Monday, 12 October 2020
Silent Legions solo - Part 2: Remembrances and hidden things
Mike lives in the rectory attached to his church. It's a small and cozy little flat, and looks almost exactly as Cat would expect: old wooden furniture, faded wallpaper from the 1960s, crucifixes and pictures of Jesus and Mary hanging on every wall. Well, the Black Flag poster is a bit jarring, but Mike did say the diocese doesn't mind as long as he keeps his stereo down so it doesn't disturb the neighbours, and they are rather happy with his youth outreach ministry.
Cat sits down at his ancient kitchen table as he fetches a Doc Martens box from his bedroom. "I didn't know what else to put it in," he says, laying the box in before Cat on the table. "Open it. Tell me what you think."
[Q: Item Type? (1d4): 1 weapon, 2 protective item, 3 grimoire, 4 misc.: d4=4
A Type of Object (from Dark Sorcery tables, SL p46): d8=Relics of a great sorcerer's body. relic=teeth (via https://www.randomlists.com/random-body-parts)
Material (from cult name tables, SL p78): 1d12=copper
Q: Does Mike know what it is/does? 50/50 (4+): O2 C5 - no. (so not rolling any effects yet, just the Curse
How Frequent is the Curse? It’s almost always in effect when the item is owned.
What Triggers the Curse? It triggers when touched by “unworthy” hands.
Save vs. magic (+Wis mod.) to be worthy
C rolls natural 20!
M rolls 10+1, fail
Curse is...It causes bad luck for allies and friends, forcing ill fortune.
What Cures the Curse’s Effect? Putting away the artefact and staying away from it.]
Cat shivers at the sight of the thing as she lifts the lid. It's made of a coppery metal, three ovoid spokes connected in a triquetra-like shape. Yellowing human teeth are set in three rows of seven, lengthwise across the top of each spoke, giving the whole the appearance of a three-pronged jaw.
Cat reaches for it, then stops short. She glances up at Mike to see if he was going to stop her, but he just gestures to go ahead. The metal is subtly warm to the touch. She turns it over in her hands, and finds an inscription incised on the underside:
uerum nulla tam modesta felicitas est, quae malignitatis dentes uitare possit.
"It's horrible. I love it. What is it?"
"I dunno exactly, but it's some sort of magic. Can't you feel it?"
"Not really, no," says Cat, turning it over and over again. "Are you sure it isn't just the look of the thing?"
"I'm certain. This... I dunno, it does something."
"The metal's weird. Almost spongy. Like it isn't metal at all."
"And then there's that inscription on the back. It's Latin. It means, 'But no good--'"
"I know what it means."
"Oh. You know Latin?"
"Learnt it at school."
"Huh. I had to google it."
"Aren't you a Catholic priest?"
"It's not strictly required in seminary any more. But now you've seen it, maybe you should read the rest of the letter. It might explain tings... sort of. I'll put the kettle on."
[The inscription is from the 9 books of Memorable Doings and Sayings (Factorum et dictorum memorabilium libri IX) of Valerius Maximus, who wrote in the early 1st century AD. It translates as "Truly no good fortune (or, happiness) is so modest that it can avoid the teeth of malice" (Val. Max. 4, 7, extr. 2)
The letter comprises 3 BOLD waylays.
1. Haven - tavern - abstract (the Circle hang out in the basement of an art gallery, so this will refer to that rather than a tavern)
solution: favoured skill (d4=socialite, rand class skill=language
Conversation (via UNE): Friendly - alliance - treasure
2. physical - struggle - noble
solution: on accident
3. hard foes - villain - peaceful
solution: favoured ability: lied to buy time (Socialite class)]
Some people showed up at the flat last night. I don't know their names but they were def with the Circle, and despite everything they said I knew it was all threats. I think they're going to kill me if don't join them again.
Lady N found me, she showed up at my door the day before when everyone was at work. We argued, there was a fight. I pushed her over the end table, I didn't mean to but she was really pissing me off.
