CAST OF PLAYERS:
Debora Silkotch…………..Casey Gavin…………………………..…Human Psionic
Jera Morrison…………..….Alseyne Aulaudin……………………Sidhe Changeling
Kendall Nye………….……Joseph McAdoo………………………..Ronin Garou
Jeremy Whitener………….Korin Alabaster…………………………Were-Mongoose
Aron Head………………….Story/Setting/Everything Else…….Game Master
“Everyone watch your backs!” Alseyne called as Yggthor, Claws and the Stonewolf bolted toward the leaning structure. “And try to stay within sight of each other — we don’t need any doppelgangers! Casey, if you can do it safely, please try to keep a mental lock on each of us so you can warn us if anyone gets into trouble.”
It only took a moment for Casey to establish very passive links among the group. It was rather like monitoring more than one radio station: it would be easy to lose focus on what she was doing. She let the connections hum quietly in the background, sparing them only enough attention to catch any twangs of alarm or surprise.
Alsyne started across the lawn more cautiously than the impatient warriors, her sword at the ready. Casey fell in beside her.
Pip tossed a nod to Wynne, who answered it with a nod herself. She disappeared into the trees. The satyr rushed up between Alseyne and Casey, brandishing his polearm. “Ass-whompin’ time, ladies…”
Alseyne kept her watchful pace. “Fools rush –”
Two shots rang out from the darkened porch of the house beyond. Yggthor, in the lead, appeared to be drawing the fire. The first bullet rang off the blade of his axe. The second blast clipped Big Blue in the left arm; a spray of blood and meat exploded from impact. The troll spun and faltered, but didn’t lose his footing. BranAdoo passed the troll and was then passed in turn by the charging Bastet.
Alseyne grabbed for her purse with her free hand, dipping into it to try and locate her own gun.
Casey made a quick arcing gesture, refocusing her power into a shield between her immediate group and the doorway without slowing down. Then she reached out with her perceptions to find the shooter. “It’s still the baboon shooting at us, he’s just inside the doorway. I’ve got a shield up that should stop bullets, but it won’t help if someone starts throwing magics at us.”
“Hopefully the Necromancer is the only one who could do that,” Alseyne observed, “and if that ball worked, he’s feeling some pain from the spell shattering and won’t be up to casting immediately. At least, that’s what I hope.”
Casey nodded, reaching out for Korin’s mind. “Pip, how long does the orb’s effect last?”
“It permanently dispels the cast magic,” the satyr answered. “But the spell can always be recast. I imagine that it’s a complex process.”
After a bit of searching Casey connected with the Mongoose’s mental presence, and sucked a sharp breath as his overwhelming agony and fear became hers. The telekinetic shield faltered as pain exploded through her shoulder, then steadied as she jerked free of the mindtouch. “Korin’s in trouble,” she shuddered. “He’s hurt and scared. Something’s got him. Not the baboon, the…the other thing, I think. The necromancer.”
“Then we need to hustle,” Pip encouraged.
Claws was the first to reach the house, bounding onto the porch. The wood creaked and strained under his massive weight.
BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!
Shots rang out loudly, the flash of the muzzle visible in the darkness of the hallway beyond.
Three of the four shots found their mark, striking Claws in the shoulders and foreleg. He shrugged it off.
BranAdoo leaped from the yard and smashed through the boarded window of the front room, tumbling into the room where the girl was held.
Pip, Casey, and Alseyne arrived on the porch.
The instant she stepped onto the rotted wood of the structure, Casey’s blood ran cold. The presence in the house filled her mind — all her instincts screamed at her to flee. No good, no good could possibly come of this. Get out, get out, GET OUT!
She froze, literally unable to take another step forward. The malevolent brume, unnerving enough from a distance, was paralyzing this close to the source.
Alseyne had her silver-bullet-loaded gun tucked into the front of her pants and her sword held low by both hands as she looked around for immediate threats. “Casey, can you tell where that evilness is centered? We need to get there and help Korin.”
Casey’s only reply was a soul-rending shriek on pitch with the anguished cries of the damned citizens of Dis.
Pip caught her as she stumbled, preventing an all-on-topple to the deck. He eyed her with concern. “Casey…”
She was trembling, shaking. Horrible didn’t begin to describe him. It. She knew… she knew now. Upstairs. It was upstairs. But it wasn’t staying upstairs.
She struggled to warn the others, but no sound escaped her terror-choked throat and her mind was too full of screaming to send a coherent message.
A chilling laughter greeted them from within the house.
“…Coming,” Casey finally managed hoarsely, still rigid with horror in Pip’s grasp. “It’s up…upstairs, but it’s coming down…”
Pip looked up the long flight of stairs, weighing options. He gave Casey a once-over, then nodded toward the open front door. “Can you help him?”
