Chapter 2: Balance in all Things

Magic is Real.

We fly over oceans, hold the sum of all recorded knowledge in our hands, and speak with relatives halfway across the world without leaving our chairs. Magic isn't just flying on broomsticks or calling down fire from the Heavens. Magic is limited only by your Imagination, and your Will to make it manifest. There's a battle going on over the nature of Reality and Mankind itself. Pretend it isn't there, or get involved and forge the Future you envision.

Welcome to the Ascension War.

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Chapter 2: Balance in all Things

Post by ManWithDoor » Mon Feb 08, 2021 6:43 am

Nothing happens in a vacuum in life: every action has a series of consequences, and sometimes it takes a long time to fully understand the consequences of our actions. --- Khaled Hosseini

Two months later ...

While it didn't fit everyone's idea of a perfect HQ, the "Marina House" in the Richmond District has still turned out to be a valuable resource. Having multiple rooms allows you to spread out rather than being stacked on top of each other, and the basement adds a surprising amount of square footage to the residence. The house had been cleared of the personal effects of the deceased Verbena couple, which made it feel emptier than if it truly had been a new house. But that also gives the opportunity to personalize it yourselves, making it yours.

The Node in the AIDS Memorial Grove is sobering, even if you have not been personally affected by the virus. The grief pervading the metaphysical aura of the place is impossible to ignore, but perhaps that can be good. That's the thing about pain, it demands to be felt. Wisdom can be gained here, beyond just harvesting the quintessence that fills the Grove. The more we are able to embrace pain in our lives, the more deeply we will feel those things that we all desire: love, joy, connection, and peace. Those who come hear are mourning a loss, but can come out wiser than they came in. After the Attack, spending time in this community can be of benefit to you as well, even if the trauma is from a different source. Mourning with those that mourn.

Dexter was true to his word and disappeared back into his mundane life. From all those that we drawn by Fate into the night of the Bon Festival and then the Attack on the Council, many are alive and well enough. But only three have taken up the charge of the Primus to investigate the mysterious Entity behind the recent madness - Pixel, Ulrich, and Geyser.
Feel free to describe any personalization you've done to the Chantry. Like setting up a room, or workshop/ritual space in the basement, or redesigning the common room space such as the sunroom. You could even fully move if you want.

Also go ahead and narrate some of what you've been up to in the Downtime. I'll bring in some News to act upon soon.
Rule Number 12: "A soft answer turneth away wrath. Once wrath is looking the other way, shoot it in the head."

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Chapter 2: Balance in all Things

Post by Muskrat » Tue Feb 09, 2021 9:46 pm

Pixel is tempted to move into the Chantry to save money--but she would have difficulty explaining to her non-mage, activist friends why she had made such a move and she fears it would attract too much attention to things she was supposed to keep more or less secret.

She settles for setting up a lab where she can stay overnight in a pinch, moving a good deal of her computer and other technical equipment there. It leaves her apartment feeling rather bare, though she suspected she would come to enjoy the greater spaciousness once she mentally adjusted to it.

Pixel also spend some time exploring the AIDS Memorial Grove, interested not only in its magical but social significance.

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Chapter 2: Balance in all Things

Post by RorytheRomulan » Wed Feb 10, 2021 1:12 am

For Geyser, moving in is an ideal choice financially, saving himself some money and shortening commutes, which is what he tells his friends. His mentor helps out by explaining things to the normies at the beach, warding off deeper curiosity. With some helpful notes from his cabal and his deposit, he sets up a mixing & brewing station suited to his purposes, affording himself more accoutrements than what tools he had or even used in his homey apartment. With the future option of growing his own plants for creations, he chooses an east-facing room with plenty of sunlight for the brewing station (not the sunroom), in addition to a bug-out room for his own privacy. He looks for a living room to set up his television and rack his cinema and anime serials.

If allowed, he sometimes volunteers for upkeep at the grove, to practice the art of Do by caretaking. The aura created by the node makes it taxing, but he tries to acclimatize, to remind himself that not every battle can be fought with a closed fist.

