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Adventure! RPG: Dark Tidings - Prologue: Darkness Falls


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The late October wind blew, cold and steady, through the cloudless night sky. The meager heat of the day quickly blew away turning to an unseasonable chill. Above, the moon was new and the Milky Way stretched low across the sky in a glowing band of misty stars. On the grounds of the Arkham Estate the wind whipped dry leaves into dervishes and scattered them across the wide grassy lawns. Leaves tumbled under, over, and around the myriad of cars parked in the drive and on the lawns. A chauffer hunched deeper into his coat and took a final drag from the stub of a cigarette before dropping to the ground and stamping it out. He turned to the door of the carriage house and exhaled. The smoke, caught in the bluster, curled and swirled away toward the great manor house that rose like some man built mountain from the dark green grass and shrubbery.

Within the great manor house the Arkham Historical Society met. Dozens of members from what seemed all walks of life had gathered together. The earlier general meeting had given way to private face-to-face discussions between members and small groups conducting research or experiments. Members sat in lounges to discuss the meaning of ancient texts and debated the proper translation of long dead languages over billards. Others bartered and dealt in artifacts looted from cultures the world over; a clay tablet covered with cuneiform writing was exchanged for a scroll of some sort of leather with texts in Chinese while supposedly mystic gems were traded for the key alleged to open a doorway beneath the Sphinx of Egypt. All of this and more as the members of the Arkham Society moved through the mansion in eddies and currents as complex as any ocean’s.

In the basement a group of men and women gathered around a series of intricately formed circles. The ceiling was vaulted, supported by massive pillars that served as a challenge to the structure of the circle, and yet the members compensated, carefully completing the needed structures around the columns. The central circle, inscribed within a hexagram, was inlaid directly into the concrete floor and formed of poured gold and silver; it shone in the flickering candlelight appearing to almost glow with a pale orange fire. Around the center at the vertices of the hexagram were six additional circles drawn in chalk, bone dust, blood, quicksilver, water and fire. Several members continued to work on the outer circles, completing symbols of arcane power and mystic strength; the all-seeing eye here, a pentacle there, symbols of the classic elements and more were carefully drawn to complete the circles.

The last of the circles was completed, painted out in a thick flammable jelly that would burn for hours, and the leader of the group clapped his hands together once to call attention. As the last few conversations died out he looked around the room, pausing on each member of the team as well as the few spectators that had gathered to watch this latest experiment. He smiled warmly at his daughter, little Daphne, sitting at a desk in the corner her legs swinging above the floor as she watched the proceedings with great interest. Professor Howard Walton waited for silence to descend before he spoke.

“Ladies and gentlemen I thank you all for coming here this evening. I would like to especially thank Mr. Lovecraft for his generous funding, as usual, for the specialty materials needed for this experiment.” He paused allowing for polite applause before continuing, “Also, a special thank you to Ms. Marion Abel, for her unexpected help in determining the last of the symbols needed for the circle of elemental fire. And lastly, to Ms. Catori for her help in the proper ritual sacrifice of the falcon for the circle of air.” Walton paused once more as polite applause rippled through the room before quieting down once more. “If you will all bear with us for a few moments more we are nearly ready to begin. I remind you all,” he said looking pointedly at his child, “To please be quiet during the ritual to avoid breaking the concentration of those involved. In the meantime please find a place to be comfortable and get ready to see what we hope will be a successful experiment.”

*****

Above two men quietly sat and sipped fine cognac in one corner of the smoking room. Plush carpeting and supple well cared for leather furniture muffled the other conversations and the fireplace nearby fairly oozed comfortable warmth into the room. Others sat in wingback chairs, reading through tomes both arcane and mundane. Others smoked from pipes or cigars, enjoying the rich flavors of the finest tobaccos. The first man leaned forward finally setting the drink down on an antique table. Charles Fitzroy studied the younger man across from him with intense dark eyes. “Count Rakozi,” he began, his pronunciation and accent impeccable, “I am sorry that I cannot offer you further information regarding your sister. It is my deepest regret that we do not know to where she disappeared.” Fitzroy leaned back in his chair, his fingers steepled together and peered over them at Count Janos Rakozi. “We will of course support any of your efforts to locate her.”

*****

In Boston the small ballroom at the Copley Plaza Hotel was occupied by the Aeon Society for Gentlemen, a group which despite its name was fully one quarter women, and which filled the room to less than half capacity. The deep red carpet and wall hangings contrasted pleasantly with the cream painted walls. The room was pleasantly warm untouched by the wind that howled outside, funneled between the buildings into a gale. The evening was getting late and Richard Slate, the local chapter head, had one last order of business to discuss. Benjamin Abel and Archibald Bannister both wondered just what that last order of business was given that he had taken them aside to discuss it privately.

“Mr. Able, Mr. Bannister I need to ask a favor of you.” He checked his pocket watch, a fancy gold affair engraved with the Aeon Society’s symbol. “In just about half an hour a Russian man will be disembarking from a steam liner. Mr. Nikolai Strakovski has an artifact that he is carrying to the States to be researched. He asked for assistance in locating the proper scientists from the Aeon Society. I would consider it a personal favor if you could see him off his ship and back to this hotel.”