The visitors said she was just trying to get me to "reconsider my decision to leave". and it's her own fault how it turned out. and we don't blame you
She was out cold a few mins, then came round. I left and told her not to be there when i got home i'd be bringing some angry blokes I know to protect me. There aren't any, but she was gone when i came home.
But then I got that visit last night, and they talked and I listened and now I think its going to go badly for me. They can get to me no matter where I go, Lady N and her spells tracked me down once, they can again I know it.
I remember one time at the gallery I overheard two of the Circle talking, they didn't know I could understand Latin I guess. They talked alot about a treasure they'd found and how it would be what they needed to defeat the Star. I got rid of my phone in case they were just tracking that. I'll ring when i get a new one. I'll explain everything then. It would take too long to write it out.
"Well? Now what do you think?"
"It sounds delusional..."
"After all you've seen, you--"
"No, I mean, I see why you didn't go to the police. But why me, exactly? It can't just be 'cause she said I was nice to her."
"You were the only person who knew Vera who isn't involved. Plus I just wanted you to find her. I didn't intend to... uh..."
"So what now? Like, how many people know you were looking for her? And do you think they know she had this... whatever the fuck it is?"
[Q: Any opinions? 50/50: O2 C8 - No.]
"I don't know. I don't think I talked to anyone in an incriminating way. The police haven't even been by to question me, after you reported..."
"But, the hospital break-in. Aren't you worried?"
"I suppose that depends on whether they think she might have told me anything. I don't know why they would, necessarily."
"Like, I dunno, in confession maybe? You're a bit of a shit priest, y'know, if that hadn't occurred to you."
"Vera wasn't catholic."
"I'm not sure that's the point."
"So what do we do now?"
"Fuck if I know. Stash the thing, for starters. Someplace safe. It may be needed as a bargaining chip. You know, like for our lives or summat."
"I... I fear you may be right. But we should also try to determine what it does--"
"I admit I'm intrigued."
"--and if it is a thing of evil, destroy it."
"You-- you're serious."
"If it's evil -- dangerous -- then we have a moral duty to destroy it. Religion or no."
"Yeah. I s'pose. So how do we figure it out?"
"I might know someone who can help [random SL Actor]. An old Jesuit scholar, one of my instructors at seminary. I'll ring him up and see about a meeting."
"Sobriety was supposed to be less weird than this..."
Age: Decrepit, perhaps past their prior glories or still holding on.
Profession: Teacher, professor, or other education worker.
Memorable Quirks: Extremely laconic, preferring to communicate in gesture
Social Standing: A solid and reliable community member
Relation to Situation: An unwitting pawn necessary to someone’s plans
The Problem That Drives Them: A ferocious ambition can only be aided by one involved.
Q: Can Mike get a meeting? Likely (3+): O6 C4 - yes, but... not for 1d10=6 days
Q: Does Mike have a good hiding spot in meantime? 50/50 (4+): O2 C2 - No, and... wants Cat to hide it.
+Event: PC negative - Carelessness / Disruption (ambush scene 1-2 before 3-4 during 4-6 after: d6=6)]
After a few minutes deliberation, they decide the safest place to stash it is in the 24-hour left luggage office at Euston. Mike packs the artefact into a suitcase filled with old clothes for Cat to take.
"I'll need some cash," Cat reminds him.
"Of course. Here's £40. It's all I have on me. I may not have taken a vow of poverty or anything, but..."
Cat takes a bus to the station. On her way in she runs into old 'friend' who offers to hook her up. [Mental save at +2 to refuse: 13+2+1(Wis)=success] The temptation gnaws at her gut.
"I'd best not. They test me once a week, and I'll get my arse kicked out of the halfway house if they find anything."
"Your loss. But you know where to find me if you change your mind."
Cat drops off the case, and is glad that she's only got £10 left after she pays for the week. She leaves the station by a different exit, just in case her old friend is in the mood to offer a return-customer discount.
[Q: Does anything particularly interesting happen before the meeting? 50/50 (4+): O6 C7 - Yes.]