Casey followed his glance, and saw Korin belly-crawling painfully across the floor near the stairway. His fur had gone ash-white.
The very air of the house swam oppressively before her eyes, heavy with malicious glee: she felt like she was staring through a boiling swarm of agitated and vengeful wasps. She wondered if her own perceptions were making her see Korin in that shade of horror-bleached white or if his pelt had really changed. It was an almost idle thought; the only thing that felt real, the only thing that mattered, was the all-encompassing evil that was coming for them.
Pip had asked her something…if she could help Korin? She licked dry lips with a dry tongue and rasped, “Too strong. Can’t help any of us.” Falco had warned her to show no weakness in the presence of the necromancer, but he might as well have advised her to show no need for air at the bottom of the sea. What was she even doing here? She was a freaking bartender, for pity’s sake. “Doesn’t matter.” She wondered if she was even speaking coherently. Korin looked pretty bad, she should go see what had happened to him. Maybe ease his pain before they were all squashed like bugs when the abomination reached them. “I’ll take a look.” She shuffled slowly with the others into the malevolently haunted house, her movements stiff with dread. Her shield had shattered in the psionic shock of entering the house, and she didn’t bother to restore it. It wouldn’t help here anyway.
“Great,” Pip said softly, nodding. He called over to Alseyne, “I don’t want to give it choices. Care to join me upstairs?”
Alseyne smiled grimly. “Certainly, dear.”
Claws sniffed at the hallway where the baboon went and then at the stairway. Then he stalked up the stairs, past the wounded Korin and the fearful Casey. “You will be avenged,” he growled as the
trod into battle.
Stumbling slowly through the angry wasps, Casey made her way over to the Mongoose, stopping in front of him to block his path. “Korin.”
“Ca….Casey?” Agony and horror thrummed in his voice.
“Yeah. You did it, the sleep spell’s down.” Dropping to her knees, she placed a hand gently on Korin’s uninjured shoulder and attempted to discern the extent of his injuries.
His arm was badly withered, atrophied. There was a stink about him…of decay. The smell of death on him seemed morbidly appropriate in this foul place. She sent her perceptions deeper into his injured shoulder and arm, unsure of how to begin mending flesh that was not just damaged but dying…or already dead.
Within the Mongoose’s body she sensed a presence… a black tendril wrapped itself tightly about Korin’s shoulder and arm, violent barbs wriggling into his flesh. Feeding on him?
She sneezed violently.
The vision was gone, but not the sense of it. Freaking black magic, it was literally sucking the life out of him. Freaking necromancers.
“It’s going to be okay.” The lie came easily, she barely even heard herself. “What did you see?”
Trembling, he looked into her eyes. “Death.” His horror-stricken gaze turned back the way he’d come, as if expecting to see his attacker in pursuit.
She focused an experimental flow of healing power into his atrophied limb, a wry smile twisting her mouth. “Looks like you got up close and personal with it.”
His arm and shoulder warmed and fleshed out, but immediately returned to its previous ailing state. She could heal the symptoms, but the underlying cause was still doing its foul work. Korin wasn’t going to last long this way.
Her ministrations drew his attention to his injured arm, apparently for the first time. Casey could feel fresh fear radiating from him at the sight of the withered limb. “What the F….” His voice caught in his throat and his hollow eyes turned back to her. “Going to be okay huh?” He was trying for the old smirk, but it came out more like a snarl.
“You’re not dead yet, my friend.” Casey sent a soothing pulse of comfort with the words. Not reassurance — she had none of that to offer — but a calming reminder that he wasn’t in this alone.
He looked at his dying arm again, then seemed to marshal his resolve. “How about a hand up, lady?”
She took the hand he offered but kept her other hand on his shoulder, still on her knees beside him. “Wait,” she murmured, closing her eyes, gathering her power. “You can’t fight like this. And I can’t undo
the magic. But…I think…if we work together we might be able to heal you.”
She’d seen the way the weres mended themselves. The necromancer was too strong for Korin, and too strong for her. But if they combined their strength…?
She hadn’t forgotten the danger of mixing psionics with glamour; that wasn’t what she had in mind. She’d felt the flow before, the willing offering up of strength from her companions to herself. Now she prepared to let it flow the other way. “There’s dark magic eating away at you. It will consume you if we can’t break its hold. Heal yourself now. Put all your power into it. I’ll help you.”
She didn’t attempt to fight the magic itself; she left that to the Mongoose. But when she felt him drawing on his resources of strength to do it, she added all of her own to the pool.