*****

The wind blew hard off the harbor and onto Rowe’s Wharf. It carried with it the salty smell of the ocean. As it blew past Mia Foster’s face it stole what little heat there was from the air and chilled her to the bone. She turned away and pulled her coat tighter around her trying to shrink down into the warm fur lined collar. The wind was intermittent and it would take only a moment for the gust to die down. She checked the camera hanging around her neck and then checked the sky. Dark, clear, and devoid of anything more than stars it provided little additional light. The ships lights and the lights on the wharf would have to be enough. Mia opened the aperture on her camera all the way and looked for a location to help her hold it steady.

Mia grabbed her camera and peeked out around the corner of the building. She snapped pictures of the crew offloading cargo, some in boxes and some simply wrapped in tarps and canvases. A contact had told her that this ship would be here, and that they were allegedly shipping looted antiquities from the Middle East. Mia hoped to get photos of the objects being off loaded from the ship. Photos meant proof and proof meant a story, and a story was something Mia was more than a little interested in. As much as being published and being paid interested Mia the story itself interested her more. The click of the shutter and the sound of the gears as Mia advanced the film somehow made something in her mind click. If these objects were looted from tombs and temples they would not offload at a wharf as public as this would they?

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The bad news tonight wasn't unexpected. If they had more knowledge they would have been more forthcoming, right? The Arkham Historical Society was his last true lead. He could go over what letters and effects his sister had left behind, but ... but he hadn't been able to figure out exactly what she was up to. He did know she had been here, but that was it. What she had been researching was either unknown, or of a nautre they were unwilling to discuss with her next of kin.

"Thank you, Herr Fitzroy, for your words and your time. Your hospitality is most welcome as well."

He stood up to leave. His newly tailored clothes felt itchy him still. All his old clothes had no longer fit him after his awakening. It was strange. He felt taller even though he knew he wasn't. Janos reached out and shook Fitzroy's hand. Afterwords, he took a step back and clicked his heels sharply together and gave the barest hint of a bow. With that, he turned to leave. At the exit to the room, the Count stopped and looked over his shoulder.

"If there is anything I can do for the Society, please let me know."

Best to keep as many bridges intact as possible.

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Arkham Historical Society

Daphne watched her father and his colleagues work, her bright, intelligent eyes watching. Her feet kicked quietly as she listened to the introduction, quite unaware of the occassional uneasy glances being given to her. Not all of the people here agreed with Howard, but his pull was strong enough to override them all.

Her father's admonishment was unnecessary. Even at her young age, Daphne was well aware of the importance of concentration and silence when her father did his special stuff. She even stopped her feet, halting the soft swish-swish of her legs against her dress. But under her breath, she started to murmur the rhyme her father had taught her:

"Two and six times around

Are the bindings that surround

To keep the Daemons at the gate

And out of Man's Fate.

"Gold is for eternity

Silver is for purity,

Chalk marks the way,

Blood, the price we pay,

Bone dust is the death

Quicksilver is Man's breath

Fire is the welcome and sign to depart

And water to quench the Daemon's heart."

The little rhyme wasn't accurate, but it did allow the girl to remember the components of today's experiment. Later, she'd learn what it all meant. Today, it's enough for her to be able to cite her rhyme, and to see the experiment itself.

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Archibald listened attentively as Mr. Richard Slate related the assignment to him and Mr. Abel. This was his first real ‘mission’ for the Æon Society and his eagerness to go was rather apparent. His mentor Mr. Bannister had conferred to Arch similar feelings about the first time he had conducted ‘field work’ as he described it. It pleased him that Mr. Slate had chosen him, but inside his thoughts of him escorting a Russian wasn’t quite what he had in mind.

He looked over to the man he was to be partnered with, Mr. Able and smiled. “Good to see you again Ben.” His reputation in the area was known to Arch and he had even used his some of rather unique talents to help solve a case he had taken on. He was a capable and trustworthy fellow, and one of the Society’s best when dealing with some it’s foreign member or associates. There is a certain excitement in his voice as he speaks, “It would be our pleasure to escort Mr. Nikolai Strakovski back to the hotel, Mr. Slate.”

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Fitzroy seemed almost disappointed as Janos turned to leave, "Please, do not feel that you need to leave straight out. You are welcome to talk to the other members, I believe that your sister had been consulting with others when she vanished. Perhaps they can offer your some parcel of information that would aide in your search, something that we may have overlooked?" He smiled to Janos warmly, a touch of concern in his eyes.

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After acknowledging the ritual leader's thanks with a nod, Marion backed up to give them some space. Out of consideration. Not, of course, because she was a little concerned about what they were doing. Or what they might do.

She slipped her hand into the leather satchel at her side...the sort of thing university students used to carry books to class in. Only there was just one book. One...important book. She was fairly sure that they would find it easier to work with her than against her...she'd worked to make it so.

But you could never tell with sorcerors. They had a tendency to be a bit reckless in the pursuit of their goals. Tonight was a good example. Marion had willingly helped them unravel the cat's cradle of requirements for this event, and was pretty sure it'd work as advertised assuming no one botched their part. She was still a bit fuzzy on -why- the Society was dabbling in these particular Arts...and more than anything, it was that curiosity that held her here.

