Vigil

The Beast, The Girl, The Doctor, The Demons
The Death of Malek

Subtle’s Notes:

Treated bitterly earlier by the wet night, we were already planning our immediate return to the lair of our new-found enemy. We stepped over puddles of fresh rain to the place where we’d lost our friends, no plans in mind, just visions of flames.
The plan came out half baked but it didn’t matter, as we were about to move on our targets there came a noise from down the street. Brooks, Harolde, and Tobias stayed on the street to assess any possible threat while Bing and I continued to pursue our targets hoping that the noise would help cover our infiltration. By the time we’d cracked the lock the noise from down the street seemed to have situated itself in front of the building in to which we were breaking. As we loomed over the cellar door it was flung open by Sampson, the leader of the Dandies. We narrowly avoided being crushed by the immense iron doors and managed to get out of sight. Sampson milled about for a moment pretending to know we were near before he smelled the oil for the fire bomb operation. He ordered everyone out of the house and stood there. Alone with him Bing and I waited cloaked in the comfort of darkness. Then Bing motioned to me, we had to get going. Our plan was to enter the cellar, I signed for Bing to go first so I could cover him. It didn’t work and I barely put a bolt in the beasts back before I saw Bing snapped like a twig. It felt like leaving Abby behind all over again but there was nothing more I could do. Like a whisper on the wind I slipped our aggressor as his reinforcements were coming in to view and a moment later I was crouching in the attic window. It haunted me slightly, but soon the place would be ashes. The woman was still there, worse for our hours of absence. I didn’t care about her any more, free her, kill her, both thoughts came to me. I left her. Down the stairs I followed the smell of charred flesh and seeping entrails to Sampson’s study. Standing in the center of the room the sight I before me filled me with such rage the room was set ablaze; Malek dismembered and crucified but still alive. The powers of speech had left him but he provided me with what he could about Abby; sold, not to the Sera, not to the Cult, not to a brothel. Captured less than two hours ago and sold. The buyers must have been on stand-by. Sabrine? There wasn’t time, the building had become engulfed. I left Malek with a glimmer of pride in his eye and then back into the attic. It was more on fire than I remembered leaving it. I dashed to the window, my last dance with this portal of misery. And then a plea for help, the woman was awake and begging not to be left again. By the time her bonds were severed the attic window had become inaccessible from flame. I cursed her, this would be the second time tonight I use this woman as an excuse to get sloppy on the job. She barely had the strength to move herself so I dragged her through the burning building to the nearest accessible window and made my way to the inn across the street. I put her in a bed and called a doctor, I comforted her while she woke and watched the house that Sampson built burn while she slept. Twenty-five Dandies in the front and at least fifteen from the back. It was in this very inn that I had felt betrayed by Malek earlier today when he murdered our captive Dandy. The head count had been double what our prisoner had told us, so really Malek was just making sure we kept our promise to hunt him down if he lied.
The next morning woke to pounding on the door, the innkeeper. Fourty or more Dandies were out of a home and looking for beds and if I couldn’t pay the new rate of ten silvers it was time to go. I agreed to pay the doctor the last of my coin the night before despite his unscrupulous manner and I could already see Dandies in the hall outside. She was still unconscious so I left the window open for her upon my exit.
Everyone was home when I got there, Bing would recover from his wounds, news as good as could have been hoped for. In the nights after I dreamed of Scarlet, She told me of her father, of her people. She told me of Abby, that she was parented by demons who had been preparing her for the night of the harrowing, some kind of counter ritual. That they had become incensed when their plan failed and their prize, Abby, turned up missing. Scarlet told me that they alone would have bought up Abby so quickly, and speculated that perhaps Sabrine had arranged the deal. Then Scarlet told me what happens to souls when a mortal dies here. What was probably happening to Malek’s soul as we spoke. She asked me to retrieve one of his bones saying, there is no safe place for a soul but we could regrow Malek’s body and put his soul in it if we wanted someday down the line. So off I went to find one of Malek’s bones. Too many Dandies on the street to sift rubble but I was willing to bet one of them found or kept a trophy. A second story room seemed empty enough, only a woman in a bed, so I stepped inside. As my eyes adjusted I first glimpsed a charred skull. My mind reeled, who’s room was this? I turned to get a closer look at the woman, expecting to find Sabrine, my eyes focused on some lowborn wench. Then I heard a voice from a corner of the room, “You are a persistent bunch of little fuckers.” Sampson. My fears were confirmed when I turned and saw that I had carelessly stepped into the room of the man who snapped my friend like a twig only two days prior. He didn’t get up, he looked drunk, he poured me a glass and slid it across the room to me. Petrified I reached down and brought the glass to my lips. He asked me if I was stealing his trophy of Malek so I could give him a burial. I meekly lied to the affirmative. Good, Sampson said, he didn’t need it any more. And then Sampson began telling me about Malek’s torture, not to get under my skin, but indeed because he needed someone to talk to about it. He told me of Malek’s unwavering calm through the whole ordeal, that Malek’s eyes now haunt his dreams. He seemed genuinely disturbed by the indecent. I worked up the courage to ask him who he sold Abby to. He didn’t know. A strange couple showed up almost immediately and purchased her for a bag of diamonds and a boon. The boon, Sampson told me that I got to share a drink with him because we were responsible for setting in to motion the events that led to his boon. The demons who bought Abby from Sampson changed him in some way, he described the anguish of mortals as sustaining and empowering to him. I left. On my way out of the ally I spied the corpse of the woman I had tried to save heaped with the trash. Looking at the wretched thing, I decided that since my training as a Spectre that all my purchases would forever come with a money back guarantee. The Doctors address wasn’t hard to find, and neither was his coin.

