M&M

The Maze of Bast

After the long plane ride from Las Vegas to Cairo Alexander, Monty and Lao met in an airport McDonald’s. From there they went to visit Monty’s friend Mike, a pilot who flew transport craft within Egypt. Mike agreed to take the trio to the location indicated on Monty’s map and deposited them in the desert near a rock outcropping.

At the location indicated on the map the three found themselves

facing a picture of Bast. The ever curious Lao opened the portal while his new found friends were still discussing the ramifications of the symbolism. Beyond the door was a shard realm and a maze. After a few hours of wandering they discovered three things. 1) Walking down a hallway they had already traversed activated sandstone lion creatures which attacked them. 2) Alexander’s letter from Cassandra contained directions for traversing the maze. 3) The very first turn they had made was wrong and every hallway they had traversed since then had only taken them further from the course they wished to follow.

Alexander settled down to figure out what to do, and with the

help of an amulet of Monty’s he managed to twist the space within the shard realm, bending reality to put them closer to where they wanted to be. After that they traversed the twists and tricks of the maze without error and presented the two stone guardians of the treasure chamber with their desired feasts.

It was Lao who managed to climb the giant cat statue and pry the

emerald sphere out of it’s open eye socket. As he tossed the basketball sized jewel to Monty reality twisted once again, and this time none of the companions were in control of the shape it took. When the chaos settled they found themselves back in front of the now non- existent door right where they had started from. The only difference was that they now had the sphere known as the Eye of Bast.

Mike was not scheduled to return for three days, and no one wanted

to wait that long. Alexander managed to get a call out on his cell phone and asked his mentor for transportation. Shortly thereafter three camels came wandering out of the desert. None of the companions wished to ride the camels back to Cairo and so they decided to make use of the provisions the camels were carrying and wait for Mike’s return. This gave their enemies plenty of time to find them.

The dust plume from the jeep was the first sign they had that they

had been discovered. It was not long after that when they first made out the shapes of the two men in the vehicle. As the jeep reached the outcropping Monty leaped down upon the men in black suits (MIB’s) from above. A pitched battle ensued and our three heroes emerged victorious. After the deaths of the two MIB’s and the banishment of their oddly engined jeep there was peace amidst the rocky outcropping until Mike came to return our heroes to civilization.

Mike accepted the camels as payment for his services and

Alexander booked a room at the nicest hotel he could find. After cleaning up and settling in Master Alex enjoyed a night on the town. Monty and Lao explored the town as well, though in a different way. The group decided not to use the return tickets that had come with their flights to Cairo, so Monty scalped them and did some shopping. During his excursion he was surprised to find his amulet reacting to a young woman he encountered on the street and Monty drafted Lao to help him manufacture a excuse to speak with her. She proved to have a bracelet that was very similar in component materials to his amulet.

Lao noticed a very different phenomena. The dynamic duo was being

followed by a man whose mind Lao could not read. Monty laid a false trail which their follower followed and the two returned to their hotel unharmed, though Lao found himself short some cash after a momentary encounter with some of Cairo’s most youthful citizens.

The young woman was named Amanra and the man proved to be her

rather protective older brother, Mezziz. The bracelet had been given to her by her mother as a dowry, but Mezziz was willing to trade it for some help destroying Pridemi enterprises. The group accepts, but they want help leaving Egypt as well. Mezziz agrees to that without any objections.

So our three heroes found themselves dressed as employees of

Pridemi driving a truck filled with a dozen manacled “volunteers” through the gates of a small (12 bed) facility with military grade defenses. Mezziz and his people promised to handle the outer defense if the infiltration team could set a virus in the computer system and a bomb beside it. They manged to do both, but not without attracting attention.

The short man with the Hitler mustache was obviously in charge of

the three agents, two of whom were the MIB’s the group had killed mere days before. Subterfuge and violence ensued (in that order) before Monty drove a bread truck through the wall, collected his new friends and got them out before the bomb exploded (with the help of a push from Alexander when the truck got stuck).

Mezziz and his friends kept their word and took the characters

with them when they walked to Greece. (No one who was with them really asked how they managed that.) Once in Greece they bought plane tickets home. Along the way Alexander worked hard to pick up a pretty blond in an airport bar and Monty tangled with customs agents over his ‘reflecting globe’.

