A Sea of Troubles:
Whether for good or ill, the rest of the world had failed to stop while they were off in Faerie – although it had only been about a day on earth for half a day there… Not much of a time difference really. Nothing like the traditional figures.
Just how close were the realms of legend coming to earth these days?
Anyway, a Kraggan ship had entered near-earth orbit and was broadcasting an offer. They said that a “renegade house” had recently attempted some illegal recruiting on earth, and had released some of their military technology. To prevent disruptions and conflict on earth over it, and to eliminate the possibility of the loyalty-programming being passed on to others – and thus giving the renegades a ready source of recruits – they would be releasing the war-wiring nanites, and access to the subsystems governing the loyalty-programming, to any legitimate earth government who requested it.
While many members of the Mandate expressed the hope that nobody would be stupid enough to fall for that, the more pessimistic ones were pretty sure that numerous small states would – if only out of fear that their enemies would go for it, or the belief that they could easily hack the system, or some such.
“Satan” had acquired an incredibly catchy new jingle – probably from the Fey – and was trying to buy up some newspapers, so that he could show people what bias was all about. There had to be some way to cure that lunatic. Couldn’t he have fixated on being Napoleon like the classical nutcases?
A group of adolescents in Chicago had attempted some form of magical summoning ritual, and had somehow lost their faces – nothing but a pair of nostrils left in smooth skin. They were undergoing reconstructive treatments now. Dopplegangers? Demons? Nightmares? One of the odder supervillians?)
The US Government was frantically digging into the Destruction company and those nuclear warheads – as well as saturating Alaska with agents in search of the Dragons.
Some reptilian fellow encased in Plasma – looked like on of the Dinosaur-conversion guys – had broken Dagger out of prison, but had murdered Requiem along the way. The Racaf were getting a bit restive (and the werewolves wanted their hunting territory back), the White Necromancer was still awaiting word from the Government, the Fey were loose all over the planet, and the kids wanted to have more adventures. At least they hadn’t heard from the Red Dragon in awhile.
Finally, over in England, some Phooka had attempted its usual tease-them-into-riding-and-dump-them game on some young horsewoman, had given up after two days, and had been forced to grant her a faerie boon – and half the kids wanted to try and catch some fey and see if they couldn’t manage a similar stunt.
Well… First things first: the Racaf. They were heavily armed and camped virtually on their doorstep. Did anyone currently in the group have the power to create another pocket realm for the Werewolves? No? Well, The White Necromancer decided to get out that rituals book and let Zachary play around with it. The kids wanted a look too of course, and things were rapidly getting out of control.
When they said that that thing “didn’t give you the wisdom to use it properly” they MEANT it.
Zachary eventually got a pocket dimension set up – but he’d specified “full of dinosaurs and things” AND hadn’t gotten it quite right. The White Necromancer nearly got his head blown off when he took a look and it took quite a lot of work to hold the gate closed while they got rid of the place… Fortunately, it wasn’t anywhere near stable yet.
Meanwhile Zachary had somehow picked up a piece of invocation magic – the Eleven Secret Coils of the Wondrous Serpents of Jade (Even if he was using a greek name for it) – simply by watching Kheileos use a few of the effects. That pretty much eliminated the “normal human” option. He needed the proper bracer to use some of the effects though – so the White Necromancer had the spirits of the dead try to scrounge one up.
They did. Perhaps unfortunately they found one on an ancient greek mage in a crypt – and it turned out to have some additional enchantments beyond carrying the appropriate sigils: it seemed to be designed to change the magical environment around the user – warping how the universe was supposed to work. But… that would warp how the bracer itself operated. A reality-warping feedback loop. Who would be insane enough to attempt something like that? There was no knowing WHAT would happen.
They had to know more about this fellow, so they checked the crypt – and found that shortly after the ghosts had taken the bracer the fellow who’d been wearing it had gotten up, blown his way out of the crypt with fire magic, and left.
There was still a lot of stuff in the crypt. It was a concentric set of platonic solids, each with a warding effect – magic, physical forces of gravity and electromagnetism, psychic energies, the astral and other planes, entropy and time… The man had almost isolated himself into a pocket dimension. It looked like one of his experiments had gone a bit too far and had isolated itself so completely that it had seeded its own universe. He’d been looking for a way to bring magic up to full power. To bypass whatever was blocking the use of higher-order spells and to defeat whoever had set that limitation. He’d become obsessed, and had built the crypt as a workroom. So why had he sat and moldered? OH. Isolated from time. Time within the crypt had been reliant on his perceptions of it – and when he’d taken a nap, and ceased to perceive, time had stopped for him – until the ghosts lifted his arm and woke him up. They’d only been able to get in because the wards had been gradually decaying with the shift in external magical conditions – and because no one could completely ward out life and death.
