efore the circle can deal with the lifeweb tethers that link them back to … something … There is the matter of Trent Tellis’ insistence that he is obviously hallucinating in the midst of an O.D.
From the apartment, they return to the streets of a greyer, more decrepit Atlanta than they knew in life. Finding a pair of newspaper boxes they try getting a newspaper to figure out the date – but of course, they both lack coins to put in the slot, and the ability to pull open the door to get a newspaper anyways. While the modern box (that they couldn’t get into) was an Atlanta Journal-Constitution box, beside it sits a wooden box bearing the banner of the long-defunct Alpharetta Free Press (with the issue date being in the mid-1930s).
In one of their first real encounters with the Quick, a man heading for work arrives at the MARTA stop where the newspaper boxes are and buys a copy of the Journal-Constitution to read as he waits. Trying to get a glimpse of the paper, Victor presses too close to this depressed working man and finds himself skinriding someone for the first time. While “inside” the worker, he discovers that it is no longer early March but Friday, the 13th of May.
Friday the 13th. And based on the time that has gone by, the circle most likely awakened in their cauls right at the stroke of midnight. So is this just a one-day thing? Or were their cauls waiting for a moment when the shroud was weak to enter the shadowlands from wherever they were previously?
But this does settle Trent down in its own weird manner – after all, he can’t be still overdosing after 9 weeks. So he must be in a coma, which is significantly less pressing of an issue than following the lifeweb to wherever and whatever the Sons of Tertullian are using to track them via the silver rings.
Victor’s lifeweb lines run through the UGA campus en route to what appears to be Little Five Points. On their way through campus, they pause outside the cafe where everybody’s been a few times and where Rose did the majority of her shifts. At the corner, already set up as the sun starts to rise, is the same annoying preacher that used to set up there months ago when the circle was alive. He has a Salvation Army-style coin pot with “God Thanks You” written on its side and has a bowl of “holy water” that he dips his fingers into and then flicks his dripping fingers at annoyed passersby murmuring blessings while thinking darker thoughts about them.
But as the holy water hits them, something different is happening in the shadowlands. The silvery liquid runs down to their left index finger and forms a silver ring with an eye motif that is clearly visible in the shadowlands but seemingly invisible to the living bearers. The very same rings that the circle are all wearing.
A short debate about pursuing and haunting this obvious Son of Tertullian ensues, but with Victor’s lifeweb lines this seems like a potential “plan B” since they know he sets up here almost every weekday.
Finally, they find themselves not at Little Five Points, but a burned-out block about a mile away – Fitzgerald Street South East – previous home of “The Midnight”… the goth club that burned down the night of their deaths (which in turn used to be a large multi-level warehouse). The Midnight and the neighbouring buildings are still all blackened with soot from the fire, and the upper stories of the Midnight show a lot of damage – particularly the private rooms at the back of the fifth and sixth story of the building.
All entrances have crime scene tape over them – the front door is chained and padlocked shut and the back fire door is locked. Climbing up on the next building over and they can see that the skylights over the dancefloor of the Midnight are crazed and half-broken, but even Argos isn’t enough to make the hop between the buildings.
Finally Rose shrugs and runs into the front doors of the club, discorporating as she finds herself in the main section of the Midnight – the dance floor before her as the space is lit by both a series of spotlights focusing on the floor and by the weak light of day trying desperately to shine in through the broken skylights six stories overhead.
A tableau straight out of the Inquisition is painted across the once-dance floor. It’s surrounded by a broad circle of spot lights, about 20 feet in diameter. Four men in long black robes stand in the circle of light. The younger pair reverently hold long swords in mailed gauntlets. They stare intently at what appears to be a gaudy verdigris birdbath or font that’s filled with sparkling water. The two older men stand beside a fifth figure – a young black man tied to an old dentist’s chair. One of the older men pensively clasps some sort of ancient dental tool. He stands beside a table littered with items straight out of a torturer’s wet dream.