The three MIB’s showed up at the Las Vegas airport in wait for the

characters and a hilarious car chase in which our heroes drove a ladder truck across the tarmac ensued. Monty managed to arrange for the ladder to be fatal to the MIB’s and Alexander torched what was left of their strange pursuers. They piled into Alexander’s car and lost their more normal pursuers in the dark alleys of Vegas.

The Eye has been given to Magenta and all of the P.C.’s are now

back at their home base. You guys have a while (game time) before I once again interfere with your lives. If you want to do some things on your own now is the time to let me know about it. Feel free to email me with plans and objectives.

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Fountain of Youth

Fountain of Youth

Monty, Alexander and Lao met Samir and Veronica in Friar Mark’s library. Andrew was sent by professor Montmercy to bring Veronica to the lab and show her his library. Monty drafted the entire group to help on a new archeological quest; he intended to find the fountain of youth.

The mismatched little group headed out from the Las Vegas national airport. They were armed with a series of fake I.D.’S provided by Madeline, the chantry’s Virtual Adept. Andrew gets them tickets on a flight to Florida where they stop by the Fountain of Youth National Park. Certain members of the party recognize the supernatural nature of the park staff. That and oddities about the archeological dig site associated with the park make them curious. They wait until after dark to meet Dr. Schnider, the park curator.

Monty chatted with the beautiful red headed archeologist while the other party members examined her. The dig site and the artifacts she was finding were authentic, as were her methods. By various magical means she was identified as a vampire of at least 200 years, the party did not share the fact that they knew she was other than she appeared.

After they left the park they flew to San Juan where they visited Ponce De Leon’s tomb. They arrived in the middle of the night and went straight to the church where it was located. Lao distracted the priest using a combination of religious confession and mind magic while the rest of the party worked at getting into the tomb. Andrew sent his Swarm down to scout conditions, then he Veronica and Samir used their powers to lift the tombstone (resolving one of the many riddles in Cassandra’s most recent note to Alexander). Monty slipped into the tomb as soon as there was room for him. He destroyed the remains of the ancient explorer; they crumbled into dust as soon as they were touched. Strangely enough, a piece of parchment he was holding did not crumble. The ring he was wearing survived as well. Monty took both items and returned to the main hall of the church.

The three mages attempted to lower the tombstone back to its previous position, but dropped it at the last minute, cracking it. This brought the priest and Lao out of the confessional and Aleaxnder from his watch post (He was present but uninvolved). Since there was nothing odd for the priest to see the party left with no trouble (the crack would be discovered in the morning) and the party retired to a hotel where they examined the ring and parchment before getting some sleep (some party members chose not to sleep).

The ring is decorated with a large sapphire engraved with a symbol depicting two intertwined snakes. The parchment was actually a piece of papyrus which had been magically preserved and translated into Spanish. It contained some information about a group of vampires known as the children of Set. Veronica and Samir recognized the name somewhat.

In the morning they left San Juan for France on some information that Monty had. At the airport paranoia prompted Samir to examine every redhead he encountered, Veronica remembered red headedness to be considered a desirable trait by the Children of Set. In this way he found him self spending a rather enjoyable plane trip in the company of the red headed supermodel Janine Newfield.

The party visited the Louvre after Monty and Andrew robbed an ATM. After that they headed to the Pont du’Arc national park. They found it closed and strangely fortified. The heavily armed park ranger tells them that this state of affairs is due to a collapse in the cave complex. The party beats him up and hogties him, tucking him into the back of Samir’s rented van before they stole his military grade armaments and cut the chains binding the gate so that they could enter the park. They parked the van and headed down the path through the trees towards the park visitor center.

They were looking at the closed, locked and barred buildings when they heard a horrible rending sound from the parking lot. They ran back along the path to find that the back doors of their van had been ripped off and the park ranger was missing. Blood splatter and the hand they found seemed to indicate that he had not survived his leave taking. They followed up on the now missing park ranger’s information and found a nearly circular sink hole. Magic told them little about what had happened there. All that they could determine was that the fountain was underground and active.

They returned to the visitor’s center and the Swarm got them into the main building. They found empty dynamite boxes and caving supplies in the office. The elevator seemed functional, but there was some discussion about whether it should be used. Lao solved the quandary by proceeding down the emergency shaft. The rest of the party followed him. Lao returned to the surface to keep watch from above while the rest of the party explored the caves. After a short rest in the main cave they preceded down what should have been the most direct route to the font-directly towards they crater they had viewed from above. Veronica was startled to find the remains of an unrecognizable four winged bird ting next to her bed. Spot had brought her a present overnight.