* * *
PC negative - Delay / Legal matters : called in to the police station 1d3=once more for questioning
Q: A suspect? Doubtful (6): O5 C1 - No, and... ]
The following morning, Cat is sat in the hallway waiting impatiently for her turn in the bathroom when the staff member on duty marches up the steps to fetch her.
"Cat, the police are here for to see you. They want you down the station..."
Cat throws her towel and toiletries back in her room and locks the door before going down to meet them.
"Don't worry, Miss Morland," says the officer waiting in the foyer, you're not under arrest. We just need you to answer a few more questions and maybe shed some light on things."
She's at the station until well after midday. She does her best to answer their questions without mentioning Fr. Mike at all, and certainly without mentioning Vera's letter or the artefact. She has a suspicion that the police are merely fishing for leads...
[9+ Int/Perception roll to overhear something useful to her own investigations: 10+1=success
Clue: Imprison / The spiritual]
...but she does overhear some detectives discussing an older case that may be linked to the murder, and resolves to ask Mike about it as soon as they let her go home.
* * *
"Better I have a couple pints at my local with a friendly priest than go out boozing unchaperoned. Besides, I have something I need to ask you."
"What do you know about a Fr. Sadowski?"
[Q: Anything? 50/50 (4+): O5 C3 - Yes, but... just the general story (details to be determined using the SL One-Roll Crime Creation on p.131)]
"He's in Pentonville for [1d8=] Kidnapping."
"Huh. The cops seem to think he has something to do with Vera's murder."
"I can make some inquiries, but I can't push too hard. It's an embarrassment for the church, so idle curiosity is discouraged."
"Yeah. Maybe I better visit a library. See what the papers say. How long ago was it...?"
[Scene 7 (17-20 Sept) is just an investigation roll:
Int/Research roll 10+ for local library: 10+1(int)-1(unskilled)=success
One-Roll Crime Creation
It was discovered by…A relative or neighbour of the victim discovered it.
The Police Attitude is…Conflicted. Some cops have reasons to want it unsolved.(poor handling of almost got case dismissed)
A Clue about the Crime is…Vehicle identification leads toward the culprit
Gossip or News about it is…The facts are the talk of the town’s gossip mongers.
The Witnesses Were…Conflicting. Reports differ on crucial points.
Age: Unusually young for their position.
Profession: Businessman, clerk, banker, or other white-collar job.
Memorable Quirks: Has implausible dream they pursue in an ineffectual way
Social Standing: A solid and reliable community member
Relation to Situation: A reluctant participant induced by threat or profit
The Problem That Drives Them: They’re badly mistaken about someone involved in it.
None of this suggested a connection at the time (minor spoiler: some of it will come up later in the adventure).]
[Scene 8 - meeting the Jesuit
Investigation scene: d12=The Enemy’s agents are also searching for the Actor, and the PCs risk running into them at the place the Actor is supposed to inhabit. They may realize they have company before a certain confrontation. Clues at the site lead to the Actor’s hiding place.]
Four days later, Cat meets Mike at the rectory. She presents her findings as they are walking to the bus stop through the evening drizzle.
"The kidnapping was all over the papers, but the accounts varied a lot. Most of the facts were down to the car he was driving, the witness that remembered its number plate, and who the victim was. But nothing to even hint at the cult's involvement. How'd you do?"
"I didn't get very far at all. Like I said, we're discouraged from talking about it."
"Maybe this Jesuit of yours will know something. Where are we meeting him anyway?"
[I found a list of 10 British Jesuit parishes online, so rolled 1d9 (omitting the one in Guyana)]
"At his church, naturally. St Ignatius, in Stamford Hill."
"Stamford Hill, huh? You sure he's a Jesuit, not a rabbi?"
"Yes, I'm pretty sure. I've seen him answer the phone on Saturdays."
* * *
[d6=] chick she used to date worked.
"Pull up a pew," says Mike, "whilst I find Fr. Berenger."
Cat is grateful to have somewhere to wait, and even more grateful still that Mike thinks her irrepressible smirk is at his joke, and not woefully (for her surroundings) inappropriate memories.