Joining him, Autumn picks out a room for herself as well, and becomes a live-in guardian of the chantry. As with Geyser, the Marina House provides an ideal hub from which she can venture out and prowl the city. During this intermission, Geyser buckles down and gives her some lessons in English for the express purpose of purchasing a vehicle of her own. To his surprise, she lucks out and bags a decent nearly-new motorbike.

Geyser also lets Autumn in on the catastrophe and the size of the threat that the San Francisco cabals are potentially facing, as well as their new role as inquisitors, on the promise that she swear it all to secrecy, and she agrees - it's a song and dance she's familiar with.
Ally vehicle waiting for approval.

I changed Geyser's gender to male in the profile. The previous answer put was only meant to be a joke, I apologize if anybody misread.

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Chapter 2: Balance in all Things

Post by Karstil » Sat Feb 20, 2021 11:05 am

Ulrich moves into a room in the group’s new building, where he establishes his library, a reading place and his bed. Should the other inhabitants agree he will build his altar in a corner of the sun room, so that anyone who wants to use it can, otherwise he will also stand in his room

He arranges the daily routine in such a way that he holds the midday and afternoon prayer in the Goldengate Park, mostly directly on or in the memorial. As well to ensure that the locals perceive him as one of them and to deal with his own trauma and grief.

In the time since the attack, he has been helping with the treatment of the injured, especially trying to help heal Jade Dragon as he blames himself for the extent of her psychological injuries.
If possible and desired, he will often talk to Geyser and Autumn to help her understand English better and pick up some Cantonese for himselves

Shortly after his entrance he performs several long and intens rituals at his shrine in which he consecrates and blesses small silver crosses with his true faith, as well as with the help of Sphereenergy transforms them into protective amulets (Trinkets), which he then gifts to his three roommates.
a pictuer of the cross follows

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Chapter 2: Balance in all Things

Post by Muskrat » Mon Feb 22, 2021 7:23 pm

When Ulrich suggests creating an altar in the sun room, Pixel scratches her head and thinks for a moment. "I guess as long as it's an interfaith altar, it might be fine. I wouldn't pray in front of it, but I might meditate there." She shrugs awkwardly.

Later, when Ulrich gifts her with a silver cross, she awkwardly says, "Thanks." She feels weird about wearing one since she's not Christian, but she doesn't want to turn down the gift and knows that people like Ulrich can transform symbols holy to them into reality hacking devices. She settles for putting in on but tucking it under her clothes. If anyone who's not a mage asks about it, she can always honestly say that it was a gift she would feel bad about not wearing.

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Chapter 2: Balance in all Things

Post by ManWithDoor » Wed Feb 24, 2021 7:06 am

There are growing pains, but focusing on the pain part misses the real point. It is that growth has been made. A wandering biblical priest, an independent hypertech hacker, and an herbalist community builder learning to work together for a larger cause is bound to create ... learning experiences. The establishment of the shrine in the sun-room is a microcosm of that. Worship to him is a path to enlightenment in his paradigm, and would thus be natural for him to incorporate into his new home. Pixel does not react to a religious icon such as that positively. She isn't throwing punches over it, but clearly it is neutral at best, something to make the best of for the sake of harmony as long as certain conditions are met. Navigating these personal idiosyncrasies and beliefs are just part of the process.

Despite its complicated origins and current community symbolism, and its mournful nature, the AIDS Memorial is one thing that draws every member of the trio together. Geyser is a man who works with his hands, and directly gets involved as a caretaker. Ulrich and Pixel are likewise drawn to it, spending a significant amount of time experiencing the resonance of the memorial. Both experiencing it, and internalizing what they learn about themselves and the world in the process.
Absolutely gorgeous line, Rory. "Practice the art of Do by caretaking". As the literal translation of Do is "the Way", too many translate that as "the Way to beat the shit out of people with my magical fists of fury"! Thank you for bringing up that it is so much more than that. It is also the Way of creation, of peace, of enlightenment for all humankind.

Geyser's Vehicle: Motorbike approved!

PMs incoming to your Inboxes tomorrow (or Discord if we chat there) ...
Rule Number 12: "A soft answer turneth away wrath. Once wrath is looking the other way, shoot it in the head."