The main cavern path ended in a long tight tunnel and a final cave in. The remains of a mixed Technomancer scouting party were found in the cave. Magic showed that they had been injured and poisoned, fleeing from some danger when the cave in happened. The party took their supplies and Andrew took their journals to be examined in depth later.

The party backtracked to an unexplored section of cave that seemed to head in the right direction. Relying heavily on Andrew’s advice as he attempted to precog the right path the party explored the cave complex. Spot made his presence know again at their next rest stop. This feathered lizard thing was smaller and wingless, but just as odd as the previous gift he’d brought Veronica.

The party reached a large grotto area in the caves and a strange noise prompted Monty to separate from the rest of the group and investigate. As soon as he was alone he was attacked by a pack of strange feathered dinosaur creatures. Samir’s assistance was less than effective, but Alexander’s magic bullets prevented the pair from being horribly mauled. Veronica held off a second pack that attempted to circle around them and the party regrouped after killing one of the creatures and driving all of the others off. Samir identified the odd creatures as the threat the Technomancer party had been fleeing from. The party retreated to a small cavern to rest and recuperate.

They found the fountain soon after proceeding onward. It was floating in the center of an underground lake whose water was entirely tainted by its magic. After several attempts on Monty’s part to retrieve the thing by nonmagical means Alexander got fed up with the waiting and walked over the water to claim the artifact. While the rest of the party bundled the thing in plastic Monty sampled the lake’s water with no ill effect.

The party headed back towards the elevator and shaft. They encountered no more of the dinosaur creatures. Instead they faced off against a trio of Men In Black. The party emerged victorious from the combat, but short one party member. Andrew was vaporized by one of their laser blasts. All that could be found of him and his familiar was a blacked, pitted sphere of metal about the size of a basket ball.

The rest of their return to the surface was uneventful. They rendezvoused with Lao and discussed their activities and options. Monty split off from the group to explore alone. He encountered a cave bear on this excursion. While he escaped with his life he initiated the complete destruction of Samir’s rented van.

Alexander and Monty both made telephone calls. The fire truck and emergency personnel who mobilized in response to Monty’s call arrived first. Monty proceeded to steal said fire truck. Samir and Veronica accompanied him on a wild cross country car chase. Lao and Alexander had a much more peaceful trip; they rode to Paris in the car of a French cultist of Alexander’s acquaintance.

Monty and Samir went to a beach photo shoot at the invitation of Samir’s new girl friend. Monty flirted with random supermodels while Samir spent his time with Janine. He arranged to fly back to the states with her. Her next contract was in California and the employer had arranged a private jet for her. Veronica spent this time at their hotel doing research on the internet.

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House of Cards

House of Cards

After Monty, Samir and Veronica returned to the chantry they gave Andrew’s remains to his mentor and experiment some with the fountain. Mu and Hu called them to the parlor where Miss Magenta was waiting with three strangers. Sven (Aaron’s new character) was introduced as a new member of the chantry. The blond twins, Rana and Lana, were introduced as associates in need of assistance.

While diving in a shipwreck the twin found a strange box with a hint of magical aura around it. They took the thing home with them and opened it. It proved to contain a deck of cards which possessed a strong magical aura. After some experimentation they discovered that the cards came to life. They were experimenting with controlling the creatures the cards summoned to this plane and lost control of one of them. They chased the creature all over Las Vegas before managing to return it to its card form, gaining a great deal of paradox in the process. When they attempted to return home one of the other activated cards prevented them from entering, and they were in no condition to fight it.

The party agreed to help the girls and headed to a very normal looking two story brick home. They circled the tall privacy fence in order to enter from the rear. Sven boosted Monty over the fence and he let them in through the garage/woodshop. They walked around a pond and peeked in the windows at the conservatory then let themselves in through the pantry. The main box for the house’s utilities was there and Monty decided to turn of the gas hoping to prevent destroying the home. While he was doing so he startled and was startled by a small fast moving golden furred creature. It left his vicinity very quickly.

Once Monty had the gas off the party proceeded into the tightly packed kitchen with its commercially sized appliances. Sven saw the golden furred creature again. It was in the hall way beyond the kitchen door. He took two shots at it marring the floorboards it had been sitting on but missing it completely. They did not see it again as they explored the ground floor so they proceeded to the basement workroom through the hidden panel by the stairs.

