[Gloria Mundi] 0-0: The Wonderful Wizard of Us

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[Gloria Mundi] 0-0: The Wonderful Wizard of Us

Postby EvilSqueegee » Tue May 27, 2014 4:27 pm

Kelly Summers
And now we're all to blame
We've gone too far, from pride to shame
We're hopelessly blissful and blind
When all we need
Is something true, to believe
Don't we all?

Mastigos | Mysterium | Egregari Acolyte


This was the last time Kelly was going to offer to help anyone move, no matter how rare the tomes she was getting paid in actually were. She’d thought she was just volunteering to move a few boxes of toothbrushes, clothes and maybe a computer. Instead, she’d found out at the last minute that she’d been roped into relocating an entire alchemist’s lab and library — talk about out of her league. She could barely carry a backpack with a few textbooks, let alone an entire wizard’s kit and caboodle. To make matters worse? Both the beginning location and ending location were more securely warded than the Free Council’s sever housing. There was just about no escaping the raw physical work this time.

Fortunately for Kelly, even the infallible laws of magic were simply a suggestion if you were a good enough wizard. She’d never found a problem that couldn’t be out-thought. Tonight was no exception, though the methods may be a little extreme, they were practically guaranteed to work (provided they didn’t rip reality in two and scar existence itself.)

Don’t try this at home, kids — let the wizardry commence.

The Summoning Circle that formed the basis of every summoning Kelly had ever performed sat in the cabal’s back yard, in the middle of the tall, unkempt grass (Kelly certainly wasn’t about to volunteer to be the one who did the mowing when Gremlin could just as easily make some kind of stupid contraption do it for them.) A ten-foot-by-ten-foot patch of cobblestone in the middle of the yard was surrounded by four posts marking cardinal directions, each punctuated by several unused torch rungs.

Three concentric circles were carved into the surface of the stone, contrasting slash-marks at odd intervals along the grooves. It’d taken Kelly quite some time to plot the design correctly -- a well-proportioned and geometrically exact circle was not only quite difficult to draw and then carve, but if done incorrectly it could have amazingly bad consequences. We’re talking Miley Cyrus’ public image kind of consequences: while you can’t stretch a circle without applying at least two separate vectors of change, ellipses had longer, weaker walls that were easier to punch through from the exterior. They also had tight corner-ish spots begging to be punctured from within. Screwing up the geometry here was kind of like pointing a gun to your head: Sure, it was fine if you never pulled the trigger, but if something bumped your hand the wrong way…

Tonight’s ritual, like every other one, would require some personal and individual embellishments beyond the permanent building-blocks she’d always worked with, though. Magic was different for every practitioner; it utilized a little bit of your personal soul’s connection to the Supernal. She’d spent much of the past few days preparing the way that most people would cram for an exam — shoving her nose into books she knew she should have paid more attention to the first time, frantically running around collecting spell components and brushing up on her mystical linguistics and laws of supernal correspondence.

Atlantean glyphs, painstakingly drawn line-by-line with white sand along the outer ring of the Circle, constituted the most occult and arcane elements of the ritual. Kelly spelled out pompous-sounding offerings of power in exacting grammar according to the Old Laws. It’d taken an entire day’s worth of research to find the precise punctuation for the rite — information covetously guarded by the local Censorium. It hadn’t been cheap, but it was worth every mote of Tass she’d been charged. The High Tongue wasn’t as crude as lesser will-workers assumed; while the intent behind the words was a large part of it, the execution of their writing was more important than the rest of the Pentacle wanted to admit.

Candles were placed at even tenths on the edge of the middle Circle, and lines of sand connected the base of each candle to the center-point of the entire design. The sand itself was charged by the Mana that burned in the candle’s flames. She’d accrued the power carefully over the past few weeks from the group’s Hollow, bargaining away extra nights of doing the dishes with Gremlin had proven a necessary evil by the time all was said and done (she certainly wasn’t about to take a loan from the local Libertine tass-shark.)

Provided she hadn’t misunderstood the Egyptian tome on Quintessential Mechanics, when the sand’s design was disturbed, the mystical circuit would break and attempt to complete itself again immediately as possible, much light lightning looking for to ground itself. It would surge into the being that broke the design, which In Kelly’s case was a good thing: most demons wouldn’t even pick up the phone if there wasn’t a promise of some kind of power on the other end of the line. Also, this tactic avoided linking between her own pattern and any summoned demon’s pattern in order to transfer the power.

