Late Evening, Day Two
It’s dark among the unlit skyscrapers. Red, gold, and blue stars stare down from the moonless sky at a scene of carnage on the corner of ann and roma street. While Anthony devours souls Evan loots the strewn corpses and crashed cars of their assailents. In the back seat of the character’s armoured sedan Belinda wakes from her nap. She grabs one of the new vests of body armour and puts it on.
Drawn by the soul torn screaming, zombies are emerging from ally ways and parklands nearby. The characters are focused on getting their grisly tasks done as quickly as possible, but the distant crackle of gunfire from the direction of spring hill brings their heads up.
The characters realise there is a deformed hunchback watching the trio from the bus station entrance across the road. To spirit sight he appears human but there are traces of dim red within, as if someone has stroked vampiric power through his flesh. He seems to have been watching Anthony devour the vampiric ganger’s souls with an expression of excited glee. Now meeting the old/young awakend’s eyes he beckons with clawed hands and uneven shoulders. He points to the prestigious church across the street behind the bus station enterance, rubbing his hands together as he grunts some urgent, garbled plea. It becomes apparent that the man has no tongue.
Anthony, still quite malevolent from the fight, seems to understand, “ok Quasi, lead the way!” The twisted hunchback runs for the church as fast as he can with his awkward gait. The three awakened follow, as more gunfire echoes from the top of Spring Hill, and the zombies on Roma street move in among the crashed vehicles for all the world like dogs looking for scraps from a feast.
Quasi stops before the arched wooden doors, pointing inside. There is some “you first” but, after some more urgent grunting and hand rubbing from Quasi they get the idea that he can’t enter. They push open the doors.
Inside it is dark, as of course it would be in an unlit city, in the middle of the night, but this darkness has a clinging, unnatural feel. Evan breaks out his trusty spotlight. The beam weakly penetrates the interior revealing a smear of blood down the asile through the entry chamber and into the main hall beyond. Quasi is pointing right down toward the far corner of the church, desperate to make his intention clear, and frustrated at not being able to enter. Evan nods to him, “will you be alright with the zombies?” Quasi nods back and scuttles away from the church, disappearing up the street.
The characters step inside (probably should have rolled as they crossed the threshold actually, but oh well). Belinda draws on the Tree to raise aura and reach Release Level 2, bringing up Mind’s Reach so that the characters’ awareness is in gestault. Crossing the entry space into the main hall, Evan’s flickering spotlight beam reveals human corpses nailed upside down to the walls with bowls placed underneath them to catch the last drops of their lifes’ blood. The alcoves between them are filled with stygian darkness that the light can not penetrate, letting the chill of the Void into the room.
Many of the pews are stained with blood. On the stage at the end of the hall the table for sacraments has been replaced with an obscene amalgam of human flesh. It seems as if four ordinary folk have kneeled together, naked and facing outwards, but their heads have been forced back over their shoulders and somehow merged together to form the surface of this evil alter. To Spirit Sight it pulses with vampiric enchantment, as does the ritual lance leaning against it, a four foot length of twisted, sculpted human like bone that throbs with its own blood lust and will.
The trio approach the stage. Anthony spots a vestry door in the direction toward which the hunchback was pointing. He and Belinda cross the stage toward it, but Evan hesitates before the alter, considering the lance with greed in his eyes.
“Should I touch this?”
Anthony, “It’s a big bone spear, stuck in the middle of an evil church…”
He tries the vestry door, which is locked but has muffled sounds beyond it. Anthony puts his shoulder against it to break it down. Behind him, Evan picks up the lance. The blood hungry will of twisted bone floods into Evan’s mind, but he too is carrying malevolence from the previous fight. He throws his head back, roaring as he raises the lance high. Arm tense, fist clenching, his soul fights back for control.
The vestry door swings wide as its lock breaks under Anthony’s second shoulder smash. Inside is a contrast of mundane and the strange. A kettle still sits on a counter with the makings for tea and sympathy, a hatstand holds the stole for the man who once would have been minister here, but the table which would have occupied the middle of this small preperation room has been swept aside. Iron stakes have been driven into the wall and a chain strunk between them. A line of five prisoners kneel, bound hand and foot, linked to the chain by collars around their necks.
Evan’s will struggles in the balance against that of the bone lance as the prisoners look up at Anthony and Belinda. The face of the woman at the front of the coffle first lights with unexpected hope, then falls in panicked worry.
“Please no, my family. They have our families too. If we escape they’ll kill them. Please save them first… save them too.”
