Tuesday, 24 August 2010

[actual play] Changeling: the Lost


Changeling: the Lost

Venice: Broken Masks, Shattered Dreams

Prologue - part 1

      In the night of Venice a young man ran through the streets. At every turn he could feel it on his back. He would burst through gathered crowds, who would stare at him. But when he looked at them he would just cry and run even faster. In the Calle de'la Morte his pursuer caught him. Blood splattered the streets and seeped into the snow, just as the clocks struck 1 am.

      It was mid December, 2009, and a cold night in the city of Venice. The wind from the North blew down snow from the Dolomites, and fog rolls in off the lagoon. In the quaint little English pub, the Devil's Forest, Clio awaits her motley to arrive.

      Clio, dressed in a simple black dress, is curvy and with dark Italian features. However, her mien shows her skin is a light green, with silvery scales and vibrant red hair. She looks up from her drink of Campari as the door of the pub opens and from the cold walks in one of her motley. Stooping under the door frame, the gangly and dishevelled Stitches rubs his arms to get warm and goes to the bar to meet Clio. Stitches is as his name sounds, with his mien showing his skin to be pallid and grey, with stitches about the joints of his limbs and long lank black hair.

      Hearing the sound of familiar voice, Freki looks up out of her booth in the pub and realises she was in fact early, and joins her motley. Freki nurses a pint of ale, and scratches her tufty hair and ears, her wolf like nature causing her no end of issues with fleas. Her nails are gnarled and she gnaws at one while they wait for the rest of the motley to gather.

     Finally Sonata, scruffily dressed in a battered suit with shoulder length hair, almost drifts in from the fog. His mien shows that he is composed of mist and smoke, with his hair drifting about on and unseen breeze. He puts out his cigarette and orders a whiskey. Else arrives shortly after Sonata, wearing a large waterproof coat and her work overalls, all covered in grime. Compared to the others she is much shorter, and her mien shows that she has dark eyes, and oil stained skin and pointed ears.

      With the motley gathered, Clio informs them that they have been invited to a party held at Club Casanova, by the Spring Courtier, Malvolio, leader of the Hundred Masks motley. Stitches adds that they have also been invited to a show being performed by the Skulls of Arlecchino at the Teatro Fenice, home to the House of Autumn. The motley decides that they will call in on Malvolio and then head onto the show at the theatre. However, not liking the company of others, especially the House of Spring, Else decides to go and wait at her boat and will meet them later to go to the theatre.

     Walking through the quiet, foggy streets of the Northern district of Venice, Cannaregio, the motley makes it's way to Club Casanova, near to the train station. As they approach they see it is shut, but sat on the steps is a woman in a black trench coat. Her skin is reptilian, her eyes red with slit pupils, and smoke puffed out of her nostrils. Clio recognised her as Maria Cutlass, a Draconic Fairest, and Malvolio's bouncer. They should her the invitation and after berating Clio for not show her face at Malvolio's parties more often, the troupe went to the back entrance and to the party.

     Entering the party, they were hit by the smell of opium, absinthe, hashish and flowers. This back store room of the club was now a salon, with sofas and make shift beds covered in luxurious throws. There was a warm fire and people lazing about, both mortal and changeling. Malvolio, a swarthy and smartly dress man, in a fine suit and a goatee, greeted them. He flashed his smile and he smelt sickly, of carnations and other intoxicating flowers. His mien showed his skin was pale like petals, his lips as inviting as a flower to a bee, and his hair was purple.

      The motley sat, discussed how things were, how the House of Autumn fared and if they were going to the opera. Malvolio offered a variety of narcotics and food, with Sonanta enjoying a cigar, Freki almost getting stoned on a brownie, and Stitches getting his water spiked with LSD. They also spoke to Tybalt, another of Malvolio's motley. He took an interest in Freki before insulting her, calling her a dog. Tybalt himself was a Beast, his seeming being cat like.