Stirfry watched the proceedings. He was a piddling little imp, no more than six inches tall or so, but he liked to think he was a lot bigger than he actually was. Wide, long ears and tall horns reinforced his delusions. He was draped with chains and pierced all over; if he didn’t come across as such a rodent, he’d probably evoke memories of Mr. T cartoons. He perched boredly on top of a torch-post under the moonlight, his little glowing talons gripping into the sides of the pole. His eyes kept dancing hungrily from candle to candle, as if Kelly couldn’t tell he was undressing her summoning circle with his eyes.

“Hoodlum’s potions never smell this bad,” he complained in an almost taunting voice. The way he rested his chin on his fist while his tail and free hand kept shifting to keep his balance kind of emptied any insult his voice might have carried.

“Hoodlum’s potions also suck,” Kelly quipped back at her familiar as she poured the fowl-smelling liquid out of a gallon pitcher onto the cobblestone. She reached out as far as she could so the splash from the gunk hitting the ground didn’t get all over her shoes. It was thick, it was chunky, and it smelled like three-day-old eggs. It seeped into the ground, bubbling in between the cracks of the stones. The mana in the sand repelled the liquid, keeping the potion’s power from manifesting just yet and also keeping the sand dry. In many ways, Magic was just like chemistry: Chain reactions, formula, arcane laws that didn’t seem to make any sense and garnered just as much academic focus as anything else, and most importantly, it was a hell of a way to ruin an outfit.

This is why wizards wore robes — that whole myth about them wearing nothing underneath was just… bachelor grossness. The robe served two functions: Warmth and protecting your clothes like armor. Magic could get messy, and Kelly never shied away from that -- no matter how much the others complained about the stank of botched experiments, summonings gone wrong, or even the splatter of the occasional sacrificial animal. Not her fault that demon ate like a blender sans the actual pitcher bits. This didn’t mean, however, that she was eager to sacrifice her good jeans or her favorite Linkin Park T-shirt to the Supernal for no good reason.

“You’d know a thing or two about sucking, huh?” Stirfy quipped, his voice nasal and pitched by the way he plugged his nose.

Kelly shot him a glare; he just about blinded her through the lenses of her glasses with the way he resonated with the power of Pandemonium. He stuck his tongue out at her like an obnoxious sibling might. She rolled her eyes, reaching down for the next pitcher, mocking him internally as if he couldn’t feel her repeating his words in her head in the most pretentious way possible.

Despite being bundled up in the stained, somewhat well-worn robe, Kelly was a pretty girl even if she didn’t carry herself like one. She’d had a cowl sewn onto the thing long ago because nothing sucks more than getting demon vomit in your hair. Big heavy glasses rested on her face; not that she needed them to see anything physical (in fact, diamond lenses were amazingly awful for eyesight in any but the most mystical sense). In one hand she held a pitcher that matched several others on the ground behind her, in the other hand she held her staff: Almost as tall as she was, topped with a gorgeous, and likely exceedingly expensive, crystal. The gemstone shed a bright white-blue light which cast long and deep shadows all over the yard. Of course, only a spell-caster could see either the light or the shadows, but it was all the same to her.

The staff made hollow tapping sounds as the empty cold-iron shaft clinked against the ground while she walked. One by one, the pitchers were emptied into the circles; the potion filled in the cracks between the stones, it ran along the grooves of the circles and parted for the sand like a series of miniature re-enactments of the Red Sea.

“You realize you could just, you know, hit the gym,” Stirfy piped up again, hopping down and fluttering to the ground with his bat-like skin-and-bone wings.

“Because that’s totally going to get me in shape on time. Let me just call back and ask if Hoodlum can delay his move long enough for me to build some muscle before I help out. That’ll do wonders for my reputation in the Order.”

“Hey, just saying. If you’d pull your nose out of a book every now and then, you might even have the time to cut a figure--ghk!”

Kelly’s hand grabbed around his throat. She looked at him over the rims of her gem-glasses, lifting him up and holding him at arm’s length from her face. She didn’t need to use words to intimate to him how willing she actually might be to throw him as an additional bonus to the demon she was about to summon. He could feel it through their shared soul.

“Books are great, though,” he choked out in a panic, tiny little hands grabbing onto her fingers in an attempt to release himself. He didn’t use his full strength; at this point defying his Wizardess was probably the worst thing he could do. “They really bring out your eyes!”

