After recovering from my little fit of divine inspiration, I wandered out from behind the bushes and rejoined my compatriots. We discussed what to do, what had happened, and then something odd occurred. A car broke down right by us. The breakdown was not by chance, as the driver was a tall, androgynous lady with a wicked machete and a skull in the seat next to her. After properly greeting her, she’d come up from New Orleans on the orders of her mother, Erzulie, we set out for a well-earned nap. We ended up at Ellie’s house, where our daughter of Danu let everybody crash for a bit.
Me, I had some trouble sleeping. The metal was calling to me. It was all I could do not to take a pot from her kitchen and try to reshape it, to play with the metal. In lieu of that, I settled on a sheet of aluminum foil. I played with it, crushing it into hardness, hammering it, twisting it… It seemed to sing to me when I hit it with the hammer, and I began to understand why the original smiths had sung to the metal as they forged it. I hummed along wordlessly, knowing that I didn’t know the words of metal yet, but also deeply moved by the sound of every blow.
When we’d all recovered, we decided that this was the time for research. What WAS that possessing THING? Where do you get lindwurms like that? We decided to search Duke, Chapel Hill, and NC State. All 3 have good libraries. When our new arrival and I had searched Chapel Hill and Duke Libraries, finding nothing we could use, we got a call from NC State. Ellie and Katie had found something!
“Something” turned out to be a very interesting puzzle. There was a door in the side of the Cultural Anthro Building, a secret one. Well-hidden, too. The lock was magical, as was the door, and the key was runic. That much, we could figure out. Now, what the runes WERE, that would take some doing.
While we puzzled over the lock, having pulled up a page full of norse runes on someone’s phone, our perceptive Katie overheard someone talking about the children of the gods… We followed the conversation, and ran into a group of LARPers talking about… us… Wait, how did they know that we’d fought a great worm underground? We asked about which gods they worshipped. None for Hephaestus, go figure. All right, back to that key.
We figured out, finally, how to unlock the door, by tracing a particular sequence of overlaid runes. Picking supernatural locks is not easy. Once in, we found ourselves in… a department of magic? Very magical to my spell-sight, maybe some sort of pocket dimension? Very professorial doors lined the hallway, with a large pair of double doors at the end, from behind which the keen-eared of us could hear chanting. We snuck past the doors, and saw a temple, and people praying to – wait, that’s US! Ok, I’m not big on people praying to me. I’m a scientist, and I didn’t used to believe in the power of prayer! I still don’t like it! And people praying to ME? Asking me for aid, having faith that I can do something to solve all of their ills? I’m not a tech-support hotline! I was shaken to the core, and a voice in my head screamed “NO!” in absolute rejection of the chanting before me. (Another tiny voice in my head whispers, “There could be a terrible accident with yours. You could do it, and nobody would ever know…” I shook it away. I will NOT be like my divine family!)
Katie waited a little and then strode forwards and intoned “We are here!” Heads turned, and they recognized us joyfully. “How very strange that a complete stranger should be so glad to see me,” I thought wryly. Our budding scene of ecumenical joy was interrupted by our new companion, Erzulie’s daughter, who seemed not to have worshippers yet, doubtless because she had not made the underground quest with us. She made a play for the priestess of Bast, an attractive lady who turned out to have an athame in her pocket, and a hot temper. We managed to calm things down, and that was when Katie’s eyes rolled back in her head and she fell backwards, darkness roiling around her. The floor dimpled underneath her as she rose half a foot into the air. It looked like our possessing friend was back for a rematch. I exhorted her worshippers to pray for her and aid her. Their prayers filled the room, praying for her, and I opened my magical sight to see the struggle. Very peculiar. Katie was surrounded by blackness, all right, but there was something pulling on it, something like… Could that be fate? Faith? Either way, it was pulling the blackness towards the altar. Erzulie’s daughter touched Katie, trying to do something, and started to scream. I saw the darkness try to swirl towards her, and first thrust her away from Katie, then heaved, and when neither of those moved her, tried a full-on flying tackle. Managed to get her to break contact, and the blackness was slowly heaved off of Katie and towards the altar.
Suddenly, the black spirit wrapped itself around Katie’s worshipper, and she started to emanate darkness like a mist. She laughed, screaming that she was free, and brandished the knife. Ellie snapped “Drop the knife!” The laughing stopped and the possessed woman dropped the knife, looking very surprised. Seeing my chance, I smashed the knife into flinders. The furious possessing spirit wound up to strike me when Ellie ran right by me, grabbed the bowl of water off the altar, and threw it (with the help of her Sidhe companion) straight at the possessed woman. A tremendous wave of water rushed out of the bowl, and the mist of holy water carried the spirit into the wall, where it vanished.
In the aftermath, we got everyone tidied up, I had a conversation with my worshipper, who turns out to be quite an electronics nerd, and took our Voodoo lady out to collect some worshipers from among the LARPers. All in all, a very satisfying day.