      There was a knocking on the door and two more changelings entered the club. The first, dressed in a smart yellow jacket and with yellow feathers sprouting from under his collar and cuffs, was Count Carnelian. The Count was the leader of the motley known as the Harlequins of Carnelian. He was also the Columbine, a title within the Court of Carnival. As a Spring courtier and of Carnival, it was up to Carnelian to organise the official balls of Carnival, but also to ensure that other parties did not get out of hand and attract too much unwanted attention. Clio remembered that the Count had banned Malvolio from holding parties previously for a year due to the unfortunate deaths of 3 mortals at one of his parties. They had died of drug overdoses from glamour infused drugs derived from goblin fruit.

      The motley watched as Malvolio and the Count spoke to each other and strong words were exchanged. The Count's companion was another of his motley, the Glass Elemental, Lady Murano.

     The motley left the club, needing time to meet Else and go to the Teatro Fenice. Stitches was suffering from the spiked drink, and he saw streamers in his vision and gargoyles leered back at him. It took a moment for him to get a grip and realise that his Keeper was not here and that he was safe with friends.

      They met Else at the Rialto bridge and carried on towards Campanile, and from there to the Teatro. The Teatro, loomed over them as they exited into the square from the Frezzaria. The large, classical building towered above them. The steps swept up to the entrance. The motley entered via a side entrance, being greeted by an Autumn courtier, Mr White, a Gravewight and mime artist of the Skulls of Arlecchino motley. This motley was in charge of performing and organising the commedia della'arte, a means for the Autumn court to harvest glamour and teach through plays the dangers of the Fae.

      In the seats, high up in the theatre, the motley watched the Skulls perform an Opera, not unlike that of Wagner, depicting a terrible tale of elves and the tricks that they can play. Sonanta noted that in the aisles there were others, also changelings, dressed as goblins, moving about trying to scare the audience.

      The opera reached its terrible conclusion, and the motley could feel the fear rising, and some of the audience gasped and cried out in fright. Glamour was plentiful and the night drew to a close, with the motley being ushered to a private bar where the rest of the changeling audience gathered.

      The motley had the pleasure of meeting Captain Polo, a Water Dweller Ogre, and some of his motley, the Silk Road Pirates. Polo was the Ranger of the Thorns for the Ho
use of Autumn, and so knew Else well she had helped fix a boat for the Pirates. They also met some of the Library of the Lions, the motley that took care of the tomes and books kept by the House of Autumn. Sonanta tried to speak with one of them, the mad artist Wizened, Tristan Titian. Lastly there was the Eric Red and Sidney Signus, a wax like Mirrorskin ringmaster, and a swan like dancer. Both were of the Skulls, with Eric being the leader of that group.

     As the night drew to a close the motley left the Teatro and headed home. However, as Sonanta looked up he spotted something on the rooftops. There, on the roof of the Church of San Salvador sat a dark being, its cape flapping in the wind and its eyes red and glowing.

Changeling: the Lost - First Impressions


      So last night I ran my first session of Changeling: the Lost, using Venice as my city setting. As you may be aware, I have been working for sometime to get this setting just right. I have designed a new court (Carnival) and written a lot for the background for the city and the Freehold of Changelings that live there.

      You may also be aware that I have run a lot of Vampire: the Requiem, so I thought we should perhaps look at my first impressions of running the game and what differences there were in theme and mood and how that manifested.

      The Rules

      Changeling I think should be approached as a bottom up game. It takes a lot longer to do character creation as there are many little things that have to be sorted out. Basic character concept, seeming, kith, court, contracts. It just takes a little longer than Vampire and that is because you can tweak the characters a lot more.

      Keeping with the bottom up approach I tried to keep the use of particular rules out of the first session. Hedge travel. No. Dreamscaping. No. Tokens and Trinkets etc. No. Even Contracts were off limits to start. No, to begin with we just had the basics of Clarity and Glamour. All in all not to difficult except for working out the dice pools that were appropriate for harvesting Glamour. As for Clarity it didn't get invoked, but the dangers of it degenerating were there as a number of the characters indulged in some for of drug.

