Monday, September 18, 2017

Chill: Layin' Old Ghosts to Rest

Yesterday was the end of a Chill case (beginning was here).

The envoys have Darnell come down from Boise, and he brings Dylan (Edward's player was out, so we figured Edward was out in LA doing movie-stuff) along. Dylan is still recovering from his last mission - still a little injured, still a little delicate mentally. They arrive at Stewart's house, and Darnell checks out Jordan. She's badly dehydrated and sick, so he puts a saline bag up and tells her to rest. He checks out Stewart, too, but he's not as bad, so Darnell just tells him to stay hydrated.

The envoys talk a little about what to do, and in a couple hours Jordan is walking again. They think about heading out to the site that evening, but decide it's better if they have everyone (and Jordan isn't really 100%), so they choose to sleep on it and gear up in the morning. Dee dreams of riding in a car with Bryan, the mysterious hitchhiker. The car stops and he follows a light into the woods, and then falls into a crevasse. Dee hears a crack when he lands, and then realizes something else is there with her. It chases her and she falls near the road, scrabbling for a foothold, and then the creature backs off. Before she wakes up, Dee realizes that her hands smell like carrots.

The envoys wake up and realizes that Stewart has gone to work, which is good - at least he's feeling better. Darnell, however, is not well; he's contracted the strange disease. Jordan draws a line of defense around his bed and he starts to feel better, but that of course means he's stuck in the circle.

Dylan realizes that he was going to hit the books last night, but forgot and passed out instead. The envoys get some breakfast at the diner and then make some plans. Dylan does a little research and learns that Unknown-caused diseases tend to be fast and acute, but if you can get through the initial sickness they're usually not fatal. They are, however, sometimes contagious, and often the only way to stop the spread is destroy the creature that caused it. Some ghosts can cause contagion, as can some undead creatures, but without knowing what the envoys are up against they can't really make a plan.

Dee mentions that she woke up craving carrots and that they might be significant. Carrots don't grow wild around her, but Queen Anne's Lace, which is also called a wild carrot (and smells like just carrots) does. The envoys figure that their best bet is to get down into the crevasse and see what they see, so they hit Wal-Mart and buy a rope ladder, some garbage bags, some rope a tarp, and some lights.

They head out to the site and see a man flagging their car down - Bryan. They pick him up and start driving him back to town. They ask him questions, but he's pretty uninformative; Willa realizes that he probably doesn't quite know what's happening and is just recreating a particular scene. She uses Voice of the Dead to channel him, and he reveals that his full name is Bryan Gill. He was visiting his brother in Mountain View, NV and on the way home when he pulled over because he saw a light in the woods. He felt compelled to follow it, and then fell, and then nothing. He asks that the envoys tell his brother what happened to him, and then he fades away, leaving some ectoplasm behind.

They head back out to the site, make some garlands out of Queen Anne's Lace, and rig the rope ladder to go down. Willa starts descending, and activates Eyes of the Dead. Sure enough, she sees a figure in the bottom of the crevasse, but it isn't approaching her. The bottom of the crevasse is covered in white mushrooms, which makes the envoys nervous - what if the spores cause the illness? Willa hangs on the ladder a minute, but when she goes to descend again she forgets how her hands work and lands on her ass in the shrooms.

She looks around and finds Bryan's body, and calls to the others. Jordan descends as well, and touches Willa, using Disrupt, which gives her back her coordination. Unfortunately, Willa looks off in the distance and sees lights...and wants nothing more than to touch them. She starts walking slowly towards them, but Jordan notices, darts in front of her, and uses Line of Defense to block her path. Willa comes to and sees the figure out in the dark...hovering over another level to the crevasse. They decide to head back, put Bryan's body in the tarp, and rig it so Dylan and Dee can pull it up.

They start to do that (some minor Trauma from Bryan's decomposing body later), and get the body hauled up. And then it starts raining blood. Dylan, a bit freaked out but not terribly, puts up a Sphere of Protection, which blocks the rain from him and Dee.

