[ Author’s Note: This is the episode synopsis for the 15th session of the Dark Waters Rising campaign. This is my take as to what happened during the session. Please let me know if there are any comments or corrections. ]
Tea With Aunt Eva
Hunter and Val sit down to have tea with Evgeniya Polanov in her trailer just off the highway near Goree, Texas. Aunt Eva greets them with a shotgun but warms up quickly when she learns their identities. After pouring tea Aunt Eva begins to talk about the old times. After only a few minutes two SUV’s with blacked out windows pull up to the trailer. Three men and a very tall raven haired woman armed with assault rifles get out. The woman begins to walk towards the door to the trailer when Hunter steps out with arms raised. Hunter approaches and starts up a conversation with the woman. She tells Hunter that her name is Maganhildi Weber but that she likes to be called “Mags”. She also reveals that she is looking to “collect” Evgeniya for her employers, The Hermetic Order Of The Golden Dawn. While the two talk Val and Aunt Eva sneak out the back of the trailer into the nearby woods. While moving through the trap door Aunt Eva asks Val if she has acquired her Mother’s journal. Until this comment Val and Hunter did not even know there was a journal. After stashing Aunt Eva in the woods Val returns to see what is happening with Hunter. Hunter and Mags continue their conversation then eventually return to the SUVs. Mags says that Hunter will have to accompany her back to the Order. Hunter reluctantly agrees. To Hunter’s surprise Mags tells the other three men to head out then thanks them for their help. After taking off her flak vest and locking up her assault rifle Mags and Hunter start to drive back towards the highway. After only a few moments Hunter grabs the wheel of the SUV and drives it into a tree! In the crash Mags is stunned. Hunter dives out of the SUV then quickly breaks off a key in her lockbox so she cannot retrieve her assault rifle. Val gets in her Nova and races down the road nearly running down Mags so that Hunter can jump in. Once in the car Hunter grabs a pistol from the glovebox and holds Mags at gunpoint. He throws her a burner cell then gets Val and Aunt Eva and leaves. The trio decides to head towards the ranch which is not too far from Aunt Eva’s trailer. On the way they phone Stone to explain what happened.
A Thalamus Best Seller
While Hunter and Val go to the ranch Stone decides to start researching Lamashtu. On the way to the library he passes the student bookstore. At the bookstore there is some type of commotion. It appears that Thalamus has released a new book that is getting the attention of the campus. The book which is titled “The Harpies Of Babylon” includes the first eight chapters that the hunters discovered on Teresa Barker’s laptop plus two closing chapters. After buying a copy Stone reads the last two chapters. (See the wiki for all the details on the book.)
In the last part of the book Shulatam does eventually get her husband on the throne. After getting her husband on the throne she convinces him that all the dissenters that have not been fully supporting them should be slain in a ritualistic fashion to appease their god. The husband’s military starts killing dissenters while Shulatam calls the spirits from the dead to give her immense power. The novel ends with the land on the brink of war. All the while Shulatam uses her demonic powers to give herself more and more power. Critics call the book a, “horrifically representative view of the abuse of power.”
Stone deduces that the book is a retelling of the vampire Boston, the black tamanous Teresa Barker, and likely this demonic Lamashtu. He also realizes that Thalamus and Shulatam are anagrams for Lamashtu.
Daisy’s Care Package
When Hunter and Val return to their Texas ranch home they begin to recall their lives as children when life was not so much of a mess and monsters just lived under their beds at night. The gates to the ranch are padlocked with a heavy chain. On the gate is a sign that says Private Property with a phone number to a local property company. The main ranch house has the windows boarded up and the barn is closed and locked with another chain and padlock. The small garden that was Daisy’s pet project is dried up and dead.
The house can be easily entered with a pry bar. Inside the house is dusty and deserted. Everything appears to have been cleaned out. As they explore the place the only sign of their former lives are markings on one door frame with their heights at various ages.
The barn is in a similar unused state. Once crowded with farm machinery, tools, and feed it is now empty. The concrete floors appear to have been recently poured and all of the wall paneling has been stripped off and replaced.
