Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Ramanuja might have been watching pigeons the entire time. "We are thinking of going to London," he said softly. He wore a hospital gown. He was sitting up in bed with his hands cupped together lightly on his blanketed lap. Dehydration quenched, he appeared more energetic and fully alive. Almost absently, he asked a question. "Did something happen?"


Monsieur Henri DuMonde said...

Henri glanced over at Jones, as if looking for permission to speak. The man's bruised, impassive face told him nothing. He shrugged extravagantly.

"Oui, Monsieur Swami," he said. He wrung his gloves in his hands, ruining the yellow kid with creases. "A man asked for the vial, the substance. When we gave it not, he sent for un horreur, something we could not see."

He glanced at Jones again then turned back to Ramanuja.

"Do you know what this thing was, monsieur? Can you tell us how to protect against it?"

Thelonius Jones said...

The reporter quietly listened, waiting for Ramanjula to reply to Henri's question.

da solomon said...

Ramanuja smiled warmly at Henri and Thelonius. "Then you must have met our foe." He looked over the two men before continuing, "and we see that he is quite dangerous. Then the matter is decided! I am certainly leaving!" He had gained enough of his weight back that his nominal jowls shook with his declaration.

"For now, I have nothing for you except what I have already supplied. If you seek knowledge and protections, my pupil – why, we have given you the very key to knowledge more vast than you have ever dreamed! You have only to is’tep through the gate.

"Or," he conceded, "if you are not ready for the experience yet again, then you shall practice extracting the mirror. The mantra is in our notes. Once you have extracted it, you must experiment with it. The process is slow and difficult, but there are many is’piritual techniques that you can accomplish with it, such as is’crying.

"When - if," he corrected, "I return from England, I will bring for you a bit of a powder that one of my masters has made. It is called after a Mohammedean teacher, Ibn-Ghaza, and it will render the invisible visible, though there might be no advantage in being able to see such a demon." He shrugged and replaced his hands to his lap. "Did he call it before you? Did it have a name?"

"It did. Rashfal."

The swami lowered his eyes and dabbled his fingertips together. "I don’t know Rashfal. There are many is’pirits and demons. They are unsafe for everybody, including the one responsible for inviting them into our locus."

Monsieur Henri DuMonde said...

For a moment anger surged in Henri, bubbling up from somewhere in rebellion of the fear and pain of the night before.

"But what are we to do, Monsieur Swami?" he felt his voice rising, but could not stop it. "You say go to that place, but what do I do when I am there? Who am I fighting and what do I need to know? What must I look for?"

Then the anger fell away, leaving Henri feel hollow and cold.

"I did not like that place," he added quietly and shivered.

Thelonius Jones said...

Thelonius waited until Henri quieted down before asking the Swami, "We need to know why this is happening. Who is this man, and what is his agenda? Personal wealth? Power? We must know."

He paused, watching as Ramanuja gathered his things.

"Why are you running from this man? We need your help in stopping him. Look at me....see but a fraction of the damage he has done so far. You would run and leave us to his deprivations?"

Thelonius hoped that his desperate plea would convince the Swami not to flee to England, but to stay for the time being and assist in stopping the man in grey.

da solomon said...

"Yes, we would. I would, because we are each on our separate paths now." Though healthier, he would probably never again be that grandiose character from the night of his last show. As Ramanuja folded his pajama pants, Thelonius could see that his countenance was reduced somehow, missing some internal animation.

"Who are we fighting? That is a worthy question, and I have no answer, but I am pleased to hear that you consider yourselves to be fighting." He put the pants down. "No. I mean to say that I am pleased to know that you have the courage to fight.

"But I don't know who it is. Who kidnapped me? That man, Francis Holly? He was a thug. No, not even Gerloch is the man at the helm of all of this, is he? I believe you are in a better position than I am to know the truth.

"I had a vision last night of a bull, and then a rabbit and a mouse. They are all animals for sacrifice. This morning I saw in the newspaper that there had been another murder by these gangsters. You see that there is another one here, and here." Ramanuja placed his fingertips over two more stories about gangster assassinations that happened last night. "But this one I knew was is'pecial. You were there, weren't you? Yet there is nothing here about a monster."

da solomon said...

"If I were a journalist, I would have preferred an is'tory about a monster – there are so many of these gangster murders that they are boring – so it must be that the police are choosing not to tell the public what really happened. Have the police any clues that something out of the ordinary happened, I wonder? Are they covering up their incompetence in this situation or are they protecting someone else? It says that they seized alcohol from the scene, but there is nothing of the proprietor of the establishment. For whose sake has this 'fixer' man been sacrificed?