The basement was dominated by a large circular pool. Racks on one side of the pool held broom while shelves on the other side held oddities. The deck was clearly visible at the far end of the room on a table. Floating over the pool was an odd brightly dressed person sitting on a red blanket. Veronica waited at the top of the spiral stairs in case one of the more dangerous cards made an appearance while the party engaged the floating person in conversation. It seemed pleasant if a bit simple minded and Sven decided to make his way around it towards the deck. He reached the deck with no difficulties, but as soon as he tried to touch it the creature acted. It flipped its blanket out, tangling him in the bright red folds. As soon as the blanket wrapped around him Sven vanished.

Monty engaged the thing in further conversation learning that it called itself Erase, that it was guarding the deck, and seemed to have no intention of returning Sven. It also seemed to be aware of the other cards. Once Veronica had rejoined the party they attacked the thing in force returning it to its card form. Sven reappeared and fell into the cold saltwater pool the thing had been floating over. The card fluttered over to Veronica. Monty collected the deck, closing its box and fastening the cards within.

The party trooped back upstairs and saw the golden furred creature again. Samir tossed it a candy which it claimed before vanishing again. Veronica sat down with a handful of the cat treats that she kept for Spot. She slowly lured it closer with the treats, and once it was close enough to touch Samir recommended that she see what happened if she touched the gemstone that centered its forehead. She did so and the creature vanished, turning into a card labeled “The Dash”.

While this was going on Monty attempted to climb the stairs and explore the second floor. At the top pf the stairs he encountered an oddly dressed young girl who named herself Fight and demanded a battle. Monty fared poorly despite the fact that she was clearly pulling her punches- the only damage that he took was from his tumble down the stairs. He grabbed a frying pan from the kitchen and tried again with much the same result. The third time proved to be the charm as the entire party trooped up the stairs and hit her with everything they had. Once again the card fluttered over to Veronica leaving her with three of the five cards they needed to find.

The party explored the second floor slowly and learned a lot about the family. Monty and Veronica were exploring the quadruplet’s room when they collapsed. Samir and Sven eliminated the small bluish creature that was tucking them into the beds and the two woke again. The Sleep card fluttered over to Samir.

All that was left of the house was the attic and the party proceeded up through the trap door with some trepidation. A small, pretty child with long silvery white hair was sitting on some boxes and gazing out the small circular window at the street below. Sven talked to her, and learned that she wanted to go outside. When he offered to take her she came to him willingly. He took her hand and touched her jewel, turning her back into a card.

The party returned to the chantry and the twins gave them the deck for their troubles. Veronica and Samir flipped through the cards while Monty and Sven flirted with the twins.

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Froglodyte Manor

Alex, Veronica, and Monty were called together by Cabrina. She had sent Samir upon an information gathering expedition a week ago, and had not heard back from him at the appointed time. She was worried about him and wanted the party to find him for her as she was too old to travel.

The three drove to Rapid City in Alex’s new car. Veronica sat in the back and read through the File folder of information Cabrina gave them about the missing children that had drawn her attention to Rapid City in the first place. Rather than stay in the Super 8 Samir choose (a hot bed of missing child activity) Alex first got a room at the fanciest hotel in the area. After that they returned to the Super 8 where Alex flirted with the attendant on duty at the counter.

He rapidly impressed her enough that she gave the party Samir’s abandoned baggage and old room. In the room Alexander used his Time abilities to review Samir’s activities while Veronica went through his notes. The notes identified a nearby abandoned home as a place of interest and the vision involved some interesting reactions to the brand of bottled water that the hotel stocked.

Alex determined that the water was delivered by the Broken Arrow vending company and that the delivery man had not yet been by for the day. He also convinced the desk girl to hang around after her shift for him. Veronica took a rental car to the local library where she determine that the home Samir had been interested in had been built by the Kenmore family after the small town Midwestern duo won the lottery. It was then abandoned as unsellable after the family squandered their winnings and moved back to their previous home.

Ken the delivery man was of little use to the party, however they used his delivery map to get an overview of the situation and his delivery truck to get a glimpse inside of the Broken Arrow facility. They also determined that the taint that could be mystically perceived clinging to many of the people they encountered around town was found in the Nature Springs water delivered by Broken Arrow Vending.

After Alexander screwed the desk clerk the party decided to head to the old manor. There they found Samir’s rental, the remains of some dead animals and a strange mage tied up in one of the front rooms. Veronica and Monty stripped the stranger of his weapons. He attempted to gain them back through mind magic, but Monty interfered using countermagic and the attempt failed.