Willa goes up the ladder to assist, but then Jordan sees the lights. She walks right off the edge and falls into a lower area, but isn't seriously hurt. The others move the ladder, and Willa sees the figure standing directly in front of Jordan, pulling back as if to strike her. Thinking quickly, Willa uses Voice of the Dead and summons the creature into her own body. Dylan draws a Line of Defense around Willa to keep it trapped, and Dee rigs the ladder so Jordan can climb up.

Willa can sense that this creature was once human - a Chinese woman - but that she's been dead for so long that most of her humanity has gone. Jordan looks around in the lower crevasse and finds a skull, a fragment of a spine, and part of a femur - the last remains of the woman. She bags them, and climbs up.

The envoys engage in a bit of pantomime and nonverbal communication with the ghost to try and figure out what she wants, but finally they figure that burying her in a cemetery might do it. She's been dead long enough that the specific tradition doesn't matter anymore, just the recognition would be enough. They load up the bodies (like, 1.2 bodies) into the car and call ahead to Stewart for help. He says he'll meet them with the Reverend at the church, but they'll need to explain it.

The Reverend tells them that they'll need to call the police about Bryan, but allows himself to be convince that the other body could just be buried in the older part of the cemetery. The envoys dig a grave for the bones, and mark it with a stone labeled with the Chinese character for "daughter" (Jordan figures she had to be somebody's daughter, so that's accurate). They see mushrooms sprout in seconds, and then die, and the Unknown presence fades.

The police reprimand them a little for hauling Bryan's body out (this is technically illegal), but they let it go, presumably because they saved the police the trouble. Bryan's brother is notified, and the envoys collect Darnell (now recovered) and head back to Boise.

And now, some Promethean notes for tonight.

So, last time we had the big meeting-of-supernatural-factions. Skip is out today, so we'll handle his sweep of the swamp for, spirits, next time. That means we're missing one of our more powerful combatants, which might mean it's a good time to bring in that other factor I was thinking about. I need a little time, though; Carroll was driving Avalon home.

Ooh, but suppose Red hits them on the way home? I'd have to make that a quick scene, so as to keep other folks from getting bored, but then I could have the taxi the others are in find the wreckage. If Avalon goes to the River, then that fulfills a milestone for her. Grimm, Enoch, and Feather would be the ones happening upon the wreckage, meaning that there's some chance for milestones, but not much (though of course, this all assumes Red is able to kill Avalon). I'll have him hit them on Almonaster Road, near the salvage yard - that'll feel familiar.

The other thing is that Avalon wants to start Cobalus and Feather wants to start Mercurius, so that scene (Feather & Enoch) should happen tonight, so that Feather can switch over. Likewise, Enoch should probably complete that milestone and finish Craftsman already.

Really that just leaves Matt, who went walking home. Oy, Matt. I really think his milestones are going to be too esoteric for him; I might need to change a couple of them. The trick is, if I do that, changing them to something he a) hasn't already done and b) might yet do. And none of that helps for tonight. Hmmm. Well, since I don't know how Matt is going to walk home, maybe I'll push him to try and catch a ride. Or, hell, maybe it'd be useful to introduce a qashmal here. It's been a while.

Actually, no, I have an idea. I want this story to end with another blackout, but this time, the blackout in question is for the Divine Fire. Everyone loses their fire just like Matt did. They can spend Pyros normally, and they can use electricity to heal, but they can't regain Pyros and healing is painful. The Principle is still trying to purge the Aether from itself, but it doesn't know how. The God-Machine is still trying to find the demon with all the data in it, but it doesn't know where to look. The characters are the intersection of all that. But that's stuff for the next story. This story should end when the characters find and kill Red.

With that in mind, as far as Matt's wanderings tonight go, it's wise for me to bring him back together with the group. So maybe I'll try and get him into the car with the others, that seems the best choice (and also, that means some chance for milestones just through conversation, depending on how things go).

Just need to stat up Carroll as the Beast Rampant, then.