      Overall the I don't see it being that difficult to run (with contracts and pledges in place). The real issues is just keeping the Seeming and Kith blessings and curses in check.

      The Setting

      Changeling definitely had that weird vibe going. We did a quick introduction of the five PCs, and looked at how they lived in Venice. Compared to Vampire these were definitely more like homeless vagrants. There is the jarring issue that changelings have of being able to see each other's mien, making life in general slightly weirder as they see animal, ogre and elemental like people move about the city. Combined with the ability to feed of emotions and taste the emotions, reality for the characters is somewhat stranger. And this is before we get to pledges, contracts and anything from the Hedge or dreams.

       As for the motley they have banded together based on the simple ideas of wanting more knowledge of the Wyrd so that they can have their revenge/thing denied to them. To ground them in the setting further the PCs met at a small English pub in Venice, called Devil's Forest, renowned for it's red telephone box they somehow got down the narrow alleys.

     Now for the Courts. In the first session I showcase the extreme elements of the courts of Spring and Autumn. The former involved a opium den like gathering that had already been running for a week, and where the PCs met some of the Spring court, learnt a little about the rivalries there, and immediately grew to dislike the motley that ran the gathering, finding them too sure of themselves and sleazy. Of course the opium den allowed for glamour feeding and the idea of the pleasure emotion there being 'artificial'. It also meant that there was the danger of getting drugged, and one character did. This led the group to understand the danger mind altering drugs have on their already fragile minds.

    The Autumn court showcased their need to foster fear in the hearts of the people of Venice. The Autumn court is makes use of teh famous theatre in Venice, the Teatro Fenice. The scene involved watching a terrifying opera, similar to works of Wagner. The end result was the gathered crowd of mortals and Changelings being subjected to one of the Autumn Contracts that invokes fear, causing some of the mortals to scream and sob while the changelings soaked up the emotions. This was then followed by a bit of socialization with the members of the Autumn court, and meeting more of the strange Changelings and once more having to accept the weirdness of their appearance and their own mannerisms.

    The final part of the session was to heighten the feeling of fear of the unknown in the city of Venice as the motley was watched by some shadowy being.

     As for Venice, I think most of my players have the benefit of playing on Assassin's Creed 2 and so have at least a good idea for the look and the claustrophobia of the city, something that is also helped by my wife's photos of Venice when we have been there on holiday. I think as the chronicle goes on and as more locations are showcased it should enhance the Venetian feel. Also I have plans to make use of simple Italian phrases to just emphasis the idea that it is Italy and Venice.


     In summary Changeling definitely has that element of fantasy, but tinged with the darkness the modern age brings. The changelings come across as being on the edge of madness, and that the romantic tales of fairy magic is now stained with the sins that the modern world brings. For example the idea that contracts linked to the manipulation of emotions can just be used to allow for a orgy/opium den type party where the changelings can feast on glamour is add odds with the romantic idea of faries helping to find one's true love. So maybe, just maybe I have got the mood of the 'Beautiful Madness' just right?

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Changeling: The Lost - Venice: Broken Mask, Shattered Dreams - Motleys of Venice part 2

The Lords of Love

The Lords of Love are possibly without doubt the most decadent of the entire House of Spring. They expect to be properly respect by those of other Seemings and Houses, and they are simply wish to indulge their senses and desires. The entire motley is made of changelings from the Fairest Seeming.

The Lords of Love present themselves as being the most influencial in the desires and emotions of the mortals of Venice, and they go from party to party as if they are celebrities. They even have and entourage of mortals who hope that being in their presence will allow some of their magic to rub off on them. They dress in fine clothes, eat at expensive restaurants and associate with the celebrities and entrepreneurs who come to make money in the city.