She could be a bit reckless too.

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Curiosity welled within Ben as Slate stated his request. Ben's requests from the Society tended to be further from home than Boston Harbour, he had to admit that he was eager to see why exactly the Society had chosen him for the task. The curiosity alone almost compelled him out the door, ready to see what was in store, but thankfully his rather powerful ettiquette allowed him to slow down enough for social pleasantries.

"Indeed," he replied, "We shall return with Mr. Strakovski in due course. I assume that you have the details of the steamer, yes?" After Slate had given the details of the ship and dock, Ben turned to Archibald, and began walking towards the exit. "It shall be good to work with you again, Archibald, although I certainly hope there'll be no rooftop-jumping this time around! Rather prefer my feet to be a little closer to the ground!" Admittedly, this was something of a falsehood - Benjamin Abel had actually greatly enjoyed that particular outing (certainly it had been a great boost to his constitution!). Still, one should never ask for an exciting night - rarely did one get the kind of excitement one requested...

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Slate nodded happily, "Of course of course, the steamer is docking at Rowe's Wharf in ..." he checks his watch once more, "Twenty minutes. It is called the ... umm, the Little Mother, I think. Of course it'll be in Russian ... and I don't think that Mr. Strakovski speaks English either." He hands you a slip of paper from his pocket which reads:

Quote:
маленькая мать

"Little Mother"

10:00 p.m.

*****

[OOC - for a picture of Ben's car go HERE ]

Fifteen minutes later Ben is steering his Packard through the streets. The cold night makes the car chilly but at least this car is fully enclosed and so the wind does not get to them. He makes a final turn onto Atlantic Avenue and a few hundred feet later pulls to a stop. At the foot of the wharf the two men see a large steam ship is now pulling up to dock the crew casting out stays and perparing to secure the vessel.

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Janos turned and looked at Fitzroy. His right hand rubbed the back of his neck with a finger touching the pommel of the sword strapped to his back. It's touch held no answers for him.

"I would be very pleased to meet with other members who directly interacted with her, Herr Fitzroy. I would be in your debt if you would help arrange such meetings."

He wished he was more of an occultist, but he wasn't. He books were so much gibberish and foolishness to Janos. He needed help. He had a feeling his sister wasn't going to find herself ... somehow.

"Can we start tonight?"

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Fitzroy smiles, "Of course, I'm sure that we can find somebody who worked with your sister. Let me think a moment. Please have a seat again." Charles leans forward once more and picks up his drink. He takes a long draught and settles back into the chair once more. He begins to tap the side of his glass with his little finger, the gold ring chiming on the crystal as he concentrates. "Luckily for you we did have our monthly meeting tonight and most of the members who came are still lingering around here. You do not know specifically what she was working on or with whom correct? Well I suppose we can talk to Professor Walton, he ought to have a good idea. The man is nothing if not enthusiastic about research."

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During the trip Arch takes the times to check on his crossbow and amunition. "You never can be to careful" was a motto that he had learned early on with his time at the Bannister home. To Ben, it looks like Arch is expecting trouble at any minute, and it quite clear that Archibald is no stranger to danger. The process though short and efficient seems to soothe Arch, and by the time they reach the dock, Archibald is visably relaxed and focused.

,,

Ajusting his coat after he exits the car, Arch makes a quick look around the docks taking in as much details as he can, his ears and eyes are tuned for anything out of order. To Ben he says, "Looks like things are all in order, let's go see this Mr. Strakovski shall we" as falls into step beside Ben.

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"Huh. Gotta be more to this."

Mia decided a closer look wouldn't hurt anybody. It would soothe her nagging doubts, and make for better pictures - and a better story too.

And if she had the wrong dock, well, better find out sooner rather than later, right?

She snuck in for a closer look.

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Janos nods.

"I would like to meet this Professor Walton. How soon do you think this meeting will be over ... if its still going on. I can't express to you how anxious I am for any positive news of Ammura. Perhaps ..."

Perhaps if she had been here when he had awoke. Perhaps, if they had had some chance to speak before her disappearence.

"So, what kind of research does Professor Walton normally pursue?"

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Ben walked out into the chill air, a brisk energy running through him, despite the suit and tie. "Indeed! It's always wonderful to be right on time!" To anyone looking, it could seem that Ben was overly excited about the whole affair. They would, of course, be entirely right. Ben walked completely carefree up to the dock, and began waiting for the passengers to disembark.

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Originally Posted By: Dr. Raphael Bradford

In the basement a group of men and women gathered around a series of intricately formed circles. The ceiling was vaulted, supported by massive pillars that served as a challenge to the structure of the circle, and yet the members compensated, carefully completing the needed structures around the columns. The central circle, inscribed within a hexagram, was inlaid directly into the concrete floor and formed of poured gold and silver; it shone in the flickering candlelight appearing to almost glow with a pale orange fire. Around the center at the vertices of the hexagram were six additional circles drawn in chalk, bone dust, blood, quicksilver, water and fire. Several members continued to work on the outer circles, completing symbols of arcane power and mystic strength; the all-seeing eye here, a pentacle there, symbols of the classic elements and more were carefully drawn to complete the circles.

