asked, wondering if they could trace the murderer via the sigil. "Or is it a demon for hire?"

"Any demon is for hire, if you know the right summoning rituals." Rakesh coughed. In the course of his researches, he probably knew a few summoning rituals. "I could probably summon the Dweller..." The werewolf hurried on. "Beyond that, let me see..."

"There are historical cults in Italy and Central Asia, I mentioned those... they're the ones that did most of the writing..." Rakesh was talking, mostly, while he picked through his many books and computer files. He was looking for something. "The Dweller is also regularly invoked in spree killings and serial killings, some of which have happened centuries ago. Mostly out and around Limehouse... And here we go. There was another such killing just last month, two brothers got into an argument and knifed each other, but the police found the Dweller's sigil daubed in blood not far."

"You could talk to Detective Chavez for more details, she forwarded me some of the information about a month ago." Rakesh said.

Chivere Sep 27 '12 2:27am

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rebecca
"Uh, more like I'm the one who went to him with the details of that event in the first place."

"Why? Was that before or after..." Lauren gestured vaguely.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rebecca
"Are you sure you want to know? Horus knows, but some of this... it's going to be dangerous to know. Really dangerous."

"I think... it's a bit late for that." Lauren sighed. "I believe Mack's sire was at the Elysium. He looked like someone different, but I caught his eyes... Apparently, Birch knows of Mack's sire, because he's been dead set on finding him since Erin told Birch. Mack's sire--well, I'm pretty sure he's Mack's sire--is going under the name Winslow Lake, and he has been for quite sometime... Turns out he's a Dragon, and way higher up than me, and now I've been told to handle the matter." Lauren folded her arms over her chest and frowned.

"And of course, I'm helping Mack, Erin, and Underwood, too."


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