Wonderland, Scene VII (Erin, Underwood)

Wonderland, Scene VII (Erin, Underwood)


'Who cares for you?' said Alice, (she had grown to her full size by this time.) 'You're nothing but a pack of cards!'
Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland


The End, One Hopes

It was the smoothest ride you had ever imagined in a helicopter. The skies of Arcadia were brilliantly vivid, and there was not a breath of wind upon the sky. It was as though flying through a cloud, you were weightless, smooth, serene, untouched by anything that might come. Below you, some of the laboring figures (not human, them, not even shaped like human) looked up and pointed, but you were high up and away.

Not all was perfect, of course. It was loud, the roar of the rotors drowning out all noise that did not come by shouting, and the three bug girls at the back of the helicopter huddled together and stuffed up their ears as best they could. Cinder, her hearing more sensitive to sounds than a normal human's, was also mumbling under her breath unkind words. She rather wished earmuffs had come with this. Similarly, it was crowded. There were, at present, Underwood, Erin, Erin's three Harbinger friends, Cinder, the spirit Incandescent Pain (which blessedly did not take up space), Mary Mack, and four escapees. It was cramped, especially towards the back where it was a good thing that Mary did not need to breathe.

Othello had helped with the crowding problem by simple expedient of turning into a cat, and he was now sitting up on the dashboard next to Sparky, and looking into the rearview mirror. "Now, the explosions should come right, around...."

The castle shook.

"...Now." Othello said with a very cat-in-the-cream sort of smile. "Dare I ask what other lovely surprises you left behind?"

Quite suddenly, the weather stopped being so good. Clouds were racing across the horizon, and the helicopter shook as there was a strong headwind. Othello dug his claws into the dashboard's plastic covering and held on for dear life. "And this is before she's realized where we are. Faster, if you please."

The helicopter went faster.

Underwood leaned out towards the side window, shading his eyes against the light, and turned back to the cat, giving a devil-may-care grin. "High explosives ain't enough for you? My friend, we've got this bird, and we've got whatever else our mutual friend in the cameo getup's got prepped, and other than that, we are up the proverbial creek. So, brother, let's start swimming!"

Erin squinted a little at the brooding storm clouds on the horizon.

"Do you see those clouds?" Erin murmured to Sergei, who was similarly eagle-eyed. "They almost look a little like hounds."

Leaning from one of the helicopter windows, she placed her finger and thumb together, holding it in front of her lips, and breathed out. She breathed silver threads, which unraveled in Arcadia's twilight sky. They sped away from her like wind, hoping to blow the clouds apart, or to make the skies unfriendly for their unearthly hunt.

Dice Roll: 11d10s8e
d10 Results: 10, 5, 9, 6, 4, 8, 5, 8, 5, 10, 10, 7, 2, 9 (Total Successes = 7)
Cobblethought wind!

Originally Posted by Erin
"Do you see those clouds?" Erin murmured to Sergei, who was similarly eagle-eyed. "They almost look a little like hounds."
"I see them." Sergei said, unslinging his rifle. "What are they?"

They were coming closer now, and the clouds were most definitely shaped like hounds. Sleek, coursing hounds with eyes like lightning and feet like thunder, racing across the Arcadian sky. They were only the size of normal hounds, though you saw them from a very great distance away. But oh how they moved, and oh how they howled.

"Yeth hounds." Othello said suddenly, the cat peering through the rearview mirror. You knew them, or of them. The hunting hounds of Faerie. Not the briarwolves, no, but a different breed, sleek and sinuous to the briarwolf's brutality. "Heather, bring us low, let's not give them room to maneuver."

"Got it, cat-man." Heather said, and she patted the front of the helicopter dashboard. "You heard the man. Dive!."

The helicopter dove, and at that same time Erin's wind hit the first rank of the yeth hounds, scattering them like ninepins. The dogs yipped like shrieking wind, and were bowled over by the sudden surge of air. They would regroup, but for now, they were too busy being blown about to concern themselves with the helicopter. You were halfway from the castle to the Hedge now. It was close, so very close.

"Round one to us." Heather said, and then she glanced in the rearview mirror, and let out a most un-Heather-like squeak.

The Mistress had come upon the castle balcony.


She was tall, taller than human, she would have towered over even Sasha or Cinder had they been close. She was dressed in twilight, and her hair fell down her back like shadow. Her eyes were black marble, glinting with the hint of a single star within. Her fingers were shears, silver and sharp, and her lips were black as velvet. Even so far away, a mile away and more, you could see every detail, make out every single fold or crease of fabric.

And she was perfect. Every single strand of hair on her head was perfect. The way her eyes twinkled, the way her shear-fingers shined, they were absolutely perfect

Then, with only the faintest whisper, she began to sing. And like the Sirens of old, her song was of the sort to turn the mind against itself, to persuade every man to fall down and worship her. Worship her, and return to her,

"Cover your ears." Horus said suddenly, suiting word to deed. "Swiftly now!"