The last of the circles was completed, painted out in a thick flammable jelly that would burn for hours, and the leader of the group clapped his hands together once to call attention. As the last few conversations died out he looked around the room, pausing on each member of the team as well as the few spectators that had gathered to watch this latest experiment. He smiled warmly at his daughter, little Daphne, sitting at a desk in the corner her legs swinging above the floor as she watched the proceedings with great interest. Professor Howard Walton waited for silence to descend before he spoke.

“Ladies and gentlemen I thank you all for coming here this evening. I would like to especially thank Mr. Lovecraft for his generous funding, as usual, for the specialty materials needed for this experiment.” He paused allowing for polite applause before continuing, “Also, a special thank you to Ms. Marion Abel, for her unexpected help in determining the last of the symbols needed for the circle of elemental fire. And lastly, to Ms. Catori for her help in the proper ritual sacrifice of the falcon for the circle of air.” Walton paused once more as polite applause rippled through the room before quieting down once more. “If you will all bear with us for a few moments more we are nearly ready to begin. I remind you all,” he said looking pointedly at his child, “To please be quiet during the ritual to avoid breaking the concentration of those involved. In the meantime please find a place to be comfortable and get ready to see what we hope will be a successful experiment.”


Catori smiled briefly and watched with keen eyes how the guests responded to Professor Walton's speech. She was reluctant to participate disagreeing with the location of the experiment. She felt that such things should be, if necessary at all, be witnessed by the sun or the moon and not inside Arkhams walls.

Glancing briefly at the Professor’s daughter Catori smiled at her confidently and thought the he must’ve been very proud of her to let her participate in this important ritual. It reminded her how her father used to be, ever vigilant but at the same time generous and kind. She was sure that her presence was a good sign.

As usual Catori waited and watched. Her eyes scanned the room with bright awareness taking in all the details she considered important or unusual. Then she looked up to the ceiling. She had never been in such a huge Tipi… or manor as the white man said but yet she thought no matter how huge the manor was it could never replace the sky and its horizon. With a disapproving smirk she looked to the Professor and faintly shook her head. She didn’t like the choice of place.
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From the shadows Mia moved up behind the cover of cargo waiting to be loaded onto some ship perhaps even this very one, on its outbound voyage. She noticed two men, standing at the foot of the dock waiting and watching as the passengers soon began to disembark. She recalled that she had seen them pull up earlier just as the ship arrived in an expensive Packard. They both appeared well dressed as they exited the car and now waited despite the cold; the driver appearing anxious while the passenger had been at ease the whole time.

Mia concentrated back on the ship but within mere moments she had hammered the final nail into the coffin of her own story. The ship was Russian, the characters on the prow were clear enough. Either this was the wrong ship or her informant had been full of shit. Knowing Eddie as she did made her realize that she had been conned out of twenty bucks. Mia’s mood and expression turned sour at the thought.

Ben and Arch moved up the wharf stopping out of the way of the crew as they tied the ship up and began to offload cargo. They waited for a good ten or fifteen minutes before the crew got the gangplank out and now as the cold began to sink into them, and the salty fishy smell of the harbor began to infiltrate their noses they waited longer still. After what felt an eternity people began to move off the ship. Excitement turned stale as they realized that most were crew helping to offload the cargo dockside and make sure that things were setup for proper pickup by their owners.

As the crew bustled about the ship a figure emerged onto the deck. A small strongbox was held in the crook of his right arm and he carried an overstuffed bag in the other. Nervously he looked about from the deck before he began to warily descend to the dock itself.

From her vantage point Mia could see how the man was clutching the strong box tightly as though it was important beyond its appearance. She also did the math and realized that man’s bag was woefully undersized for a trip as long as this one would have been even assuming he was brought on board at the Azores.

Ben and Arch saw the man nervously descend to the wharf. The he was the only passenger apparent made them certain that he was in fact one Nikolai Strakovski, the man they were here to pick up.

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Fitzroy nodded almost absently for a moment before he suddenly stood and drained his glass. “Well then Mr. Rakozi, why don’t we do that. The good professor is conducting and experiment in the basement,” he consults his pocket watch, “shortly it would seem. I am sure that it would be fascinating to watch and afterwards we can see about asking after your sister. Come, I’ll take you down there now. Have you ever seen proof of magic in action Count? It can be quite breathtaking.”

Below the final preparations were made and the Professor asked that the participants take their places. The professor took his place in the circle of blood while the others similarly took up their places. Catori, the Apache woman, stood in the center of the circle of quicksilver. As they began to chant the words of power the room slowly began to resonate to their words.

As the ritual progressed the Grimoire in Marion’s bag began to vibrate in tune with the energy of the room and the ritual. Startled she hugged the book and satchel to her chest wondering just what power was to be unleashed this night. She glanced over to the Professor’s daughter; the little girl was literally on the edge of her seat eyes wide, enraptured by the arcane words in dead languages that were being chanted in unison by the six participants.