Anthony brings his machete down on the chain where it wraps around the steel stake, severing it in one blow. As he and Belinda untie the prisoners they hear more of their story. It seems these too are people caught in the city during the long night, but these were captured by vampires after the protests turned riots broke down into a wild revel of the emerging sabbat gangers. It seems many people were captured after law and order fell. Someone may have mentioned “the diggings” or some such, but these prisoners were taken from among a larger group, members of which, in turn, had all been separated out from those deemed suitable as workers. The larger group is being held on the third level of a government building just up the street, guarded by gangers. Small numbers of people have been taken a couple of times over the last few days with statements that their good behaivour assures the safety of those left behind.
The things they’ve heard and the sight of the horrible church hall, with its hanging corpses, obscene alter, and the screaming man just now imposing his will over a bone lance, have been more than enough to convince these prisoners of their fate, but they are still worried for their loved ones. Belinda and Anthony look like they’re on the verge of offering to help when a soundless explosion rock through the room. A shockwave of magical energy spreading from distant source jolts through them carrying the essense of choral singing and sunlight, damageing those with vampiric taint of level three or more (Anthony and Evan I think).
The Black Priest
A tall man stumbles from one of the patches of stygian shadow on the wall between vestry and alter. He’s lost his top had somewhere, and his black tail coat is smouldering, but all the awakened recognise him as the vampire they saw at the bottom of the Mount Cootha Rent, talking to the nine foot tall, monstrously inhuman vampire he’d just freed from an iron cross.
It is the Black Priest. To Spirit Sight, although he is wounded, the vampiric heart within him seems more potent than it did that night. He seems as potent now perhaps as Prince Ruairc appeared the last time they saw him alive. His body is flushed with vampiric strength, his powers raised, as if he’s already seen combat. Shadows cling to him and Darkness bubbles from within making his very flesh an amalgam of matter and the stuff of the abyss.
“What are you doing in my church!” he booms, taking in the scene.
“You!” he points at Evan, before anyone can act. “Be Still!”
Evan freezes, the compulsion contained within the Black Priest’s words temporarily overcoming the insane tradies’ malevolent soul. The Black Priest glances back Belinda, Anthony, and the freed (now screaming) prisoners in the vestry. Shadows swarm from the darkened walls, engulfing Belinda and dimming her sight. They leach at her very vitality, but, at release level two, she is able to resist.
Minor powers over with the Black Priest leaps across to Evan, raising his unresisting body off its feet and biting into his neck to feed. Blood spurts. Drawing on the Tree to generate aura, Anthony charges out of the vestry swinging his machete. The blade hits home but slides through the priest’s shadowed flesh without causing injury. Still imobalised Evan resists the temptation to draw on the Tree and raise aura. Because of his malevolent soul, Evan gets a second chance to shrug off the compulsion, but he fails, so he tries to Devour the Priest’s soul instead (since they’re in close contact). This also fails.
Half blinded, Belinda charges, tackling the priest from behind but failing to unbalance him. She maintains her grip, hindering his movements as he acts with celerity to attack again before anyone else can do so. More blood spurts from Evan’s neck. Some of the wounds that the priest arrived with close as he drinks thirstily. The shadows clinging to Belinda swarm over to the machete wielding Anthony. Unexpectedly they catch Anthony at a weak moment, obscuring his vision and draining his vitality strongly. Anthony’s body goes cold, his eyes roll up, and the old / young awakened collapses to the floor, unconscious, not yet dead.
“Minions!” the Black Priest calls, “Come forth!”
Thrown to the Tree, Anthony’s awareness starts sorting fragments to break down into essence, preparing for the worst. In the Church Evan finally shrugs off the priest’s command. He raises some aura, healing, and holding a point gain the first level of greenwood flesh. “Should I stab him with the lance?” he ask’s Anthony’s cold, unconscious body. “I know you can hear me,” he shouts in his mind, thoughts carried by Belinda’s gestalt to the old man in the Tree. Still held in the black priest’s grip, and hampered by the length of the lance, he drives the lance tip up into the priest’s belly. It’s a surprisingly good blow, but the combination of the Black Priest’s blood pumped stamina, fortitude, and flesh of darkness is too much for the lance to penetrate. The lance’s blood hunger is similarly crushed by will the sabbat magician.
Still hauling at the priest from behind, Belinda brings her handgun out, shooting him at point blank range. The bullet fails to penetrate as well. On the ground, Anthony fails to struggle free of the shadows smothering him, leaching away his vital force. At the Tree, he grimly breaks down more fragments for essence watching the fight go badly through his companions eyes via Belinda’s minds reach.