[They need Wis/Perception rolls 11+ to spot the enemies immediately: C 7+1, fail; M 8+1, fail
Q: Do the enemies clock our heroes? 50/50 (4+): O5 C8 - Yes.
reaction: Aggressively / Macabre
Stealth +1 vs. M's Wis/Perception: 7+1=8 vs. 3+1=4, success]
Cat watches as Mike goes up to have a word with one of the ushers. He runs into a pair of other priests, who stop him for a moment. They shake hands and exchange friendly greetings before going their separate ways.
Mike visits often enough to be known to the usher on sight. But when he asks after Fr. Berenger, the man's face darkens considerably.
"He's not here. Why do you need to see him?"
"It's... a personal matter. He said he would lend me a book that might have the answers I need. If I could just get into his room and get it..."
[Mike needs to roll 9+ Cha/Persuade: 7-1, fail]
"I don't think so. Fr. Berenger has seemed very nervous the past few days. I hope you've not been the one upsetting him." [scheming - intent - the character]
Mike knows better than to push, so just says he'll come back when his mentor returns.
[C&M need 9+ Wis/Perception rolls to have noticed the odd behaviour of the priests: 8+1, 9+1]
"Something's wrong here," says Mike as he and Cat are leaving. The usher said Fr. Berenger has been nervous the past few days -- that man is a rock. And those other priests weren't from the parish. I think they may have been here for the same reason we are."
"They were starting to weird me out. I thought it was just me. Good to know I'm not just paranoid. I think."
"It's not just you.... Man, I really need to clean this coat out. I think that packet of Monster Munch wasn't quite empty; it's all gritty in my pocket. No, wait, what is that?"
Mike stops walking underneath a street lamp, pulls his closed fist from his coat pocket and opens his fingers to find fragments of human teeth caked in dried blood.
"Oh God, I think those strange priests must have slipped me these."
"A... a warning?" asks Cat, as the bile rises in her throat.
"Yeah. I think they know Vera gave me the artefact."
[The appalling find is worth d4 Madness for our heroes. 2 for Mike, 1 for Cat.
Q: Does the Jesuit ring Mike? 50/50 (4+): O2 C3 - no, but... sends letter
Q: Does the letter arrive before the PCs do anything else? 50/50 (4+): O5 C4 - yes, but... there is a random Event before Cat can meet Mike again.]
* * *
Cat hadn't slept well after the visit to the church, but she still sets her alarm for 7am. She gets up before anyone else in the halfway house (she gets the bathroom first, whilst it's still clean!) and heads into town. She collects the suitcase from Euston then takes the tube across town to drop it off at the left luggage in Victoria for another week.
[Q: Any incidents? Unlikely (5+): O4 C8 - No.]
Cat has appointments filling the rest of the day: her rescheduled visit with Dr. Sonia, and both an NA and a house residents' meeting. For once she doesn't mind, as any distraction is welcome. But it's all done by 4pm. She can't face the prospect of an evening by herself in her room, and really can't abide the rubbish they are always watching in the common room, so gives up and texts Mike: "Can't stand to be alone this evening. Pub?" His response is fortunately not long in coming: "Busy until 7:30. Bit skint too. Beers in the rectory?"
Cat shows up at his door that evening, having bought 6 cans of Polish lager with a name she can't pronounce at the nearest offie. They spend a few hours going through Mike's CD collection (the secular half, at any rate) and talking about everything in the world except cults and murders and conspiracies. Mike is careful to avoid any proselytising, but by the time Cat has to go home he's half convinced her to check out the Latin Mass at that one church in South Kensington with him some time.
He waves goodnight from his doorway, pops some Exploited on the stereo, and sits down to finish writing his sermon for Sunday. He feels a bit inspired after their talk, and by 1am he's got it all finished, and even managed to sneak in some Social Distortion lyrics (Without Christ's intercession, we are 'born to lose, and destined to fail').
But he doesn't hear the soft, padding footsteps of the thing creeping up behind him...
next post: cops & monsters