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Episode 4 - Sabrine? ... or SEMINE?!

Lo, after getting no where with casual conversations, Bing decided to just torture the damned,
Yellow-bellied child rapist. Ripping into his pinky finger with a paring knife seemed to suffice.
Convinced the torture was over, Abby and Subtle decided to come in after the deed was done, and,
In no small part of charm and persuasion, we learned the layout of the building, we came to learn
A great deal of information: some 30 or so people inside the building, the leader, Sampson, and,
Needless to say, that the organization runs on fear.
Receiving the info, it took three to tango. Maleck chose to go so far as to behead the man and
Even save his head for later use. We formulated a plan and went to work.
The plan went completely Turkelson, and Abby ended up getting kidnapped while the rest of us were
Utterly damaged. Sabrine – for some reason – went in to discuss a negotiation with the group to
Return Abby back to us. The deal? One unarmed Maleck. We went back to the sacred grounds with
None other than Sabrine. This was after Maleck chose to give one Harolde a key to what could only
Seem to be something important.

Brooks came to greet us and insisted that Sabrine was a spy of some sort. They got themselves into a battle, and Sabrine ended up proving herself to be one wicked bastard who wanted to kill us. We got back to the sacred grounds, at which point Sabine… er… Sabrine couldn’t follow us. Her argument didn’t add up, though: If you kill your father to save a rabbit, you don’t kill the rabbit when you’re done without an ulterior motive. She clearly is up to something.

Some Sera were about the sacred grounds and asked us some questions about where Sabine… I mean, SabRine was. They sniffed a teddy bear and left.

Whatever.

We went to the orphanarium where we informed Grandfather of the events that took place.

Basically, all being said and done, we have this choice on our hands: Try to bust into the Death Star guns a-blazing, or make a deal with a devil to save Maleck and Abby.

I suppose, ultimately, we could just ignore the situation, but that isn’t going to happen on my watch.

Brooks escorted us to the location of the lock of which the key opens. Inside we found lewtz.

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Episode 2 - The Shackled Sera

We went on a walk with Malek in what appears to be a haunted tomb. I guess the lesson was to move silently. Those who made noises were hunted down by the wretched horrors within.

At one point, a lantern fell down, went out, and we were on our own to get out of the room alive. I barely made it – a putrid cloth brushed up against me. However, Tobias had a strange look about him, and it seemed that he got himself into trouble.

It appears as though the demon that had contacted us in our dreams was controlling him, trying to free herself. She attempted to make a deal with us all, only Subtle agreed. I ran to warn Malek, and we went with a flash. Subtle had murdered a man with his mouth by the time we arrived!

She is apparently a ‘pure bred’ Sera, or something like that. She came to the Wardens looking to hide from the Cult of Locus who apparently wants her demonic blood. My biggest concern was that she tends to eat souls. That’s not good.

She says that she taught the Wardens how to kill the members of the Cult, but apparently things backfired and that’s why we’re in the mess we’re in.

Her blood keeps this place safe from the Cult, but she’s in constant pain and agony. Either we should kill her or let her free.

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Episode 1 - The Rugrat Years

I awoke with some poor children inside a mausoleum after a strange dream. Some people were bickering outside about what to do with us. One said that we should just be handed over to “the Cult of the Locus”. Apparently, a group of wizards came to town and murdered everyone, including our families.

An old man finally came in to let us know a little bit about what was happening. He told us the above and that we should refer to him as Grandfather. Apparently his group of people, “the Wardens of Cerberus”, took great strides to keep us alive and hide us. He informed us that Malek would be taking care of us from here out.

