Last time, the cabal and a team of Sentinels and Free Council Minutemen stormed the Vancouver Public Library to exorcise the Abyssal grimoire. A team of Mind and Prime mages went to the archives downstairs to disable the traps placed on the book by the the mage who created it, while a larger group made a perimeter to watch for the unexpected.
And a good thing, too, as while it launched mental attacks against the mages in its presence, the tome also summoned the farthest-gone bleakscale victims – now thralls under its control – to its defense. Skipping through space and past solid barriers with the tainted magic of the un-place, they fell upon the assorted defenders.
One of the grabbed Elithora by the neck, while downstairs, just as the last ward was about to be peeled away, Horatius was struck by the tome’s mental assault and went down.
Elithora claws at the hands around her neck, kicking and scrabbling to break free. She barely struggles free and stumbles backward while thrashing her arms around in a not-very-martial-artsy way.
Leonardo has grabbed Horatius and is dragging him toward the stairs. “Heart’s beating…!” the young man shouts, his voice phasing in and out through the thickened air. Harpocrates points at Lefors, who shouts “We need someone who can do dispellations down here!”
“Aurelia, contact Blackjack and tell him to get a Prime mage here. Those of us with Mind need to place shields on the Prime backups.” Sinon says with some shakiness in his voice. He rubs his temples, as if he can remove the abyssal imagery that way.
Aurelia grits her teeth “On it.”
Blackjack pitches his voice to be heard but not yelling. “Ladies and gentlemen, collapse the permiter. Prime mages sound off.” He moves back to the fall back position, draging Elithora with him. Michaelangelo, Carson and Rook call back.
“Michaelangelo, and I are going to back up the mages downstairs.” Blackjack hands off his shotgun to Rook. “Rook, you are in charge. Nodens?”
The spirit appears before him with a shimmer. “I don’t wish to alarm you, but there are some unsettlingly scruffy types in here. I would keep an eye on your wallet.”
“Yes, I had noticed. I need you to go to Traceur at the gym. Ask him to see if he can prepare an extraction team. Then come back to me.” He gestures for Michaelangelo to follow as he heads downstairs.
Nodens nods. “The gym? I shan’t expect the odor to improve much, then. Ta.” He vanishes.
Rook takes the shotgun and fires a blast at a pair of nearby shamblers. She looks at Elithora with some sympathy. “You hanging in there, kid?”
Elithora shakes herself off and nods to Rook. “Splendid.”
Michelangelo and BJ arrive downstairs. The book is hovering about six inches off the table, vibrating wildly, and a blackish-green light is coruscating around the archive.
“Aurelia, can you go shield the new arrivals? Here’s the plan: One Prime Mage will continue the dispellation, I will provide continuous healing and the other Prime Mage will keep me supplied with Mana as we go. Agreed?” Sinon grits his teeth through the hallucinations.
“I said I’m on it.” Aurelia starts casting mind shield as Blackjack and Michaelangelo.
Elithora casts a quick Temporal Dodge on herself, hoping to avoid any more zombie entanglements. 5d10h8
Rook kicks over a cafe table for the two of them to take cover behind. Four shamblers are coming their way – they don’t walk, just kind of shimmer and appear a few feet closer.
“Michelangelo, you dispell.” Blackjack points toward the book, “I have full mana, so I will be the battery.”
Michaelangelo nods and waits for Aurelia to finish her casting before striding up to the heavy archival desk. He fishes a small object out of his wallet and begins chanting.
The last ward collapses and the book tumbles to the desk with a thud!
Harpocrates produces a ritual dagger and begins passing it over the book in a complex pattern, tracing some kind of runes in the air over it. With his free hand, he points at the rest of the mages in the room, then stabs an index finger upwards.
“Well it’s good we had a plan in any case. Shall we?” Sinon begins heading upstairs.
Elithora darts behind the table and begins chanting something. Her voice warbles up and down like a VHS tape that can’t find the correct tracking. (Casting Temporal Dodge)
Rook and Carson blur as they speed up.
Aurelia, Blackjack and Sinon burst through the basement doors.
Elithora and Rook have taken cover behind a flimsy cafe table. Several zombies are headed toward them. The rest have emerged out the door from the downstairs and are about 30 yards away from them. Five more shamblers are headed toward the new arrivals.
(Aurelia:) “Are you actually shooting them? They’re victims here!”“We have to let them complete the dispellation. As unpleasant as it may be.” As the shamblers move forward, Blackjack reaches out and conures Celestial Fire.[
BJ’s fireball streaks toward the nearest plague victim – the spell kind of flashes for a second and seems a bit less impressive when it strikes home than when he launched it. A few tongues of flame seem to be absorbed by the dark patches on the person’s body.