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Chapter 2: Balance in all Things

Post by RorytheRomulan » Wed Feb 24, 2021 9:41 pm

Geyser nods and answers Ulrich in the affirmative about the altar. He takes the cross and puts it on. If he finds a holy book at the altar, he skims some pages when he doesn't believe anyone is paying attention.

Autumn accepts lessons in English with Ulrich. Seeing this, Geyser takes notice of his interest in Cantonese, and tries to teach the priest more, with the goal of wiggling out of the lessons to free up personal time. Some of Autumn's preferred haunts, and pieces of her lifestyle, come through in relevant lessons. The party easily picks up that she's a night owl.

(based on the way Robertson reacted to Autumn when he met her, you can probably sense that she's nightfolk.)
Got it. Posting my reaction to Ulrich moving in and helping out, and waiting for reply in PM/Discord.

Geyser-san practices sand-the-floor, wax-on-wax-off, and paint-the-fence. :lol:

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Chapter 2: Balance in all Things

Post by RorytheRomulan » Sat Feb 27, 2021 1:02 am

(Possible cross gifting for Autumn, pending PM. Until then...)
Noticeably, Autumn keeps a respectful distance from Ulrich, just generally feeling discomfort when the priest is nearby, and complains about it to Geyser in private. So, Geyser decides against ditching them to their language lessons. She doesn't like the crosses either, but she doesn't make a scene.

(Ok, Crosses...)
The mask slips when Autumn visibly blanches at the crosses, but she quickly recovers, sets her jaw, and reaches out to take it. She forces out the words "thank you very much," and retires to her room, oddly quicker than usual.

For a couple days, Geyser appears to be riding high on something. It must have been some compliment.

While Geyser does volunteer work at the memorial, his mentor keeps in touch from the Nine Hands and updates him on their recovery and related events and rumors, which he relays back to the group the next time they are all present at the Marina House, using one of the main rooms adjacent to the sunroom. Autumn prefers not to spend any time under the sun, but she has been seen slipping into the room, before and after Ulrich moves things in, to explore very briefly. Confused and curious, she asks Ulrich questions about the altar and the book.

"While they mourn and recover, the Brotherhood have to reduce services to the community and pull back from fighting the nastier parts of the slums. Criminals and gangs are taking advantage and moving in. Spirits too. Mostly scavengers, but some malevolent types. My mentor's even heard rumors about vampires, but the Technocracy and the out-and-out thugs and criminals are the bigger problem, so they haven't really bothered to look into it."

He spares a glance toward Autumn. "Autumn tells me this is half-true. After Robertson showed up to give us our own cabal, you've probably guessed that she's 'one of them'," he says, using the scare-quotes. "Triads are moving into the abandoned areas from Chinatown, but Autumn says they serve some kind of Asian... 'species' of vampires, operating under everyone's noses. Autumn is, basically, half-vampire. She's heard that some serious power grabs are happening among their people, while some of their servants are turning up dead. She knows of a couple areas that have seen the worst of it, and that's it. If it escalates, she won't be able to lay low, and she doesn't want that."
World of Darkness setting info
"Oriental vampires" are the Kuei-jin from White Wolf's 'Masquerade' setting. They're physiologically different from the Kindred, and behave differently. They have their own book, 'Kindred of the East'. I'm pretty sure the rarer half-blooded Kuei-jin, dhampyrs, have their own aptly-titled book. I remember looking it up and reading it to get a mental picture of Autumn and how she would fit in while living with Geyser, especially what could be the most adaptable in the western world. That's what she is.

Autumn is also negatively affected by True Faith. Since Ulrich can bless objects with true faith, that includes him. However, she is not truly undead like her vampire parent, so she can't be hurt, but if he wanted to, he could effectively use "Turn Undead" on her (think about the cross scene from Fright Night).

Crosses
Autumn took that cross and hid it somewhere in her room, out of sight, where she can't see it or touch it. :lol:

OOC
There's uheaval going on in the Kuei-jin ranks. Servants of various factions are showing up dead. Autumn is worried that it will escalate into open fighting between the vampire factions.

Info that Geyser will share if asked
Examples of 'scavengers' include spirits that feed off of fear, called phobophages.
From the PMs: "Lack of government and private investment outside of the affluent areas has unsurprisingly led to joblessness and despair, with the natural result of spiking crime." (related to the Brotherhood info)
In terms of rank, Autumn is pretty low on the pecking order in Kuei-jin society.

