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Adventure! RPG: Dark Tidings - Chapter 2: Casting A Shadow

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December 23rd, 1928

Sunlight poured through the windows hammering at blinds and curtains and creeping around until the rooms of Abel Manor began to grow bright. One by one the guests and their hosts woke from slumber. Each recalled distinctly one dream that they had had during the night. Unusually clear, it remained fresh as though it were no dream at all. Slowly they each made their way to the conservatory. Here, despite the harsh winter cold outside the greenhouse glass and crackling fire made the room warm and comfortable. Servants brought breakfasts out for all, fruit or eggs or muffins, whatever was requested was available. The butler informed Ben and Marion that their parents had already left on the first boat, they had "run of the house."

Ben had arrived last to the table, the butler in tow, between them they carried a half dozen large tomes that the Librarian had selected last evening and the box, still open, with the obsidian shard resting with the black silk and velvet interior. The books were given to those interested in researching Rasputin while Ben himself stared at the box with it's runic script trying to figure out the mysterious language.

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Ben looked thoughtfully at the box and the shard. The box had eluded his skills for the last 2 months, and yet here he was again. Ben had woken up with a renewed sense of purpose - indeed, he had rushed down to the library straight after waking, certain that an epiphany had come in his sleep, but alas, by the time he'd reached the library his lack of epiphany had become painfully clear. And yet...

Ben couldn't help but think that now the box's runes seemed almost... familiar somehow, in a way that was more productive than the two months in which he had become intimately familiar with every line and angle of the runes. It was almost at the tip of his tongue, as it were, like he could almost understand it. It was immensely frustrating.

And then there was the shard. Again, there was a glimmer in the back of Ben's mind about the shard that wasn't there last night. Ben vaguely remembered dreaming about it but the dream had vanished on the way to the library, and his attempts to focus his mind on the dream left him that much more frustrated. If he could remember a little more he was sure that he could get it all, but his mind, for once, refused the request.

In short, it was a frustrating morning for Ben, as was clearly obvious to everyone around the table, as he ate his eggs and bacon with agitated precision, and continued to stare at the box.

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Catori already sat quietly at the table eating some fruit for breakfast. She watched Ben wordlessly obviously absorbed by her own thoughts. She seemed to be contemplating something but wasn't showing any sign of sharing that anytime soon.

Her eyes wandered over Ben's features and from there to the box. They had unleashed something terrible. She wasn't sure if she could make them understand just how terrible.

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Arch is caught up in his dream from last night. His thoughts are still dwelling over the vision he was shown of his parents.Mom, Dad now that I know who you are I will find you I swear.

Ben's arrival to the table only slightly registers to Arch, but enough so that it snaps his thoughts away from his parents to the task laid out before him and the others. He looks at the others around the table and wonder's if he was the only one who had strange dreams last night.

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Daphne woke up slowly, smiling as the last bit of dream faded. But that smile faded as reality crashed back in. It had just been a dream; they weren't real. She sat up and threw back the down comforter, ignoring the bite of cold air. In his sandbox bed, Spot stood up, shaking himself to get the sand out of his fur. He watched her idly while she put on the minimum amount of clothing required to be Appropriate, and then followed her downstairs.

Daphne was pleased to see her pack was here, and everyone got a hug or a touch from her before she settled into her seat. She dug into her food, feeding Spot from her plate.

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Marion is the last one down, having taken her time to clean up and get dressed...yet still looking a bit haggard around her eyes when she comes to the table. Despite being hungry, she pokes listlessly at her food for a moment, then looks up and around at the others.

"Dreams," she says abruptly. "I trust you were all...visited by dreams of this object as well?"

She takes a long swallow of coffee.

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It was almost like a spark of lightning ran through Ben's head. He wasn't quite sure how it had done it, but Marion's rather random comment had suddenly filled in what must have been the single missing link between Ben's consciousness and his dream. Ben's entire face suddenly lit up as his brain finally unlocked the secrets his dream had revealed to him.

"That's it," Ben said, rather unexpectedly and very excitedly, "That's it! I know those runes! I know what they are! Marion, I could kiss you! They're not human ancient, but I think I know what they are!"

In the midst of the room's shock, Ben started fingering the runes, for the first time actually reading them...

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Catori almost whinced when Ben suddenly stood up in what seemed to be an 'Eureka!' moment. She was still trying to formulate a plan how to explain to the others what she has dreamt. It appeared that everyone was having some kind of prophetic dreams which just gave her more reason to believe that they were very real.

She has never made contact with her father like this ever since he died. He wanted to warn her and it was of grave importance.