Sinon steps forward. As the nearest zombie reaches for him he dodges back and grabs its arm in a lock.
Elithora flips up her middle fingers and crosses them in an X at the nearest book-zombie. She casts an evil eye on the nearest zombie!
Aurelia examines the minds of the shambling hoard. It is difficult, tainted as they are with pure Paradox, but she can discern something there, but very very dimly. Their wills are now the book’s. She brings up her bronze mirror, holding it towards the nearest bleakscale victim. “Get out!”
It kind of tilts its head quizzically at Aurelia for a second and then shimmers, appearing a few feet closer.
Rook levels her shotgun at the nearest one, the one Elithora evil eye’d. The creature just falls backward. No flailing of limbs, no noise. Just…flop.
Blackjack conjures forth anouther blast of Celestial Flames. This time the Paradox is not able to swallow up BJ’s spell nearly so well and with a hideous acrid smell, like burned wiring, the creature falls over, the black patches on its skin now glowing with a fiery light from within.
Sinon mentally reaches out to whatever connection remains between the Primal Wild and the victim’s body. He severs what remaining coordination the poor soul once had. It goes rigid in his hands and then falls over.
Elithora turns to the next zombie with a baleful glare and crosses her fingers. Evil Eye #2!
Aurelia turns to the next victim, moving towards Eli and Rook. Again she raises her mirror.
This time, though, not much happens. It just flinches and then shimmers and appears behind the table again, along with its buddies!
The first one, the one Elithora hexed, grabs at her with a pair of gloved hands.
The mystagogue breaks its hold!
Another tries to get Rook. And so does the last one. They seem to see her as the bigger threat.
The Guardian does not get free! “Eli…I could use…a hand..!”
Blackjack launches yet more fire at one of the standing ones. Because hey, it worked before.
One of the creatures erupts into white flame – then the flame sputters and shrinks.
Sinon sidesteps the fallen zombie at his feet and moves so that he is to the side of the remaining part of the mini-hoard. “The save-the-victims-path is taking too long.” he thinks as he raises the pistol Blackjack lent him. His shot does not connect.
A zombie swings at Elithora and a couple swipe at Rook.
Aurelia holds up the mirror, facing the group with Eli and Rook. She waves it back and forth then shouts a single word, clear and strong and supernaturally cutting through the din of combat. “FLEE!”
Rook grits her teeth.
The creatures stop what they’re doing, look at the scaly, psoriatic patchwork of their arms and hands and the black suppurations dropping from the cracks in their skin, and emit wordless cries of horror, stumbling away in all directions with legs that barely work.
One falls over as Rook catches it from behind with a shotgun blast.
Elithora is scrambling away in a startled panic.
(Aurelia:) “Hey! Priorities, Rook! Those ones are out of the fight!”
(Rook:) “And now that one’s more out.”
Two zombies bash at SInon to absolutely no effect.
And then there’s an enormous rush of air all around the cabal, like the popping of a vast metaphysical champagne cork.
Their ears pop and their vision blurs for just a second and then, one by one, the victims of bleakscale waver on their feet and fall over. There’s that smell again, a distant chemical burning, and then Harpocrates is at the door, leaning against it, breathing heavily. He has the tome in his hand, and his dagger has been plunged into it.
Black goo drips from the “wound” and sizzles as it hits the tile.
The Sentinels begin standing up nervously from cover. “You, you, and you, with me.” Carson selects three to come with him and begins making a sweep of the library grounds.
The “zombies” are dead, but their bodies are just human now. They look starved and wretched, and some of the worse cases are eyeless and hairless. Friday leans over one, fingers the dull metal Star of David at her throat, and its body sublimes into nothing.
Elithora’s fleeing slows to a few staggering steps as she looks around, dazed. “Oh.”
Sinon surveys the ‘wreckage’ looking to see if any healing magic is needed among the fellow awakened.
Sinon is able to quickly patch up some burns and cuts that were sustained by Donatella and Rook.
Aurelia looks away, disgusted and distressed.
Blackjack flexes his hands and looks around for Horiatius.
Horatius has been placed on a table – the other Sentinels had circled the wagons around him.
Raphael is leaning over Horatius. “He took a bad hit, but he’s alive. Could you get your cabal-mate with the healing magic over, though?”
“Sinon, over here please.” Blackjack pitches his voice up again, loud and clear without shouting.