I think the priest throws Evan to the ground and turned on Belinda, seeking more blood, (regenerating awakened make awesome blood sources as it turns out actually). She must have managed to stay out of his grasp, but she may have taken some damage here?
“Should we break for it?” Evan asks in his mind.
“If you don’t run you’re dead!” Anthony replies.
Belinda breaks and runs, smashing through the vestry door to lead the wailing prisoners out into the church yard toward Ann street. Evan takes a chance on the priest being distracted by Belinda, rolling to his feet and scooping up Anthony’s cold body he sprints around the priest toward the vestry door as well.
I kinda want attacks of opportunity but the priest races out through the vestry after Belinda and Evan. Evan’s pretty athletic, and so, even carrying Anthony over his shoulder, he managed to get a slight lead on the priest in this first bit of the sprint, keeping out of his clutches for now. But the priest’s celerity is such that he’ll act again before Evan, giving him the chance to overrun and drain them at his leisure.
Belinda keeps running but with her gun out, angling to one side as the prisoners flee ahead of her onto the bitumen of Ann Street. She turns to fire over her shoulder at the black priest (forgotten if she hit). Looking up behind them she sees a huge (20 foot tall?) golden figure of light with wings, halo, and flaming sword flying down from Spring Hill toward them! It’s hundreds of meters away but closing fast, much faster than any of them can run.
Anthony tries again to break free of the shadows smothering him. He succeeds, waking slung over Evan’s shoulder with the Black Priest reaching for them less than an arm length away. Somehow Anthony must have kept a death grip on his machete. He swings it, and despite the awkwardness of acting while being carried, manages to land a tremendous blow!
Even more, despite his strength and powers, the Black Priest fails to soak all but two of the nine wounds worth of damage! Caught by surprise the priest takes Anthony’s machete to the throat. The darkness in his flesh does reduce the damage from lethal to bashing, but, combined with the wounds of aggravated damage from burns and light that he entered the church with, the seven levels from Anthony’s shoulder slung machete blow is enough to drop the dark priest in his tracks.
Only for a second. Although unconscious the vampire can still spend blood to heal. He wakes, and as the distant angel of fire screams down toward them, performs an act of magic that deepens the shadows all around, bringing stygian darkness like a well to the concrete around him. Having spent too much blood to heal he can’t quite complete his escape. But on the next turn, unless they stop him, they have the sense that he’ll depart just like he arrived leaving the (vampirically tainted) characters to deal with the approaching manifestation of light.
Evan draws aura, activating the first level of second dot protean transformation of his totem (redback spider) to gain chelicera. Dumping Anthony into the church yard he grabs the Black Priest, biting deep but failing to pierce his hardened flesh.
Running back Belinda fires. Still in Evan’s grip the Black Priest moves his head and bullet ricochets off of the concrete next to him.
Anthony rolls to his feet and swings his machete, biting deep causing the priest’s eyes to roll back again, almost doing enough extra bashing damage to kill him outright.
The priest wakes again, near death and having used all but one of his blood points he tries to break free of Evan’s hold and Shadow Step away into the darkness beneath. Evan holds fast, physically hauling the priest back out of the shadows.
And I’m sorry but I can’t actually remember who dealt the killing blow
Now highly malevolent, and amazed to still be alive, Belinda and Anthony fall on the Black Priest’s corpse, arms streaking green as they raise yet more aura to devour his soul.
Evan races after the freed prisoners, who are huddling on the other side of the street scared of the dark cold city. He rounds them up and persuades them to come with him to the cars so he can get them to safety.
The huge fire angel is still screaming down closer as Anthony and Belinda tear the first fragments of obtenebration and occult ritual knowledge out of the priest’s soul. It’s apparent that it really is coming to this location. Through sheer willpower the pair break off their devouring and, slinging the steaming corpse over their shoulder, run for the cars.
The angel swoops down to land in front of them. It looms over them, shedding harsh light all over the street. It has an alien, hawkish face, with rows of slit eyes that extend around the side of its head. It screeches at them, an unintelligible garble, that still carries the tone of imperiously questioning tone (well I hope it did).
“We’re saving the humans!” Anthony calls up to the angel.
More alien garbled screech with the sense of choral singing behind it. A geas slashes down from the angel into Anthony and Belinda, a compulsion to force them to save the humans just as they claimed. Anthony shrugs it off but Belinda is just caught (for now) by the effect. She immediately remembers the earlier plea of the prisoner they freed to save her family from the building up the street.