Charles opened a door festooned with curious carvings, symbols that Janos did not understand but recalled seeing within his sister’s books. Behind the door were stairs formed of massive stone blocks. Welling up from below Janos could hear chanted words in a language that he could not identify. “It would seem that the ritual has already begun, please let us go and watch but be careful not to disturb the participants.” Charles beckoned Janos to precede him and as they began to descend the stairs Fitzroy turned and shut the door behind them plunging the top of the stair into near darkness. The only light came up from below, the orange of flames; it appeared to pulse in time with the chanting.

Entering the basement they saw six figures, each standing within a circle at the points of hexagram with a seventh circle inscribed within. As the figures chanted the room thrummed with power like a great bass note reverberating throughout the room. It occurred to Janos that it was odd that such an effect had not been noticeable at all from upstairs until Fitzroy had opened the door down.

As the ritual began to near the apex reddish energy began to play about the seven circles and the materials themselves began to glow with the ruddy light of a great blaze. With the final words of power the six cast their hands toward the center circle, each forming a different mystical configuration with their hands. The firelight and energy rushed toward the center circle where it was caught upon the golden and silver runes. Caught up in the symbols the flames and mystic energy danced into a complex swirl tightening into a vortex at the center of the circle. With a sudden rush the energy collapsed into the center point and with a great pulse of energy an arc of fire rose up and out of the center point before curling back toward its origin.

Within the arc of flame a window to a tormented hell was formed. Rock and stone, beneath a sky of reddish orange, pillars of twisting rock spiraled into the sky as did gouts of flame. The six slumped, drained from the energy put into the ritual. As the onlookers stared in awed silence at the gateway.

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The dock workers took forever and as Arch's patience was about to wear thin the Russian made his way down from the ship. The man's nervousness was easy to spot if you cared to look, something Archibald picked up. "Finally!" says Arch as he takes another look around the wharf, confident that there wasn't anything afoot.

Arch stands alertly waiting, as the Russian makes his way towards the two men.

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Daphne turned to see a man wearing a sword enter with Professor Fitzroy. The sword isn't what caught her attention, but instead the man himself. He looked like a movie star; tall and elegant. Curious, the little girl tilted her head, the better to watch the new arrival.

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He witnesses six people dissassemble reality and its stunning. It also feels vaguely wrong and dangerous at the same time, but Janos knows he's not in a position to judge.

'Is this what my sister was working on,' he thinks, 'or something like this.'

Janos notices the girl staring up at him and he smiles back at her. The child seems so out of place amongst the others gathered here. She appears to be without a minder, which is odd to the aristocratic Hungarian.

Curiousity overcomes worry as his gaze is drawn back to the door. Something positively hellish from his childhood seems to beckon from beyond. He slips his sword from his sheath and keeps it close to his side. The Blade has a Living Warmth in his hand. Janos' senses can't decide if the danger is real or imagined.

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Charles stares at the portal with an odd look; one might even describe it as a greedy look. Then he is snapped out of his reverie as Janos draws his sword. “Count Rakozi, please, there is no need for you to draw your weapon. I should think you may well alarm the others and that would not do.” Mr. Fitzroy smiles warmly at Janos, “Come put the weapon I away I will see if the Professor has time to talk to us yet.”

Charles leads him over to a middle aged man of average height and above average girth. His dark hair has grayed and his mildly handsome face is lined with new wrinkles. The man is excited though and is discussing the portal recently opened in a loud excited voice punctuating his statements with grand gestures. Fitzroy puts a claming hand on the man’s shoulder, “Howard, may we have a moment of your time?”

The man turns toward them, he is flushed with excitement and his bright eyes twinkle, “Yes, yes, what is it … OH! I’m sorry Charles. Of course, of course, anything for you. And whom is this young man?” He offers his hand to Janos, his hands that so recently tore reality in twain, “Professor Howard Walton, at your service.”

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Janos tooks the words of caution to heart and by the time Professor Walton had come over, his sword had been sheathed once more.

“Professor Howard Walton, at your service.”

Janos took the hand in his strong grip and shook it.

"Count Janos Rakozi, Graf von Kadar, at your service," Janos responded. "This was quite the fantastic sight you have created before us."

For a moment, Janos goes back to looking at the opening. To Howard, he continues,

"I was wondering, have you made the aquaintance of my sister, the Lady Ammura Rakozi?"

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Ben turned to the anxious man, and motioned to shake his hand, trying to keep his excitement in check. "<Mr. Strakovski, I assume?>", said Ben in perfect Russian, "<My name is Benjamin Abel, and this is my associate Archibald Bannister. We're from the Aeon Society. I believe you requested our assistance, but please, let us walk to my automobile. It is quite chilly out here!>"

Quote:
1 Inspiration spent to dramatically edit Russian into my language list
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I can't believe he actually did it, Marion thinks as she gazes open-mouthed at the rift. An actual doorway between worlds, through which a single step could carry you to soil never trodden upon by human feet.

When the object in her satchel squirms, she looks down at it, startled. Had it -moved-?

But then, why not? It was magical wasn't it? Was it reacting to the portal?