Curious, we opened up a sarcophagus. A skeleton was inside, but before we got a good look at it, a man came in and told us we probably shouldn’t be doing such a thing. I mistakenly called him Malek, to which he told me that his identity was none of my business.

I took the corpse’s rings and necklaces, which proved to be a less than beneficial action: incessant whining from a child who called himself Subtle about “right this” and “wrong that” and “hallowed the other thing” was only the start. The being inside came to be very interested in the missing items and wanted to scratch his way out of his tomb for days on end. Eventually I just told Malek and returned the items.

A woman came in (before we met Malek) – I believer her name was Samantha – to help care for us. Apparently her husband died and she had to bury him. This other common boy… Harolde, was it?… kept demanding toys and bears or something. Quite the whiner – he should have realized his incessant howling would drive the woman to be a bit snippy with such hardships pressing her at the time. Simple manners, really.

Malek came in and gave us our first taste of freedom. We were given food and told that we were to be trained as “spectres”. Whatever, at least it got me out of the damned room. He was the one calling shots now. He was dressed in bandages and smoked a pungent herb from his pipe. The next day was one of traps and healing. Tobias, I believe his name was, took a 2×4 to the face. Harolde did something to him and his nose seemed to set properly, although he stayed unconscious. We arrived and Malek seemed less than happy that Tobias was doing well. He left and came back with locks.

We took turns opening the locks. He came back with more and more difficult ones until we could do no more. I spent the rest of my free time meddling with the cursed items. Fascinating really! The nuts and bolts, if pressed in just the wrong way, could render the past few minutes completely worthless. Something about the way the gears and springs and twists and turns captivated me. The others said that Malek was away for hours, I didn’t even notice him missing.

To eat dinner that day, we had to open locks. While I was the better student, I proved to be less than capable in practice. Apparently the locks jammed after a wrong twist of the finger, amazing that such a device could be created. I would have loved to spend more time looking at it, but hunger set in.

The next day we learned that death can come very quietly. To get out of the door, a trap was placed inside the lock. Harolde took a prick to the face and swelled up like a balloon. I crawled down the hallway – the 2×4 came swinging over my head – and we arrived at breakfast. Abbey’s breakfast was trapped. We chose not to meddle with it, and Malek chose to open it for us.

If I wasn’t so busy eating the food, I would have just opened it myself.

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Prologue
Chapter 0

Sixteen years ago…

Three vaguely humanoid shapes floated silhouetted against the night sky above the abyssal maw. All around them loomed the great city of Vigil; it’s stone and brick edifices a testament to the ingenuity and perseverance of it’s inhabitants. In many of the windows surrounding the great chasm, lights were beginning to to flicker as the people awoke to witness the terrible events unfolding below.

The great tear in the earth around which the city of Vigil was built, which it’s people refer to as the breach, measures roughly fifteen hundred feet across, and is roughly circular in shape. No one has ever seen the bottom. In the cobble stoned streets approaching the chasm was a ring of over a thousand sleepwalkers, who marched slowly but deliberately inward to their doom. Around them were panicked masses of people who were trying in vain to stop them. No amount of pleading, shoving, or even attempts to maim the sleepwalkers was having any effect. It was as if their physical bodies existed in another dimension, and their friends and neighbors could do nothing but watch as they plodded forth.

Perfectly synchronized, the sleepwalkers formed a ring around the great precipice. What happened next changes based on the telling, but the following is known to be true. The infernal ritual was interrupted by the entire membership of The Wardens of Cerberus. In retaliation, the Cult of Locus loosed a torrent of infernal energies that devastated the surrounding area, and decimated the warden’s numbers. The wardens were not in time to save the sleepwalkers. Not one of the 987 sleepwalkers returned to their beds ever again. It is also believed that the wardens were actually successful in killing one of the cultists.

Of the various accountings of that night, those events remain consistent. There are some who claim that Sera were fighting on behalf of the wardens, and even a few who insist that they aided the cultists. Some reported having seen a twisted version of the tower rising up from the breach. Some of those who are said to have seen it that night claim that its architecture closely resembled that of some of the more stately ascended compounds. There are even a small number who will tell you that Dr Nicely personally attended the event, and returned to his asylum with a handful of fresh patients.

Many or all of these accountings are most likely the embellishments of a confused or attention seeking minority. Whats certain is that the infernal ritual, whatever it’s purpose, was ruined by the wardens of cerberus. They paid a heavy price, and their influence has been reduced to almost nothing throughout our city. The organizations that have risen to take their place are nothing more than petty street gangs and thugs. The Guard continues to protect the very rich and corrupt, but without the wardens to balance them they are nothing more than hired mercenaries.

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