The Lords of Love are not that well loved in the Freehold. They are seen as prejudiced, aloof and patronising. They see those of other Seemings as nothing but pathetic creatures and ugly.

Led by the charismatic Madam Rose Blood, the motley operates from rooms rented in a hotel on the Lido, where they may wine and dine guests. They are also known to have at least one large yacht where they host parties.

Because of their prominence within the Freehold, and within mortal society, they have a number of mortal retainers. They are also well known for keeping contacts with the Vampires of Mestre, and the so called Prince of the Veneto.


The Emerald Horn

The Emerald Horn is the name of the motley that the Vernal Duke is a member of, and is in fact the leader of.

The Emerald Horn, like the other stocking gangs, are committed to pushing the aims of the House of Spring. They represent the entire season in the Court of Carnival, and try to ensure that the rulings of the Doge do not impact upon those members of the House of Spring.

The Emeral Horn is made of of the closest allies of the Vernal Duke, and they act as his council, protection and officers with regard to the action and laws of the House of Spring.

In order to maintain their position, the Emerald Horn do not rule with an iron fist and are instead involved in a sort of ongoing PR action where they try to appease all members of the House of Spring.

The primary concern of the House of Spring is the harvesting and nurturing of the emotion of desire and using this to safe guard the House against the other seasons and the Gentry. It is only through forgetting the past and rediscovering the pleasure of the life they were denied that the Lost can be free, and this freedom is the goal of the Vernal Duke and his Emerald Horn.

In order to perform their task the Emerald Horn cares for the Ca’ da Mosto, the home of the House of Spring, and it is also here that the House of Spring and the Emerald Horn hold a number of parties for the rich and famous, harvesting glamour from the revellers. The House provides its courtiers with the tools to pursue their desire.


The Triumphal Quadriga

The Triumphal Quadriga are a motley of four Changelings, named after the four horses on the roof of St Mark’s Basilica, these four form one of the newest motleys of Venice. Led by the Crimson Knight, Etiene Epee, the Triumphal Quadriga are foot soldiers of the House of Summer.

Etiene trains his men at the House of Summer, the Arsenale. In the belly of the unrestored sections Etiene works his men tirelessly, practising swordsmanship each day, and keeping watch over the city and those that attempt to harm the Lost of the city. When called upon by the Admiral to fight the motely is often the first to fight, seeking whatever honour they can in order to find a promotion within the House of Summer.


The Watchmen

The Watchmen take it upon themselves to shine when it is darkest, keeping watch over Venice even while it sleeps. They are skilled not just in hunting the creatures of the Fae but also the other creatures that stalk the night, be they vampires, ghosts, strange spirits and shambling bodies.

The Watchmen, a long lasting motley that has had a high turnover of members due to death, injury or burn out. They are currently led by Cinder Bella, an Elemental of Smoke, and a renowned warrior and a Captain of the Crimson Knights. Where Etiene and his motley struggle to follow orders to the letter, Cinder expects creativity, and more than just physical prowess. Her motley is not just comprised of Summer courtiers, and claims a number of Winter courtiers as members since she values their skills in stealth, and also a member of the House of Autumn who she turns to when more specialist knowledge of the occult is required.

The Watchmen claim a small church tower as their home from which they are able to better survey the city. From here they have a number of doors into the Hedge that lead to places about the city so that they can more quickly move in times of urgency.


The Swords of the Lion

The Swords of the Lion are a collection of hunters. Composed of changelings of the Beast Seeming, they are furious warriors, and dislike many of the other motleys, especially those rivals within the House of Summer, and those from the House of Winter.

Led by Tomas Tusk, the Swords engage in any battle they can find, even going as far as to test their might against those things in the Hedge, vampires and even Werewolves on the mainland.

Tomas Tusk trains his men in a private location on one of the outlying islands where they can better maintain their arsenal of weapons. His troupe contains many appointed Mud grunts, with Tomas being another Captain of the Crimson Knights. A number of his motley are wanted criminals and have not been taken in as evidence against them is slim and ever decreasing due to the actions of the Freeho
ld against the mortal police force.

