Shadow of a Horned God

Shadow of a Horned God, Part III, Act III, Session II

The Might of Elders

The story starts on the cold, silent streets of Londinium, where the coterie have just defeated the infamous Leper assassin, Demprios. Before leaving the area, they all feel strange tremors beneath the ground, and Castor manages to recognize his own koldunic energies at work deep beneath the city. They come to the conclusion that it must be Lucilla, whose cursed presence is causing the tremors. Both Castor and Hector fail to locate her, though. Then the coterie disperse.

Hector and Fherah venture into the streets of the city, hunting for sustenance. They soon discover that all taverns or beer halls are empty due to the civil strain which the city finds herself in. Instead they find themselves forced to prowl the streets itself for unfortunates. After a while they run into a group of pagan thugs in the process of brutalizing an unfortunate Christian. After a short conversation the group choose to assault the pair of strangers. Although the fight isn’t over as smoothly as one would assume, the thugs are eventually brought down and fed upon by the Cainites before brought back to their haven.

Octavius isn’t interested to stay in the city after the conversation with Aidalos earlier, and immediately leaves in the company of his ghoul servant, Ymwrayhl. The guards at the western gate are somewhat suspicious but doesn’t cause any real problems. He later meets with his forward scouts before arriving to his men, and give them orders to keep an eye on the approaching army from East Anglia, but without confronting them.

Castor receives a “visitation” from Minerva, who uses her Auspex Discipline to speak to him directly. She asks him of a “favor”, after receiving information about the curse cast upon Lucilla. She explains that Lucilla is in possession of something of utmost importance, and that it would be very unfortunate if it would be lost with her. She asks him to lift the curse, so that she could confront Lucilla before her demise in order to obtain the document she is holding. Castor is reluctant about this, but finally agrees after receiving Minerva’s word on that Lucilla will be taken care of, and that she will arrange for her to travel north, away from the coterie. After the conversation, Castor lifts the curse, which would most assuredly lead to Lucilla’s demise otherwise. He informs this to both Hector and Vivia.

Vivia decides to learn more about the strange young Madman, Sherwin, and discuss some politics with him. They speak for a while, the young Cainite proving to be quite knowledgeable about the subject, especially from the mortal point of view. Raul, the Caitiff, accompanies them. They are suddenly interrupted by an unseen presence, who speaks directly into their minds, asking them to dismiss Raul and the other servants. Recognizing the voice of Aidalos, Vivia complies. In the presence of Vivia and Sherwin alone, Aidalos shows himself. He asks Vivia for a favor, that of taking young Sherwin with her as she leaves the city. He explains that even though Sherwin’s capability of hiding is great indeed, it isn’t enough to keep him safe from harm in the city in the near future. He leaves shortly after receiving Vivia’s assurance of doing this favor for him. After his departure she orders her servants to prepare their departure from the city immediately, after which she takes one of her ghouls and Raul with her to visit Hector, to inform him of her decision.

Hector and Fherah arrive at Luanna’s haven, where they prepare feeding rituals, and Hector uses Farsight to check on Valerius Marcon. He finds her clearly awake and in an unknown location. He then tries to contact Morita. He finds her in the throne room of Deva, badly injured and in torpor. Further investigations reveal that Lucian Minorus also lies in torpor, though without any visible physical injuries. After these revelations, he attempts to contact Minerva, and succeeds. She is on her way south as they converse, and she explains the reason why Minorus and Morita are in their current state. Apparently, they had attempted to stop her from reviving Marcon, which forced her to retaliate. Obviously, she needed to get hold of something only Marcon could provide. She tells Hector that she is on her way to Londinium, and if he chooses to travel directly to Deva, they will meet on the road. After their conversation, Hector contacts Giyora, his old research companion. He finds out that he has taken interest in the King of East Anglia, Raedwald, and decided to discreetly support his ambitions into becoming Bretwalda, something that seems very likely at the moment. He is also on his way to Londinium at the moment, and Hector warns him of the malevolent presence in the city. Giyora also explains that Raedwald is backed by the Artisan ruler of Venta Icenorum, Calipha, as well as her vassals and allies. He also informs that some of them would surely like to meet with Octavius, as a diplomatic gesture from Calipha. After the conversation, Hector resumes his rituals.

Sherwin leaves the haven and seeks out Dougal, his ghoul companion, and explains the recent turn of events. He asks him to prepare for leaving the city immediately, taking as many of their allies with them as possible. Dougal is surprised at the urgency of the request, but obeys and sets out to wake his allies immediately. Meanwhile, Sherwin investigates their route to the western gate, finding that his “diversion” earlier has come to bloom as the pagan thugs of the slums are currently involved in major infighting. He then returns to the haven to wait for the departure.