The new mage traveled with the party as they finished exploring the house, mostly because they still had his guns. The four of them found the architecture of the home frustrating. They also found the room of a young girl named Alice whose journal indicated that some sort of monsters were living in the area under the house. The final thing they found in the above ground section of the house were signs that Samir had been there. His guns were lying on floor in one of the attics.

Alex viewed the past to see Samir exploring the house while a large, wild haired man dressed as a lumber jack snuck up behind him and struck him over the head before dragging him off. The three friends and their reluctant companion followed the past vision to one of the two sink holes that collapsed portions of the back floor of the manor. They braved the stench wafting up from the hole and climbed down in search of answers.

There they fought slime covered frog creatures whose mucus caused strange rashes and the giant lumberjack fellow. In the process of the battle they freed several more of the froglodytes and discovered that they had been created from the missing children. Alex stepped back from the combat and captured the souls of the children turned froglodytes before they fell into oblivion. He also captured the soul of the one adult froglodyte who was slain after they discovered that the monsters were unwilling converts.

Once the combat was over, the party explored their surroundings. They found two main chambers in the natural seeming tunnel formation. The first was the source of the froglodytes. They found Samir and the missing children encased in translucent green bubbles coated in the strange mucous. They were clearly in the process of transforming into froglodytes. The party freed the ones who had not started to transform, including Samir. Samir and Alex worked together to stop the progress of the transformation, but they could not manage to reverse it.

While the spell casting was going on Monty and Veronica explored the other chamber. They found an exit onto a mountain side and a jeep as well as the cavern the lumberjack fellow was sleeping in. The found his stash of the tainted water, his cot, a small generator a Coleman lantern, a table and an empty shipping box from Pridemi Biologicals with an instruction and warning pamphlet referring to a compound called GEN-AF.

Next they went to the headquarters of Broken Arrow vending and poked around. They found no supernatural defenses but took the secretary’s hard drive as she seemed to be the one most involved in the plot. They also took her back-up cash stash, but they left all of her tools of sadomasochistic delight. After that they chose to drive back to Vegas and explore the address from the package in the cave.

Chris’ addition:

Alex made quick work of all the opposition and quickly founded his own chantry. Everything was made of platinum and coated in harp seal fur. The wine flowed like water, women flocked to him instinctively like the salmon of Capistrano. The decadence was legendary. Millions flocked to partake in the sheer debauchery which occurred on a bi-hourly basis. Later that February, Alex won the Superbowl with the help of the Polish Bikini Team. Final score: Team Alex 187, Colts -12. This of course landed him his lucrative advertising deal as the spokesman for both Trojan Condoms and KY Jelly. Using the residuals, he purchased his own private island in the South Pacific, annexing a small portion of Bora Bora. Dubbing it Fucktown, the newly formed free state saw a steady influx of supermodels, rock stars, and risen members of Nero’s Senate. Alas, Mr. Cassedine grew bored, having fathered children with Heidi Klum, Jenna Jameson, Kate Beckinsale, and Scarlet Johanssen, he proceeded to not only win paternity cases in 5 states, but confirmed the most profitable child support case in US history, in which he accumulated roughly 3.4 mill a week.

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Letter from the manor

November 25, 2009 Jake Logan PO box 33 Rapid City, South Dakota

Dear Sir: Here are the supplies you requested. Remember that GenAF is both experimental and unstable. It will start to degrade quickly unless applied to a subject within the next 13 days. Once the first subject has encysted the growth around the cyst will produce a suitable substrate for your continued efforts. Please remember to follow proper safety measures while using GenAF and the substrate as both the cyst and active forms of the AF7 are highly contagious. The cure is even less stable than GenAF, it cannot be shipped to you. You will have to return to the lab for treatment.

Sincerely, Martin Martinson Director of Research, Pridemi Biologicals Phone:(702)339-6301 Fax: (702) 434-7463

The return address on the envelope is Martin Martinson Director of Research, Pridemi Biologicals Development Services Center 731 South Fourth Street Las Vegas, NV 89101

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Letters from a harddrive

Most of what was in the computers was vending business oriented or fetish porn. These two letters from the secretary’s computer appear to have been in progress drafts. The secretary’s name seems to be Laura Hyden.

Letter 1

Mistress,

Everything proceeds according to your plan. The corruption of my city is nearly complete. The alliance seems to be working well. The addition of the serum to our plot has moved the time table here up by more than a year. We may be hearing the Lion’s roar the son’s return sooner than expected.