"Ultimately, the offender is perhaps of the Cult of Agastya, but there is no reason that he need be. Our lineage remembers many souls with a desire for knowledge, or power, or escape, or destruction – all of whom desired the mirror, which you have inside you. It is not common knowledge that it exists at all, so those who might know of it are either men of great dedication" – he looked at the two and shrugged – "or great misfortune."

"There is something further, beyond the halls of the great Arcade into which you put, Monsieur DuMonde, there is the great sea Nut and lands beyond that. Somewhere in those lands is Zuhal, the invisible city, and therein is Anya Mandir, the temple wherein Agastya and Lopamudra's intentions for the world clashed. It is unlikely that anyone would be seeking to reach Anya Mandir to perform the impossible sacrifice prescribed in the Scrolls of Pharnabazus of Ibarcand, which I believe I have copied into my notes. To perform that sacrifice would be to potentially affect some kind of reverse of is'piritual polarity of this locus!

"Unlikely, but this is naturally what generations of Agastyans and Lopamudrans alike have feared. What do I mean by polarity reversal? It is very difficult to explain, it is the sort of thing that must be grasped from is'tudy; but its effects could be varied. Men might become women? Cats might chase dogs? The meek might inherit the earth? I am being very uncreative in my examples, for the effect would surely be both more subtle and more insidious. Everything would change. New evils might be born, even as old ones become obsolete. New flowers might grow.

"I will be conferring with a colleague while I am in London. He is an expert in the oldest mythologies and he may know something of interest to us. Do not fear; I am," the Swami brought his hand to his middle and bowed very slightly, "at your service."

Thelonius Jones said...

"Notes, what notes do you speak of?"

The reporter glanced over at Henri to see if the man had any clue as to what the Swami was speaking of.

"This mirror...you refer to the silvery liquid...ectoplasm or whatever? Are you saying that only some people...and you're putting Henri and I in this camp...can extract the substance and use it to travel..um...astrally?"

Thelonius tripped over the words, hardly believing that he was actually putting some credence into the idea. But then again, after what he saw...where he went...

Monsieur Henri DuMonde said...

To Jones' questing look, Henri gave a quick, sharp nod, showing he did understand what M. Swami was saying. He hoped also Jones could understand from it that he would explain it later.

Now Henri turned back to Ramanuja to hear his answer to Jones' questions.

da solomon said...

"Yes, reporter sahib, the notes that I gave to Henri when we last met. Surely he has shared them with you?

"The mirror is the substance of the soul of our lineage. That silvery liquid is . . ." Ramanuja thought. "I cannot say that only certain people may use it. Precisely, it is that those who use it always seem to have been destined to join paths with it. Put even more precisely, it can be said that those who bear it all seem to adhere to the mirror's dharma, and that only these individuals figure into its grand plot.

"I told you about the black hats? About reincarnation and the carrying on of characteristics or goone? Goone can be passed on into a new life without the entire process of death and rebirth, and this," he explained, "is what has happened from me to you. And now, because you possess these particular goone, or these is'piritual characteristics, which were placed into you by the mirror, you are on the mirror's path.

"I believe that in Christiandom, they are known as charismas. Travel to the Arcade is a secret charisma, my friends. You may possess others, but you will have to study and practice to develop them. Goone are rarely products of effort, but rather the side-effects of enlightenment!"

da solomon said...

(The conversation between Henri, Thel, and Ramanuja can continue until the PCs are satisfied enough to move on.

If Thel and Henri would like to talk without Ramanuja around, you can just narrate them moving away from Ramanuja and continuing the conversation here. Once you're ready to move to the next phase, make a post to your character blog.

Of course you may have your PC do anything you think is appropriate, but here's how I've planned things: If Henri takes the option of heading to Mont Sunday and Thelonius stays in the hospital long enough to heal, we'll do a time-skip. After that, we'll pick up with short re-entry scenes in players' blogs, and then unite the three players from Manhattan.

Contact with the other players should come shortly thereafter.)

Thelonius Jones said...

(Thelonius definitely wants to heal, but he now wants to look at the notes that Henri evidently has in his possession. I see an upcoming scene where Thel tries to summon forth the mirror...)

da solomon said...

(The in-game date, just to remind everyone, is 30 April, 1924. The timeline I have planned picks up around late May, and unless something weird happens, I expect to put the PCs in upstate New York. Cati and Henri have their hooks to go in that direction, and Thel will get his one way or another.

There are many leads the characters can track further in the meantime. Now that "Mr. White" has made his appearance and Ramanuja has said a bit more, it's possible that some dreams, textual fragments, and other apparent nonsense might make more sense. So there's all that you guys could look into if you want. Anything like what Dan has just suggested would be entirely appropriate. Briefly describing a relatively restful couple of weeks in your character's blog works too.

Feel free to ask me any continuity or setting questions that you might need answered in order to write a post.)