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Chapter Four: Nightmares of Days Past

Scene One: The Old Man and the Citadel
mgrasso> To pick up from last time... we'd just experienced, first-hand, the Chrysalises of the commoner fae of the oathcircle.
mgrasso> The Dreaming changed each time, creating a duplicate of all the people and places of each of these vignettes.
mgrasso> But now, we are back on the barren, blackened plain which was part of the werewolf Mairead's spirit quest which led her to protect Ingrid.
mgrasso> And, as we left last time, we heard the sounds of a distant animal galloping somewhere in the mist...
Aranth> (brb, I've got to tuck in my baby bro)
mgrasso> (okay)
mgrasso> (we'll wait for Mandy)
Aranth> (alright, I'm back)
mgrasso> (Okay.)
mgrasso> So, we are standing on the blasted plain and in the distance, a solitary stone tower can be seen on the horizon.
mgrasso> Judging by the occasional intervening dead tree, you estimate it's a mile or so away.
Solangia> (Did we catch sight of where the galloping animal was?)
mgrasso> (I'm done with my exposition :) )
mgrasso> You just heard the distant sound of the animal.
Artemisia> Well that was... interesting.
Kirby> I don't know if I'd go that far...
Kirby> Kind of weird, though.
mgrasso> Mairead shifts to her wolf-form and sniffs the air once more.
Kirby> So where to, Ingrid?
Aranth> so what now?
mgrasso> She then puts some distance between herself and you all, and appears to sniff the air again.
Artemisia> Are we going anywhere else suddenly, I wonder, or should we head for cover?
* Solangia watches Mairead closely
* Kirby follows Mairead, at a small distance.
Artemisia> This open landscape makes me nervous.
Aranth> I'm thinking the greater intent rightnow is to lead us to the tower
mgrasso> Mairead turns her wolf head back to Kirby and growls, "No more fae near."
mgrasso> "Just you four."
Solangia> Five. I'm really two people.
Artemisia> Well? Shall we investigate the tower?
* Solangia curtsies twice to Mairead
Kirby> Well, Art, this is your quest...I tell us where next.
mgrasso> Mairead moves forward, protecting Artemisia as she moves towards the tower.
Artemisia> Let's go, then.
* Kirby follows Artemisia towards the tower.
* Artemisia walks purposefully towards the tower. still holding the sword Douglass gave her.
* Solangia follows them, but hangs back a bit
mgrasso> At this distance, detail on the tower is tough to discern. It appears to be the size of a guard tower that you would normally see in a castle, but no other structure supports it. There is a crenellated top, which is about 30 feet above the ground.
* Aranth wraps his arms around Sol and walks with her.
mgrasso> Artemisia's image of the tower begins to waver. There are mists, again, enveloping both the tower in front of you, and coalescing to the side and rear of the oathcircle.
Kirby> So, any idea what we're here for, Artemisia?
Artemisia> I think we may be about to find out.
Solangia> It's not some sidhe-ly right of passage to slay the commoners she slums with, right?
mgrasso> The galloping is getting louder, but it seems to be slowing.
mgrasso> Slowing to the dull clop clop of a horse's hooves on soil...
* Kirby listens intently.
* Solangia looks for the direction the sound is coming from
mgrasso> You see a man walk from the mists, holding the reins of a snow-white unicorn.
mgrasso> This man is familiar to Aranth, Kirby, and Solangia.
mgrasso> He is the hooded man from the freehold.
mgrasso> "You have come."
Artemisia> Who are you?
mgrasso> The man's face is still obscured from view, from a combination of the mist and the long hood draped over his features.
mgrasso> "Artemisia of the Black Mountain, who I am is not important. Do you know why you are here?" He gestures both to Artemisia and to the rest of you.
Solangia> You want your coins back?
Artemisia> I do not, no.
mgrasso> The figure's old mouth crinkles at the corners in a smile, or at least an approximation of one. "No, pooka. You may keep them. In fact, you will need them."
* Solangia smiles back. "Oh. Thanks!"
mgrasso> The figure turns to Artemisia. "Long ago, I underwent my Fior-Righ. You must undertake this final test, to prove yourself worthy of your liege's and your house's name."
mgrasso> "You have long been a warrior. This time to come will have need of warriors."
mgrasso> "It will also have need of squires, and enemies.... and traitors."
Artemisia> What do you mean by that, old man?
mgrasso> "I mean merely what I say. The future's book is unwritten, to be sure, but there are roles set for all."
* Aranth thinks about a certain traitor he knows.
mgrasso> "Who portrays these roles is yet to be known."
mgrasso> "In fact," the old man smiles again, "you may not know who plays these roles until it is too late."
Artemisia> And now I suppose it is time for me to portray the warrior?
mgrasso> "That tower there," the old man gestures with a free hand, reining the unicorn with his other, "was destroyed in Anno Domini 1423."
mgrasso> "It was put to seige and thence to torch by soldiers, soldiers who did not stop at merely killing those within. They took their souls."
mgrasso> "Before they could leave the world, three sidhe of House Liam lived there. They were protectors of the humans who dwelled here."
mgrasso> "After the invading army had killed the men and boys, they went to the tower to foully violate and kill the women and girls."
mgrasso> "The three Liam sidhe fought valiantly, but even their puissant skill at arms could not fight off over a hundred warriors. Their banality wounded the three sidhe just as surely as their swordpoints."
mgrasso> "And when those three sidhe perished, their mission a failure, they vowed to return to the Waking Realms, someday, to avenge the failure of their dedication."
mgrasso> The old man hands the rein of the unicorn to Artemisia.