The Armoury

The Armoury consists of a group of changelings that can be considered weapon masters. They are led by the Wizened Smith, Blackhand. He is a diligent worker, capable swordsman, and trained in the forging of swords and other blades. He acts as another of the Captains of the Crimson Knights and is also in charge of ensuring the House of Summer is properly equipped. His motley consists of some of the best equipped Crimson Knights and Mud Grunts.

Getting New Players


"If we have it, they will come" - Daisy - Spoofing 'Field of Dreams' - Gatherings - Spaced Series 1

So recently I have been busy working away on my Changeling setting. More importantly writing up NPCs for the game which is due to start soon. I have the first two episodes drafted and the rest of the chronicle outline is ready. But more importantly I have new players.

Some of you who have been reading my own personal blog, or this one, will be aware that my wife is one of my gaming group. She has now had 2 tours of duty in gaming. The first being a few games of Unhallowed Metorpolis. The other being my long chronicle of Vampire: the Requiem. Let's just say she has got into gaming with little issue, enjoying the roleplay aspect over the dice rolling.

Of course getting some new players is tricky. You want to find people that mesh with your gaming style, the types of games you run, and of course as a group will all get along. I have succeeded and failed at recruiting players to a varying degree. This time round I went hunting once more. First to the local wargaming group meetup in town, and then to the pub to meet some mutual friends of a previous player from my group.

The result. 4 new players. Two are fairly young and a couple. One is an avid wargamer of the GW line of games. His girlfriend is also a wargamer. She however has only ever had the experience of playing DnD, while her man has been dying to find a World of Darkness gaming group.

The other two players are also a couple, and work in the computer games industry as artists. Needless to say they have their own history of wargaming and computer games. However neither has roleplayed table top wise.

So a good mix. I have one player who knows the system to the games and others who are just looking for a fun time.

To break the ice we played through the Terrifying Tale of James Magnus, from World of Darkness: Ghost Stories. I had some pre-generated characters for everyone to play. What was a great surprise was how in character they played, and the extra details they added to their characters as the game went on. Characters got spooked, knifed, shot and killed as the ghosts haunted the house. I was utterly impressed by the level of in character gaming I was getting from all the players, especially from those newest to the hobby.

All  in all then a good batch of players who have now provided quite the mix of twisted changeling characters.


So some advice with getting new players?

Don't be shy. Be confident. Players tend to flock to storytellers who are confident in their own skills.

Gut Feeling. We may all be gamers but we don't all have to be friends. If you don't think someone will suit your gaming group then don't be afraid of saying no. Just because we are gamers doesn't mean we are friends by default. Your gut feeling is always a good indicator.

Boot Camp. Boot camp the players. Just as you must prove to them you can run the game, they have to prove that they a) can game b) fit your group c) not be social trolls and weird out the other players.

Noobs are Uncut Diamonds.  Yes really. You can find some of the best players in the world in those who haven't played/played that game system.

Social Networks are your friend. Use them to find players, organise players, make the gaming exciting (a written form of trailer to the game perhaps with images attached to inspire). All these things grab the attention of the players. 


Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Changeling: the Lost - Character Backgrounds

Oh yeah that time has come.

So we now have stats for your characters. So the next step is to answer a few things.

We have the Prelude to deal with. Just write about a paragraph to answer each of these.

Everyday Life


The Taking


The Escape


Then try and answer these.

• How old are you?

When were you born? How long were you in Faerie? Do

you look older or younger than your years? Is your fetch the

same age and appearance as you?

• What do you look like?

What color is your hair? How do you dress? Do you have

distinguishing marks? What does your seeming look like?

• What was your existence in Faerie like?

Who was your Keeper? Was he or she capricious, or cruel

or sympathetic? Were you a favorite servant, or despised? Does

your seeming reflect your Keeper’s nature, or were you shaped

to some other purpose?

