Vigil

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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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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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 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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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 6: We're not Ambi-turners

We went on a harrowing adventure to investigate some sort of zombie factory down south. Brooks said he would go ahead and scout things out for us, but we were too impatient.

We went over to the place on the third day and arrived that night. Someone was being dragged into the factory with a bag over his head. COULD IT HAVE BEEN BROOKS!?

We snuck up to the building and I attempted to climb it. Boy, that was a mistake. I wonder if the other spectres ever had to deal with being inept? A bunch of psychotic-demon-zombies came out and chased after Subtle. Two of them jumped onto the building in one jump. I killed one, but Brooks came by to save me when it appeared I was probably about to die by the hands of the other. I searched their bodies for any sort of “+20 to jump check” items, but, alas, all I found were worms coming out of their noses and brains.

Apparently, the damned things could only really see / focus on Subtle. We’ll have to find a way to see if he has worms in his brain.

We all managed to get home… I heard that Tobias threw his life-savings at some bums on the street. I tried one last time to sneak into the warehouse. No problems, now. But it was so dark inside. I went down a bit but didn’t see anything. I figured it would probably be a good idea to just leave, as opposed to getting bum rushed by zombies who are fabulous.

Back home, Brooks was mad at us for only letting him scout for a day. I guess that’s the lesson of the mission.

We decided to help Xanzar save Scarlett, which proved to be intriguing. We visited Xanzar’s parents home, which was constantly changing shape to fit his liberal desires. The helpers asked us to save them, which ahem we did (high fives all around).

The dinner was a disgusting one, a fat dude, a woman without eyes, and a woman without fingernails who was gargling on her own blood, all sat around us while they served us their dinner servants. At one point, someone made everyone laugh – even the food. Subtle scarfed down his food, I didn’t.

I, being a very uncharismatic jerk, had to use the restroom, where I found a skeleton. I grabbed a toe bone, thinking “who knows, maybe this guy is Xanzar and we’ll need to do the entire demon-boon thing to get him to save us”. Being even more rude, I managed to ask about prostitutes at the dinner table. Luckily, everyone realized I was a jackass and ignored me. Tobias managed to think of a less crude way of getting the helper girls alone with us at night: he asked if we could have some assistance through the night to keep us from getting lost.

The conversation with the girl revealed that she was troubled. And, based on how she was always trying to get me to agree with her conclusions, I started thinking that maybe she was accessing my memory in some way. This normally would sound insane, which is why it made perfect sense — I mean, did you SEE the bathroom?!

Tobias and Subtle chose to give up and retire to bed, but I have to admit that psychosis is a very interesting thing for me. The puzzle had to be solved. Finally, I determined a plot to find out if she was accessing my memory (or some sort of other memory – it was mentioned that the house is a relic of Xanzar’s memory, after all): if something in this house happened that only I knew about, then I would know that something fishy, indeed, was taking place. The toe! “What did I pick up in the bathroom?”. “THE RING!”, her eye’s lit up.

Well, she was wrong. Oh well, time for bed….

HOLY SHIT IT WAS A RING!!! I raced out, and the gelatinous blob of a dinner host came barrelling down the hallway. It’s human-esque growth was demanding that we give the ring back. We ran down the hallway and turned left after left after left after left — The same way to the shitter!

Eventually we came to the gallery, and we gave the ring to Deliah (that’s apparently her name). She popped everything open, and Scarlett was teleported into the middle of the ring-of-us. She couldn’t move until Xanzar made her promise not to get vengeance upon the Wardens, etcetera.

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Fighting Crime In Prime Time!
Subtle's account of the 3-4 year montage.

Subtle’s Notes:

With Scarlet free of Zanzar Tem’s prison our first order of business was boons. Without delay I spent mine having Scarlet retrieve Abby and bring her home healthy safe and sound. When Abby arrived we briefed her on the goings on of the past couple months, Malek’s death, Sabrine, Sampson etc.

Having realized that I got the coolest thing from my boon everyone else buried theirs in their pockets. Scarlet would prefer we use our boons as quickly as possible as each service she provides us unlocks a portion of her father’s power from the rift. According to her, her father will not be able to hold the far side of the rift from the armies of hell unless the power trapped in the rift can be released. Until our boons are spent ‘one of the places [she’ll] be’ is by our side.

With the crew back together we decided to celebrate with some good ol’ fashioned crime fighting. We skulked the night streets doing my usual night rounds and found a small pack of Dandies messing with some citizens of the Necropolis district. Fighting happened. Dandies died. Interestingly one of the Dandies killed himself by clawing his own face off after getting some of Abby’s blood on him. When all targets were neutralized I cut from them each their left hand to mark our kills. Abby took from them each a long strip of skin which would have been more troubling except I was already hacking hands off. It turns out if you raise your kids in a crypt they tend to feel indifferent about playing with corpses.

When we got back to the Necropolis, Abby had decided she wanted to do some experiments with her blood to try to determine if there was a link between getting her blood on a Dandy and that Dandy killing himself with face clawing action. The rat we put her blood on tried to kill itself. Worried, Abby became desperate to understand all she could about how her blood had become a hard counter to life. A few days later we planed an excursion to Dandies territory. Sneaking into a house where our enemies lay in rest we executed all but one in their sleep, and tied the last in his chair. When he woke the talk was short before Abby’s blood was smeared across the mans face. Just like the rat, the man lurched in his bonds, testing the strength of the chair, in some ill attempt to claw his own face off. After about a minute or so he calmed down but was unable to put into words what he had just experienced. So he got another dose. By the end of the night we had not much more information than when we had set out, but we had two shiny new left hands, the first two to have been plucked from Dandy territory.