Carefully she pulled the flap of the satchel open and peered at the thick red covers sandwiching pages made of a hodgepodge of materials from thin, soft leather...to Roman wood pulp paper. After looking between it and the portal for a moment, she slowly lifted it out.

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Catori looked at Marion and watched her fiddle around with the satchel she carried. Then she produced an odd looking book out of it and stared at the Portal.

Whatever has transpired, Catori wasn't so sure anymore if she should've helped in the first place. Still shaken from the exhaustion the ritual forced on her body she warily scanned the room for any signs of intruders.

There was no reason that the portal just worked in one direction...

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Marion withdraws the book and looks curiously at it but it appears to have stopped doing ... whatever it had been doing. Careful inspection shows not change in the book. As she inspects the massive tome one of men who participated in the ritual comes over to her. "Is that it? It's amazing that one book contains so much occult knowledge and lore. I should love to examine it sometime if you would be willing." The man is friendly enough and his kind and excited face shows no hint of duplicity as he asks after the Grimoire.

Another member of the team approaches Catori, “I know Prof. Walton thanked you already but I just wanted to extend my personal thanks as well this was my first real glimpse of occult power and it’s likely that it would not have worked without your help.” The man smiles, “I’m Dennis by the way, Dennis Peters.”

“Rakozi? Yes the name does ring a bell. Dark hair and eyes? Your sister… yes, well I do recall that we discussed some matters of the occult at one point.” Howard pauses, lost in thought and mildly distracted by the goings on around them, “How is she? Your sister I mean? I cannot recall having seen her at any of the recent meetings.

Meanwhile two other members have been discussing the success excitedly. The pair soon moves off to the side of the room and begins to fiddle with something on one of the tables. After a few minutes the pair approach the portal, each armed with a long rod, at the end of one rod is a small movie film camera and the other is a potted plant and a small bird in a cage.

Walton catches the sight out of the corner of his vision, “OH! Excuse me we are about to continue …” Moving toward the circle once more he claps his hands and calls for silence. “We are about to conduct a preliminary exploration of the rift. My assistants will extend the objects at the end of those rods through the rift and then withdraw them after a count of five. You may begin Ralph.”

The first man nods and begins to extend the rod with the plant and the parakeet toward the portal. As he slowly extends the rod the plant and the cage begin to pass beyond the plane of the portal and apparently disappear from sight. As the bird first contacts the portal it screeches. Startled Ralph shoves the remainder of the test apparatus through the portal and counts to five aloud. When he withdraws the apparatus the most startling transformation has occurred. The plant appears to have been burned away; the soil is black and barren within the pot. The birdcage emerges looking weathered and rusty and the bird within has been reduced to skeletal remains, bleached white as though exposed for a great period of time. A ripple of shocked gasps runs through the room as people stare at the skeleton. After a moment people being talking again and the Professor joins his other teammates to discuss what has just happened.

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Originally Posted By: Dr. Raphael Bradford

Another member of the team approaches Catori, "I know Prof. Walton thanked you already but I just wanted to extend my personal thanks as well this was my first real glimpse of occult power and it's likely that it would not have worked without your help." The man smiles, "I'm Dennis by the way, Dennis Peters."


Catori nods briefly at Dennis her face lacking any emotional expression while her eyes remained transfixed on the portal. Without looking at him she answers, “I am not as much excited as you are. I accept your thanks but can you answer me one question? Why is it that the white man always feels the urge to explore the unknown and tread on places the great Spirit hasn’t created for him?”

Originally Posted By: Dr. Raphael Bradford

When he withdraws the apparatus the most startling transformation has occurred. The plant appears to have been burned away; the soil is black and barren within the pot. The birdcage emerges looking weathered and rusty and the bird within has been reduced to skeletal remains, bleached white as though exposed for a great period of time. A ripple of shocked gasps runs through the room as people stare at the skeleton. After a moment people being talking again and the Professor joins his other teammates to discuss what has just happened.


In silent disapproval Catori witnessed the second stage of the ‘experiment’ appalled by the naivety displayed. She readied herself for the worst case she could imagine looking for places to duck for cover while she unsheathed her dagger.
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Marion gives him a smile and closes the Grimoire with just a hint of protectiveness. She tucks it under her left arm and offers the man her right hand.

"Hi, I don't think we've been introduced. I'm Marion Abel. As for the book, I'm sure we could arrange a time for you to come out to the house and have a closer look. What is it you do for the Society, Mr...?"

She lets the honorific dangle, in wait of a name to attach itself to.

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"Oh, pardon my manners! My name is Al Giodorni. I would love the opportunity, thank you ..." He trails off as the experiment is conducted his face going ashen as the dead plant and bird are withdrawn from the rift. "Umm excuse me, I need to discuss this with the Professor." With that he hurries off to consult with Walton and the others.

Meanwhile, Dennis chokes nervously as Catori draws her dagger and then promptly finds elsewhere to be leaving the Apache woman alone as chaos seems to descend on the assembled people.

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Daddy's special experiment was over, so Daphne began to hum to herself, still watching the movie-man. Then her father started to talk to him, which was even more interesting. Slipping off her chair, she edged closer to the movie-man and his sword. She wished she had a sword.