Their responses seem to be enough to satisfy the angel. It turns to the church, ignoring them further, raising its arms as it screeches more unintelligible words. Words that begin to raise power with the feeling of light and force, centered on the darkness of the defiled church.
Battle of Ann Street
Belinda and Anthony carry the corpse of the dark priest down to the cars on the turn into Roma street. The zombies… weren’t there any more. Belinda and Anthony send Evan and the rescuees off in the suv to Bardon while they remain behind. Laying the priest’s corpse down between the ganger’s vehicles and get back to devouring his disintegrating soul.
Rich fragments of vampiric disciplines, attributes and skills flow into the Tree as the final screams of the Black Priest’s soul echo into the night. From up the road the sense of power building grows. The angel stands with its arms raised, all efforts bent on whatever it is doing. It seems almost… see through from this angel.
From the building further up Ann street, where the characters were told more humans were being held, gangers spill out into the night. Four ghouls and two vampire fledgelings seem to be gangers of the type the characters are getting used to seeing, but the leader is a vampire of a different stripe. A big lad, fat and completely hairless, he’s wearing no shirt, suspender pants, and jack boots, has a 666 tattoo on one shoulder and a crimson swastika on the other. He carries a sledge hammer strapped over his back, and to Spirit Sight the vampiric heart within him seems much stronger than the others, no where near the strength the black priest had, but stronger than the fledgelings, maybe the equivalent of about release level three…
The characters crouch among the cars at the intersection into Roma street. The gangers spread out across the bituman a couple of hundred meters up Ann. Between them the angel keeps doing its thing, hands raised, alien voice screeching, a sense of radient power building on the defiled church.
“Shoot that cunt!” the big bald neo-nazi vampire declares, pointing at the angel.
One of the ghouls raises a shotgun, another an assault rifle. They let rip, but the bullets just seem to pass through the angel, its image flickering in place as it focuses all concentration on the force its efforts against the church.
The last fragment rips free and the remains of the Black Priest’s soul disintegrate, all animus gone from its flesh. Looking up at the gangers Anthony lays the corpse down. He hacks through its neck with his machete. Standing with his grizzly burden Anthony and Belinda advance up Ann street.
An eye on the side of the angels head swivels to look at them as they draw near. The gangers seem more inclined to ignore them at first, yelling something dismissive and abusive. Anthony, who is carrying forward the malevolence of two consecutive battles and has reached the Serenely Violent temptation state, throws their leader’s head onto the road between them. That gets their attention.
“Fuck ’em up!” Screams Baldie, as Anthony charges past the angel up the high side of Ann street toward the gangers (along the edge of the churchyard), and Belinda takes the low.
The ghouls with guns let rip, mainly at Belinda, since Baldie is between them and Anthony. Belinda dives for cover behind the corner of the building that edges King George Square, as the dude with the assault rifle fires a long burst at her. Bullets and stone fragments rip her flesh.
Baldie charges at charging Anthony, meeting with a clash of sledgehammer and machete blade. Beside baldie one of the fledgeling vampires sprouts protean claws, sidling around to rip into Anthony from the side. The other fledgeling vampire calls a cloak of shadows over himself (just penalises shots at him, not the priest’s flesh of darkness). Pumping his strength he charges at Belinda, tackling her to the ground. One of the ghouls follows him, trying to stomp her while she’s flat. (not sure I remembered this quite right here)
The trio of ghouls with guns advance up the middle of the street. Firing lines are more limited now that people are fighting in close, but the one with the assult rifle fires a single shot into Belinda which she soaks on her body armour. I think the one with the .223 rifle may have got a shot in on Anthony here too, I know that the protean clawed vampire managed to get a good rip in.
The angel keeps drawing down power behind them. The air is vibrating, tiles are lifting from the roof of the church and catching fire in mid air.
Drawing heavily for aura to heal Anthony keeps fighting. The vampire pinning Belinda down tries to bite into her neck but botches, headbutting the ground. She kicks her way clear and rolls to her feet, pulling out her uzi she sweeps a longburst through the cluster of gangers on her side of the street, spraying blood.
From the middle of the street, the ghoul with the assault rifle replies with a long burst now that Belinda is standing clear. Bullets slam into her, enough damage in one hit to take a human out, but this is just going to make her more malevolent as she draws down aura to heal it.
Anthony dodges a hammer blow but walks into a claw swipe from the protean fledgeling. He soaks it, “You call this damage! Prepair to feel the wrath of the forest!”
The church explodes.