Vivia arrives at Luanna’s haven, and meets with Hector. She informs him of her recent conversation with Aidalos and her decision to leave the city immediately. As they talk, Fherah decides to investigate the absence of Luanna’s servants and goes into her underground excavation. It is dark and silent, and empty, until she finds the corpse of one of her servants, apparently dead from having his throat cut open. The body lies next to a large crack in the floor, quite deep. As she investigates the hole she is attacked by an unknown being, apparently very strong. After a short struggle the being manages to knock her down into the hole and she falls more than a hundred feet down, knocked temporarily unconscious from the impact.

Upstairs, Vivia and Hector hears the fight and hurry down to investigate. Realizing that Fherah has fallen down the hole, Hector begins the climb down to help her. Vivia sends her ghoul to fetch some rope. Suddenly, Raul vanishes without a trace and Vivia finds herself alone in the room, not quite convinced there isn’t someone else there. She manages to hold her fears in check. When her ghoul returns, he falls to the ground in horrible agonies, screaming and bleeding through his very skin. As Vivia finds herself even more vulnerable, she decides to call for the only capable warrior she knows to be in the city, Castor. She employs her Summon technique, and Castor rushes towards his summoner. Meanwhile Hector reaches the bottom, where Fherah has regained her consciousness and is able to climb up with some help from Hector. They start their climb back up. Vivia ties a lantern to the end of the rope and lowers it down to provide light to them.

When Castor arrives he is infuriated, putting the screaming ghoul on the floor out of his misery before asking what’s happening. Vivia explains the situation to him, and he begins to prepare a ritual. Before finishing, he feels a slight touch to his neck before falling to the ground in terrible pain, as if his own strength of will was turned inwards, eating his very soul. Although the pain lasts for less than a minute, he finds himself incapacitated from the wounds. Meanwhile, the unseen presence cuts the rope, sending the lantern down towards the climbing pair of Cainites. It hits Fherah, who is soaked with burning oil. Both she and Hector manages to hold off Rötschreck however, and manages to cut off her burning clothes, leaving her naked and severily injured. Upon release from his torments, Castor bursts out, with angry feelings of helplessness. He immediately orders his servants to ready his wagon and sets out from the city. The guards at the gate are even more suspicious, but a considerable bribe eases their suspicions enough to open the gate.

Hector and Fherah manages to climb up, where Vivia has been waiting anxiously. Suddenly two individuals appear, struggling in an effort to clinch each other. One being Aidalos, the other a stranger, whom Fherah recognizes as her attacker. Aidalos yells for them to leave immediately, and the assembled young Cainites doesn’t hesitate to obey. They run out from the building, Fherah carried by Hector, and still without any trace of Raul. They arrive at the haven, where Vivia’s servants have prepared for departure. There is also Sherwin, who understands the need to leave is urgent and hurries to Dougal to make sure they are on their way. Vivia, Hector and Fherah encounter Sherwin and his followers on the street towards the western gate, and are shocked by the large amount of people and wagons, obviously six whole families with wagons and a dozen armed guards. This time the guards are seriously alarmed, especially at the sight of the Christian followers of Sherwin. After a couple of implementations of Dominate, Hector manages to have the gate opened and so the last members of the coterie leave the city.

A while outside the city, they are reunited with Octavius and Castor, and have a small discussion about misunderstandings. Hector informs Octavius about what he have learned, and Octavius decides it’s time to return to Deva. The now enlarged group starts it trek towards Verulamium, which will serve as a stop to replenish their stores. During the trip Vivia notices some strange things around her wagon, and asks Hector for assistance. After investigating he discovers Raul in Vivia’s wagon, but is obviously the only one capable of seeing him. He sees a chance to experiment on the “vanished” Cainite and invites him to his wagon, where he attacks him, trying to drain him of blood. The Caitiff resists and eventually frenzies, replenishing his blood from Hector, without anyone able to interfere. He then flees into the forest, leaving Hector severely drained.

Octavius encounters Khoraxoz, who informs him of the happenings in Deva, and his lack of progress in locating Lucilla. Octavius asks him to deliver a message to Kaeila, giving her mandate to oversee nightly affairs in Deva until his return. Khoraxoz is also able to inform of the location of Marcon, and his intents to leave for the island of Hibernia. Then he leaves. After hearing Octavius wishes to return quickly, Castor invites him to travel together, as he is able to easily create shelter on the road, thus allowing faster travel without wagons. After deciding this, Castor and Octavius leave the others behind and ride quickly towards Deva. Here is where we leave the coterie, for now…

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Juniper Juniper

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