* Artemisia takes them in her long slender fingers.
mgrasso> "Go there. Take your oathmates. Fulfill your destiny. You have all seen, today, that you all bear witness to the wonder of Glamour in your hearts and souls. Your blood sings, Seelie and Unseelie alike, with the heritage of the Folk."
Solangia> But I hate folk music.
mgrasso> "Fae will kill fae. Banality will wash over us like a wave. Winter will settle in. Whether that Winter is eternal or not is up to you."
Kirby> I don't get it... I hope there's no test on this stuff. But I have a terrible feeling there will be.
Solangia> Just pick "B" or "C," Kirby. Those are usually the answers...
mgrasso> The old man looks to Artemisia. "Do you understand?"
Aranth> winter isn't eternal anywhere... so that's a comforting thought.
Kirby> But what if it's not multiple choice?
Solangia> What about nuclear winter,Aranth?
Artemisia> What can we do?
Solangia> Ah, those blasted essay questions. Repeat the question. Answer the question once, then three more times. Then digress into the joys of owning a puppy.
mgrasso> "What can you do?" The old man walks over to Solangia. "Your coin, please." He holds out a wizened hand, palm up.
* Solangia pulls it out of the folds of her voile and hands it to him
mgrasso> The old man takes the coin and hands it to Artemisia.
* Solangia crosses her arms
* Artemisia takes it and looks at it lying in her palm.
Solangia> Well. If I knew you were going ot give it to *her*, I wouldn't have handed it over.
mgrasso> "Inside that tower waits fear. The death screams of hundreds have permeated its walls and sent it hurtling into the Dreaming."
mgrasso> "You must all be brave to face what waits within. I must warn you..."
mgrasso> The man is beginning to become insubstantial.
Artemisia> Warn us what? What am I supposed to do with this?
Aranth> quickly obiwan!
mgrasso> "...what happens within may not always seem real... like your experiences with your Chrysalises... friends may become enemies... fear is the key... do not fear...."
Solangia> Is it still etched with my portrait, Art?
mgrasso> The man fades into the mists.
mgrasso> The unicorn, however, is still here.

Scene Two: Before the Tower
Artemisia> Well, what a halpful old man he was.
Solangia> Sexy, too. Did you see his nosehairs?
Artemisia> He did leave me this unicorn though, so it's not all bad.
Kirby> I still don't get it. As long as avoiding total confusion is *not* the key, I think I'm all set, though.
Solangia> I thought my knees were going to give out from lust.
* Artemisia smiles and looks over the animal.
Aranth> I think he was probably somekind of helpful- the enigmatic jedi master kind.
* Kirby approaches the unicorn, slowly.
Solangia> Well, that's all well and good for you, trekkie, but what about the rest of us?
* Solangia sticks her tongue out at Aranth for good measure
mgrasso> The unicorn is as big as a draft horse... mighty and muscled, it's a white stallion.
* Aranth flicks her ear
Solangia> (who looked under it to find out, mike? :) )
mgrasso> It wears blue regalia, including an oriflamme pennant with a silver oak tree on a blue field.
* Artemisia runs her hand over its velvety nose.
* Solangia nips Aranth's finger
mgrasso> There is a polished black saddle. The animal seems to be placid, but it's definitely a war mount.
mgrasso> It nuzzles Artemisia's hand and almost seems to bow to her.
Aranth> geeze, art- he loves you! is there something you haven't told us... ?
* Artemisia does the slightest curtsey back.
Kirby> Are you going to get on, or what?
Kirby> You do know how to ride, right?
Solangia> How short your memory is, Aranth, mi cielo. Don't you remember Sir Art's portrait?
Artemisia> Just that I've always wanted to see a unicorn. Maybe he knew that.
Solangia> So? I've always wanted to see Kirby make out with Aranth. No one showed me that.
* Artemisia walks over to the saddle and puts her foot in the stirrup.
Solangia> I think it's just coincidence, if you ask me.
Kirby> That costs extra, Sol...
Artemisia> What the..?
* Artemisia takes the medallion out of her pocket.
Solangia> I'll pay you when we're out of here, Kirby. I'm broke. Art stole my coin.
Aranth> um, no.
Artemisia> I think your coin is defective, Sol. It's buzzing.
Solangia> No, that's what it's supposed to do.
Kirby> Geez. With whatsisname gone, I figured I'd have a chance with Aranth.
Solangia> I was enjoying it the entire time.
Artemisia> Wait, look at this! It has something carved into it now...
Solangia> Just slip it in your front pocket there...
Kirby> What is it?
* Kirby stands on his toes and tries to see the coin.
Artemisia> This side looks like a jester's cap, and the other a dark rose.
* Artemisia holds it so Kirby can see.
Solangia> What does that mean?
mgrasso> Kirby looks at the coin and sees nothing. In fact, Artemisia, on second glance, there's nothing carved into this coin.
Artemisia> Hey!
Artemisia> That was weird.
Solangia> What do these goofy symbols mean? I think Kirby's has a bug on it. And Aranth? What did yours have? A bear trap?
Kirby> !dice 6 8
* DiceWell Kirby rolls 6d10 at difficulty 8. S/He gets 2 successes.
* DiceWell 1 10 4 9 9 4
Artemisia> Where did you get them?
Aranth> Did anyone see were Miread went?
Artemisia> She's gone?