Wait a minute… The Rho-Field was what he’d been fighting. That was a cosmological effect. The man was obsessed with defeating the Celestial Dragons, even if he didn’t know it. Almost as bad, he was in for one hell of a shock. He’d closed his eyes for a nap and 2400 years had gone by. He’d be on a magical power-rush. He’d cut himself off from the racemind for two millennia. Great: another powerful magical maniac on the loose. Where was he off to? Looked like Athens. They took a shortcut through the astral to get there.
He’d caused some confusion in Athens, but not much damage – and had apparently then headed for Crete. From what few words anyone had been able to make out, it seemed like he was looking for his wife and children.
Oh, that was even BETTER. There was just no way he was going to take that kind of news well and the astral route to Crete turned out to pass through the maze of the Minotaur. That might not have been a problem – the Minotaur wasn’t especially unreasonable – but Zachary’s annoyance-effect caused quite a ruckus anyway.
Things got even more chaotic on Crete. The man was willing to talk – although he did throw Zachary into deep space when he got annoyed – but he simply wasn’t reasonable: the best they could do was convince him to go off and survey the planet for the source of the old magical interference. He wasn’t much on modern astronomy. They might have gone after him, but Zachary’s little sister was leading some of the kids from the orphanage – they’d brought some of them in because they had a translation spell – on a raid on the local refreshment booths, and there was an emergency call from Japan: Isacura had picked up a ghost somewhere and was hanging form the ceiling yelling in Chinese.
The Chauffeur picked Isacura up after picking up Zachary – who seemed to be quite unaffected by space conditions (definitely time to investigate that boy) – and brought him back. It seemed he’d picked up an old man from the village of Manchow: he’d died in the initial moments of some sort of monster attack.
The Fall of Manchow
For the first half of this session the players took the roles of some of the more competent residents of Manchow – an old fisherman out in his boat with a couple of children, an old lady (well, the player decided to be old) with a touch of psychic abilities, the local nurse, a young man on leave from the army (and thus possessed of the only firearm in the village), a local Kitsune, and so on – while the village was assaulted by a massive, octopus-like creature covered with black and crimson runes which heaved itself out of the ocean and started both eating people through the many fanged mouths on its tentacles and spawning small versions of itself. Thanks to the young militarists improvised firebombs, tremendous amount of noise he made to alert everyone, and self-sacrifice, to the Kitsune’s minor illusions (even if he did seize the chance to try and collect a harem), guidance from the old lady, and the old fisherman’s immediate rush for the hills, safety, and a chance to summon the military, there weren’t nearly as many casualties as their might have been – and a lot more physical evidence available than a clean escape would have provided – when the Heroes showed up about an hour after the initial assault.
They were in time to heal some injuries, rescue a few stranded people, study the spells – soul-powered necromancy focused through a linking talisman carved from coal and focused on the local fungi (the best available host for necromantic magic) to change it into a soul-stealing killer. The souls of most of the victims had been sucked into one of the most ancient phantasm realms of darkness. It looked like the spell had dissipated, and the monsters with it – but it was going to take some very careful preparation to go into the dark dimensions to retrieve the stolen souls with any hope of success. They also had to deal with the Chinese Military and dissuade them from assuming that the Mandate members were responsible for the attack on the village. It didn’t help that Kristin – whom they promptly arrested and took away – was a known renegade agent of theirs.
Unfortunately the individual who’d sent the attacker had sent an observer too – a Bane Mummy. It tried to kill the entire Mandate and devour Yuki’s soul – and came disturbingly close to success all on its own. Perhaps fortunately, the group was far ahead of the military and the area was virtually deserted. They weren’t quite sure if they’d won or if it had simply left in the end. Wait. That dimension. Necromancy based on tormented souls. That ancient necromancer they’d dug up down on the Isthmus of Panama. The Cultist who wanted to destroy the entire human race and imprison their souls in the purity of death.
They were on their way out when a trio of Greek Goddesses showed up to see Zachary. Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite said that he’d been created to judge which of them was the most beautiful – and they damned well wanted him to do it. Fortunately the Chauffeur got him out of there really fast.