"Riding high"
When told all of this info about the "Asian vampires", Geyser wasn't sure what to do with it, and asked Autumn if she expected the same from him regarding the info he told her to keep to herself. In reply, she said between them, he was the one with the awesome superpowers connected other strong/important people, and a true friend, and that she trusts him. After hearing those compliments one after the other like that, for a few days he's feeling pretty damn good, especially because he realizes, 'holy shit, she's right!' :lol:

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Chapter 2: Balance in all Things

Post by Muskrat » Mon Mar 01, 2021 7:29 pm

Pixel takes all this in. She's not entirely sure what to make of Autumn's background, but she certainly doesn't want to judge someone negatively just because of their heritage, even if that heritage involves supernatural types that are normally a threat to humanity. "Th--thanks for trusting us with that in--information on Autumn."

She sighs and says, "There's plenty else worrying that's happening too. Someone has covered up what happened at the museum--and it's not just the Traditions. It looks like the Technocracy may have had a hand in covering things up. People who kept insisting they saw something strange happen were intimidated into silence. The one who wouldn't shut up was killed in a police raid. I'd say that points to Technocracy involvement--only the thing I saw didn't seem like part of the Technocracy. Maybe they just don't want word of anything magical getting out. But that still means they have their eyes on us. And are willing to do some really nasty things.

"Glimmer--my AI friend--has said that the Virtual Realm has turned ugly. Almost like whatever possessed Jade Dragon has turned its eyes there or taken up residence there. Many of the Pattern Spiders that normally maintain order there have either been killed or gone feral. It's now much less safe to travel in the Virtual Realm. And there seems to be some sort of anomaly in Chinatown. Something happening in the Virtual Realm to parallel what's happening in the physical world. There's some sort of node there or something, but instead of relaying information, it seems like it's ... eating it. It's hard to get information out of Chinatown now.

"And it's suddenly really hard to get books and other information on the undead and Eastern folklore ..."

Pixel pauses a moment to think. "So, I think all this points to Chinatown and these Kuei-jin as dangerous new players on the scene. But it's hard to say if they had anything to do with possessing Jade Dragon. And who knew that vampires had power in the Virtual Realm? There could be some bigger player behind all this, using the Kuei-jin as their pawns. But this seems like the best lead we have so far."

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Chapter 2: Balance in all Things

Post by Karstil » Sun Mar 07, 2021 3:20 pm

After talking to Pixel, Ulrich builds up the altar as an Interfaiht version, white cloth and candles, but he leaves the cross away and puts down only a Bible for Christianity. A few days later he also adds a Tanach/Torah and a Koran. But it is also clear to him that this is actually only three interpretations of the same faith. Therefore, he asks the others if they want/can contribute to the altar.

He also talks with pleasure to Autumn about the Bible and the Altar.
After handing over the Cross, he says, visibly shaken to Geyser, "Would you please convey my apology to her? I didn’t want to insult or hurt her."

Ulrich first listens to the conversation again. To the opening of Autumn's descent, he reacts calmly, he suspected since the thing with the cross that she had something supernatural about her, because either the silver or the faith had disturbed her. " I am also grateful for the trust you place in us."

Then he talks about the other events: "What you have told coincides with my research and the information I have received from the Chorus: Several of the houses of worship of the Chorus, in the slums, were vandalized, one should even be burned down... also was there no further investigation since the police is busy with the wave of crime that is currently rampant." he looks at Pixel, "What you say about Virtual Reality sounds a lot like what’s happening in the spirit world right now: The fight at the gathering, disrupted the balance that previously existed. Dark spirits such as phobophages are moving in, and some other usually benign entities such as spirits of stone and metal have gone feral. Around us, i mean our house and the aids memorial it's save, but in the slums it is particularly bad. There have been spontaneous eruptions of spirit activity in random areas, and in others spirits have been disappearing, as though consumed or subverted to other purposes."

All in all it is clear that a lot is happening, Chinatown sounds like a good start, but I have one question for Autumn: Is it ok if we get involved with the Asian Vampiers, I mean that could lead to intensive fighting and also to more deaths?

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