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World of Darkness: Attrition - Delving into the Arts (Chapter One)[FIN]

Adrian Moss

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Learning the Magical Arts are like building a building. The Major Arcana are the four walls. Your Ruling Major Arcana is the foundation. As you build upon the Ruling Arcana, your house grows. You want to do this unless you prize the idea of using your wardrobe as your water closet. Build up the walls and your house gains extra stories.

What of your roof, you ask? Your roof is your Ruling Minor Arcana. Without it, you don't have a house, but a box that collects whatever blows its way. The greater your understanding of this arcana, the more room you will have in your house to move around. The other minor arcana are the doors (you need two unless bunker life appeals to you), a chimney, and a window. The window is your Inferior Arcana. You can have a house without it, if you so choose.

Rotes are the mortar and patch that holds things together and plugs the holes. You can build a house without them, but it isn't strong. The higher the walls, the deeper the foundation, and the greater the dimension, the more those holes are felt. You can't fill in the structure you don't have, but you are wasting a house you can't utilize.

-excerpts from Mystical Arts for the Magically Challenged

Edison set down the book and rubbed the bridge of his nose. The process was three-fold. First he had to figure out what Rotes he needed to learn, then he needed to prove he could learn them, and finally, he had to actually request/earn them. The problem was that if the search was too broad it was totally useless. If it was too narrow, why didn't you already know the rote? Randy's focus thought was easier than impossible. He needed to know about the Shadow World and its denizens.

For that, he had to research the non-arcane tomes for insights into Death Magic. Arcane tomes were not allowed, as they might actually teach him the God-damned things he actually needed to know. In the abstract, Randy understood that he had to have the fundamentals around which the rotes were created. That didn't help his current headache though. What would help that would be a break in the logjam his mind found itself in. What he needed was a break.

The tired Magus rubbed his eyes then closed the book that currently was failing to answer his questions. He needed a drink. He even considered going to a crime scene, or the morgue to gather some real world insight the written word was failing to provide. In his experience, you learned from books and lectures, but you understood by taking things into the field. Strangely, it was this belief that drove him into the Mysterium. He loved learning. He loved pushing his mind until his mind felt like it would explode. Even more than that, he loved taking knowledge and putting it to the test. You tossed out what failed the reality test, and passed the real knowledge to anyone who wanted to learn. Life was too short to let other poor, dumb bastards make the exact same mistakes you've made, or so he thought.

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  • 2 weeks later...

That was the answer. Now all he had to do was listen to the police ban to figure out where a murder had happened and he would have his opportunity. It was a gruesome way to look at things, but when you were a Moros, you did things others found to be gruesome. It was part of the deal.

Randy was rewarded three days later by a homicide. It wasn't too far away and it was night, so the traffic wouldn't be too beastly. He had to be careful approaching the scene, because he wanted to get close enough to let his incantation have an effect before it ran its course, but not so close he was spotted actually messing with magic. He had to do something spontaneous, which would dip into his mana, and stretch his understanding of the Death Arcana. If he succeeded (and he knew he would) he would know the process from the top down, as well as the bottom up. In the middle, he could find the rote he was looking for. At the top was the ability to see the Supernal World as it really was, as well as the weight of death upon the people in it. At the bottom, was the Arcana itself. The Rote was the bridge.

Close to the scene, within sight of the officers cordoning off the scene, but not too close, Randy waited for his opportunity. When the closest officer turned away to talk to a fellow cop, the Magus reached out and bent the magic to his will. The weave of Death formed a gauze-like binding over his eyes. For a moment it was difficult to see anything. When his vision cleared everything had this new, sharper edge to it. The closest officer had a slightly stronger sense of death around him than anyone else in the crowd. Randy stepped forward.

"Officer, did you find the body?"

The cop looked at him for a long series of seconds. It was clear that he was weighing his response, as well as studying this onlooker's face for future reference.

"I did. Were you around when we arrived? If so, we need to take your statement."

His tone was somewhat neutral with a tint of anger. Forcing witnesses to step forward was not something this guy relished. Randy figured it was the cop's deep-seated belief that witnesses should step forward of their own volition.

"I didn't witness the event. Sorry. I saw the crowd and came over to see what was going on. You had this look of someone who had seen something bad is all."

The cop scowled and it was clear he didn't believe Randy. Still, there was nothing he could do about it. There was no evidence that the Magus had been here earlier, or seen anything. Randy took that moment to slide through the crowd so he could get a better view of the body. Sure enough, there it was. Someone had shot a woman ... or at least someone with red high-heels.

Death hung strongly about the body. It was the strongest aura present. Around him were two other men, probably detectives, examining the body and the scene around it. They both had an aura stronger than the beat cop's. Death was in close proximity to them and their lives. Randy was studying them so intently that he almost missed the cop's approach to the two detectives. The first officer he had met pointed Randy out of the crowd. One of the detectives looked his way and the young magus found himself locking eyes with the homicide detective.

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The first instinct for anyone finding themselves in eye-to-eye contact was to look away. That was something they beat out of you in the Marines. Randy followed his training and met the detective's gaze. The other man stood up and came the Death Magus' way. He waited for the detective to get to him. Running would be plain stupid. He'd done nothing wrong.