After exploring the structures Hunter remembers their Mother and Father and how the ranch came alive because them. Their Mother’s spirit lifted the place and made it a home instead of just walls. As they walk the grounds with Aunt Eva thinking of her and where she could have hidden something they remember the pond and a small grove of trees nearby that was their favorite place to go during hot Texas summers.
As Hunter and Val reach the top of the trail memories also return to Hunter of the last time he was here. When he awoke to find Val’s blood on his hands. After reaching the spot they find the tree with “D [heart] M” engraved in the trunk. Searching among the roots uncovers a Tupperware container roughly 9″x12″x4″. The plastic container has the following items:
- Large leather journal. Embossed daisy on the front cover. Letter sized pages. Roughly 3″ thick. Many objects are taped into its pages. Everything is either written in Daisy’s hand or is on computer printouts that are taped onto a page. (Brian has a handout of the journal contents.)
- Picture of the Grace family at the pond. Taken by one of the ranch hands. Shows Martin with his hands around Hunter and Val. Daisy is at his side giving him a peck on the cheek.
- Silver knife with a kris like design. Has exotic wooden handle. At the pommel is a silver acorn. (Used in ceremonies but looks dangerous. Stone will confirm that the knife is not magic but strangely “hollow”.)
Once the group is back in NOLA they meet at Hunter and Val’s hotel room. It is in a voodoo themed kitsch hotel. At first introductions are made and everyone is brought up to speed on what they have found so far. Hunter asks Stone if he has ever heard of a warlock named Ebon Gnails who apparently summoned Lamashtu the last time. Stone does not know him but a quick internet search reveals that Ebon Gnails was a hanged as a warlock in Salem in 1693. Before talking about what to do next MD decides to check the place for bugs. To everyone’s surprise they find one in a lamp with a skull shaped base. Once a bug is found the group realizes that it must be the Hermetic Order Of The Golden Dawn. Anne shoots over a report that details the Hermetic Order agents that are in town. She apparently got the report from a contact at her former employer. The information is VERY detailed and on top of the text there are handwritten notes giving analysis on each member. The report also includes a photograph of each member. Here is a list of the Hermetic Order agents that are in town:
- Maganhildi “Mags” Weber – Hired gun with a heart. One of the only women ever to graduate through the infamous Gvenzschutzgruppe 9 (aka GSG9). (GSG9 is an elite anti-terrorist group in Germany.) Left the organization when her team was killed by a group of vampires. She came to the HOGD for answers. Emo – Loves big guns but surprisingly not killing people. Actually much better with a knife than a rifle. In general thinks that agents need more power. Not fond of authority figures especially if she does not respect them. Guise – Giant German pale raven haired woman built like a linebacker. Speaks English with a slight German accent.
- Savannah Woodridge – Carina from Chuck plus Bella from Supernatural. Thief who specializes in the recovery of rare artifacts. Reputation among highly placed collectors or law enforcement personnel. Emo – Wildcard. Does not like too much planning. Often argues with Hivu who she thinks plans too much. Guise – Southern belle with a strong Georgia accent. Thin and fit. Shoulder length straight hair. Crooked looking teeth that mar her otherwise attractive face.
- Professor Hivu Malhotva – Expert on ancient cultures and religions. Worked at Oxford with Stone. Emo – Harsh realist. Often disagrees with other if he feels a plan is too risky. Thinker not a doer. Guise – Bald Indian professor. Speaks with slight Indian accent. Wears glasses when reading texts.
- Piers Chapman – Super scavenger and provider. Can get anything the group needs. Emo – Arrogant and confident. Knows his role and relishes it. Listens carefully and only speaks when it thinks it is the right time or to get the conversation moving forward. Guise – English butler but young and handsome. Dark hair cut so it waves in the front. Wears button down perfectly fitted silk shirts and slacks. Expensive loafers. Always dresses perfectly. Would expect his to appear in GQ Magazine.