Moments before the power raised by the angel crescendoed. It flickered out of existence, becoming one with the purpose for which it was made manifest. A great force of light smashed down into the desecrated church which caved under the beam. Light and fire and burning rubble exploded out sideways.
Closest to ground zero the shockwave smashed into Anthony, Baldie, and the clawed fledgeling. Anthony stands through the tide of fire, taking three wound levels of damage, which, because of his vampiric taint, is aggravated in nature. Baldie and the clawed vamp are thrown from their feet and badly burned. In the middle of the street the ghoul with the assault rifle goes down, never to rise again, as a fragment of debrie strikes him at a bad angle. On Belinda’s side the vampire and ghouls facing her take less, but still painful, damage. By freak chance however a chunk of flaming rubble flung outwards by the explosion catches Belinda in the side of the head.
She falls. Stone cold dead.
Belinda however is an awakened of the Tree. She has died before and knows it is not the end. She sees clearly now the method to regenerate a corpse by spending essence from the Tree. Alternately she could devour this vessel and start fresh. If she had a second vessel prepared she could even bring it out using Spirit Step to continue the fight unhindered. Calmly Belinda’s conciousness starts sorting fragments to break into essence. The damage to her body is not too bad, just enough to kill her, which means there is also the option for resucitation from the mortal world’s side. That of course will take more aura.
Everyone who survived is left dazed. As an awakened, calling yet more aura Anthony recovers first. He leaves baldie and claws on the ground, staggering through the smoke, green hair flying. There is a ghoul standing over Belinda. Anthony cuts at him, forcing him back as he kneels to lay hands on her corpse, feeding Scent of Life into her head. The wounds close. Belinda’s eyes open. Her short term death has dropped her malevolence, release level, transformations and powers. It also let some of her aura trickle away but she’s up and alive again!
The clawed vampire stumbles to his feet, staggering over to Anthony his uncordinated swing manages to land a surprisingly deep cut. The bald vampire rises, shaking himself like a dog.
“Brothers!” he calls, aparantly to thin air, “Start drinking blood!”
“Kill these pathetic vampires!” Anthony yells to Belinda, pushing through into flow Flow State level of temptation as he heals her some more.
Belinda draws aura to return to full health and raise her release level again. Pumping dexterity as a side effect, she shoots the shadow cloaked vampire at point blank range, dropping him. One of the surviving ghouls breaks and runs back toward the office tower they came out of originally. Now its Belinda and Anthony against the sledge hammer wielder, his clawed fledgeling offsider, and one remaining ghoul ganger.
Anthony cuts out at the clawed vampire. Baldie sprouts a third arm, like some kind of lopsided hindu god. “That’s better!” he yells, smashing a double handed blow into Anthony with his hammer, and fending off Belinda’s gun hand with his extra arm.
A claw attack draws blood from Anthony again. Anthony’s, even with his huge will, is pushing toward Ecstatic Abandon, where he would become more of a danger toward the humans their out to rescue than perhaps the vampires they intend to rescue them from. He tries to hold back the temptation to draw, but this far down the slope its hard. He draws from the Tree to heal again coming closer to the threshold of abandon.
“I’m feeling better than ever!”
Belinda manages more restraint, shooting the ghoul and getting shot in return as the last two gangers (clawed fledgeling and ghoul) break away, running at full tilt up Ann street for the building they came from.
Baldie doesn’t seem to have any intention of leaving. Anthony takes a massive sledge hammer hit to the chest as Baldie grows a fourth arm. He’s now about a foot taller and obviously stronger, and healing. The crimson heart of power within his body does not seem to be dimming as it should be to fuel such transformations. Anthony isn’t daunted, there’s a wild look in his eyes.
“Belinda, Kill those fleeing arseholes!”
“You want me to run after them?” she queries.
“No. Kill them. Think of the energy they will provide to the forest!”
Here we end the session.
Anthony is at Release Level three with two aura. He is a hair’s breath away from Ecstatic Abandon (47 malevolence, 24 instability), has level three vampiric taint and level two werewolf taint. He is moderately injured with full will.
Belinda is at Release Level three with two aura. She is Indulgent (10 malevolence, 6 instability), and has second level vampiric taint. She is moderately wounded and has full will. She also has an awesomely easy to read character sheet (thanks :)
Evan is unreleased. He has third level vampiric taint, minor injuries and a little will depletion.
The Tree is 4 / 40th of its way to growth stage four. It contains one point of raw essence and 74 essence worth of soul fragments.
Thanks for reading :)