* Artemisia suddenly realizes she hasn't seen her in some time.
mgrasso> Mairead is, indeed, gone.
Solangia> From Mr Nosehairs MacMysterious .
* Kirby pulls out his coin and looks at it.
* Kirby pockets it again.
mgrasso> She is nowhere to be seen, and since the mists have gone, visibility is back over a mile.
Kirby> Weird...
Aranth> maybe the unicorn made her hungry
* Solangia checks on Cupid, who's nestled in one of the pockets of her voile
Kirby> Do we wait or just let her catch up?
mgrasso> Cupid yawns a nice cute little yawn and snuggles back in with Solangia.
* Solangia talks to him a bit
Artemisia> I think we should go on to the tower. She'll find us.
Aranth> catch up? we haven't gone anywhere! are we shure she's okay?
Kirby> OK. Let's go then, I'm getting hungry.
* Solangia tucks Cupid back in
Solangia> Yeah, let's get this over with.
Artemisia> I guess the other question is, are we sure she's not? I know I wouldn't cross her.
Kirby> I can't wait for the fear. "The detah screams of hundereds"...sounds pleasant.

Scene Three: The Signs of Slaughter
mgrasso> There's a wind picking up now; at first, imperceptible, but definitely getting stronger. The wind is at your back, and it's knife-cold.
* Artemisia shivers.
Artemisia> I think something else wants us to go to the tower too.
Solangia> Well, Cupid said she was in the tower, so let's go there. Yeah... With the death and the screaming and the splutted Liams.
Aranth> well, that's the other thing- do we want to face the death screams of hundereds with out her?
Kirby> I hope you're planning on buying the first round when we get back, Artemisia. This Fior-Righ thing kind of sucks ass at this point...
* Artemisia walks over to the unicorn and again puts her foot in the stirrup.
Kirby> Cupid said who was in the tower?
Solangia> The furball..
Aranth> how does he know, he's been napping in your bag?
* Artemisia laughs as she mounts the beast, "Senor Rudy's, on me tonight."
Kirby> So she went on ahead without us?
Kirby> I hope Senor Rudy's has something warm to drink.
Solangia> Cupid knows many things.
mgrasso> Are we making our way to the tower?
Solangia> Where the best places to nap are. Where I last left my underwear...
* Aranth "saalams" cupid.
* Artemisia gently presses her heels into the unicorn's side, and it moves towards the tower.
Kirby> Wow, if he's able to keep track of all the places in this world that you've left underwear behind...that's quite a memory.
Solangia> Cupid pokes his head out and bats one of his little paws at Aranth
Solangia> You act as though I even wear underwear all that often.
* Kirby follows by the side of the unicorn.
Kirby> So, what do you make of what the old dude said, Art?
mgrasso> You all begin walking and riding towards the lonely tower. The sky's mists are breaking now, and you can see blue sky emerging. The ground turns from its usual stark black to a dull brown.
* Solangia follows behind Kirby
Artemisia> Well, my friend, I think I'm about to be tested. In fact, I think we're all going to get in on the fun.
Kirby> Fun?
mgrasso> There is a new smell beyond the death you smelled before... a smell of smoke.
Artemisia> I'm being facetious.
Kirby> Are you sure this isn't dangerous?
mgrasso> Underneath that smoke, the smell of something cooking.
Artemisia> No, I'm not sure at all. But remember, Obi-Wan said not to be afraid.
mgrasso> It's a deep and rich smell, one with many subtleties.
mgrasso> But not exactly appetizing, either.
* Solangia inhales deeply, then slowly exhales
Kirby> MMmmmm...smelss like one of a hundred bad restaurants I've been to.
Kirby> !dice 5 8
* DiceWell Kirby rolls 5d10 at difficulty 8. S/He fails the roll!
* DiceWell 5 5 3 6 6
Solangia> No... it's more like...
mgrasso> The tower is only a half-mile away now.
Aranth> do I begin having racial consiousness memories of the holocaust?
mgrasso> There is a plume of smoke billowing from the top.
Solangia> Like a cross between Art's perfume and chicken mcnuggets.
mgrasso> You can see that the front drawbridge door which leads inside is gone.
Kirby> What the?
mgrasso> Whether smashed, burned, or somehow removed, it is not present.
* Artemisia frowns.
Solangia> (there's not a moat or anything, is there? any crossing we'd really need the drawbridge for?)
mgrasso> At a distance of 500 feet, you can see bodies scattered to and fro around the tower. Many appear to be armored and some have pikes and axes sticking out of them.
mgrasso> (No moat.)
mgrasso> (It just has a large entry-door.)
Solangia> (okay... just making sure :) )
mgrasso> (brb, drink break. talk IC amongst yourselves)
Aranth> holy furking shit
Kirby> OK. This is starting to get creepy. I mean, look at that.
* Kirby points to an impaled armored figure.
Kirby> That has to feel *well* below average.
Artemisia> This is horrible. Who are these people?
mgrasso> Are you all continuing towards the tower?
Artemisia> Yes.
Kirby> You know... not to be gruesome or anything, but if anyone feels like they need a pike or an axe before we enter that castle, now's probably the best opportunity to get yourself one.
Aranth> I think maybe we should stop and asses the situation
Aranth> before carging in blindly
Artemisia> All right, Aranth. That's probably a good idea.
Aranth> I mean here we are surrounded by carnage and death
* Solangia rubs her eyes
Aranth> and we're like- let's keep going! huzzah!