I worry somewhat about the competency of the agent chosen by our allies however. He is brutish and unsubtle capable of understanding only the tasks required at the moment. I have not interfered with him as of yet, though his focus on children has negatively impacted my crop. I eagerly await knowledge of your desires.

Letter 2

Master,

All my projects are growing at their anticipated rate. You were correct in assuming that the substrate provided by our new coworkers would increase growth rates exponentially. Proper preparation of the experiments has proven key in advancing the research here. The youth of the current batch of subjects and their lesser body mass than that of our previous batch has increased completion parameters by more than 50 percent.

The new assistant provided for stocking supplies is less than ideal. I understand that he came with the highest of recommendations by our colleagues, but his inefficiencies and inability to compose a comprehensible report limit his usefulness a great deal.

Certain party members had flunkies look into the histories of the people from Broken Arrow Vending and received the following information:

The boss is easy to find, and your hackers give you a folder on him in a couple of days. The secretary is more of an enigma. Once they looked into her seriously her cover story (the one on her job aplication) fell apart. As far as anyone can tell she has only existed for about a year, and she has worked for the vending company as a secretary that whole time.

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Pridemi Biologicals

When the party reached the address they found a large office complex containing four businesses. The first floor was occupied by an accounting office and the city zoning commission. The upper floor was where Pridemi Biologicals was located across from a casino corporation headquarters.

When they entered the Pridemi office they were confronted by Dawn, Pridemi’s administrative assistant. After poking around for a while and becoming frustrated by Dawn’s mechanistic responses they made an appointment to speak with her boss. They used the time that they were waiting for their appointment to raid Pridemi’s garbage. They discovered that Pridemi was dumping things that should almost certainly disposed of as hazardous waste in the local landfill. They also found reams of paper work that Monty shoved into Alex’s trunk to look through later.

Monty, Miles and Veronica showed up for the meeting. They might have been able to get information out of him with their ruse, except for the fact that he had already encountered Monty in Egypt. As soon as he saw them he hit his panic button and retreated through the door behind his desk as Men In Black converged upon the characters.

A dramatic fight ensued with Miles mind controlling Dawn and attempting to mind control a MIB. Monty used his guns to good effect and Veronica attempted to use the dagger she had gotten from her new mentor. When she succeeded in stabbing one of the MIBs with the dagger and killing it, the shock was so much that the MIBs retreated from the scene leaving the strangely clay like corpse of their fellow behind.

This gave the party some time to look through the office. Monty and Miles collected samples of each of the completed jars of Goo. Veronica spent her time exploring a room that contained three cocoon like oblongs. When she used her new dagger on it she managed to make one of the things open. Inside it looked like a mold for the MIBs the party had been facing, but she was unable to determine how it worked before emergency personnel responded to the alarm that had been going off since the button was pressed.

The party escaped to sort through their new finds and determine their next move.

Miles traveled separately from the rest of the party taking Dawn, the mind controlled secretary with him. He later communicated with the party a final time, letting them know that he had found no way to reverse what Pridemi had done to Dawn’s brain and that he did not want to travel with them any longer.

He has one more thing to say about Dawn – she has a brand on her left butt cheek. It reads AnAZ0133.

Monty and Veronica went through the documents and jars with Samir. Eventually they determined that Pridemi was working on about ten dozen experimental goops. Pridemi considered the batch a success if the first number in the columns is a 100, none of the numbers is below 50 and no value exceeds 200. I’ve charted out the values for the jars you stole and will post it in a later entry.

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Nature Springs

The party returned to the chantry to sort through their discoveries and decide what to do next. There they met Soren, Friar Mark’s new assistant. Alex tended to the egg he discovered in the paradox realm he was sucked into (Alex is known for acquiring paradox…). Soren’s dragon familiar was able to identify the species of the egg (something Alex had been trying to do for some time) and Alex finally learned that he was trying to hatch a feathered serpent.

Veronica did some internet research on Nature Springs Water and learned that it was bottled in Florida near the park the party had visited while searching for the Fountain of Youth. She also learned that it was distributed nationally from a few key warehouses. The water was not actually sold in Vegas, but one of the warehouses was located there. The group decided to take a look at the warehouse for Nature Springs Water that was located in Vegas. They took a cab.