“You think so?” Kelly let go of him and he hit the ground with a tiny, high-pitched gasp, melodramatically over-playing his coughing and sputtering. She pretended not to hear him muttering insulting profanities under his breath.

“I do!” he squeaked after a while. “Really, that’s why I’m here in the first place—”

“—Fry,” Kelly rolled her eyes, “I need to concentrate.”

“Right! Sorry. Very pretty. Sorry.”

Kelly pushed her glasses up her nose and looked over the Circle, verifying once more that everything was as it should be. These kinds of summonings were touch-and-go, like a long-running game of Jenga — so many ways to bring it all crashing down on your head. Unlike Jenga, though, it wasn’t little bricks of wood or plastic she was playing with. Here, the consequences of the building blocks coming tumbling down were existential. It was the kind of thing you could get in a lot (a lot) of trouble with the Concilium for; but only if you screwed it up.

Supernal Summonings were a lot like prostitution in Thailand, like that — if you gave even the most half-hearted attempt to pretend it wasn’t what it was, the authorities would turn a blind eye if you just kept it behind closed doors.

Everything seemed in order. Kelly cleared her throat and headed for the picnic table at the edge of the grass. She grabbed a slice of pizza from the box; it was half gone at this point even though she hadn’t had anything yet. She stopped, and looked out over the yard threateningly. Stirfry was absolutely nowhere to be seen. What a coincidence.

Chugging a can of coke and placing the empty can back on the table, she threw the cowl of her hood up, grabbed her staff in her free hand, and marched back over to the summoning circle while helping herself to the gooey melted cheese and pepperoni. She could practically hear Moses chiding her awful manners, but frankly, she didn’t care: She was alone, and she had more important things to worry about.

The tapping of her staff on the ground as she paced around the Circles fell into a deep, subconscious rhythm. Her chanting was good enough, it didn’t need to be perfect since sloppy pronunciation here was less dangerous than the written offerings. Besides, it was hard to chant with mouth-fulls of pizza. Bombino’s was so good it occupied the whole mouth; sacrifices had to be made.

Hours dragged on and magic began to build in the air. The yard, expansive as it might have been, started to feel stuffier and more claustrophobic — the fence felt more like it was meant to keep her in than it was meant to keep anyone else out. Those who walked the Path of Scourging were rarely of joyful Nimbus, Kelly was no exception: Each time her legs moved, each time her arms swung in the trance-like, hypnotic motion of the rite, she could practically hear the chains rattling as they fought the motions. It was worse than walking through water because it wasn’t just resistance, it was chafing at the ankles and wrists. It came with a sense of identity being stripped; prisoners weren’t people, just numbers. The memory of her Awakening bled into reality the more she called on it to saturate her world.

Once the chanting and the tapping had droned on long enough that she could reliably assume her muscles would keep repeating the process well enough on their own, she started projecting her senses away from her body and into the small swirling nexus of magic that had begun to invisibly build over the circle. Power that had been built must then be sculpted: This was the part that demanded the skills few were practiced in. Too many spell casters assumed that raw force of will was the only way to manipulate magic; the truth was best expressed through a metaphor involving flies, vinegar and honey.

Emotions and dreams were far more effective than brutish mental demands or raw elbow grease. There was finesse in imagining your crush’s last name following your first, then swooping around and recalling your frustration with his girlfriend’s pretty eyes. Magic responded to the ebb and flow of your aura, and all you had to do to change your aura was feel something you weren’t feeling a moment ago, and feel it strongly. This was more difficult to do than simply making the equivalent of a loud grunted demand, but it achieved an exponentially more potent effect. It was the difference between denting reality into the shape of your spell using a hammer, and gently sculpting it with a chisel.

Of course, what you sculpted the magic into was far more important than how you sculpted it. Most mages would tell you that the Abyss was a barrier between the Supernal and the Material, but Kelly frowned on that metaphor. It was more akin to reality being a sliding horizontal scale composed of many individual frequencies: The material, which melted into the abyssal, which then stretched onward to the Supernal, as you proceeded from frequency to frequency. The Higher Realms were not a place in the sense of physical location (that was a restriction of the physical world), they were all around simply waiting for you to flip your consciousness to their layer of the multi-verse.