Every post in which the Mistress sings, every person of the Masculine persuasion must roll Resolve+Composure. So long as they get at least one success, they are free of her influence for this round. If they do not get at least one success... then Bad Things happen, and they must do everything in their power to go back to her. Once you have scored a total of ten (10) successes, you are immune to the song for the rest of the scene.

This is a good time to spend willpower.

Dice Roll: 10d10s8ez
d10 Results: 7, 5, 8, 1, 8, 2, 9, 9, 2, 7 (Total Successes = 4)
Sergei's Resolve(4)+Composure(3)+Willpower(3) (4)
Dice Roll: 11d10s8ez
d10 Results: 8, 5, 4, 10, 2, 7, 4, 4, 10, 5, 2, 1, 1 (Total Successes = 3)
Sasha's Resolve(3)+Composure(5)+Willpower(3) (3)
Dice Roll: 9d10s8ez
d10 Results: 9, 6, 8, 9, 6, 9, 10, 5, 10, 8, 4 (Total Successes = 7)
Horace's Resolve(3)+Composure(3)+Willpower(3) (7)
Dice Roll: 9d10s8ez
d10 Results: 2, 8, 2, 4, 8, 2, 9, 9, 4 (Total Successes = 4)
Othello's Resolve(3)+Composure(3)+Willpower(3) (4)

Erin gasped at the sight of her Mistress, and clapped her hands over Sergei's ears. "Heather, tell the seatbelts to grab anyone who tries to leave!" she said, deliberately turning her head so she couldn't see the twilight figure. "Mary, grab Othello, and stop anyone else who tries to go! Everyone else, fasten your seatbelts!"

The moment she finished speaking a loud noise began to sound, pulled from the silver threads from Sergei's temple. It was the haunting wail of an air raid siren, and it was painful to listen to. High pitched and irrepressible, but it cut into the Mistress' deadly song, and hopefully lessened its power.

Dice Roll: 11d10s8e
d10 Results: 3, 6, 5, 6, 5, 6, 9, 3, 6, 5, 8 (Total Successes = 2)
Cobblethought Air Raid Siren

Underwood took one look out the window and cursed with astonishing creativity, immediately covering his ears and jerking away. There was a brisk head-shake, followed by some equally evocative grumbling that only the women of the party could hear by now. The word "Dames" featured heavily.

"Sparky, kid, we're going to need some hardware on the double!" Sparky beeped alertly and dove back into Underwood's breast pocket, springing out a second later with a pair of bulky earphones that were almost certainly too big for the pocket they came out of. The reporter made a face like a starving man at a buffet and swung them onto his ears in one swift movement, buckling his seatbelt soon after.

"Attaboy! Keep 'em coming -- we're gonna need 'em!"

Success on Fear is Nothing and Sparky's Discreet Conjuration, and 2 successes against the song. These noise-cancelling headphones give a +1 bonus to rolls against the song.

"I'm on it!" Heather said, hitting the helicopter dashboard with a fist. "You heard the lady, seat-belts and on the double!"

The helicopter obeyed, and the seat-belts reared up like so-so many angry serpents, binding you into the seats. In some cases the overenthusiastic seat-belts made it difficult to breathe, but it was a price you were willing to pay. The helicopter kept right on flying, less than twenty feet above ground level, a massive insect that buzzed along at break-neck speed.

"No need to be grabbing, I'm a volunteer!" Othello said, and leapt into Mary Mack's lap. The vampire closed her hands around him, and her grip was as steel. "Gently now, I'm fragile."

The three library changelings were squeaking and hugging one another in the back, as the helicopter shuddered suddenly and twisted to one side. "Sorry, had to dodge a tree." Heather said, but she wasn't sounding very sorry. "Guys, decision time, are we flying through the Hedge or over it? Are we trying to hide or out-run?"

"Decide quickly, because the Yeth Hounds are coming upon us." The old master worker said, leaning forward to look through the side window. This was indeed true, as the unearthly pack had mostly disentangled itself from the sudden gust. Some of the stragglers were far behind now, but the central pack of coursing hellhounds kept after you, and there were at least a dozen of the things, with their flashing eyes and bloody teeth.

You were three quarters of the way to the Thorns.

