"Your main job is to keep the Widower moving. Possibly by running and screaming, if that's what is required." Seventeen said breezily as the three of you descended slowly into the depths of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. "He's an Adept of Time, so he will always be faster than you and have better reflexes than you, but though fast, he's not stronger than Mr. Morgan here." Seventeen paused, then looked at Ilkin. "Dominic is strong enough to rip our scrawny Awakened arms off, though, so try not to let him do that."
The Storyteller 10:34 pm
"You don't need to worry about him using spells, as Dominic's body is his spell of choice. His Pattern is layered with so many spells he can't support very many others." Seventeen continued. For whatever peculiar reason, the Guardian had a nigh-encyclopedic knowledge of just what the Scelestus could do. "His blood is highly acidic, though, and he can cough up gobbets of it and spit them a good thirty or forty feet. And by acidic I mean they start unravelling your Pattern." ||
Ilkin 10:39 pm
"Brilliant," Ilkin wrinkled his nose. "How useful to know before I got pulled into this mess. I could've been unwound completely before I realized what was happening." Brief venting finished, the Acanthus set his frustration aside and checked his guns. "So why did you really have me check on who killed Erasmus? Where's the real Athena?" ||
The Storyteller 10:42 pm
"Having tea and crumpets with the Hierarch." Seventeen snarked in return. It was very difficult to out-snark a British aristocrat. "Because you happen to be the only Disciple of Time among the Libertines that I know would answer honestly about what you saw."
"And if I took Athena in without some kind of confirmation, however much she deserved it, it would cause even more trouble." Seventeen said. "I'd prefer not being lynched. Ruins the day, I fear." ||
Ilkin 10:44 pm
"So you fully intended to let her be punished for a crime you knew full well she didn't commit?" Ilkin asked archly. ||
The Storyteller 10:46 pm
"We're all guilty of something, Marduk my friend." Seventeen said. He grinned, a very boyish expression on his face. "In any case, I had full faith and confidence that Dominic would show up to take the blame for it sooner or later."
"Mind you." Seventeen mused. "If you die, we can still pin the blame on Athena, and keep her out of commission for as long as we like. So you'd best not die." ||
Ilkin 10:49 pm
Ilkin gave Seventeen a look. "I'm sure I'll manage," he said, "But this is what, the second time now that I've had to help you clean up your mess? Rather ironic considering I'm the one supposed to be causing the mess." ||
The Storyteller 10:51 pm
"You have the soul of a Guardian, deny it as you might." Seventeen said, smiling faintly. The smile faded a little. "So did Dominic, once." ||
Ilkin 10:54 pm
Ilkin snorted a little, but let the topic drop. "Let's handle the Scelesti and then we'll reminisce on regrets and nostalgia." ||
The Storyteller 10:56 pm
The Storyteller 11:02 pm
"But why...?" A weird, oily voice whispered from somewhere far too close. "Regrets are all poor Vincent has."
The Scelestus appeared like a flash of lightning, scuttling along the ceiling like some kind of unholy centipede. He moved far, far too fast to be anything off of earth, even with the bending of Time that accompanied him.
The Storyteller 11:07 pm
The creature leapt, and the scythe-blades on his shoulders slashed inches away from Ilkin's nose, the wind of their passage ruffling his hair. ||
Ilkin 11:19 pm
Ilkin smiled slyly. "Seventeen," he said as he glided back, away from the Scelesti, "I hear destiny calling." A sly smile crossed the Acanthus's face as he worked his will on the tapestry of Fate. He twisted threads like an expert and lined Seventeen's up with Dominic's, altering the path the Obrimos had laid out for him. Now, Seventeen was destined to stop Dominic by whatever means he felt necessary. "He's all yours." ||
The Storyteller 11:26 pm
Seventeen didn't say anything, merely levelling his cane at the Scelestus. The air shimmered and pulsed, a strange sort of unnatural webbing enclosing Dominic... only to shatter like cobwebs when it touched the Mage. [Seventeen rolls 1 success... Dominic rolls 8 on his opposed roll...]
The Storyteller 11:28 pm
Rakesh, for his part, preferred a more direct approach. There was a sudden roar, and a war-formed werewolf came barrelling into the scene, claws flashing. Rakesh smashed Dominic in the side of the head, sending the centipede-mage scuttling back. [And Rakesh deals 5 Lethal]
"Bringing help, yessss." Dominic hissed. He scurried back, dodging around Rakesh and coming up close to Seventeen, slashing upwards with those alien blades. [And Seventeen now takes 5 Lethal!]
The Storyteller 11:31 pm
For a sudden moment, the two men were close to each other, and Ilkin spotted something that he hadn't before... the two mages looked alike. Dominic's face was twisted, his golden eyes too-large for his face, but he had the same aristocratic features, the same narrow chin and sharp cheekbones as Seventeen.
In a flash, Ilkin remembered just where he had met Dominic Jeffries before.
The Storyteller 11:34 pm
It was one of the traditions of the London Consilium that all newly Awakened Mages attend a Midwinter Night feast, to introduce themselves to Awakened society at large. In practice, the Guardians of the Veil liked to keep track of just who the Mages of London were, and the Consilium tended to take it ill if apprentice mages 'missed' the Midwinter Feast.