"Evening," the Homicide officer said. "What's your name?"

Randy was one step ahead of the officer.

"My name is Randy Edison. I'm reaching for my wallet."

You said the last thing because reaching into a coat pocket when talking to a cop was a fine way to find yourself going face first to the pavement. Randy took his wallet out of his inside pocket and pulled out his ID. He handed it to the detective. The man took the card and proceeded to enter the number to his PD. He waited for about thirty seconds before handing the card back.

"Okay. Your clean. No 'wants' or warrants. So, what are you doing here?"

"I came by to see the crime scene. Call it an amateur sleuth's curiosity."

"I don't believe you."

"It's free country. Think what you like. I didn't kill the woman. I didn't witness the crime. If I had any information, I would share it."

The Homicide detective glared at him. He could take Randy in for further questioning, but there wasn't enough to hold him.

"Your information is current?"

"Yes sir. I'm a student at UCLA."

"You seem pretty old for someone still in school."

"I'm a Marine. I was in service, mostly overseas."

The cop stared at him.

"Want my class schedule? I can download it to you."

"That would be nice," the detective responded dryly. Once he had it, he added, "Not studying to be a doctor, I see. What's this Comparative Religions all about?"

"Life, death, the afterlife and how people see and deal with these factors."

The detective stared at him again, then made a notation.

"Fine," the cop said, "but don't leave town. You're a person of interest in this case, just so you know."

"Do I need a lawyer?"

"I don't know, do you?"

"That would be a 'Yes'," Randy countered.

The cop glared at him yet again.

"Well, good night officer. I think I've seen enough."

With that, Randy turned away and headed back down the street. He got into his car and went home, thinking about what he'd seen and what he'd learned. He wasn't finished with the Homicide detectives yet. It was most likely he was their only lead. Well, life sucked that way.

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They came for him the next day as he was exiting Comparative Religions of all things. It was most likely on purpose.

"Hello Mr. Edison," the familiar detective said. "Care to answer some more questions?"

Other students walking by kept casting nervous glances at the three men. Cops had that effect on students who either smoked some dope, or knew someone who did. Randy paid it no mind. It wasn't his problem.

"Sure," Randy said. "I'm not sure what I can add. I didn't see anything. I didn't kill the woman. I showed up after you guys did. I was just curious."

Now the other detective jumped in.

"What was your designation in the Marines?"

"Combat infantryman. It's how I came in and how I left."

"Did you kill anyone over there?"

"Plenty. I never kept count. That wasn't my job. Shooting was."

"Do you like killing?'

Randy stared at the new detective as if he'd just said the dumbest thing ever spoken.

"Are you an idiot?" the Magus countered. The cop bristled.

"No one sane loves killing, usually because killing often involves people trying to kill you. I don't like getting shot at."

"Did the victim try to kill you?"

Randy shook his head, "Do you like hearing yourself talk?"

Now both cops stared at him angrily.

"No. I am not aware that this woman who died was, or was not, trying to kill me. I don't even know her name. I am not aware I've ever seen met her."

"Triesha Daniels. That was her name."

"I don't know any 'Ms. Daniels'. If I did, I would tell you. I didn't kill her and am not terribly happy that there is a murderer out there."

The two cops looked at one another, then the first detective finally spoke.

"We need you to come downtown." The moves as if they expected to frog-march him out of the building.

"Not happening. I've got 'Math for Liberal Arts Dummies' next and I can't afford to miss it."

"We could force you to come along," growled the second detective. "Don't make us."

"No. Go ahead and arrest me then. I've got a class to go to. Besides, if you arrest me based solely on the fact that you saw me at a crime scene, I'll sue."

Randy seemed very adamant. Hell, he was daring them. There was a tense moment, but the cops knew they were on shaky ground. They gave it one more try.

"If you have nothing to hide, you'll cooperate."

"I have nothing to cooperate with. I have somewhere to be. I've made it very clear. I'm going."

With that, he moves around the second detective. Shouldering past him would have been more satisfying, but may have given the angry cop a chance to bust him. Randy had better things to do with his time - like pass the next class he was struggling with. The Magus felt the two cops staring holes in his back as he walked away. That wasn't his concern.

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Randy was back in the library going over the two tomes he knew had his Rote. Now he knew how the magic worked and what it felt like, he knew what to do. He found it late in the night of his first day of searching. There was still the matter of forming the pattern in his mind, but that seemed to be the easiest part of the task. Aura of Gloom would grant him 'Mage Sight' with the an emphasis on the Death Arcana. It would allow him to weave the sight over him so that he needed to cast it but once a day. That would be fantastic.


The morning ritual had a new component. He wove the new Rote into his routine for the first time. It was exhilarating to do magic, the newer the better. He still scourged his aura for the power to do this, but the price was worth it. He fortified his flesh with the taint of death as well as gained the sight. He still traced the pattern over his body, working with his multiple tattoos to gain and channel the power and bind it too him.

'I need more mana,' he thought to himself. 'I need to find a way to get that place. It's the only way.'

A plan began to form. It would take time. He would have to swallow a great deal of his anger to accomplish his goal. It would be worth it. It had to be.

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