• What are your motivations?

Do you want to regain your mortal life? How do you react

to changeling society? Are you looking to create a new life as

a changeling? Do you wish to be “cured?” Is there a rival you

want to defeat? A lover you want to woo?


What we have right now character wise are;

Sam - Katarina - Spring Court - Beast - Swimmerskin - Mermaid Courtier taken during the 16th century. She is skilled in singing and seduction.

Steve - Autumn Court - Darkling - Tunnelgrub - 1930s New York Jazz musician. Taken for his music and that skill has been stolen. He can still play but that spark is gone. He is a will-o-wisp type changeling. Great at stealth and music.

Heather - Autumn Court - Beast - Hunter Heart - Wolf type hunter/scout. Taken as a young girl somewhere in Italy and became her master's lap dog. Skilled in hunting, and speaking to canines.

Emily - Autumn Court - Wizened - Smith - Victorian street urchin became tinkerer with machines during her time in Arcadia.

Chris - Autumn Court - Wizened - Churigeon - Taken as child to be experimented on and now a surgeon who wants to know how the Fae work and the soul.


So yeah, I suggest just posting to this posterous with these as seperate articles for your characters. Please go wild, but don't feel like you have to. Vignettes about the characters are welcome.


Those of you without posting access... please tell me, give me your email and I will add you in as a contributor. 

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Changeling: the Lost - Venice Unmasked - Origins


The origins of my Changeling chronicle run deep. Back with an old gaming group we had played a long chronicle of Vampire: the Dark Ages during which the characters had a few visits to the city of Venice. The setting for the game was around the events of the Fourth Crusade, the shocking event where Venice, seeking retribution, diverted the forces of the Crusade from Jerusalem to the city of Byzantium, settling an old score for the Doge.

Of course my interest in Venice grew when I had the chance to go there for a holiday with my wife, when we were just only going out at the time. I had always wanted to visit the city, for its history, art, culture, food and magic of the Carnival. We went during that celebration and went to a masked ball at a grand palazzo, ate loads of food and indulged in the decadent city. It would also be during this time that we would get engaged and the following year return to Venice for our wedding. As a result Venice has invaded my mind. It is a city steeped with history and legend, and is a unusual and unique location.

So why Changelings in Venice? Well I guess because Venice is an easy setting to grab hold of for games like Mage and Vampire. Venice has been the centre of religious, political and scientific intrigue. So not using those games has been a challenge. Changelings seem to fit the concept of Carnival better. They have a need to reclaim life, yet hide amongst the revellers. Venice is also known as the 'Fairy City' and has it's own legends of the Fae visiting the city, and so it has been more exciting looking at Venice through this lens rather than the brooding gothic of Vampires, or the occult war of Mages.

Changeling: the Lost - Movies and Character Generation

 So which film for a next week (Monday 9th) Changeling Character generation session/Changeling movie inspiration? Choose just two.

Note! Go to the Poll link to actually vote as it is on Livejournal and Posterous don't like this

 Poll #1601502 Which movie for Changeling session
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All

Which Movie

 Hellboy 2
 Pan's Labyrinth
 Neverwhere (TV series)
 Mirror Mask
 Howl's Moving Castle
 Carnivale (HBO Series)
 Casanova (Heath Ledger Film)
 Francesco da Mosto's Venice (TV Series)Series
 The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus

These are just the films that Sam and I have so other suggestions are welcome.


Monday, 2 August 2010

Changeling will be...

A lot of this





A very old short story I wrote #mage #shortstory

    The city was still in the summer breeze, hues of orange and violet filled the evening sky over head, jet contrails crisscrossing the heavens, carving through the nimbus clouds.