The man tied to the chair wears faded jeans and a plain white t-shirt. He stares dully up at the skylight as his captors whisper urgently to him…
As the rest of the circle breach through the front door, the man bound to the chair lowers his gaze and makes eye contact with Rose before looking back up at the skylight and becoming talkative to his “hosts” – much to their evident surprise. He begins speaking intensely to the Sons of Tertullian about “washing their hands of evil,” “helping others,” and something about “when you destroy other people, even other things, what you really do is destroy yourself.”
Jackknife, coming through the wall, seems impressed with the circle’s sleuthing and points to the bird bath / font “There! That is how they track you! They’ve somehow tied it to the rings you wear and use it to try to destroy or exorcise you! Destroy it before they know you are here!”
And then Tyler brought down the house.
Using his flux arcanos empowered by sheer force of will, Tyler aged the frame and supports of the burned and damaged skylights and they came crashing down on the dance floor – debris hitting everyone there and cracking the font. In the process he discovered that the shroud here is much lower than in the streets of the city.
Immediately the Sons of Tertullian rushed for the font. Victor skinriding the torturer and attempting to make him trip on his way only to discover that the man is incredibly strong willed (rolling 12 dice for willpower checks – turns out that True Faith is an incredible booster when resisting ghostly possession!)
As the Sons anoint themselves with holy water from the font, Rose moliates Trent in an effort to make him look divine. Trent tries to embody himself into the skinlands, but finds that only his voice can cross the shroud. Fortunately for his gambit, the anointed Sons gained the ability to see through the shroud and thus see the wraiths as they stepped into the circle of light.
And Trent took this to the extreme – presenting himself as none other than the saviour Christ himself. Arms spread he pronounced a gospel of peace demanding that they drop their weapons and embrace nonviolent means. The younger Sons are awestruck and confused, but the elder is far too concerned with the evil spirit possessing him and grinds his crucifix against his chest, dealing aggravated damage to Victor within him.
Tyler again lashes out with flux to age the bonds holding the young man to the chair – with a grunt of thanks directly at Tyler, he grabbed a knife from the torture implements and waited to see how the gambit played out.
Which is when Victor’s shadow made its play for control. Full of violent angst, the shadow took over and compelled Victor into violence – giving up on trying to trip up the leader of the Sons and instead resorting to raw violence. He pulls himself out of the Son and turns his violent attentions to the font and starts to smash at it, discovering that the font is material both in the skinlands and the shadowlands. With each blow against the font, a small pinhole in reality at the base of the artifact begins to grow and stretch…
The young man, free from his bonds, freaks out. “Destroy not the font! Wash your hands of this evil impulse to ruin!” A forceful outrage-powered punch from Tyler sends the elder Tertullian flying away, badly injured. Trent continues his impassioned demands for peace and tolerance and the younger sons lower their swords.
And Victor smashes at the font again. The pinhole in reality grows again – now roughly the size of a mouse hole. The Tertullians panic and run to leave the Midnight as Tyler tackles Victor and begins trying to beat him into submission, splashing his head again and again into the bowl of the font.
As the waters splash across his hands, Tyler notes that the silver ring of the Tertullians has vanished from him. Finally gaining control over Victor, Rose again uses her Moliate to bind Victor’s feet together so he is easier to control until his shadow gives up the game and Victor returns to his own.
The young man, who can obviously see through the shroud, introduces himself as Aidan Hall – he was born with a full caul and one of the midwives saved it for him after he was cut free. Now he can see through the shroud and even have his spirit cross through it at night. Unfortunately the Sons of Tertullian spotted his spirit returning to his body this morning just before sunrise and brought him here to be exorcised of the possessing evil spirit.
As they speak with Aidan, Trent spots Jackknife drawing his pocket knife and starting to cut at the “nihil” at the base of the font, obviously attempting to enlarge it further. When caught he laughs and dives through it, sucked into the Tempest beyond like a weird cartoon character.
The circle gain Aidan as a Mentor (1), the Midnight as a communal Haunt (3), and the Tertullian font as a common Fetter (3).