The end result was the same, whether or not you bought the absurdity the common magus preached: In order to pull something down from the Supernal Realm of your Awakening, the Abyss must be contended with. In the case of normal spell-casts, this is so innate and basic that even freshly Awakened will-workers didn’t need to understand it. With a Supernal Summoning, though, a finer understanding of the metaphysics being exploited was necessary — it was one thing to simply channel a singular moment from a different frequency of existence, it was another thing entirely to open communications steadily and reliably. That was the purpose of the magic she’d gathered, and that was what she sculpted it to do: A bridge, a tunnel, a tether. A conduit that bridged from the Supernal, across the infinite depths of the Abyss, and into the material world.

With that formed, Kelly returned to her mind and took a five-minute break to check her phone. Gremlin wanted to know if anyone had seen the lawn mower, she was worried it’d grown a mind of it’s own and wandered off. Kelly probably should have considered the possibility that she was being literal, but she was far more irritated with the absence of any other texts to actually think much on it. She reached out to grab another slice of pizza, her shoulders slumped, but her hand found the box empty and devoid of anything but half-nibbled crusts.

“Fry…”

“Very pretty!” he squeaked, hiding somewhere out in the grass, as if not being able to see him was any kind of barrier.

“I swear if I mess this up because my stomach growls at the wrong second, I am going to—”

“—ABBADON HEEDS THY CALL, MAGUS.” A thunderous voice rumbled out from the summoning circle’s center, which had begun to glow a soft black-light purple in the absence of Kelly’s attention. The sound of it startled her enough that the empty pizza box went flying off in directions unknown, and she almost juggled her staff in an attempt to actually get hold of it. She frantically smoothed her robes out and tucked her hair into her cowl, shoving her glasses up the bridge of her nose and rushing over to the edge of the circle like a schoolgirl in a dorm room who hadn’t been ready for role-call.

The shimmering light gave a low, deep growl, and the sense of something stepping onto the ephemeral road Kelly had created shot down the line and slammed into her mind. She couldn’t help but smile: There was something about reconnecting to even just a shard of Pandemonium that made her feel more complete, every time it happened. It didn’t hurt that she was accomplishing something many mages twice her Awakened age (hell, twice her mortal age) had yet to succeed at.

Now it was just a matter of waiting. Kelly set her mind to refining the roadway she’d made, working out the kinks in the path and smoothing out any rough patches where the sculpting she’d done was less than perfect.

“Uhm. K?” Stirfry tugged at the edge of her robe.

“Not now, Fry,” Kelly whined, rolling her head while she waved her hand in front of herself.

“No, seriously. K. There’s a problem.”

“We’ll get more pizza when I’m done—”

“—K. THE. PORTAL. IS. OPENING.”

Kelly snapped her eyes open and almost stumbled back as the tear in reality began to rip itself open. The light that had formed at the center of the circle became a large circular hole in reality, leading… nowhere that could be described within the meager boundaries of the six mortal senses. The gateway was forming too early -- She quickly checked mentally along the frequency conduit; the demon was too far back for the path to be reaching the physical plane. This wasn’t supposed to happen until the Demon’s frequency shifts were nearing completion.

“That can’t be good,” Kelly muttered, suddenly getting irritated that she couldn’t actually thrust her senses up the path. It wasn’t built to sustain a mortal mind; only something alien to the Mortal Plane could ride the spell. Specifically, it was easiest for the energies associated with any normal spell casting — in her case, Pandemonium’s powers. That’s really all the Supernal Summonings were; Kelly described them as freeze-frames in the middle of a spell’s actual casting.

So… if it wasn’t the Demon crawling through her spell—

“Acamoth!” Kelly exclaimed aloud, and tightened her grip on her staff.

“OhgodIdon’twannadie,” Stirfry scrambled up his mistress’ robe, perching on her shoulder and stuffing his face under the folds of her cowel.

“Really? An imp calling to God in a crisis?” Kelly muttered, keeping her eyes locked on that portal through the crystal-clear view her gemglasses gave her. She couldn’t blame the little guy, though. As much contempt as she held for her familiar, he had a lot to be afraid of. The word Acamoth honestly should be enough to send him scattering for cover; simply standing in the presence of an Abyssal being, no matter how insiginificant, was likely to shred him limb from limb. And no Acamoth that was capable of riding on the road she’d made was going to be anything close to small, or insignificant. At this rate, she could wind up ripped limb from limb, and she didn’t even share her Imp’s vulnerability to existential paradoxes.