Kirby> Well, the old dude said that fear was our main enemy here.
Solangia> Speak for yoruself. I'm at my aunt's house by the ocean. No dead people. Paulo bringing me drinks. Yes. No gore. Just pina coladas.
Kirby> So, how do you read the situation Aranth?
Aranth> not fear- caution,
Aranth> well, what do we know- this battle happened long ago
Aranth> miraed said something about the battle grounds of her people or something
Kirby> Do you see any of "her people" around?
Kirby> Living or dead?
Aranth> well, she said it was where all the battles ever were relived
Aranth> and no, no puppies.
Aranth> that I see
mgrasso> The bodies in front of you appear human to all of your eyes.
Artemisia> These would have been the humans who died with the Liam sidhe.
Artemisia> It follows the old man's story.
mgrasso> The sky is now completely clear. All evidence of the Mists is gone.
Aranth> exactly, now do we know if the sidhe are dead yet- or are you supposed to be them reincarnate Art?
Kirby> Well, to figure out the best course of action, we would have to know what the hell we're doing here. And I still don't know.
Artemisia> I don't know, Aranth. I don't feel like anyone other than me.
Kirby> All I know is that we're here for some kind of test. And it seems that the test is thataway....
Aranth> we are doing some good old fashion "avenging" but we don't know what we're fighting.
Artemisia> We're here formy Fior-Righ, I think. Whatever that really is.
Artemisia> Well, whatever we're fighting killed human and sidhe alike.
Solangia> !dice 5 10
* DiceWell Solangia rolls 5d10 at difficulty 10. S/He botches the roll.
* DiceWell 9 1 1 10 5
Kirby> I don't know Douglass as well as you all do. Would he have sent us here with a smile and a wave if we were in serious danger?
mgrasso> You all can clearly see and hear Solangia tromping off towards the tower.
Kirby> You'd better put a leash on your kittie there, dude...
* Kirby points at Solangia,
* Aranth chases after her quickly
mgrasso> Kirby? Artemisia?
Aranth> sol? where you going?
Solangia> Where do you think?
* Artemisia kicks her mount after the two.
Kirby> So, Art, really... would they have sent us in here if there were real danger of permanent harm?
Aranth> why? we don't know what's in there?
Solangia> Isn't that the point?
Kirby> aw, crap...
Artemisia> ...and stops after a few feet.
* Kirby follows.
Aranth> we don't know our enemy!
* Solangia doesn't stop to answer Aranth, she keeps heading towards the entrance and stops just short of it
Kirby> I thought our enemy was fear.
* Aranth grabs her wrist
Solangia> I'm your enemy, mensito.
Aranth> and the dark side, I know I know Kirby.
Artemisia> I thought so too, Kirby, but I don't know.
* Solangia doesn't try to pull out of Aranth's hand, but she does try to crane her neck to look inside
* Artemisia heads over to where Sol and Aranth are.
Aranth> what's that supposed to mean sol?
* Kirby follows.
mgrasso> You are in the midst of the dead bodies now. There are dozens of them, all men, most young, all with fearful death rictuses on their faces.
Solangia> Give me a kiss and I'll tell you.
Solangia> !dice 7 8
* DiceWell Solangia rolls 7d10 at difficulty 8. S/He gets 3 successes.
* DiceWell 9 10 4 7 5 8 5
Artemisia> Wait! Don't do it.
Artemisia> Something's wrong with her.
Solangia> With who?
* Aranth kisses her cheek.
Solangia> Thank you.
* Solangia whispers something in Aranth's ear
* Artemisia watches this exchange closely.
Artemisia> !dice 6 7
* DiceWell Artemisia rolls 6d10 at difficulty 7. S/He gets 4 successes.
* DiceWell 10 3 5 7 10 9

Scene Four: 1429/1997
mgrasso> The four of you and Artemisia's steed are all in front of the tower.
* Kirby looks up and down the tower.
Artemisia> Did you see anything inside, Sol?
mgrasso> The stone tower only has one entrance: the large archway in front of you. There has to be some sort of opening on their tower's top, though, since smoke is still pouring out.
Solangia> Our future.
Kirby> !dice 5 8
* DiceWell Kirby rolls 5d10 at difficulty 8. S/He gets 1 success.
* DiceWell 2 7 5 9 5
* Artemisia dismounts and walks closer to the door.
mgrasso> Artemisia peers inside. Per + Alertness, diff. 6.
Artemisia> !dice 6 6
* DiceWell Artemisia rolls 6d10 at difficulty 6. S/He gets 4 successes.
* DiceWell 3 10 9 9 3 8
mgrasso> Artemisia can see piles of bodies inside the tower.
Solangia> !dice 2 8
* DiceWell Solangia rolls 2d10 at difficulty 8. S/He botches the roll.
* DiceWell 3 1
mgrasso> To get any more detail, however, you'll need to go inside.
Kirby> Let's just get this over.
* Artemisia shakes her head quickly, as if to clear the image she sees.
* Kirby walks up behind Art. "What is it?"
Artemisia> It's just piles of more dead bodies. I wonder if I'm supposed to take this unicorn in there.
Kirby> Does the unicorn want to go?
mgrasso> The unicorn appears to not be afraid to go
* Artemisia strokes the animal's neck.
Kirby> Well if it's just more dead bodies, let's go. unless someone has a better idea.
Artemisia> All right, let's go then. And get this all over with.
mgrasso> You all going inside?
