The players turned up to this session cosplaying their characters
The Council doesn’t have any parking spaces, so our heroes have to park Stake Out bus a kilometre away, and carry their evidence of Terralith Eco scheming through the underground corridors and security doors themselves.
Their reception is underwhelming. It’s Sunday, and only Rhys Lynford is in. He is so awkward and shifty around them (and clumsy with the 5l of blood) that they don’t trust him with their other bit of evidence – the vial of clear liquid.
As Freja’s friends head their separate ways, Katrina’s daughter decides to head to relatives in Luleå, close to the arctic circle, where the short nights will put paid to any vampires.
The moon is new, and Elli is standing before the mouth of a cave in a rough cotton gown, lit by her Pythagorean comrades holding torches. She’s beginning her initiation into the next level of the mysteries of the Pythagoreans.
So she steps forward into the darkness. Slowly, she sees two dots approaching. Then she realises they are eyes. Who belong to …
Blair, swearing her, reminding her how she held him tight with a spell whilst Patty ripped him to pieces, and mainly how they were terrible vegans for not letting him cut a swathe of death through the industries that exploit animals and their apologists.
She calmly sighs, and when he physically attacks her, she deflects him with her warding hand spell, twisting and turning as he comes at her from all dimensions.
Until Blair is slain, dispersing into glowing red translucent swirls, by a centaur.
Chiron teaching Achilles, Roman mosaic
Elli recognises the Cenatur as Chiron, most learned of his kind and teacher of Greek heroes. He warns her of grave challenges ahead, and grants her a vision of where the ancient Apollonius Codex is – in the house of Jerome Willoughby, who stole it from the Pythagoreans many years ago.
Chiron throws his torch towards the exit to the cave. Her fellow cultists raise theirs, showing Elli her way out of the cave.
Or so Elli thinks. But in reality, she’s still in….
Elli’s continuing vision
Elli convinces Patty to take Stake Out back to Devon to see her Uncle Jerome, who was injured fighting with them against vampires. Patty also arranges a booking there for Stake Out. Plus, they can pick up Salvatore (who stayed behind in Devon).
In Torbay Hospital, Patty’s uncle Jerome is convalescent, weak, and easygoing. But the potted plants around him are dead – almost as if his recovery involves sucking the life-force out of them.
Nudged somewhat by Elli, Patt, Elli & Katrina offer to get his clothes from his home on Dartmoor.
But Jerome’s home is a mess. There’s been a fight there, with door and window frames broken, and magical burns and disruptures to the walls and fittings. One tattered page that Elli recognises as the Appollonius Codex is on the floor – an ancient text on transformations of forms with commentaries in Arabic and Hebrew. There are large animal scales, and wooden swords, and miniature bronze palm fronds.
Elli finds more Pythagorean books that Jerome has been illicitly holding on to, but Patty takes a very dim view of her taking them. Still, Elli keeps hold of the single page.
They nip back to the hospital to confront Jerome about the fight. He pleads ignorance, but also says that Elli can take the Pythagorean books back that he “borrowed”.
They drive back to his home (which the best part of an hour of winding lanes on Dartmoor), to continue their investigation.
Leafing through a medieval Goetia, Elli identifies the scales as Oriax demons. And the badges – the miniature short sword and fronds – are part of the symbols of the Cult of Mavak’lar, gladiator fanatics whose preferred way of sacrificing to Mavak’lar is with a fight to the death.
Patty researches Roman Devon online, and finds a couple of old Roman towns within a 100km. The nearest old Roman structure is Exeter, once a Roman fort, but the nearest remains of amphitheatres would be further along in English Channel in Dorchester, or across the Severn into Wales. (See southwest of the map)
Going through Jerome’s library, Elli manages to find the supplies and incantation for a location spell. She sets up the candle and an ornately carved spinning disk, and Patty sets up the map on her iPad. The candle’s light moves through the disk, and points at the old fort in Newport, Wales.
But Elli is tired. She fasted for the initiation, and although she thinks she’s had food and rest since then, she’s hasn’t.