Clearing her throat she looked at the others with a serious expression in her face, "I think we must talk."

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Originally Posted By: SalmonMax

"Dreams," she says abruptly. "I trust you were all...visited by dreams of this object as well?"


Marion's words ring out loud and clear in Arch's head. "Dreams, yes I've had dreams. Would it be safe to say that we all had some manner of dreams last night?"

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"I dreamed of things I did not even know I knew about," says Janos into his coffee. "Things about my family. The stone was there, offering me the easy answers to what I wanted most. It was not alone."

He walks over and looks, no broods, out the window.

"I am somewhat haunted that I may have made the wrong choice. Maybe I am fated to ... Nevermind."

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Ben looked up from the runes while Janos spoke, as the situation finally punched through his enthusiasm. "Oh."

Ben looked around at everyone, and then to Catori, especially. "Yes, I think we should lay our cards on the table, as it were. I know that I accepted the shard's knowledge. I learned languages that I had never heard of, let alone heard before. Most of the languages are drifting away from me, I can't hold on to most of them. Alas, apart from that nothing of any real import was revealed to me - I merely got exactly what I wanted. What about everyone else?"

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Marion's heart sank as Ben told what had happened. He'd accepted. Did that mean she'd turned down the offer of a lifetime? Or that he'd accepted a fool's pledge?

She let her forehead down into her hand.

"Oh Ben...you..." She didn't finish that thought.

Instead she sat up straight again. Done was done. The consequences would be dealt with.

"I was presented with a...situation in my dream. A ritual I didn't think I had the power to complete. You asked me if I could do it, I said yes. When it failed, the backlash killed us both." Marion forces her retelling to be light and airy. It was a dream, not real.

"Then you appeared before me, offering me the shard. Saying it would give me power and knowledge. I was tempted, but I didn't trust the source. I questioned it. It told me others would succeed where I failed, but that I might get a second chance. I found myself in my own coffin, where I slowly suffocated."

Marion pours some cream into her coffee and stirs it, then looks around. "Anyone else?"

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"Someone on a boat told me that I'd learn the truth if I took the shard, gratis and no strings attached. When a man gives you something with no strings attached, it means there are strings attached and he doesn't want to tell you. So I told the big tall goofus to hit the road. We got coffee around here?"

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Arch listens at the other's relate their dream. "In my dream a man in black showed me my parents. He offered me a shard as well, much the same as he did to Marion." He looks at Ben and Janos before continuing.

"I took the shard he offered me. The knowledge it offered is what I've been searching for. Much like that Janos been searching for his sister, I've been searching for my parents."

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Catori couldn't believe her ears. Her former reserved nature changed quickly in to disbelieve and anger. She rose up and put her hands on the table making it tremble underneath her weight. "You accepted it?! Are you out of your minds? Do you people take any temptation at gaining power?"

She pushed herself away from the table throwing over her glass and making some of the assembled fruits roll uncontrolled around the table and walked away from the others, obviously brought up in anger.

"Your corruption sickens me!"

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Marion sighs and gets up.

"Hold on a second everyone..."

She hurries after the Native American and tries to catch her shoulder or arm to stop her from storming out.

Quietly she says, "You can't blame them, Catori. You and I have experience with things like this. They don't. For them it was just a dream. They had no reason to think it was anything more. And to be honest, we still don't know what's to come of all this. We could use your help though, if you'll agree to it. Your approach to the occult is very different from mine...it may lead to answers I would overlook."

With some effort, she swallows her pride and offers a heartfelt, "Please?"

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Catori turned around and stared at Marion and swallowed down her own pride. "Your friends are...," stupid she wanted to say, "blind."

"We are dealing with an extremely dangerous entity. A deceiver and tempter. This entity is deadly."

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"Then help them learn to see," Marion urges. "Help me help our friends. Would you abandon children just because they don't understand the danger they're straying into?"

"Come back and tell us what you experienced. Lets see if we can work out what damage has been done, and what we can do to correct it."

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Daphne was wrestling with her feelings. On one hand, she was overjoyed to learn that her dream had been real. But Catori was so angry! That alone was enough to make her swallow her joy and replace it with sorrow, but she couldn't. And why should she? She'd gotten what she needed, the one thing she'd needed for years now. Catori had no right to take that away from her!

Daphne did something that not everyone would notice as extraordinary; she openly and seriously disagreed with a member of her 'pack.' "It not bad," she said, standing up, her eyes bright with anger and her mouth set in a hard line rarely seen on her face. "Maybe thing bad, but deal is not!"