* Kirby pats everyone on the back. "Let's all go"
* Artemisia enters first, unicorn in tow.
* Kirby follows Art.
mgrasso> There is only a feeble amount of light inside the tower. But it's enough to illuminate the carnage before you. Girls and women... dozens upon dozens... slaughtered and dumped in piles. In the center of the round tower are three females, all in 15th-century plate mail, their swords snapped in two near them, their shields befouled with blood and entrails. Underneath this desecration, you can see the blue field and oak tree argent.
* Solangia follows Kirby
Artemisia> Oh my.. god.
* Aranth follows close behind sol.
* Solangia immediately stops and turns around as soon as she catches sight of what's inside
mgrasso> There's one more detail here: a strange, anachronistic detail. There is a metallic door against the back wall of the tower. It has what appears to be a keypad and security ID card slide next to it.
Kirby> Well, I guess *eating* at Senor Rudy's is out...
Artemisia> I'm up for a drink, though. Lots of them.
mgrasso> Willpower rolls, all, diff. 6.
Aranth> but not drinking, just me and my friend jose
Kirby> Aranth? Care to check out that keypad?
Kirby> ! dice
Artemisia> !dice 4 6
* DiceWell Artemisia rolls 4d10 at difficulty 6. S/He gets 2 successes.
* DiceWell 8 8 2 5
Solangia> !dice 2 6
* DiceWell Solangia rolls 2d10 at difficulty 6. S/He gets 1 success.
Aranth> !dice 3 6
* DiceWell 3 6
* DiceWell Aranth rolls 3d10 at difficulty 6. S/He fails the roll!
* DiceWell 3 2 4
Kirby> !dice 8 6
* DiceWell Kirby rolls 8d10 at difficulty 6. S/He gets 6 successes.
* DiceWell 10 3 6 7 7 3 7 9
mgrasso> All right.
mgrasso> (Who's doing what?)
Kirby> Aranth?
Aranth> s-sounds fine.
* Aranth heads over to the key pad
* Solangia follows close behind Aranth
* Artemisia looks at anything other than the bodies.
mgrasso> Okay Aranth, Intelligence + Crafts, diff. 6.
* Kirby walks a circle around the entire room and ends up next to Aranth.
mgrasso> You cannot use WP on this roll.
Aranth> !dice 5 6
* DiceWell Aranth rolls 5d10 at difficulty 6. S/He gets 3 successes.
* DiceWell 9 2 10 6 2
mgrasso> Aranth prods the face off of the keypad and fiddles with a few wires.
mgrasso> With a near-silent hiss, the metal door slides open from right to left.
Aranth> alright!
Artemisia> (does it make a Star Trak sound?)
mgrasso> Beyond, you can see a gleaming metal room illuminated with fluorescent light. Perception + Kenning, diff. 10. Aranth, no WP.
Kirby> !dice 7 10
* DiceWell Kirby rolls 7d10 at difficulty 10. S/He botches the roll.
* DiceWell 2 5 1 4 9 9 5
Artemisia> !dice 6 10
* DiceWell Artemisia rolls 6d10 at difficulty 10. S/He fails the roll!
* DiceWell 6 8 4 4 2 2
Solangia> !dice 6 10
* DiceWell Solangia rolls 6d10 at difficulty 10. S/He fails the roll!
* DiceWell 5 4 4 9 7 4
Aranth> !dice 6 10
* DiceWell Aranth rolls 6d10 at difficulty 10. S/He gets 1 success.
* DiceWell 6 7 8 5 10 3
Aranth> (does my chimera specialty apply?)
mgrasso> Yes.
Aranth> !dice 1 10
* DiceWell Aranth rolls 1d10 at difficulty 10. S/He fails the roll!
* DiceWell 9
mgrasso> Are we going through to this well-lit metal room?
Kirby> What is it?
mgrasso> Do you want to look?
* Aranth shakes his head all crazy like
Artemisia> I'd like to look.
Aranth> I thought I saw the free hold for a minute there...
* Kirby looks through the door without going in.
mgrasso> Beyond the charnel house of the tower is a modern, gleaming metal laboratory. Cages line the far wall; it appears to be a biotech lab. There are a few scientists working here, and one is standing near a large metal examination table, which looks like it was built for a large animal of some sort.
mgrasso> The lab is probably about 100 feet wide and 50 feet deep.
mgrasso> You are too far from the cages to see what animals lie in the cages.
* Artemisia stares into the brightly lit room, motionless.
Kirby> Oh, dude. This is *so* wrong.
Artemisia> !dice 4 7
* DiceWell Artemisia rolls 4d10 at difficulty 7. S/He fails the roll!
* DiceWell 4 4 3 6
Solangia> No, this is *so* LIvia's basement.
* Kirby walks into the room and towards the cages.
Aranth> I still thought I saw the freehold for a second.
mgrasso> Kirby walks into the lab. None of the scientists seem to notice him.
mgrasso> Kirby can see closer now. The larger cages in the back... they have humans in them. Most appear to be unconscious and are crumpled in the fetal position.
* Artemisia suddenly runs into the lab, shouting "NOOOOO!"
Kirby> This is *so* freaking wrong...
* Kirby reaches for the lock and tries to open one of the cages.
mgrasso> Artemisia's unicorn nearly knocks over Solangia and Aranth as it follows her in.
mgrasso> Again, none of the scientists notice her yelling and running across the lab.
mgrasso> BOOM! BOOM! Two explosions from outside the lab, and the scientists noticed THAT.