Glenda, the receptionist, proved difficult to fool and was adamant about sticking to the warehouse’s policy about visitors. Alex distracted her while Veronica and Soren dealt with Bill, the foreman. Monty snuck around the building and entered through a back door. He made his way down a long hallway to a storage room where he found himself tangled in a giant spider web. As he struggled to escape, a woman’s hands began to strip and caress him.

The rest of the party was having troubles of their own. Once they made their way out of the offices and into the main warehouse, they were confronted by a trio of creatures that looked like men, but had the heads of spiders and eight giant spider legs sprouting from their backs. Once the battle started to turn their way, Alex went hunting for Monty and saved him from the woman in the back. She would have been good looking if she had not shared the spider-like characteristics of the male monsters.

Alex pulled the woman into the Umbra with the lure of a lover rather more willing than the now fleeing Monty. There he destroyed her body and trapped her soul in his diamond with those of the former froglodytes. He found himself incapable of leaving the Umbra however, and so released the soul of the adult woman froglodyte still trapped in the gem. He shaped her into a spirit that could aid him. She became rather stronger than he anticipated and moved him into the material plane easily before wandering off to explore the Umbra with her newfound freedom, power, and spider eyes.

Once their enemies were neutralized, the party discovered that Glenda was the only member of the staff who was not involved in the Nature Springs Water plot and released her. Monty gave her some money, and she left after offering to show him her breasts and leaving him with her number. Monty then took one of the loaded semis of water back to the chantry while Soren called in a team of Choirboys to purify the tainted area.

Alex took this opportunity to try and get Veronica into bed. He took her back to his condo so that she could clean up and change, and then he took her to a fancy Japanese restaurant that he owns. After the restaurant, the two went to a bar and pool-house that Alex also owns. There they were joined by Monty and the twins Rana and Lana. The five had a grand time. Veronica won the opportunity to punch Alex in the face after beating him at pool, and everyone got a bit tipsy on Alex’s tab. Everything was going great until the Werewolf in the bar freaked out and started destroying things. The fight was going poorly for Alex’s bar (the pool table made a very nice hole in the wall) until the twins earned themselves some paradox turning the werewolf to stone.

The team split up and headed home after that, except for Veronica. She discovered that the bar patron she had found hiding under a table was Brownie. Having some need for changeling aid she escorted him to a place he considered safe and engaged him in conversation.

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The Red Lotus

Veronica and her Brownie went to a coffee house called the Prancing Pony that was run by a pooka (a type of changeling). They had coffee and discussed changelings in general and the Brownie in particular. Veronica needs changeling assistance to complete a mission for her new mentor. She brought up her needs with the Brownie, but he is not a member of the nobility so he could not help her. He did, however, promise to mention her name to those with more authority. She was soon contacted by Deirdre, a member of the Sidhe court who wanted to meet.

The party met with the pretty blond human seeming woman in a parking lot of her choice and the group went to lunch at one of Alex’s hotels. She explained that one of the court’s most important members, the Winter Queen, had suddenly gone missing. In the human world she goes by the name Amanda Winter and the court was willing to trade the information Veronica needed to the party if they would return Amanda to her rightful place before an important ceremony she was to officiate at.

The party starts their search by having Deirdre take them to Amanda’s rooms in the court, a place bizarre even by the standards of people used to living in a chantry. They entered the castle and traveled to Amanda’s rooms, which seemed to be a winter glade. After finding little there that caught their interest, they had Deirdre take them to Amanda’s real world apartment.

The white and winter theme continued, but in the real world Amanda had a place for everything, and almost everything was in its place. The party got the feeling that Amanda was not a naturally organized person, so the real world demands of the accounting job that gave her access to most of her most beloved artists were hard for her to sustain.

While Monty and Veronica searched the rooms for clues, Alex used time magic to watch Amanda’s last evening here. She went through her normal routine, and went to bed with her favorite CD, a gift from one of her artists, playing. Once she was asleep, a trio of mages stepped out of the Umbra where they had been hiding, captured her quickly, then stepped back beyond the gauntlet. Alex tracked the female leader of the trio to a building in Chinatown. The sign on the building proclaimed it the “Red Lotus”.

The party traveled to Chinatown to investigate further. They found an old woman in the apartment complex near the Lotus who was willing to talk about the place, but she really didn’t know much about what went on in the building, only that men came and went at all hours. She said “If there was more than one woman there, I would think it was a brothel.” Alex also asked a rat spirit for information. The creature looked like some nightmare version of a rat, warped by dark energies in the area. It was huge and had glowing red eyes. Despite that it was fairly chatty, expounding at length about the deliciousness of the meat the inhabitants of the Lotus were constantly disposing of, it didn’t have much real information to offer. It was afraid to go inside the place.