The tendrils of the Void began to slip through, and Kelly pulled her consciousness back into herself and conjuring memories of being mocked by her inferiors as a Neokoros, before she’d proven herself worthy of rank beyond the lowest of initiations within the Order. Indignation, determination and anger swelled through her Aura, and she slipped her mind into it like a finger around the trigger. Her staff’s Crystal began to glow and her robes started to flow in an invisible breeze. She reached to her chest and pulled out her silver Pentacle pendant, hanging around her neck on a leather thong, and focused all that emotion into the icon: It started to glow.

She held it out in front of her, yelling in fury at the top of her lungs in the High Tongue.

Quod Interdictum Est,” She commanded the tendrils. ”Nemo Intret!”

The pendant errupted in swirls of furious magic, shining and vibrating as if caught between two warring forces. In actuality, that’s not a bad way to relate what was occuring: The strength of the Abyss’s will colliding with Kelly’s determination, both focusing through that singular point of interaction. The Pendant offered both energies, abyssal and magical, a place to ground themselves, acting like a lightning rod for both opposed powers.

The tendrils screeched and reeled, roaring in alien and incomprehensible frustrations. Their lust for the Magus, their disgust with her, crashed through the Pendant and against the magic she was focusing, almost throwing her off balance. It did manage to throw Stirfry off her shoulder like he’d been hit by a truck, screaming a girly high-pitched shriek of fright. Kelly raised her voice and leaned into it, repeating the words again: “Quod Interdictum Est, Nemo Intret!”

The ground began to shake. Abbadon was almost here. He was taking his sweet time. She could only hold the Abyss off for so long. Her hands started to shake, adrenaline pounded on the inside of her ears. She spat the chant out yet again, screaming the words out as if they might shut up the older initiates of the order that had mocked her, humiliated her. As if screaming any louder would fix the world, would bring her home again, would return her parents too her—

The Acamoth’s face finally peeked out of the portal and Kelly snapped. She ripped the necklace away, dropping her resistance. The Abyssal creature stumbled, falling halfway out of the portal — but it wasn’t going to be vulnerable for long. In that split second, Kelly took everything she had, every ounce of fury at her past, every ounce of pain in her present, all that adrenaline and panic, and she funneled it into her staff. She forced it outward and wrapped the energies up in the High Tongue:

”MORTIS FUCKING DICTUM!”

The Abyssal scrambled to it’s feet as she gathered her power, and lurched forward, it’s formless shadowy body stretching space and time themselves to shoot out like a tendril attached to some ancient, unfathomable god. It slobbered and cursed in tongues that were painful to even exist near by, let alone percieve with mortal ears. But it was too late: Before it even escaped the Circle’s boundaries, it was met with a force far greater than it could have ever expected. The supernal and the Abyss were like hot and cold, light and shadow, and a little like oil and water: they didn’t mix and they didn’t play well with each other. So, when faced with non-existence itself given pseudo-physical form, Kelly responded the only way she knew how:

Raw, untamed magic. Enough of it to blow a city block apart, at that. The energy exploded forward from the tip of her staff as she thrust it forward at the creature, screaming the words of power, and it filled the area in front of her immediately. Mana untamed, unrefined and unprocessed, the fury of the Realm of Nightmares itself burst into reality. Sheer white-hot flames mingled with arcs of electricty and billows of smoke, rumbling like thunder and cracking like lightning. It slammed against the Acamoth, shoving it back and slamming it through the portal.

But Kelly didn’t stop there. She kept fueling the power, she kept the faucet open and kept hosing the magic through. If she let up, the creature would just claw it’s way back through the gate. If she stopped for even a second, the Abyss’s manifestation would have the opportunity to complete; and even if she survived the encounter the Council would probably have her executed on the spot.

Abbadon’s lumbering travels were almost over. Seconds seemed to drag on for eternities. Her body was starting to cave, the sheer force of will and strength of flesh needed to keep this up was fading and it was fading quickly. Then, finally, it payed off — the demon’s first fat, dripping webbed foot stepped through the Gate. The rest of him followed, almost rolling his basketball-shaped body through the final frequency and plopping with a sick-sounding splortch into the center of the summoning circle.

He was a disgusting thing. Splotchy scales and moist skin intermittently covered his hide, doing nothing to hide his warted genitals or scrawny, muscle-less limbs that in no way matched his flabby, rotund body or massive, bulging eyes. Around his ankle was an iron band, from which hung several foot-long skeleton keys. All in all, the demon would probably stand an easy twelve feet tall if his long, gangly stick-like legs had enough strength in them to support his fat ass.