* Kirby is still trying to open the cages.
mgrasso> The front door of the lab, off to Kirby and Artemisia's left, explodes inward. Stamina rolls, you two.
mgrasso> Solangia? Aranth? What are you doing? While you consider, another WP roll each, diff. 7.
mgrasso> Diff. 6 on the Stm.
Artemisia> diff.?
Artemisia> !dice 2 6
* DiceWell Artemisia rolls 2d10 at difficulty 6. S/He gets 1 success.
* DiceWell 7 4
Aranth> !dice 3 7
* DiceWell Aranth rolls 3d10 at difficulty 7. S/He botches the roll.
* DiceWell 1 4 4
Kirby> !dice 2 6
* DiceWell Kirby rolls 2d10 at difficulty 6. S/He gets 1 success.
* DiceWell 10 5
Solangia> !dice 2 7
* DiceWell Solangia rolls 2d10 at difficulty 7. S/He gets 2 successes.
* DiceWell 10 8
Aranth> noooooooooooooo
Aranth> ooooooooo
mgrasso> Artemisia and Kirby are tossed to the floor like rag dolls. Each of you take three levels of chimerical damage.
mgrasso> Solangia, you can feel something hovering near Aranth.
Solangia> I'm looking around... Can I see it?
* Kirby picks himself up... "Shit."
* Kirby tries to reach Artemisia.
* Artemisia jumps up, clearly rushing with adrenaline.
mgrasso> Aranth and Solangia, both still standing in the tower, notice a black shapeless mass floating towards them from the roof of the tower. It seems to be made of coalesced smoke, but it takes the shape of a winged beast.
mgrasso> It plucks Aranth off of the ground and envelops him. Glamour roll, Aranth, diff. 8.
Aranth> !dice 4 8
* DiceWell Aranth rolls 4d10 at difficulty 8. S/He gets 2 successes.
* DiceWell 8 5 8 6
mgrasso> Through the open door of the lab come four werewolves in monstrous forms. One of them is clearly Mairead. She clutches a rather large automatic rifle and is firing indiscriminately into the laboratory employees and security.
mgrasso> I need everyone to give me Wits + Alertness rolls, diff. 4.
Artemisia> !dice 5 4
* DiceWell Artemisia rolls 5d10 at difficulty 4. S/He gets 5 successes.
* DiceWell 6 4 6 7 10
Solangia> !dice 6
Solangia> !dice 6 4
* DiceWell Solangia rolls 6d10 at difficulty 4. S/He gets 4 successes.
* DiceWell 7 9 6 6 10 1
Kirby> !dice 4 4
* DiceWell Kirby rolls 4d10 at difficulty 4. S/He gets 1 success.
* DiceWell 7 1 3 6
mgrasso> Aranth? You too.
Aranth> !dice 5 4
* DiceWell Aranth rolls 5d10 at difficulty 4. S/He gets 4 successes.
* DiceWell 8 4 3 6 6
mgrasso> Kirby? What's your action?
* Kirby tries to dive under a table.
mgrasso> Solangia and Aranth in the other room? The bird-like shadow creature is flying away with Aranth.
Solangia> I'm pulling my chimerical dagger out and chasing after the creature.
Aranth> how is it holding me?
mgrasso> Artemisia, you have been here before. You know exactly what is going to happen.
mgrasso> In its talons.
mgrasso> In fact, you begin to walk to the area of the lab where the cages are located.
Aranth> by where? the shoulders? the waist?
mgrasso> You are enveloped in darkness. You aren't being restrained, per se.
* Kirby watches Artemisia with interest.
Aranth> I'm going to slash the darkness with my chimerical short sword.
mgrasso> Okay, go for it.
mgrasso> Wp check first, though.
mgrasso> Diff. 6.
mgrasso> Then a Dex + Melee roll, diff of the weapon.
Aranth> !dice 3 6
* DiceWell Aranth rolls 3d10 at difficulty 6. S/He gets 1 success.
* DiceWell 3 10 4
mgrasso> Cool. You may attack now.
Aranth> do you know the difficulty of the weapon?
mgrasso> I think it's 5, I'll have to check, though.
mgrasso> 6.
mgrasso> Solangia, what are you going to do?
mgrasso> The darkness is clutching Aranth about ten feet off the ground.
Aranth> !dice 5 6
* DiceWell Aranth rolls 5d10 at difficulty 6. S/He gets 3 successes.
* DiceWell 1 9 8 7 6
* Aranth shouts "die darkness scum!"
mgrasso> Damage! Str + 1, diff. 6
Aranth> !dice 2 6
* DiceWell Aranth rolls 2d10 at difficulty 6. S/He gets 1 success.
* DiceWell 9 5
Solangia> Well, there's no way I can reach it, so I'm going to futilely wave my dagger about and order it to release Aranth.
Solangia> And by "wave my dagger," I mean "chuck it at him."
Solangia> Creature. Not Aranth.
Solangia> Although Aranth's probably an easier target -- er, I mean... ::coughs::
mgrasso> All right. Inside, the werewolves are fighting a gun and claw battle with both security guards and some strange bio-engineered mutoid which oozes out to attack the wolves. Mairead, putting down fire everywhere with her rifle, makes her way to the cages and begins to release humans.
Aranth> i know I know, the broad side of a barn has a better ac than me.
mgrasso> Aranth and Solangia: now that Aranth has ceased to show and feel fear, the shadow creature sifts away into the walls of the tower.