The party decided that they really had very little choice in the matter, walked up to the large red double doors and went inside. The main hall was cross shaped and painted with murals in a vaguely Tibetan style. Three deities dominated the murals, and three of the four downstairs rooms were dedicated to those deities. Closest to the nonfunctioning elevator were the kitchen (fully stocked with dismembered human body parts) and the brothel/ bondage hall of the goddess of lust and filth. Across from each other by the stairs were the bloody altar in war’s room and the torture chamber devoted to the god of plague.

The second floor was divided into slum apartments, and looked as if somewhere between twenty and forty people slept there regularly. All of the rooms were empty except for personal effects. There was one office that didn’t seem to be attached to the mass sleeping rooms. In the filing cabinets here the party found wallets, IDs and personal effects for a large number of people. From the state of the clothes and personal effects, they deduced that many of these men had been homeless before they wandered through the doors of the Red Lotus. Their bodies were probably in pieces in the kitchens below.

The third floor consisted of two rooms only: an antechamber with a large rug on the floor and a larger room beyond an intricately carved pair of double doors. Three people waited beyond those double doors, each dressed as one of the deities from the first floor. Verbal and physical sparring began, with the dainty Asian woman taking the face role for the Red Lotus tribe and Alex doing the same for the party. The lying and the fighting temporarily stalemated, and Alex managed to convince the woman that he was willing to let her seduce him. The two went out to his car where he worked a surprising bit of Spirit magic, wrapping a bit of the gauntlet around the car and turning it into a prison for bodies and souls.

The entire Red Lotus building vanished as the gauntlet twisted. The two men managed to escape in the chaos while Monty and Veronica barely managed not to be injured by their three story fall. Alex remained trapped in the Umbra, lacking the strength of will necessary to risk attempting to rejoin his friends. Monty and Veronica called the chantry and a tow truck, specifically one that would not require them to open the car up in any way.

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The Interim

The tow truck came and hauled Alex’s expensive European sports car up onto a flat bed. Monty and Veronica rode in the cab with the driver and gave him directions to the out of the way farm house that housed the portal to the chantry shard realms. Alex, still trapped on the wrong side of the gauntlet, rode on the hood of his car while keeping an eye on the spell that was keeping their enemy captive.

The tow truck driver was a bit confused when the party wanted him to drop the car off in the yard, but they tipped him well so he figured “whatever”. Once the truck and driver were gone Shana came out of the chantry and started the process of absorbing the car into the main shard realm.

At that point all hell broke loose. Trucks raced up the drive way and vomited hordes of monstrosities onto the scene. Men in black piled out of the trucks along with Plague and Famine. Everyone in the chantry spilled out to defend it. All was chaos until a familiar man wearing a half mask raced OUT of the chantry and flung himself into one of the vans. Martin made an appearance then, pulling out a pocket portal that consumed himself, Plague, Famine, the vans, the surviving men in black, the monstrosities that were still standing and Alex’s car. The party was left with a pile of rapidly decaying corpses and the certainty that the location of their portal was no longer a secret.

Reginald started an inventory in order to determine what had been stolen while Shana and Friar Mark began the process of separating chantry and node from their tethers on the Prime Material plane and relocating them temporarily to Alex’s condo. It was three days before Reginald was certain enough of his results to present them to the chantry as a whole. The only thing missing was the Cross the party had brought back from Dodge City.

Research into the nature of that artifact began in earnest. After questioning the party in detail Friar Mark contacted one of the Celestial Choir strongholds in Spain. He spoke to several people, but when he hinted that the technocracy may have gained possession of that cross he was granted a private interview with Paul Santiago.

Paul is a librarian in the Celestial Choir. A historian who guards true knowledge of what the Spanish found in America. Hidden within the cross is a shard of black stone that gleams like gold in the right light. It is a piece of the door to the City of Gold without which the door cannot be opened. Unlike the legends the city is not made of gold. It isn’t even truly a city. It is a fragment of the chaos and possibility that created the world as we know it and from the temple at the heart of the city anyone dedicated and fanatical enough to risk their life placing their hand on the tip of the pyramid can remake reality to their will. When the Freemasons used it to create the gauntlet the Choir went to great effort to see that no one could ever reach the city again, and Paul was frantic when he realized that the defenses he had put so much effort into creating had been breached.

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