Just like that, Kelly snapped her staff back and shut her mouth, reaching out with her mind and yanking the Gate shut behind the creature. She fell to her knees, panting, her staff on the ground in front of her and her Pendant hitting the ground. StirFry scrambled up the yard’s length, making his way over to her.

“Holy shit, K, are you crazy?!”

Kelly didn’t get the chance to answer before her ritual began to complete itself. She’d designed it to be more or less automated once she’d reached this point, and in this moment, she couldn’t be more glad for it.

The demon’s flaps of lard disturbed the patterns in the sand the moment he took his first breath of Material air, and in an instant the candles all blew out. The Mana in their flames shot down the sand and into the demon’s body: And then, without the Mana holding it back, the potion she’d poured into the grooves the cracks in the stone erupted into the air like clouds of dust being punched by the wind from a blow-drier. A rank-smelling gas exploded upward, quickly coalescing into shimmering walls of force that rippled the light passing through them like water pouring down glass. The Demon was trapped, contained.

Kelly panted and coughed. She was going to climb into the shower and not come out for a week, pruning fingers be damned. Why did everything Pandemonium have to smell like garbage and vomit?

The night wasn’t over yet, though. Kelly didn’t have much time to collect herself before the demon recovered from the surge of power and adjusted to the idea of it’s flesh. The moment it did; he bellowed an indignant cry of rage. His emotion made itself manifest in the air as crackling kinetic energy that slammed against the walls of Kelly’s wards, ripples echoing all over the walls as impossibly heavy punch after impossibly heavy punch crunched against the barriers.

”Imperium Animus,” Kelly muttered, reaching into her robes and producing a foot-long, pencil-thin shaft of iron, leather and silver. She snapped her wrist and flicked the tip of the wand at the demon, funneling her irritation through the instrument and into the circle.

“Oh, just can it already,” she grumbled in that way that students usually reserved for underclassmen who were complaining about how what the clique was doing was against the rules.

Abbadon’s fury wrestled with the power of her magic, but ultimately found itself overpowered. His wrath restricted, he turned in his mystical cage and gave a wet sigh that was tained by either a growl, or a burp. Difficult to tell.

“And you can drop the act,” Kelly dusted herself off, leaning her hands on her knees, looking at the demon through her glasses. “If you were Abbadon himself, there’s no way you’d have fit through a Gate this small. You’re one of his broodlings, at best. Jailkeeper, am I right?”

“…I guard the Cells,” the demon grumbled, his words roughly translating into her mind through the power of the Circles. “You escaped.”

“I Awoke,” Kelly corrected him. She didn’t shy from using the High Tongue; no mage yet had learned it clearly enough to communicate fully in Atlantean — few mages were so educated in it that they could at least firn a very, very rough approximation of actual communication. She was one of those few. She patched the missing bits with Latin and Greek as best she could, the Circle did the rest. “You didn’t have what it took to keep me. I was only there for two days before I got out, and I was nine years old. Bet you feel special.”

“And yet here I sit,” the thing chortled. “Like all of your ilk, you always wish you could come back once you get away.”

Kelly sniffled and shoved her glasses up her nose. Not much to say on that, really — he was right, but she didn’t feel like focusing too much on anything that gave him much bargaining power. It was bad enough she didn’t have exact control over what she called down, but to then not be able to maintain the upper hand? Just thinking about it made her skin crawl. She wasn’t screwing around with the Supernal Realms lightly. This was major league magic, here.

“Psst. He’s waiting,” Stirfry whispered into her ear. Kelly batted at him, startled. He barely ducked her hand by hanging off the back of her shoulder with a yelp.

“You have something I want,” Kelly finally spoke up, turning her focus back to the demon as Stirfry re-settled on her shoulder. “Strength beyond flesh.”

Did she mention this was the last time she was offering to help someone move their stuff?

The demon grunted at her. “You may have escaped, Mortal, but you are not ready to wield my power.”

Kelly rolled her eyes. “I’m old enough to drive, I think I can handle a little Pandemonial Voodoo.”

The demon blinked at her in confusion and shook his head. “If such status among mortals is sufficient for the wielding of power, I suppose little of my own arguments will convince you of your own… fragility. Very well. By what title are those who have grown enough to… drive, you called it? What are they dubbed in your world?”

“…Seriously? That’s all it takes? A drivers’ liscmprhph?” Stirfry started to pipe up, but Kelly reached up with her hands and made the this is what you’re doing, this is what I want you to be doing motions, and as her fingers and thumb met each other, the imp’s mouth snapped shut against his will. He glared at her, but she wasn’t about to let his runny little mouth make things worse for her.