Solangia> I better sheath that dagger before he lands on it, then... :)

Scene Five: The Shaper
mgrasso> But at the very same time, the walls of the tower are starting to... melt away. You can see, from the laboratory, which also is melting away, an old man in green robes, who laughs at Kirby, who stands before him, and Artemisia, who is on the ground in the fetal position.
mgrasso> The whole scene begins to swirl around you and reform.
Aranth> furking shit.
* Kirby tries to check on Artemisia.
mgrasso> Bits and pieces of the towers, the lab, and the outside all combine in a dizzying and disorienting display.
mgrasso> When your senses return, you are in what appears to be a red brick basement. A single, sickly yellow light bulb shines from the ceiling.
mgrasso> Against the wall, on an old mildewing plank of wood, is Mairead. She has been crucified to the wall with silver spikes.
mgrasso> She appears to be dead.
* Artemisia moans as she sits up, trying to figure out where she is.
Solangia> Oh, Jesus.
* Aranth grabs for Sols hand
* Solangia looks down and sighs heavily
mgrasso> There is a note pinned to her fur with a silver pin, its shiny head sticking out of her flesh.
* Kirby approaches and takes the note, gently from the pin.
mgrasso> As soon as Kirby does, Mairead's eyes and mouth fly open. She screams. And screams. And screams.
Aranth> what does it say?
* Artemisia finally sees the horror on the wall, hears the screams, and gets to her feet.
mgrasso> Aranth's words are covered up by Mairead's continuous screaming.
Aranth> oh holy fucking shit
* Kirby puts it back - quickly.
* Artemisia yells at Mairead, "Shut UP!"
mgrasso> Mairead winces as the pin enters her flesh again.
mgrasso> Mairead stops, and looks at herself. "Oh sweet Jesus, help me. Oh God. Do something!"
Solangia> You bitch! Can't you see she's suffering? And you tell her to shut up?
* Aranth rushes to the wall
Aranth> kirby, help me get her off
Aranth> !
Artemisia> Don't be afraid, just don't be afraid.
* Kirby helps Aranth pull at one of the spikes.
mgrasso> Artemisia seems herself again.
* Artemisia says this over and over, as if to convince herself.
Kirby> Will someone please tell me what the HELL we're supposed to do here?
mgrasso> Kirby and Aranth pull a bloody silver spike from Mairead's right hand.
Artemisia> Yes, we need to get her down.
mgrasso> Kirby, Aranth, Int + Kenning, diff. 6.
Kirby> !dice 7 6
* DiceWell Kirby rolls 7d10 at difficulty 6. S/He gets 3 successes.
* DiceWell 7 9 10 5 5 1 7
Aranth> !dice 7 6
* DiceWell Aranth rolls 7d10 at difficulty 6. S/He gets 5 successes.
* DiceWell 3 8 9 7 7 2 10
* Artemisia pulls at the spikes, saying to Mairead, "It'll be okay. It really will."
mgrasso> These are chimerical wounds which Mairead has suffered.
mgrasso> But they are silver. Which are like cold iron is to the fae.
* Kirby pulls at another spike.
mgrasso> Kirby takes care of Mairead's feet; Artemisia, her left hand.
* Aranth pulls out another too
mgrasso> Finally, Solangia takes the silver-pinned note out of her chest.
mgrasso> Mairead falls to the ground, whimpering.
* Artemisia leans over and kisses Mairead on the cheek.
* Solangia reads the note
Aranth> how are her wounds?
* Kirby tries to tend to Mairead.
mgrasso> Aloud?
mgrasso> Aranth: serious.
Solangia> Yes
* Kirby examines her wounds.
* Aranth inspects her wounds
mgrasso> Chimerical-life threatening.
* Aranth starts tearing off pieces of clothing to bind them.
Artemisia> Let's get her on the unicorn and out of here. This is no place to get better.
Artemisia> After first aid, of course.
mgrasso> Solangia begins, "My congratulations are first in order, Artemisia. Or must I say now, Dame Artemisia."
mgrasso> "When I heard that the good noble hearts of the freehold had planned your Saining on the eve of Yuletide, well, I couldn't help but chuckle."
mgrasso> "The investiture of a new warrior, on the darkest eve of the year! Those Seelie do so love their symbolism."
mgrasso> "But as you can imagine, I couldn't let your Fior-Righ go by without a little suffering. I hope your friends enjoyed seeing the true face of their noble sidhe Dame."
mgrasso> "And the Garou... what an incredible find! I doubt she'll want to stay by your side after what I did to her. Still, good help is hard to find, as you are sure to remember from our last meeting."
* Artemisia frowns at Solangia.
* Aranth ghasps
mgrasso> "The present war is keeping me busy. The Kingdom of Grass is so very close to faltering. Queen Mary Elizabeth... so complacent."
* Solangia pauses in her reading -- "Yeah, keep looking at me like that, Art. This is *all* my doing."
mgrasso> "So you see, you and your oathcircle had a little detour in your Fior-righ. All that Sharon... (and oh, what a delectable one that Sharon is, eh?) and Rogelio had planned was a little oathcircle bonding, and facing your past lives. *I* gave you the crucible by which you four shall be forged. Rogleio should be glad of it."
mgrasso> "But alas, I must leave this shaping I have undertaken and return to Arizona. So much awaits me there. In the future, we will meet outside of the Duchy of the Firebird. Be wary. Always."
mgrasso> "Yours in peace and war, 'Merlin.'"