Her next words were in a near whisper, but they carried clearly, powered by the force of her conviction and fierce joy. "I got my soul back."

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Originally Posted By: SalmonMax
"Then help them learn to see," Marion urges. "Help me help our friends. Would you abandon children just because they don't understand the danger they're straying into?"


"You have no right to judge me, Marion. Your friends are no children. They witnessed the rituals. They know the danger we're involved in. I warned you all."

Originally Posted By: SalmonMax

"Come back and tell us what you experienced. Lets see if we can work out what damage has been done, and what we can do to correct it."


Catori's eyes still reflected her anger but she nodded at Marion and came back to the table. "I fought against the entity in my dream. I had no reason to believe its lies. It burst into 13 shards. But in order to destroy it for good we need to destroy its heart."

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"Damnit, Catori, I'm not -judging- you," Marion protests before they go back. "I'm just trying to tell you that they can't be expected to see certain dangers as clearly as those of us who have more experience."

After Catori says her peace, Marion nods in thanks and sits back down.

She passes the coffee pot to Janos. "Here."

Then Marion does a doubletake, and looks at Daphne, startled.

"I'm sorry," she says softly. "Did you say your soul?"

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Arch breaths a little easier knowing he wasn't alone in his descion to accept the offer he was given.

Originally Posted By: Catori

"Your corruption sickens me!"

Catori voice of anger gave Arch little pause. "Sorry lady, I don't care what you think about my choice. It was mine to make and I will deal with that choice when the matter presents itself. I'm not going to go all 'evil' or something because of it!"

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Janos looks around the room.

"It offered my the bodies and souls of my Brother and Sister. My Brother I have feared long dead. To get the last of my family back ... it is what the head of the family should do."

"But I didn't. My ancestors came and stood at my side and I defeated this thing. When it came again with its temptations, I stabbed at it with my sword. I vanquished it ... just like I feel I lost my Brother and Sister forever."

"Daphne, the thing you met lies. It will not deliver on its promise. It is not in its nature to honor bargains, or barter truthfully. It is an Evil Darkness and we need to deal with it before it becomes too strong on its false promises to be defeated."

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Originally Posted By: Katalyst

Catori voice of anger gave Arch little pause. "Sorry lady, I don't care what you think about my choice. It was mine to make and I will deal with that choice when the matter presents itself. I'm not going to go all 'evil' or something because of it!"


Catori turned to face Arch and drew her Dagger ready to settle this argument with force if necessary. "You stupid white man! Your carelessness will affect all of us! We are bound by the ritual. Everything you do reflects on us all. If you give in to the Deceiver it will make him only stronger. We're better off with you dead instead of making another stupid decision!"

Catori was really getting angry about the ignorance around her.

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Goddammit, that's the second time some one has pulled a weapon on me. Am I doing something wrong here?

Arch eyes Catori knife, his hand moving in reach of his crossbow as he ponders on whether or not to pull it out and ending this standoff right now, but the rational part of his mind takes over.

"Give in, nobody said I gave in to anything. I did what I felt that I needed to do. So did Ben. I have no qualms about it, you'll just have to deal with or you can take your leave. Either way is fine with me!" he says rather forcefully.

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Marion speaks forcefully, though her voice is calm.

"Catori, put the knife away and stop shouting. If you can't discuss this rationally, I'll ask you to leave the table until you calm down. Am I clear?"

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"Did right," Daphne snapped to no one in general. She jumped from her seat suddenly and snapped something to Spot, who came to her side. "Not giving soul back. Catori may be pack, but she has no right to demand my damnation!" Spot was clearly confused. For weeks, he'd been told to treat these people as pack, and now, Daphne was giving him signals that conflicted with that. But his loyalties were clear and he pressed himself to Daphne's side and showed his teeth. There was no aggression though - just confusion.

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Janos snorted and his expression went from grim to a grin.

"Catori, as my father once told me, you don't worry about the rain that hasn't come, but how much water remains in the lake."

He steps toward her, hand held out.

"What passed last night is behind us. Let us learn from it and from each other instead of tearing at one another. Since we are dedicated to destroying the entity from the crystal, it can only get stronger at our infighting. Put the knife away. We need your wisdom, not your steel this morning."

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"I could not agree more, Count Rakozi," Ben said, after being quite deliberately silent during the outbreak. "At the very least, our previous mistakes may have given us an opportunity - The runes on this box have confounded me for the last two months. Whatever I have been granted, it's given me the ability to read them. We might be able to figure out how this box kept whatever was in there in there, or at least get more information on whoever it was that trapped it in there."

