Willoughby stumbles out of the ballroom, practically shoved by his friend Dermot. Breathing heavily with rage, he steps over to the railing and inhales the sharp tang of the sea air. Looking out on the waxing moon above the still waters, Willoughby fingers the stone on his belt.
As the sounds of “O Danny Boy” rise from inside the ballroom, Willoughby sees Vivanda Renard slip through the doors and begin to make her way down the deck towards the passenger cabins. As Willoughby watches her, it appears to him that she has not yet seen him.
Willoughby takes a deep breath, going through the ancient words in his head. Silent as a snake on the sand, THE WRAITH glides after the retreating Vivanda. Years of practice and mystic forces silence his footfalls as he pursues the dangerous woman.
As THE WRAITH slips silently forward, the darkness around him deepens as the Orb of Daevas pulls shadows towards him. [Stealth vs. Awareness. Stealth check Superb ( +5), +1 for Orb of Daevas= Legendary ( +8) vs. Alertness Good ( +3), succeeds with 5 shifts]
Vivanda, apparently preoccupied, is completely unaware of THE WRAITH as he sneaks up behind her, following her only a few steps behind. Once or twice, she glances behind her, but sees nothing but shadows.
Vivanda and THE WRAITH enter the ship proper, walking through the corridors of the guest cabins. The increased light of the electric lamps worries THE WRAITH for a moment, but the shadows continue to cloak him [-2 for better lighting, Stealth now Fantastic ( +6)]. Vivanda approaches her door and, looking around first, traces a strange pattern on the door, which, once she is done, momentarily glows. THE WRAITH tries to get a look at it, but Vivanda’s body blocks his view [Alertness modified by Mysteries ( +1): Mediocre ( +0) vs Deceit Fantastic ( +6)]. THE WRAITH curses to himself, then sees that Vivanda isn’t done. She removes a strange, humming device from her purse and presses it against the door. THE WRAITH tries to wrap his mind around the device, but doesn’t really know what he’s seeing [Alertness modified by Science (-1): Fair ( +2) vs Deceit Good ( +3)].
Finally, Vivanda takes out an ordinary room key and inserts it in the lock, then opens her room door.
THE WRAITH has but a moment to slip inside before the door closes again, but to do so, he will have to get dangerously close to both Vivanda and the bright lights of her cabin. What will he do?!
Fortune favors the bold, he thinks to himself, trying to be both silent and swift as he tries to slip inside. I have a feeling I’m not going to be able to open this door otherwise.
Following closely behind Vivanda, THE WRAITH slips inside and immediately floats into the air, sticking to the ceiling and concealing himself in a dark corner like some kind of bat …. man [Stealth limited by Athletics, Fantastic ( +6), spends a Fate Point for a generic bonus, ends with Epic ( +7) vs. Alertness Fair ( +2), +2 for lighting, Great ( +4). THE WRAITH wins with 3 shifts, gains Spin to float to a hiding place in the ceiling].
THE WRAITH watches in fascination as Vivanda unpacks a strange device, etched in mystical runes—Persian, THE WRAITH notices. The device, which looks much like an old-style camera, but with a large parabolic reflector, stands on a tripod. She stands it up, then bolts it down to the shifting floor. She grabs a batch of papers from the desk and shoves them in her trunk, though several fall out and waft to the floor, unnoticed. Trunk in hand, Vivanda stands in front of the device, the reflector facing her, and a wired remote control in her hand.
“Merde,” she says quietly to herself, and presses the button on the remote control. Before THE WRAITH can react, Vivanda vanishes in a flash of sickly green light [Alertness: -1 Poor].
Thunderstruck, THE WRAITH slowly lowers himself to the ground. “Now that’s a hell of a thing,” he mutters to himself.
Willoughby gathers the fallen papers, stuffing them into one of his many hidden pockets. He then proceeds to examine the device of Persian origins. [Secrets of the Arcane-stunt].
Willoughby begins to examine the Persian lettering, and begins to translate [Mysteries: Good ( +3), +2 for Secrets of the Arcane (Dahaka subspecialty), result is Superb ( +5) vs. difficulty Great ( +4), succeeds with 1 shift]. As he studies, Willoughby realizes that the writing is a prayer to Dahaka, asking for his “great jaws to draw me up and fly my to my destination.” It is surrounded by sigils from a number of other spiritual and mystical traditions, which Willoughby does not recognize off-hand [Mysteries Good ( +3) vs. difficulty Great ( +4)], and he realizes he will need significant research time to decipher their meaning.
Abruptly, a knock comes at the door.