Dice Roll: 11d10s8ez
d10 Results: 3, 10, 7, 5, 6, 7, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 3 (Total Successes = 2)
Sergei's Resolve(4)+Composure(3)+Willpower(3)+Siren(1) (2) for a total of 6.
Dice Roll: 12d10s8ez
d10 Results: 6, 4, 6, 3, 9, 1, 6, 5, 5, 3, 5, 5 (Total Successes = 1)
Sasha's Resolve(3)+Composure(5)+Willpower(3)+Siren(1) (1) for a total of 4.
Dice Roll: 10d10s8ez
d10 Results: 7, 3, 9, 8, 1, 2, 2, 7, 1, 4 (Total Successes = 2)
Horace's Resolve(3)+Composure(3)+Willpower(3)+Siren(1) (2) for a total of 9.
Dice Roll: 10d10s8ez
d10 Results: 6, 2, 1, 6, 10, 6, 4, 9, 9, 7, 2 (Total Successes = 3)
Othello's Resolve(3)+Composure(3)+Willpower(3)+Siren(1) (3) for a total of 7.

"Over!" Erin said, trying to keep her balance on the swerving vehicle. She wasn't wearing her seatbelt, as she was standing by the windows, throwing out things to keep the hounds at bay. "We're too big a party to hide, and I don't know that she could keep going through the Thorns. We can go to ground if we have to, but keep flying!"

"Just hang in there..." she murmured to the menfolk, her missing wings instinctively trying to curl around Sergei. With a deep breath, she sent another gust of wind howling at the dogs, the screaming gale whipping through the sky to meet them head on.

Dice Roll: 11d10s8e
d10 Results: 10, 2, 6, 7, 3, 10, 5, 8, 6, 3, 2, 9, 8 (Total Successes = 5)
Cobblethought Wind!!
The siren is still going and lasts for this turn.

"Whazza?" Underwood was clearly not paying attention to anything Erin was saying, which meant he was paying attention to something else, which was the worst thing that could possibly happen right now. Until there was a brief tasering sound from the reporter's pocket, causing him to jump several inches out of his chair. Thankfully for all concerned, Underwood conducted electricity just fine.

A half-second of confusion later, and he was patting his pocket with relief. "Thanks, little buddy. I needed that." Sparky popped his head out and beeped gracefully, before diving back in.

The reporter pointed forward, eyes back on the windshield. "Over!"

One success on song resistance (WPed) for a total of 3, and a failed Discreet Conjuration roll for Sparky, cos he was distracted. :P

"We're almost there!" Heather shouted, as the helicopter suddenly rose up again. The grand wall of the Thorns loomed up ahead of you, and the curls of song still sounded behind you. "Get across the barrier and we're home free!"

Erin's wind was playing merry havoc with the Yeth Hounds, casting them aside easily. Creatures of air and cloud, they were resistant to gunshots or blades, but they had precious little defense against the hurricane-force winds that Erin was conjuring. They were swept aside and knocked over, and their thunderous howls sounded rather aggrieved.

The Mistress's Song continued, and you could hear it even through the siren, though you could hear precious little else there. But then, as you neared the Hedge, the Mistress raised her shear-fingered hand in a claw, and made a motion snicker-snack, to cut off all escape.

The helicopter rose up, and you were over the side of the Thorns, and you could see the endless labyrinth ahead of you.... and then something grabbed the helicopter. The machine careened to one side, righting itself just in time to avoid crashing headlong into the Thorns. You had the breath knocked out of you just then, but your seat-belts were tied well. Even so, going from a hundred and twenty miles per hour to a sudden stop was enough to give a man whiplash.

"****" Heather swore, cradling her neck and looking out the window. Then she swore again, more softly. "Guys..."

It was a vine. A long, thick Hedge-vine studded with cruelly hooked Thorns, each as thick as a man's forearm. The entire vine was as thick as some tree trunks. It was wrapped around the fuselage of the helicopter, and it was not letting go. You were at the edge of Arcadia, almost at freedom, but if you didn't do something about this vine, you were not getting any further.

Everyone takes 3 Bashing damage from the sudden stop. The vine has Durability 2 and Structure 6.

Dice Roll: 11d10s8ez
d10 Results: 9, 2, 6, 6, 9, 9, 3, 5, 8, 1, 6 (Total Successes = 4)
Sergei's Resolve(4)+Composure(3)+Willpower(3)+Siren(1) (4) for a total of 10.
Dice Roll: 12d10s8ez
d10 Results: 3, 8, 7, 8, 1, 7, 10, 7, 9, 2, 1, 3, 7 (Total Successes = 4)
Sasha's Resolve(3)+Composure(5)+Willpower(3)+Siren(1) (4) for a total of 8.
Dice Roll: 10d10s8ez
d10 Results: 5, 8, 5, 10, 8, 8, 6, 6, 10, 5, 4, 8 (Total Successes = 6)
Horace's Resolve(3)+Composure(3)+Willpower(3)+Siren(1) (6) for a total of 15.
Dice Roll: 10d10s8ez
d10 Results: 6, 5, 7, 3, 3, 7, 8, 4, 10, 7, 3 (Total Successes = 2)
Othello's Resolve(3)+Composure(3)+Willpower(3)+Siren(1) (2) for a total of 9.


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