Having enjoyed crime fighting so much we decided to make a thing of it. Our nightly raids on the seedy underbelly of our once proud district culminated in the Dandies learning to stay off our turf and the local citizenry growing more and more willing to defend themselves and each other. I kept taking hands, but eventually Abby stopped taking strips of flesh. She had them tanned and made into armor.

A short time after my 15th birthday Brooks informed us that we had been invited to a meeting of the houses of the Wardens of Cerberus. Since Malek’s death we not only made up all of the members of Special Reconnaissance and Tactics, but also represented the Specters to the Houses of Cerberus. Brooks advised us to avoid going to the meeting until we were willing to reveal our identities to the houses. We decided not to go. When Brooks got back from the meeting he stated that Sabrine had become the head of the House of Eyes and most of the lesser houses had fallen in line under her command.

Our home in the catacombs would no longer be safe.

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9 People, 1 Traitor, 10 Deaths

Looking to create a new hideout, we went to see a Ms. Loraine Davidson who owns a bit of property near our hallowed grounds.

We went there, and we were informed that she was trying to work against Sab®ine as well. She was worried that one of her helpers was a spy for Sab®ine and hired us to find out which it was.

9 people in total, all had names and back stories… I mean… an interesting path that led them to this situation. From what we could piece together, it seems that Greta Coldman acquired some poison from who we’re assuming was Sab®ine to drug up Edna Grible. Together with Preston Clouton, a drug-peddling dipshit who enjoys raping people, they led her to a warehouse with weird writing on the wall, where Edna was raped repeatedly.

She ended up becoming pregnant and having a miscarriage. After burying the child, it was dug back up and had been taken away.

A bunch of miscreants if you ask me.

Either way, it would seem that one the three is the spy. But there’s no proof either way. There’s no evidence of anything unless we go out in the world and follow this woman to see what she’s doing.

Going further, the people who are helping Davidson argue that “Crap like this happens all the time”. Is Davidson just an insane woman who enjoys seeing people murdered?

In my own opinion, Greta is likely an unknowing spy for Sab®ine – we should ask her more questions about her acquaintances. Either way, Preston and Greta are going to die.

We’re either going to kill everyone and serve Edna’s heart up on a platter, or kill EVERYONE and steal the house we like.

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Ghosts of House's Past

We further discussed our options regarding the “what to do with all the people in the house” situation. Arguments ranged from merely admitting that we had no valid reason to kill anyone, all the way to kill everyone including Loraine Davidson.

Abbey decided to fuck all the noise and just hacked off Greta’s head. No qualms there, but she then chose to start showing it off like a trophy to other people. I ducked into another room with Subtle to kill the Preston douche. It was a bit less clean. While Abbey continued her rampage, I ducked out to try to keep Edna from being killed – she was clearly the victim in this entire story.

However, Abbey’s rampage brought her to the cook, where she almost willy-nilly shoved a dagger in his neck. He swatted her away like a proverbial gnat. Battle ensued, and he ended up trying to run away. We tracked him down but made a scene in the streets as I threw acid on him. (Ha! There’s a fun sentence!)

Everyone got the bizarre idea to hack all the hearts together and make a sort of butchered heart. I used the time to try to keep Edna safe by disguising her as Greta. The plan was working great, but instead of just bringing a bunch of heart pieces from each person we killed, the gang decided to just throw everyone’s hearts into a large pile. I hacked one of them in half to try to hide the deception.

Ultimately it was Harolde who figured out my chicanery. Instead of being his normal aloof self, who rarely inputs anything to the party’s decision making, he decided to take it upon himself to begin reciting the arguments made from what seemed like months ago. He then immediately took it upon himself to murder her.

The deeds being done, Abbey apparently mushed all the hearts together using some sort of weird thing, and Loraine ate the bastardized heart. We got the house, and the ghosts that will haunt it.

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A Night at the Library
Subtle's account of his trip to the library.

Subtle’s Notes:

I went to the library because my past was there, even though I knew it would somehow be a trap. I had a conversation with a lady about the previous owners of the library (my parrents) and decided to do some investigating. On the top floor I found a little girl who was injuring her hands trying to get at a ring that had fallen into a crack in the floor. I used my powers of telekenesis to pry the ring from the stone and then shit went wonkey.

The girl disappeared, everything went dark and the bookshelves started to move around. Luckily the darkness and I are fast friends. I silently navigated the darkened library, apparently avoiding some kind of spider people army who could not detect me. The shifting book shelves were leading me somewhere none the less, creepy laughter had begun and was getting louder.

Scarlet appeared suddenly to mock my predicament I assured her that I had the situation well under control, but she seemed sure i was going to die. Then she disappeared with the suggestion that she was going to take some action on my behalf.

I remembered that I had promised the little girl that i wouldn’t steal her ring so I threw it on the ground as i crept. As the ring hit the ground it was somehow magically louder than it should have been. So it was good that I am mega sneaky, because spider monsters and a creepy old lady began attacking where the sound had been.

Then I heard in Abby’s voice, “Oh it must have been nothing.” Abby had come to save me using her boon.

Soon the danger had subsided.

On the way out of the library I convinced Abby to check out the Basement with me. There we found a cave to the gallery of what had been a great fight. I put the ring on the little girl’s body and it came to life. She told me that she needed the wardens to do something about all these bodies, and that she needed someone to do something about her lack of a body. She in fact asked my permission to inhabit Abby’s body. I respectfully declined.

I’ve decided to get a body for my ghost friend, and Scarlet suggested I take an ascended girl from the Sera so I can get tied up in her little feud, but on the plus side of that plan others in the party with business to settle with Sera may be willing to help…

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