* Aranth pounds his fist on the wall- that furking bastard!
* Solangia raises an eyebrow at Artemisia
* Artemisia makes an odd growling sound.
Solangia> The only thing I find more charming than you are your ex-lovers, Art.
mgrasso> Then you all realize (except Kirby) this is the same basement in which you found the little boy, his horse demon chimera, and Emil, eviscerated.
Kirby> I still don't get it...
Kirby> Who's Merlin? The one from King Arthur?
Aranth> oh man, Kirby it's a long story.
Artemisia> Our old archenemy. Lovely to make his acquaintance again.
* Artemisia drips sarcasm.
mgrasso> There's one door out.
Solangia> Would anyone like this little souvenier?
Kirby> Wait a minute. You guys didn't tell me you had an "archenemy"...
* Solangia waves the letter around
Aranth> I would.
mgrasso> Mairead is in rough shape. She'll need to be carried.
Aranth> this is familiar.
* Solangia gives it to Aranth
Artemisia> Can I put Mairead on the unicorn?
mgrasso> Yes, you may.
* Kirby grabs Maireads legs and help lift.
Aranth> last time we were here, we were carying the near dead Emil and the little boy up the stairs
Aranth> what form is she in?
mgrasso> There's no stairs this time.
mgrasso> She's in huge form. It'll take all four of you to lift her.
Aranth> is she consious? can she shift?
mgrasso> No.
mgrasso> She is conscious, but she cannot seemingly do anything.
mgrasso> As I said, there is merely one door here.
Artemisia> I hope she doesn't smush the unicorn.
Kirby> Let's get the hell out of here. *Someone* owes me a drink - big time.
Aranth> alright!
Artemisia> Looks like that door is our way out.
mgrasso> The unicorn's proud bearing allows him to bear Mairead's weight.
* Artemisia kisses the unicorn on his soft nose.
* Kirby prods his injured arm.

Scene Six: A Sidhe's Return
mgrasso> As you open the door to exit, you can see the great hall of the freehold. All of the sidhe are gathered near the door with drinks in their hands as you emerge. Their initial smiles turn to looks of concern, as they see Mairead and the rest of you exit the basement.
Kirby> Still. it's not as bad as being shot that one time...
mgrasso> Count Rogelio, his noble bearing faltering, says, "What... what happened?"
mgrasso> Lady Sharon rushes to Artemisia. "Are you all right?"
Kirby> Well, Count. That really sucked ass...
Artemisia> We had a bit of a detour, My Lord. But we are here, and mostly in one piece each.
mgrasso> Douglass takes the unicorn and inspects Mairead. "She's wounded chimerically. Fetch a healer."
mgrasso> Douglass turns to Artemisia. "What happened? How were you hurt?"
Kirby> Can someone get me a drink, here? Please?
Artemisia> Yes, please take care of my friends here.
* Aranth fairly growels- Merlin
* Kirby walks off trying to find a drink.
mgrasso> "The Fior-righ... we saw you coming back through the doorway, but you seemed to disappear. Did you find your former life?" Douglass says.
Kirby> Jesus Christ, a guy does a little jig and everyone's all paying attention. Walk in the door beat to hell and you can't get anyone to fetch a drink. What hospitality.
* Kirby scoops up two glasses of the nearest drinks he can find and returns, offering one to Aranth.
Aranth> thank you my good man
mgrasso> "Wait," the count says, looking at Aranth. "Who's Merlin?"
Artemisia> I think I asked for someone to take care of my friends. Is that too much to ask?
Kirby> I can't promise there's alcohol in it, but we can always hope.
Solangia> That you even *had* to ask is too much.
mgrasso> "Of course." Douglass lets two healers take care of Mairead's chimerical wounds.
Artemisia> We would all like some wine. Some very good wine.
* Kirby reaches into his bag and pulls out a cigarette, lighting it in one smooth motion.
mgrasso> (By the way, you all seem to remember what happened in the Dreaming, unusually enough, this time)
Aranth> well, you see- there was this rash of rhapsodying and it was this sater and this eshu but merlin who kidnapped the son and vivisected emil was behind it all and he knows who and where our dreamers are and he ruined our little bonding retreat.
* Artemisia turns to the Count.
Kirby> Anyone else?
* Kirby offers the pack around.
Solangia> What brand?
Kirby> Camel Light. What else?
Solangia> Ugh. No thanks.
mgrasso> Count Rogelio says, "I remember well the trial of the perpetrators of Rhapsody. This is their master, then? He diverted your Fior-Righ, Lady Artemisia?"
Solangia> I only smoke Rev Slim 100s.
* Aranth pulls out a little white asprin tube, and pops three pills that really don't look like asprin.
Aranth> no I'm good.
Kirby> I figured it would be your brand...if you look close, you can see this little dude with an erection on the camel...
Artemisia> Sir, our seemingly pleasant trip through our past lives turned out to have been tampered with nby an old enemy of ours, Merlin.
Artemisia> It is him, yes.
Solangia> Headache, Aranth?
Kirby> Does someone still have the freaking *letter* he wrote? That would explain everything better than any of us, I think.
mgrasso> "Well, come." Count Rogelio says, as he ushers you all from the great hall to the chambers beyond. "You must stay and heal. And we must hear of this, Artemisia."
mgrasso> And that's it for tonight!
Kirby> (Yay!)
mgrasso> And for this story!
Aranth> (rock!)
Artemisia> That was really cool. :)
mgrasso> Next time.... changelings in L.A.!