“Carrusites,” Kelly made the word up on the spot. The latin word for chariot with the suffix -ite seemed to do the trick for the Demon; he took a deep breath and let the word roll around in his mind, let it roll off his disgustingly long tongue once or twice.

“Fine. If you think yourself worthy, I am bound by the laws of the Watchtowers to allow you the test. Pass, and I shall grant your wish. Fail, and you shall never hear from me again.”

Kelly’s shoulders slumped. That would mean going through this whole song and dance again. There was more than one demon in Pandemonium, so if she failed one test, she might pass another. But the idea of forging yet another gate — she couldn’t actually pull that off in time again. Hoodlum was moving soon, and it’d taken her a week and a half in total to prepare everything, from the Mana to the research to the crafting of the wards…

“Fine,” she stated, straightening her back and taking a deep breath. “Gimme your best shot.”

The demon took a deep breath, eyeing her up and down. He didn’t stop inhaling, not even when his ball-shaped body started to grow a bulbous pocket of air. When he exhaled, he did so forcibly, the air ripping Kelly’s cowl off her head and taking Stirfy with it. The imp caught onto the cloth of her hood and flapped in the wind for a moment, wincing and cursing at how bad it smelled.

When the bellow was over, two of the demon’s human-like, but baseball-sized teeth rattled loose from his gums, a wet pop accompanying each one as it fell from his rotting flesh in a little tiny shower of green blood. The rolled to the edge of the circle.

“Guess,” the demon explained, and Kelly kneeled down to look at his teeth. They were marked with four glyphs apiece: One for each element. The demon pulled his tongue back, and as if by some invisible string, the dice rolled backward across the cobblestone, stopping with a rune facing upward.

“Your trial… is a guessing game?” Kelly stood up and looked at him incredulously.

“A game of chance,” the demon said flatly. “You could always refuse the test, and the power that awaits you on the other side…”

“You know I can’t do that,” she sighed.

“You did escape, after all.” The demon grinned, his massive slimy smile now punctuated by two black holes. Kelly shuddered.

“Fine. Pyro, Hydor. Roll ‘em.”

Abbadon’s broodling smiled. “As you wish,” he belched, and tugged on the dice. They rattled and bounced, and Kelly’s eyes stayed locked on them the entire time. Her breaths became shallow, her foot started to tap nervously. When the teeth stopped rolling, they came up one at a time:

Pyro first.

Second, Hydo-”yes!” Kelly stood up. The demon looked down to see what the excitement was, but as he did, the second die made one more tip over to the side. Gaia.

“Hm? Too bad,” the demon said. There was a haunting knowledge in his voice, as if he could tell what had just happened. Kelly narrowed her eyes.

“That’s crap and you know it,” she pointed accusingly.

“Terribly sorry,” the demon said, suddenly far too polite in tone to be genuine. “Perhaps you would care for best out of three?”

Kelly narrowed her eyes. “Fine,” she said. “Gaia, Aero.

Again the demon inhaled, and again the dice were thrown. Once again, they landed as she predicted: Gaia, Aer-nope, the last one suddenly bumped to the side, landing Hydor. Kelly threw her hands up in the air like someone protesting their favorite athlete’s performance on game night from their couch in their living room.

“Come on! You’re cheating!”

“Fate is not on your side, Mastigos,” the demon chortled. “How unlucky.”

“Unlucky my ass,” Kelly grabbed her staff. “I didn’t pay you a week’s worth of Tass and risk being eaten by an Acamoth just for you to cheat me out of what I want,” she stood up and thumped the foot of her staff down onto the earth. Another focus of will, another motion with her free hand, and she spoke the words again:

Imperium Animus!

The demon’s eyes narrowed. She was growing weaker, and he almost slipped past the power of her spell — almost. Her magic bound his limbs like shackles, much as it had done the night she Awakened and found herself in that prison cell, somewhere in the depths of her Watchtower.

“My name rests on the walls of that jail cell,” she said, building authority in the air through her voice. “I need pass no trial from anything that was too stupid to keep me prisoner there. I have already passed your stupid test, Jailer, and you’re gonna give me that damn power if you don’t want to wind up fed to the Abyss on your way out the door!”

