As Boston neared Christmas, the weather had turned decidedly nasty. Heavier than usual storms had caused most of the Kine to remain indoors, making it difficult for the kindred to locate their prey.
A vassal court had been called, and little drama followed, in fact since the events of The Sign of Four the Sabbat had been noticeably quiet. De Luca confirmed that whilst Kindred had been coming through town, most had happily presented themselve to the court before moving on, and no Sabbat had been noted. James Kingston noted that in previous years the Sabbat packs would often create new childer in the town, just to cause masquerade breaches and to test preparedness. There was no consensus on what this implied for the city. There was also no improvement in Declan Tyrone and the Ventrue were currently bitterly fighting to seize James Konrad and Michael Quincy-Adams assets.
Members of Imaad Al Qasim including Ally Ross mentioned over a few sessions an increasing pattern of broken sleep and bad dreams. When Imaad sought to intervene with a minor centering exercise, a few of the less committed members didn’t return. Ally and Willow Ashby confidentially suggested that the dreams they had been having suggested pursuit, or danger linked to the classes.
Across town Gwendolyn Ashbridge had troublesome dreams, of Imaad falling prey to a Tremere ritual, of the lieges being blamed and of Veronica Burns stepping into the road to attack her and Eleanor Van den Berg.
Both awoke in a world that appeared to have fallen to decay. Buildings only became solid as they fell to destruction or other entropy. An exception seemed to be those buildings, such as Graylings which had elements of Thoreau’s shed embedded, or were focal points for the locals.
Eleanor found Imaad unconscious, and then discovered that Jarvis Lederer had been unable to raise Gwendolyn. Collecting Ralph Tranter they requested assistance from Dyer and James Kingston who aside from confirming that this did not seem to be kindred magic, and that both should have enough blood to awake, could not explain their state.
He suspected by the shadow on their spirit that both had been sent to something he called the dark Tertullian, or shadow realm, but for different reasons. And whilst he couldn’t affect the ritual that had dragged them there, he might be able to send the others to assist. When Ralph asked him if he was sure about that, he grew slightly shifty.
They checked with Corey and Dyer – with Corey confirming that he hadn’t seen the conductors of Boston for sometime, in fact it seemed to be when the activity affecting this Asylum had grown more intense.
With little to lose, well except their souls, both agreed to go through with a ritual at a place of passing. A sweat lodge had been constructed near the site where Domnhail Tremayne had tried his ritual in Failloeach and the Garou had sought to cleanse in Psalm 137.
They found Mankiller in a combination of black and white ash face paint. Sitting around a large fire throwing off a number of smells of herbs and fresh wood.
Its not entirely certain what, if any, of these actions were needed in the ritual but in no particular order:
- Ralph & Eleanor stripped naked
- Danced around a fire of wood gathered from around Boston
- Hit each other with sage and laurel branches
- The dance looked suspiciously like a cross between the Macerena, Hammer Time, and Madonna’s Vogue
- The sacred words they had to chant sounded suspiciously like YMCA, only in Cherokee.
- When challenged, he blew into the fire causing a huge plume of smoke to engulf them and the room.
Meanwhile in the shadow realm, a series of meetings occurred.
Imaad’s sequence to follow (forgot who he met when) – I think
- Adam Rickman who advised him to stay away from the dogs and seemed unconvinced that Imaad had sought to atone for his death.
- The Hitcher who mentioned he appeared to be in the shadowlands. When Imaad asked him if he was an angel, he responded he had been once, but probably was not now. He referred to himself as more of a Genius Loci inspired to take the forms associated with the place. He also alluded to their being an ancient corruption in Boston, predating the white-man, and a betrayer that had started running and never stopped that started this current cycle.
Gwendolyn initially went to Graylings, where she bumped into the professional cynic that tended bar. After making disparaging comments about the man with the fantastic hair staggering over towards the Asylum.
On the way she met Amy, the girl killed by Marcus Hardcastle during All Souls Day. She warned her that the Hierarchy had gone mad, starting to take all wraith’s in, not just the lost, and that this had started around the time of the The Sign of Four. She mentioned that they were being taken to the Asylum, which she called a citadel, and were now to watch out for the dogs & reapers. She gestured outside at a motley unit of soldiers in the garb of various armies and times who were pursuing a wraith into one of the buildings. The massive hound they seemed to control looked more like a demon than any normal dog.
They walked towards the Citadel, with Amy seeking to reassure Gwendolyn that it wasn’t her fault that she had died. It was clear that Hardcastle would have killed her eventually, and that she shouldn’t take things to heart.
They met with Imaad, when the discussion turned to how they had gotten there. As she began to fade out Amy heard the term ‘Tremere’ and said she’d heard a similar name Trem…
When Gwendolyn & Ralph crossed over they bumped into the Hitcher, who since someone actually asked his name (Crispus) he assisted them in getting to the Asylum.
They broke into the citadel, noting that some of the weapons and armour seemed different to others – forged from a onyx substance that looked similar to the shadows caused by obtenebration. As they broke into the citadel, they encountered further legionnaires. They seemed surprised that there was no impact upon them when they touched these weapons.
Gwendolyn was able to win a battle of wills over the use of a dog whistle, which set the hounds patrolling the perimeter onto their own handlers. As they entered the building, they found a ledger and group of chained men, including those marked with a roman or greek design on their arms. The foundry in the basement of the citadel appeared to be being used to process the thralls they brought back there.
When freed from shackles and the bands which appeared to blinker two of them, a query was asked as to which legion they belonged. When no answer could be given, the Anacreon ordered those present to regroup at bunker hill and tore a passage into a raging tempest or abyss that the wraiths travelled into.
Gwendolyn quickly looked through a ledger, which indicated a significant difference in the activity of the citadel. It seemed to indicate payments being made to two names, Aitk. and Trem, both of whom seemed to be behind the change in approach.
As the kindred went back to town, they came across the drowned student again- Imaad surrendered the stygian armour and sword they had acquired to him, noting that he had the same markings as those trapped in the citadel. He suggested that they could get back through the sweat lodge.
As the group sought to return to their bodies before dawn, they fought a battle to re-enter the real world.
Upon returning Corey came to talk to them. He confirmed that the Conductors had been in touch – annoyed that a werewolf and a vampire had seemed to breach an accord.
Gwendolyn may then have been economical with the truth about who she suspected was behind the issue. What was clear, was the suggestion of a link to Aitken was of great interest to Corey.