For a moment, Daphne does; it appears in her hand invisible to the adults because it's magic. It's long and pretty, with a pink hilt and butterflies etched on the steel. Grinning, she executed a couple of quick thrusts, making the noises of her vanquished foes in a whisper. The adults couldn't see them either, because... well, that didn't matter. All that mattered was that only Daphne could save the day!

Then another shiny caught her eye, and the sword and the enemies were forgotten. She edged closer to it, sneaking around a bit. She had to sneak everywhere; Daddy didn't think she was old enough for some of books she liked to read. Some of the she couldn't read, but the pictures were always interesting.

Daphne took another quick look around. The Indian lady was messing with her knife, which after the sword just wasn't very impressive. Daddy was still talking with the movie man. Everyone else was messing with books or empty cages. Pleased at tricking the adults again, Daphne edged closer.

A whisper reached her ears, and the girl froze for a second, unsure she'd heard that. She crept closer still and the orange light from the portal fell on her, its flickering lights drawing her like a moth to flame. She peered in, squinting - and then she squealed, "Mommy!"

Professor Walton's head snapped around at the cry, his face shocked and painfully hopeful. But he didn't see his dead wife; all he saw was his five-year-old daughter jump into a portal to hell.

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"Daphne! NO!" Howard Walton lunged after his Daughter but caught only air as she slipped through the portal and vanished. Immediately the rift began to destabilize, flickering wildly, power thrumming through the room accompanied by the screams of tormented souls. Arcs of fire-like mystic energy whipped out from the portal and the gold and silver circle began to pulse with a wicked red light.

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The cry turns Marion's head. Daphne? Wasn't that the little girl? What was she doing down here anyway? This didn't seem like the place for a chi...

Oh God...Howard...what have we DONE?

Clapping the Grimoire shut, she rushed up to where the stricken father stared at his creation. For an instant she hesitated...then thinks of that little girl. Of anyone in this room, she was the only one whom that place had no right to claim.

She hadn't seen the bird, or the plant. Would it have changed things? Maybe.

Maybe not.

"Keep that thing open!" Marion yelled over the sound of the rift...then ducked as she ran at it!

(Intent: Grab the girl on the other side and try to get back through!)

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Even as the rift begins to spew forth mystic energy and most of the people in the room are still reeling Howard has already regained his feet. Before he can even take two steps toward it a bolt of crimson energy lances out and hits him square in the chest. The bolt lifts him up off the ground, red energy coruscating over his body before it tosses him backwards into a group of occultists like little more than a rag doll.

Marion gets perhaps one step closer before yet another tendril of hellish energy lashes out at her. The beam, nearly as thick as a man’s arm smashes into her slender frame stopping Marion dead in her tracks. Blood red energy and fire pours down the tendril, but rather than spread over her it is drawn, like oil up a wick, toward the satchel containing the Grand Grimoire. A final flash and Marion collapses in place as the energy beam curves back around and into the portal like a solar flare riding the magnetic flux of the sun.

Charles Fitzroy strides forward, "We must stabilize the rift!" He points to Walton’s two lead assistants, “You two! You worked with the professor; you must try to stabilize the rift so that we can get the child back! Now!”

[OOC: Marion takes 5 bashing and is stunned]

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<I should have listened to the Sword,> Janos mutters in Hungarian. His is not a mad dash toward the opening, but a deliberate stride.

"Get me some rope, or," thinking about the plant and the bird, "a chain. I'll go afer her."

He draws the blade with a flourish and approaches the Hell Mouth. He couldn't possibly do anything to help then stabilize the dimensional rift, but he just might save a life. Strangely, he wasn't afraid. He felt virtually fearless with the blade in hand.

He was not reckless either. Too many battles lay in his past. Instead, he was like a lean juggernaut of purpose. His sword held ready to parry any energy tendril that might come forth.

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Originally Posted By: Lee Deity
Ben turned to the anxious man, and motioned to shake his hand, trying to keep his excitement in check. "<Mr. Strakovski, I assume?>", said Ben in perfect Russian, "<My name is Benjamin Abel, and this is my associate Archibald Bannister. We're from the Aeon Society. I believe you requested our assistance, but please, let us walk to my automobile. It is quite chilly out here!>"


The man’s face brightens noticeably as Ben greets him in perfectly accented Russian. “Yes, thank you I would very much like to put this somewhere safe,” he replies in Russian giving the small strong box a heft to indicate that he was referring to it. “I must say though this hardly cold as compared to Siber …” his comment ends in a wet choking gargle as six inches of steel erupt from his throat.

A figure dressed in dark clothes, wrapped in a trench coat of black leather grabs the box as the Russian’s body falls limply to the ground, sliding off of the over long knife. The figure backs away, circling around Ben and Archibald and brandishing the knife at them. The figure continues to back away toward a black car waiting curbside that neither of them had heard arrive.