    The buildings of the city loomed overhead like dark brooding priests, tired from gasping in the carbon thick air of the streets. Their vermillion brick faces stained by the years of smog and acerb rain. Windows, dusty filters to the world, dragonfly arrays of lenses held in place by pealing acrylic, looked down and dour. In this twilight of greenhouse chemicals and ammonia clouded skies Vincent marched home. His noir polymer boots stomping on cracked and crushed paving slabs. Each step was heard. A faint creak as the leather clad feet strode along the pavement.

    A tinkle and rattle of coins and keys heralded Vincent's return home as he dug from his pinstripe trousers his door key. A satisfying clunk and a ghostly creak welcomed him home. The warm synthetic air gave way to a chill musty one. Pungent incense still lingered on from the night before.

    Vincent hung long windbreaker from its usual peg, and the satchel nestled into the sofa. A bubbling and a click, and soon Vincent had a piping hot coffee in hand, the mug emblazoned with an insipid "Your the Best". He ran a hand through his flambouyant red hair, allowing the tufts to take on some order. It was still a mop of ragged, vivid, mess. He removed the shades from his forehead and made his way up stairs, collecting the satchel as he passed.

    The leather boots thumped up the steps, muffled by the 70s vomit patterned carpet. The banister straining against each hand grip upon the lacquered cream paint. Vincent passed the other rooms on the floor and made his way to his study, entering the curtained room, faint slivers of light cutting past the the thick fabric drapes. Sat humming in some digital tune was Vincent's PC. The titanium white case freckled with dust. Beside it sat a dated CRT monitor, the standby light blinking a lime green disco. Above the monitor was a crome camera, its cover off to allow the device to zoom at the corner of the room.

    Vincent took in a tired breath and sat down on the thread worn office chair and took a gulp of the amaroidal coffee. "Still no answer then?" He sighed, his voice ragged, disguising his youth.

    He turned about on the spot, the chair straining, and he looked in the direction the camera was viewing. Inscribed in a sticky black fluid was a circle, lined with ten burning candles in one quadrant of the circumference. Within the circle lay a fat slab of beef steak and about it three small coffee mugs containing various fluids. One contained Mercury, the next had some Iodine brown emulsion, and the last held what was obviously blood, thick and blackened by the oxidised iron.

    Vincent turned back to the PC and pulled out the keyboard from under a morass of books and printouts. Some held menageries of Norse runes, pages held madalas and seals. The monitor blinked on.


    Vincent eyed the screen and peered at the unix shell, fumbling about for a DVD to write too

    Well thats new. I thought these demons were only little?

    The tray slid out of the face of the difference engine, and Vincent plucked the silvered polycarbon dish out with his middle finger. A faint emanation of sulphur followed the disc from the cd writer.

    Should be glad I know at least which realm this blighter is from.

    Gingerly Vincent held his hand out over the magic circle and placed the disc on the pungent piece of cow, directing the rainbowed face towards the digital camera.

    For a Decarabia this sucker has taken up a lot of band width.

    Viincent sat back on the chair and swivelled around so to lean his forearms on the back rest, he took off his suit jacket and slung it on the door handle. He reached back for his cup of coffee and pulled out a coin from his pocket. With a plop the coin dropped into the inky caffine and he took a slug of the potion.

    Words not heard of on Earth except by those of his calling emanated from his stern lips, the sounds tugging at the cords of the world, holding back all the locks and veils for a brief moment. The world paused in its rotation and the stars above screamed from their fiery hearts. The candles flickered and the DVD crackled as the reflective metal vaporised within the disc. The smell of cooking fat filled the room and a wind picked up, flicking pages and notes from the computer desk.

    Vincent grinned. Time for an interrogation.

    Seeping through the cracks in the cage of reality, the Decarabia took form, its luminous being spilling from the camera lens and sucked into the magic circle. Blood and mercury boiled.

    "Bastard! Who are you to bring me here?!" Spat the foul toady being, no higher than 2 feet, it observed Vincent with avian orbs. "I shall have the crows tear from you your eyes, I will. Feast upon them, and dance upon your broken form."