- Marcus Jackson – Hacker and surveillance expert who has seen far too many ghosts. Former corporate hacker who is haunted by his four grandparents. Got him interested in the occult. Hacker name is “4S1vrF0x5”. Emo – Jovial fellow who loves to poke people to see what makes them tick. Guise – From San Jose, CA. Handsome black man with close cut hair. Addictive smile. (Think Hardison from Leverage.) Carries the best gear money can buy but covers it in stickers related to his favorite band at the time. Will sometime talk to the air as if it was one of his grandparents.
After finding the bug in the room the group checks their vehicles. There is a tracking device on Stone’s car. Hunter curses Marcus Jackson. The group then calls Anne and Winston who is with Sutherland. They ask Sutherland about Ebon Gnails. He says they have contacted him in the past. Surprisingly he says that Professor Malhotva knows how to contact Gnails. They also ask Sutherland if he is the leader of the Hermetic Order Of The Golden Dawn. He says that he is one of the inner members along with two others. (Anne has a report on these three as well.) With that Hunter calls Mags on the burner phone. He sets up a meeting at a local diner so that Stone and Malhotva can “talk shop”.
Detective Takashi gives MD a call. He has found some very strange remains. When MD arrives at the scene he realizes that it is only a block away from where he had previously overrun a construct with his pickup truck. The stoic homicide detective shows MD a bus stop bench with a scorched mark roughly in the shape of someone sitting on it. Kaz’s detectives comb the neighborhood but besides a local palm reader there is nothing remarkable in the quiet neighborhood. After getting a report on the body the Detective sends the details to MD. The body was almost entirely turned to ash. The only remains that are not ash are the dental work and bits of the skull. The local medical examiner says the victim is a woman in her mid 20’s. Hunter gives a picture of Daisy to MD and asks him to give it to Detective Takashi to see if anyone with the name “Isabella” might be in town. MD lies to the Detective and says it might be related to the case. So far the Detective has not turned up anything.
An Order Of Black Eyed Demon Pie For Dessert
Before the meeting at the diner MD and Ron go down to the area and check it out. Their goal is to look for anyone that might be watching the place or anyone that does not look “normal”. After carefully examining the area the two spot a city electrical truck where there is a person just sitting idly in the front seat. While they are watching the man in the front seat gets out, pulls down his hat, then comes across to the diner. Ron and MD guess that he is going to plant a listening device. Ron is closest and moves to intercept. At the front door they meet. Ron recognizes the man as Piers Chapman from the Hermetic Order. Ron accosts him and tells him to leave. As Ron is talking to Piers the back door of the van starts to open. MD sends an arrow through the back door pinning it closed. As the van drives off MD can hear someone yelling from the back of the van, “Damn hunter put an arrow through my van!”
First Hunter and Stone arrive at the diner. They sit at a booth near a window. Mags with Professor Malhotva arrive next. While Stone and Malhotva start discussing Babylonian mythology then Lamashtu Mags and Hunter stand guard inside. While MD and Ron are watching from the outside they see an unshaven black man in an olive green army jacket and blue jeans approach. Ron can immediately tell that something is wrong with him. He is walking in a stiff manner that is not natural. While MD gets some innocents out of the way where they cannot observe the front of the diner Ron rushes up to the man. Inside the diner Hunter and Mags also notice the threat. When Ron attempts to push over the man with a massive shove he merely goes down to one knee then turns towards Ron with solid black eyes and utters, “Leave it alone!” He is a demon! Hunter starts pouring salt over the portals to the restaurant while Mags watches over Stone and Malhotva. MD puts an arrow through the possessed man’s thigh which makes the demon scream out in pain but he keeps moving. The demon yells that he is only the first thing that “she” plans to send. The demon then grabs Ron with telekinesis and throws him through the glass doors of the diner disturbing the line of salt. While Stone uses his spell to pull the demon’s coat over his face Ron strikes with his cold iron sword aiming for the creature’s neck! In a blur of motion the blade strikes home sending the body rolling to the side. As the head falls to one side a thick black smoke starts pouring out of the headless neck! When the smoke clears Mags grabs Malhotva and Hunter grabs Stone. The conversation will have to continue at another time. Winston’s crew gets a quick call for a cleanup as the group hurriedly departs.