The Storyteller 11:36 pm
It was Ilkin's first night among the larger society of Mages, the first time he and Benjamin met the other Awakened of the city. The Feast was held in a hotel convention room, and indeed, it looked almost depressingly mundane. There were perhaps a dozen new mages presented this year, looking nervous and uncertain of themselves. A few elder mages of the other Orders were there, Catesby of the Libertines keeping a close eye on the rites of the novices. And there were Guardians.
They walked among the novices, their faces masked, making small talk, never ceasing to watch and weigh and judge. ||
Ilkin 11:40 pm
Ilkin and Ben had recently finished their first semesters at college when the party took place. Ben was already well-established as a rising star in the rugby world and Ilkin had landed a nice scholarship to a film school where he hoped to make the most of his life.He was also very much into being a Mage since he Awakened. It just worked for him in ways he couldn't explain.
"I can't believe this place," Ilkin murmured to Ben. The latter looked haplessly bored and confused. He didn't really care to be here anyway and all the sods with masks on were just plan queer.
"The documentary film festival I went to last year was more alive and exciting," Ilkin continued, "And all the masked men and women just staring at us. It's more than a touch odd, don't you think?" Ben just grunted in reply. ||
The Storyteller 11:45 pm
"It most certainly is more than a touch odd." A sharp, smug voice cut through from the distance, a man in a mask approaching the two young Mages. He looked to be about forty, and dressed in an old-fashioned frock coat, his face covered with a featureless silver mask, only slits for the eyes and nose. "I had proposed vivisection, but the Hierarch overruled me."
The figure in the mask paused and tilted his head. "New arrivals, I see. Bolon Ts'akab, of the Guardians of the Veil. How do you do?" He stuck his hand out in greeting. ||
Ilkin 11:49 pm
"Charming," Ilkin said dryly. "Marduk." He shook hands with the masked figure. "And this is my friend, Chionis." Ben shook next, but still looked rather uncomfortable in this formal, masked affair. "Pleasure," the athlete managed.
"Is vivisection a hobby of your order?" Ilkin asked cheekily, "Or just a hobby of yours?" ||
The Storyteller 11:51 pm
"A personal affectation. It gives me something to do in between interrogating people in the name of the Laws." Bolon Ts'akab said. It was possible he was pulling your leg, though hard to tell without facial expressions of any sort. "And have you declared allegiance yet to an Order?" ||
Ilkin 11:55 pm
"Charming," Ilkin repeated. "We visited most of the offers during Pledge Week, and we settled on the Free Council." ||
The Storyteller 11:58 pm
"Dare I ask why?" The Guardian said. In the distance, another masked Mage was heading your way. ||
Ilkin 12:02 am
"Oh, because we are young, impulsive, and foolish," Ilkin said breezily, "And because we figured you wouldn't like us any better if we joined the Mysterium." ||
The Storyteller 12:04 am
"How correct you are." The Guardian said. A moment later, the second masked Mage arrived, a younger-looking fellow in a domino mask, about Ilkin's age. "The Hierarch wants to talk to you, Uncle D."
The Storyteller 12:04 am
Bolon Ts'akab looked at Ilkin, then gave a short bow. "Until next time."
Dominic Jeffries, Bolon Ts'akab, the Widower, sprang away from Seventeen and leapt into the air, sinking his clawed hands and feet into the ceiling and began to scuttle away, moving far too quickly. Hit and run attacks, he would wear you down and kill you sooner or later, if not stopped. ||
Ilkin 12:15 am
Ilkin tried to weave Time to favor him but the power eluded him. He fired his gun and it bit into Dominic's chitinous flesh, but not nearly as deep or as accurately as Ilkin would've wanted. "Damn," he swore, "Get him!" Ilkin hurried down the corridor, intent on keeping Dominic in sight. ||
The Storyteller 12:18 am
"I got him." Seventeen said, his voice oddly dead, casting another one of those little peculiar bits of arcane webbing at the Widower.
A Master of Forces can do a great many things. Fire, lightning, earthquakes, hurricanes all fall within their purview. Fate may be a far subtler Arcana, and more elegant, but for raw power, few can compare to an Obrimos at his height. But the Arcana of Forces is not always of necessity blatant. Some of its spells can be more subtle, more elegant, redefining physics into whatever the Mage can imagine.
The Storyteller 12:21 am
And so when the spell landed, it rewrote physics in a broad area around Dominic Jeffries. It wasn't a spell of flames or lightning, or anything like that. Rather, Seventeen merely turned off friction in that area, weakening it to nothingness.
And without friction, Dominic couldn't remain on the celing.
And so he plummeted... directly into one of the open vats of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Right into a mass of molten brass.
He never even had time to scream. ||
Ilkin 12:28 am
Ilkin skidded to a stop several feet from the edge and watched in stunned shock as Dominic fell. He backpedaled furiously and bumped into the wall, breathing heavily from the adrenaline rush and the surprise. The Acanthus took a few moments to regain his composure, then turned to Seventeen. Are you all right? his silent question hung in the air, projected from his gaze. ||
The Storyteller 12:30 am
Seventeen's face was a mask. A smiling mask, polite and funny, charming and wry. A mask of eloquence and good nature, a mask that was fun to be around, a mask that could be a friend. And if behind the mask, Seventeen was screaming, then no one could tell for his smile.
The Storyteller 12:32 am
Seventeen stared at the scene for a long moment, then tilted his head to Ilkin. Never ask. The Mage then, rather loudly, dusted off his hands. "Well, that's done. Let us exit, stage left, before the police arrive to book us for property damage." ||