    Vincent leaned back laughing and gulped back more of the coffee and held out his cell phone. The LCD screen flared into life and red numerals bled in from the edges. The demon clutched at its ears with 6 spindle like fingers on each hand.

    "Yaarggghhh!" The beast screamed, frantically shaking its pocked marked head back and forth. "It hurts! Nooo. No More!"

    "We have an understanding I see?" Vincent lowered the phone. "So lets get the obvious stuff out the way. Whats the price?"

    "Fine!" The demon sulked and stared at the mage. "Bloody toys and you. Easy it was back when all they had were swords and crystal balls. Nooo. Make diiigiiital  things you did. Bah! Lazy!"

    "Oh come on. I at least gave you breakfast."

    "Ok. The half moon, on the eleventh hour of night. Burnt in foxglove and nightshade. The hair of a newborn boy. And with it part of the placenta."

    "I see we've gone and gotten a little refined in our tastes?" Vincent got up of the chair and crossed over to the edge of the circle, bringing with him a map of the city and a collection of glossy photos. "You know what I'm going to ask?"

    "The city stone. The Great Stone. Oh dear. Late in the hour is it that we try to undo the mistakes of ages past. Of our forefathers." The Decarabia grinned and licked at it's greasy lips, cracked and weeping with sores and scabs. "You've heard him dream. Restless he is. Neither here nor there he dreams. Looking for what was his."

    Vincent sighed. "Yeah. I guess we are a bit late. What is the name?"

    The pygmy creature let out a gutteral cackle. "You think any of us know. Viiiiincent my boy. Are we tired? Has it been a long day? Bless."

    "Fuck you." Vincent sat down cross legged and placed the maps to his side. "Lets rephrase that shall we. What awoke it?"

    "A shard. How does one cut diamond? One uses diamond of course. What awoke him is what sealed him away. Stones and rocks are my speciality didn't you know" With a snigger the demon held up the 'OK' hand signal. Vincent had to smile, as much as these beast were cruel, they did have a way with comedy.

    "Ok, so some idiot breeched the Atlantean seals using some device made of the same stone as the Great Stone and the standing stones about the city. How do we seal it?"

    "Now thats a tough one. Bit like an egg shell."

    "Huh?" Vincent rubbed his chin and got up for a second, the floor boards creaking as his weight shifted. The Decarabia hopped up onto its avian legs and turned to regard the lump of steak and greedily snatched it up, gnawing away of the racid flesh with a mouth of pirana teeth.

    "SHIT!" Vincent stood up and stared at the demon. "Your saying those seals were a one shot! Oh fuck. We're fucked then!"

    "Mwha?" The demon looked over its shoulder, it's mouth half stuffed with the sickly meat. "Mwo ye. Mwah!" The hellish spawn giggled.

    "But thats what it's looking for its name. It's true name. That was how they stripped it of its power. Stole its name and sent the bastard to Elsewhere. Genius. Now all I need to do is find its name before it can. That'll be easy." Vincent chewed on a nail and paced back and forth in the study.

    "Book of Dead Gods."

    "Don't take the piss. Lovecraft was having a joke when that was written. It's not true. The one in London has no power."

    "But in his own cage Man makes power and makes magic."

    Vincent stood and looked at the hellspawn puzzled. Makes its own power and its own magic. Then did the Seers truely win? What if they made things worse. What if man can in the emptiness of this cage invent horrors never seen of before the Fall.

    "Best joke ever made I think that one."

    Vincent raised an eyebrow and slid his hand into his back pocket and ran a finger over the smooth plastic buttons of the cell phone.

    "Piss off!" And in unison Vincent thumbed the button on the cell phone. A high pitched whine broke the stench of the air and the veil of the worlds open once more, sucking back into the pits of hell their foul little minion.

    "Remember the deal Vincent! Remember" The howl of the winds of the Abyss cut the vile creature off as its form was folded into itself and the DVD crumpled and crispened.