"I may not have made the smartest decision last night, I will be the first to admit it. To be honest, I wasn't even aware of the import of the decision. But regardless of the source of the gifts, we have them now, and I think it would be foolish not to use them."

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Catori gave everyone an icy glare and threw her dagger disgusted on the table turning around in the same moment and headed outside. She had to vent her anger and taking a walk was the better alternative than starting a fight.

She didn't wait for anyone to follow and if she was home she would have just run until she could no more. Instead she had to try to act "civilised" and find a compromise by walking at a fast pace. Her hands were balled to fists and it appeared as if she was steaming from her emotional state.

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The dream was returning in steps, with each tick of the clock increasing the clarity of her memories. All of the knowledge was painful, all of it things she'd never dreamed or had wanted to forget. All of it hollowed out her heart, left her feeling empty and lost.

Her mother's first death.

The reason her mother "died" the second time.

The blackness that consumed her soul, and the armor and claws.

The heart of darkness.

And Catori wanted to destroy her. Silently, Daphne remained still, watching everyone in the room, waiting to see what they decided to do. If they left her be, then good. But she wasn't giving up her soul, not for anything. There may be a price - there surely would be - and she'd pay it, with a smile on her face.

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"Ben, you had better go after Catori," Janos said after a moment. He had almost taken after her himself, but remembered those two had seemed close at one time.

Janos walked to the table.

"Marion, can we destroy this thing, and if we do, what does that mean for the gifts already given? I feel the price for repairing the damage we have done has risen."

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Originally Posted By: Catori
Catori gave everyone an icy glare and threw her dagger disgusted on the table turning around in the same moment and headed outside.


"Let her go, I say." Arch says throwing his hands up in disgust.

Originally Posted By: Count Janos Rakozi
"Ben, you had better go after Catori," Janos said after a moment.


"Ben don't be gone to long, we need to get back to our real task."

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Benn looked up from the runes, into everyone's eyes. It didn't look like there was anyone else up to the task. Unsurprising, perhaps, given the violence of the outburst. "Very well," Ben said, "I will try to talk to her."

Inwardly though, Ben was unsure how willing Catori would be to talk to him. Catori was clearly angry, clearly unwilling to accept anyone else's view on this, and clearly in the foulest of foul moods. As well, these features were clearly because of the shard-acceptors, and Ben hadn't even put up a fight in taking his. Still, there was a point of connection between the two. And Ben spoke anyone's language, given enough time. Maybe there could be an accord.

Ben walked through the very clearly slammed open doors, until he came outside and found Catori once more on Abel Island's frosty surface. Wow, Ben thought to himself, That is angry. Here goes nothing...

"Catori," Ben started, his voice soft, almost guilty, "Please talk to me. What is raging inside you that you exploded so in there?"

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"Hell. Woman has a temper." Mia taps the handle on the knife.

"Like we were supposed to know that a dream was anything other than a dream."

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Marion just nods...the reporter pretty much hit it right on. She'd said as much to Catori herself. But something else needed addressing. She leans forward towards Daphne.

"Daphne. You mentioned...that you got your soul back," Marion says cautiously. "Would you tell us what you dreamed?"

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"Dreamed it offered my missing piece of soul," Daphne said, looking at Marion. "I accepted, and shard gave me power to kill daemon who had my piece. Then knew everything didn't know before: why my mother died, what happen to her shade..." Daphne looked hurt and angry as she hissed, "Terrible things to know! Bad things... hurt."

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As he listens to Daphne describe her dream, Arch thinks about his own. I wonder if I made the right choice now? Could I have doomed myself? No, I did the right thing.

"Thanks for sharing that Daphne, now I think I understand why you did what you did earlier."

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Marion feels her heart sink...sympathy, pity...a feeling of slow, inexorable horror. There was more to this story, she could tell, but this wasn't the place or time.

"Oh Daphne...I wish you'd told me sooner," she says softly. "I would have tried to help you. Now...well, lets not dwell on what might have been. We don't know what this means yet. I think our first priority must be to find out what these dreams signify. Are we agreed?"

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"Not sorry," Daphne said stubbornly. "Took offer and will pay price. Soul is whole again." She didn't have the words, not in a language that anyone here would understand, to explain the prize she'd regained. And she was afraid, afraid of the members of her pack.

Daphne looked at the door that Catori had disappeared through. "Marion, will you and others protect from Catori?" If they said yes, maybe she could trust them. If she could trust them, she could tell them everything about the dream.

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