*****

As Mia watched the man disembarked from the Russian boat and was approached by the two figures. The driver spoke something, it sounded Russian, and the man answered back hefting the strong box to indicate it somehow. Without warning a figure appeared out of thin air behind the man and stabbed a massive blade through his neck before snatching the strong box away and backing toward a black sedan that was waiting. It would appear that her twenty dollars had not gone to waste, for there was certainly a story to be told here.
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Surprise and shock hit Arch, as blood spurts out of the Russian's neck. In a flash Arch swiftly pulls out his crossbow, and draws aim on the dark figure, putting himself in the best postion for a clear shot. "Don't move, another inch! Drop the knife and put the box down. Now!

(Arch is aiming for the man's arm, if the man ingores Arch's demand he will shoot hoping to cause the box to drop.)

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Originally Posted By: Dr. Raphael Bradford
Even as the rift begins to spew forth mystic energy and most of the people in the room are still reeling Howard has already regained his feet. Before he can even take two steps toward it a bolt of crimson energy lances out and hits him square in the chest. The bolt lifts him up off the ground, red energy coruscating over his body before it tosses him backwards into a group of occultists like little more than a rag doll.

Marion gets perhaps one step closer before yet another tendril of hellish energy lashes out at her. The beam, nearly as thick as a man’s arm smashes into her slender frame stopping Marion dead in her tracks. Blood red energy and fire pours down the tendril, but rather than spread over her it is drawn, like oil up a wick, toward the satchel containing the Grand Grimoire. A final flash and Marion collapses in place as the energy beam curves back around and into the portal like a solar flare riding the magnetic flux of the sun.

Charles Fitzroy strides forward, "We must stabilize the rift!" He points to Walton’s two lead assistants, “You two! You worked with the professor; you must try to stabilize the rift so that we can get the child back! Now!”


Without giving it a second thought Catori droped her dagger and resumed her place in the quicksilver circle and chanted in dead languages. Her concern for the little girl surpassed her anger and disapprovement of the whole ritual as such. Right now wasn't the time for judgement, right now she had to help save that child's live.

In her heart she knew - justice would be done...

(ooc: as soon as possible she will try to treat any wounded, but first things first)
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Catori and the two assistants scrambled to stabilize the spell, but they were unable to do much; the mystic forces brought into play by the ritual were out of control, fluxing as though they had a life of their own. The eldritch fire danced and spun in front of the vortex; of Daphne herself, there was no sign. Before a chain could be found or further plans made, the portal stabilized, the fire dimming and dying. It had been merely seconds, but to those thinking of the lost child, it was an eternity.

The portal wavered suddenly as dark forms were seen on the other side. With little warning, they pressed against and through the portal, collapsing on the floor in a heap. The portal imploded, a thunderclap wave of fire, heat, and sulfurous air rushed over the group, knocking some to the floor with its force. The twisting strands of power spiraled inward and within a moment there was nothing remaining of the portal but a scorch mark on the floor.

From the jumbled pile of daemonic flesh there was a snap of a leathery wing and a groan, and then the form became two: a bipedal daemon covered in patchwork colors and bat-winged wolf. The hellhound was bound around its wings, legs and torso with a long cord. For those versed in primitive weapons, the two rocks tied to the ends indicated that this was a giant bolo.

demonwolf.jpg

The hellhound was wrapped up, but his companion was on its feet. Oddly, it wasn't displaying claws or the normal natural weapons of daemon, but a spear made of bones and a long claw, lashed together with sinew and thongs of leather. That weapon made it suddenly clear that the bipedal daemon was wearing armor made from the skins of other daemons. The form was protected, but peeks of the flesh underneath showed a skin color close to human, if a bit more orange-brown than normal for humans.

The daemon snarled something in a throat-ripping language; while brandishing the spear threateningly it took a defensive posture in front of the hound. That sentence was followed up by an impressive snarl. The hellhound echoed that snarl and put it to shame, sounding like an effect ripped from a nightmare. Still snarling, the form pulled a knife made of a claw and crouched further, trying to cut the hellhound free of its ropes.

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His first instinct was to lunge and strike. The creature was hellish and wrong. The person, if it was a person, was a tainted primative. Plus, they freaked him out!

But other factors were soon evident to his war-forged mind. They weren't attacking him or the others. The Wolf/Hound/Bat thing was bound in some manner, making him believe they had come here to avoid capture ... but capture from what.

The Portal was gone and it stood to reason that the best way to locate Daphne was through dealing with these creatures. In the Carpathian mountains, wolves could talk and some could even walk upright like men. Mountain folk often dressed in the skins of the bears, wolves, and other beasts they had slain. Funny how he would find a world touched like his own this far from home.

Janos stepped forward and raised up his empty hand in a sign of peace.

"Tell me that one of you can talk to these ... things," Janos asked hesitantly, not taking his eyes off the two before him.

To the armored figure,

"I'm just going to cut your friend free. We need to talk with you," he said in a slow deliberate manner.

Letting his eyes move to those of the Beast,

"I'm just going to free you now. Don't start attacking anyone."

'Then I'll have to kill you, I won't help them find the girl, and then they won't help me find my sister.'

Avoiding the biped's spear, Janos' Sword slipped in and deftly parted the cord holding the rope/trap together then he stepped back in a guard position. Now to see if he had figured this right.

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