She doesn’t control the magical energies, and they pour through, frying Patty’s iPad in a burst of flame. Ah well, at least she still has her mobile. (Or would, if she wasn’t a figment of Elli’s imagination.)
They consider waiting, but Elli is worried that Oriax demons are not big on learning, and
may simply sacrificing the book. So they take the 90-minute bus ride to Newport, wales, by which time it’s late at night.
Caerleon / Isca Silurum / Elli’s vision
The remains of the Caerleon amphitheatre is in fields, not far from the village of Caerleon. So they park in the tourist spaces across from it.
But the amphitheatre is hidden behind mists – and our heroes can only hear cries and shouting beyond. As they draw closer, they can glimpse 2-3 metres of stone foundations / ground floor, and wooden superstructure above it. The structure appears translucent in parts, as if clouds are passing through it.
Patty checks her ’phone, and shows what the amphitheatre is actually expected to look like:
Somehow, the cult (or Mava’klar) has conjured a phantom amphitheatre.
The trio follow the wall round to an arched entry way, which goes up wooden steps into … the seating, and a row of Oriax demons.
Behind the wall, Elli listens as the Oriax demon with the biggest voice, on the opposite side of the amphitheatre, interrogates another captured demon … T’soudina. The Byblos demon pleads that without magic, he wouldn’t put up a very interesting fight.
Patty moves forward to poke her mobile phone around the corner, so she can take a look at what’s going on. But she fumbles her ‘phone, and it bounces loudly from one step to the next, cracking as it goes, the focus of the scaly crowd’s attention.
Swiftly, Elli casts an illusion to enable Patty to step gingerly out … as a demon. She waves awkwardly as she steps down to retrieve at least her SIM. With the attention on Patty, Katrina risks a peep, to see the chief of the Oriax, on his dais across the arena, saying he’ll pick an opponent of around T’Soudina’s level. And pointing at Patty.
The stress has triggered her transformation, beneath the disguise – but she doesn’t have opposable thumbs in were-form and her attempts to pick up and hold weapons further amuse and puzzle the crowd – while she stalls for time..
Elli decides to rush round to the chief demon in the hope of grabbing the book, hoping to distract them with (i) Patty, and (ii) setting fire to the wooden superstructure.
Katrina and Elli find that the wooden steps exit a few metres from the chief Oriax. The tattered Codex Appollonius is there, next to a robed demon. Elli telekinetically makes the Codex Appollonius drift towards her, scarcely escaping the clutches of a couple of demons, still chanting the song that maintains Patty’s illusion.
The corridor is only two demons wide, and Katrina grabs one approaching demon, twists his arm, seizes his sword, and parries a swipe from another Oriax with it. She holds them off as Elli races out.
But Elli isn’t as fast as the Oriax, and some of them are coming out the arches to her right and left. And her spells are failing now – her first shout of ‘incendere’ only succeeds in setting fire to the ground around her, and she has to gather her best efforts to set the superstructure ablaze.
When Patty emerges the demons clear a path from her. She’s already bleeding from a deep gash in the story (from when Elli stopped singing and demons attacked). But now Patty barrels towards Katrina, and Elli sees the glazed eyes of some magically deprived of their full senses.
Elli tries to stand between them, but Patty pushes her saide.
T’soudina, no longer imprisoned, emerges from the curved amphitheatre walls, turns to the amassing demons and offers “a lycanthrope versus a slayer”. It’s his spell.
Katrina tries to restrain Patty – but she gets her arms bitten. She tries to hold a sword to her neck to restrain her.
As they fight, she gets a phone call. From T’Soudina, who offers to end the enchantment and let them escape if she’ll hand cover the Codex. Elli dismisses him and hangs up.
Mustering her best efforts, Elli dispells the charm placed on Patty. And hugs her.
But our heroes are still facing a large demon army. Before the end, Elli remmebers to throw the Codex Appollonius into the fire. It explodes, throwing her …
… back into reality
The comes through a shower of petals, and out of the cave, surrounded by Pythagoreans holding torches and vegan cake.
“What?” she repeats, dazed and weak, muttering about Pamela in Dallas. She spends much of the post-initiation celebration staring into space. Until she gets a text.
“How did the initiation go?” texts Patty.