Willoughby whisks silently to the cabin door and peers through the peephole, ready to take to the ceiling at a moments notice.
Willoughby sees his friend Dermot, holding a large book like a weapon.
Dermot sees the light through the peephole dim abruptly, as though someone has stepped in front of it. He sets his goggles to telescope and looks back through the hole, trying to see who or what is on the other side, and prepares himself to dodge if necessary.
Willoughby opens the door and in his best Vincent Price, “Do come in.” Ushering him in, he points Dermot towards the strange device. “Turn your keen mechanical eye to this contraption. I will search the rest of her room.” Willoughby begins to search the chamber. [Investigation Fair Level].
“Ah, delighted.” Dermot doesn’t bother asking what Willoughby is doing here, and immediately turns his rapt attention to the aforementioned device—taking great care to set his goggles to screen out as much ultraviolet light as possible. [Investigation, Good; Engineering, Great; Science, Superb]
[Since Vincent Price would not start his his film career for another ten years, apparently he got his inspiration from THE WRAITH]
Willoughby and Dermot search the room, overturning every stick of furniture and scrap of paper. Eventually, putting it all together, the two create a coherent picture of Vivanda Renard’s goal: she was to bring something, referred to in her notes only as “the item,” to the Tunguska region of Siberia—and that she must arrive “before the anniversary,”—which, Willoughby surmises, must refer to the 20-year anniversary of the original Tunguska Event, on June 30th.
There is also one other fascinating piece of data: One Leonid Kulik, who Dermot recognizes as the Russian mineralogist who lead an investigation into Tunguska a few years prior, is apparently in the Kruschev Work Camp in Eastern Siberia. A letter to Vivanda, unsigned, admonishes her for “failing to silence” Kulik, and says that “The Bear” is being sent to the work camp to “do her job.”
Performing some simple mental math, Dermot realizes that if he and Willoughby go to Kruschev Work Camp, they could arrive just before the Bear is scheduled to get there—but by doing so, they would postpone their arrival in Tunguska significantly—and might not make it before June 30th.
While pondering their options, Dermot and Willoughby enlighten each other as to their respective adventures that evening [go ahead, read each others’ archives, then tell me where you’re going—to the Work Camp, or straight to Tunguska. You guys also have the teleporter to examine, but we’ll get to that later].
“I know Kulik is involved with this impending crises. He was part of my vision. He could forewarn us on how to prevent whatever it is we need to stop. It seems to me it would be better if we proceeded to the work camp first, rather than show up at Tunguska empty handed.” Willoughby paced back and forth, his hands flexing and unflexing inside his thin black gloves. The Cult of Dahaka, here. Was the vision a gift from the Daevas? Their gifts never come without strings. I know that all to well. Deeper and deeper I sink into this madness. I pray I will have the mental fortitude to survive.
“Visions now? You really must stop wearing that belt buckle, Alexander, my friend, but I agree that we ought to try to save the man’s life. For now, though, we have no idea when my overdeveloped rival may return. We must beat a hasty retreat from this … room …” He glances at the device. “Right after we examine this positively fascinating piece of work …” [Curious to Distraction]
Willoughby snorts in exasperation at his friend, and grabs the strange device, placing it under his coat. “Come on. We’ve got to get out of here before the steward find us,” he says, pulling Dermot from the room.
Back in their own suite, Dermot and Willoughby discuss the baffling case. Persian demons, Russian mystics, mystico-technical machines, and the seeming crossing of their respective pasts. Willoughby is certain the mystical convergence means something important, but Dermot insists that it is merely coincidence.
During the rest of their trip, Dermot and Willougby examine the device that seemed to teleport Vivanda Renard, and come to several conclusions:
1. The machine itself seems to be based on some of Renard’s old work on harmonic resonance.
2. Most of the mystic sigils are straight out of the Cult of Dahaka, but others Willoughby can’t identify without a good arcane library.
3. Neither the machine nor the mystic sigils could teleport a woman several thousand miles by themselves, so they must be somehow working together.
4. It is no longer working. There is one section with a large battery inside it, which seems to be completely drained, and another filled with dust that looks like it was once a sapphire.
They collect all the notes they can, and believe that they may be able to recreate (or at least fix) the device with a few more pieces of information on both the mystic and scientific fronts— and new power sources.
As the ship continues on, Willoughby and Dermot continue to get odd, disapproving looks from the rest of the staff and passengers, but by keeping a relatively low profile, they keep themselves out of trouble, and get some rest.
[Composure Stress is restored, Fate Points are restored: Dermot to 10, Willougby to 7 (because he only has 7 Aspects filled in)]
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