Sinon walks over quickly. He surveys the elder sentinel and starts chanting. The rhythmic High Speech reaches a crescendo as he places his hands down on Horatius’ shoulders.
Blackjack lets Sinon do his thing, walking over to Rook and Elithora.
Horatius’ eyes flutter and open. He begins to sit up, then winces in pain and lies back down.
Rook puts a hand on Elithora’s shoulder. “You okay? You did alright back there.”
Elithora looks around and shrugs noncommittally. “Yes, fine. What’s, uh, what’s with the book?”
“I guess he got it.” Her eyebrows raise. “…yeah, I’ve never seen a book bleed before either.”
Blackjack gestures for his shotgun back. “You both alright?”
Rook carefully passes the gun over. “Yeah…yeah. Your friend did good.”
“Yes, that first shot was right on target.”
Elithora stares at Haropcrates’ oozy book. “What the hell is coming out of that? I wonder if the book …” Elithora’s voice trails off as her inner desires to not get Abyssed and to do Research conflict.
Harpocrates has produced a black plastic garbage bag and is stuffing the book into it.
Aurelia walks over to the group, angry and sad. “You shot that one, in the back, as it was running away. You could have done something… useful.”
Rook bites her lip and sets the cafe table back upright. “I know where you’re coming from. I do. But I’d do it again.”
Blackjack looks at his cabal-mate. “Rook was right. The spell could have worn off. You take your opportunities where and when you get them.”
Aurelia just kind of slumps down and sits on the floor. “The spell wouldn’t have worn off. You don’t trust me?”
Sinon rejoins the rest of the cabal, drained. “If you want to be angry at someone feel free, but the true monster is the awakened who fashioned that tome.” He looks over at the bag in Harpocrates hand.
Arelia looks down. “I was hoping we could save them. You guys aren’t monsters. We aren’t monsters. It’s just… I’m sorry.” She looks on the verge of tears.
Blackjack reaches out and hugs her. “Sometimes we can not save them all. As much as we may want to.”
She maybe lets her hands slip a little too far down.
Rook kind of looks away and concentrates on straightening out her clothes and putting some nearby chairs back up.
Sinon awkwardly places a hand on Aurelia’s shoulder. "This is why Guardians like Rook and I exist, so that other mages don’t have to make those kinds of calls… I wish you and Eli didn’t have to get dragged into it too.
The Arrow passes it off as a side effect of combat stress, doesn’t comment. “I wish I could say that both of you would not be dragged into further situations like this. But you likely will.”
Elithora continues to watch the now-bagged book with interest and says absently, “It’s part of the job, right? Risk comes with the territory.”
Rook follows Elithora’s sightline to the black bag and frowns slightly but says nothing.
Aurelia sighs. “Yeah. The world isn’t a pretty place. I’ll be okay. Maybe when I’m not surrounded by dead hobos.”
“That is easier said then experienced.” Blackjack shakes his head. “At least here I can believe we did some good.” He isn’t so much talking about this as something else.
The main doors open and Traceur and a small phalanx of Awakened stride in.
Traceur, having conferred briefly with Harpocrates, approaches the group. “I take it things were more complicated than expected. Always the way, eh? Harpocrates and his Guardians are handling disposal of the…intrusion and sanitation of the area. My team is taking care of more mundane but no less important chores like bullet hole repair.”
“No plan survives contact with the enemy.” Blackjack takes a moment to put the shotgun in his wooden box, along with his sword.
Eli glances around the library at the damage and then looks at the bodies. “What a mess. And in a library, no less.”
“And not a single librarian to shush us.” Blackjack states in a wry tone.
Traceur smiles. “We’re old hands at this work. In three hours the first morning workers will file in and with any luck will never have the slightest idea that a running gun battle happened in their atrium.”
Aurelia makes an attempt at a wry smile. “More of a shambling gun battle, really.”
“Man, do you hire them out? My apartment could use some work.” Elithora forces the last of the magical fear and real fear out for the time being.
Sinon fears for the state of the future sanctum upon hearing that.
He chuckles softly. “At any rate, your cabal has done good work and that will not be overlooked at the next Council. Which is coming up, incidentally. I hope you all have something suitably impressive to wear.”
Sinon looks down at his perfectly fitted suit that somehow managed to not get wrinkled. He looks over at the mystagogues.
Blackjack can’t help but glance at Aurelia. He raises an eyebrow. He doesn’t speak but does raise an eyebrow.
Aurelia doesn’t miss the looks “I have a suit!”