The demon studied her for a moment. The magic sank in — which was good, her words alone probably wouldn’t have done the trick. Threats coming from teenagers rarely sounded heavy-handed, and nothing else would do for a creature this… fat. She was right, but she was also a liar: She didn’t need to pass a trial, the demon was in fact hers to command. But she wasn’t about to feed a bit of the Sacred Realms, asshat or not, to the Abyss. There’s no way she’d be able to summon again after that, nobody’d answer her calls.

However, that didn’t matter. Her spell carried what weight her voice didn’t, and regardless of what she believed, the Demon thought her to be speaking the truth.

“Well done, Summoner,” he chortled suddenly, breaking his calculating and noble act without warning. “You pass.”

“…I do?” Kelly blinked, thrown off her own game. Big, puffed up Wizard snapped back to confused teenage girl in a heartbeat, and she tilted her head. “I mean, er. Duh. Of course I do.”

“Yes. Only someone willing to use power should have it,” Abbadon’s Jailer grinned. “If you were truly willing to leave it to chance, you never deserved it in the first place. Isn’t that the point of power? Knowing your success rather than hoping for it?”

“…Yeah. Whatever. Sure,” Kelly swallowed and cocked a brow. “Hand it over.”

Jailer took a moment before scooting back, rearing his head up and hawking up phlegm from the back of his throat. It sounded gross enough to pull a gag out of the wizard, but then he up and vomited a tiny gemstone onto the ground in a small torrent of bile and acid. The liquid filled the circle’s barrier like a small pool, sloshing and splashing against the Wards.

“Gross,” Kelly muttered, her eyes locked on that gemstone. Through her glasses, it seemed to resonate purely with the Demon’s signature aura, almost as heavily as he did. There it was, hers to take: Strength beyond flesh, Jailer’s power.

The demon looked back up to her, his gaze piercing.

“Swallow this and become strong through that Truth,” he grunted. “The only Power there is, is truth -- deception and lies only hold power because of other’s weakness. That is empty, it is false. It may save you from weaklings, but to know your own victory is the only way to succeed.”

Kelly nodded. “I follow. Knowing over bluffing.”

The demon gave a look of approval that sent a shiver down her spine before continuing. “Yes. But know that nothing is infallible, child. Where there is strength, there is also weakness - where there is truth, there is also ignorance.”

Kelly raised a brow. She hadn’t expected her power to come for free.

“You know this ignorance as Faith. Belief beyond proof, acceptance despite doubt, those of the Faithful deem themselves to know what they honestly do not.”

“So, there is no God?”

“Hear what I say, mortal. Not what you wish it to mean.” The demon’s tone suddenly dropped and stiffened, becoming quite irritated.

Kelly could feel that crackling kinetic energy he’d used to slam against the Wards building in the air around him, and she tossed up a hand. “Alright, alright. I’m listening.” She tried her best not to sound like she was annoyed.

“Whether or not there is a God is unimportant. What is important is that by willfully and knowingly accepting that which cannot be proven, mortals also reject all other possibilities on the same basis. Whether they are right or wrong is meaningless. They have, in that act, regardless of what they put their Faith into, become an antithesis to knowledge of truth. To Strength. They have become weakness: Weakness is your nemesis.”

“So — they’re protected from me.”

“You are vulnerable to them. Ignorance is like poison to truth, child. Truth is the ultimate strength, but even your Oracles and their Watchtowers might fall one day.”

Kelly swallowed. She didn’t like the sound of that. “Got it,” she nodded. She wasn’t about to argue with a Supernal creature about his own power. She didn’t necessarily think he was qualified to talk on every subject he spoke on — seriously, he was giving her his demonic power because she’d convinced him that driving was some kind of great honor, for crying out lout — but at this point, she didn’t want him to just scoop up his gem and leave. If he did that, the whole ritual was pointless to begin with.

“Swallow this gem and that power, that weakness will be yours to bear for a year and a day. I will meet with you again that night, and we will see if you still desire your Truth.” He grinned, as if he already knew the answer.

“And the catch?” Kelly motioned to the Gem. Weakness to crucifixes and prayers might have fooled someone who wasn’t wary enough, but she had yet to hear the full pact and she knew it. Every power had a downside somewhere, but she hadn’t sacrificed anything to the Demon yet. Nothing, at least, other than the mana she’d paid him for arriving at all.

“Should you willingly, and knowingly, join in the celebrations of the faithful, your Truth will become forfeit. The Grounds of the Ignorant are no place for you any longer. I will take your Truth and I will twist what is left. The Abyss will love you like none other.”

Kelly nodded. There it was. Skip out on church for a year? Hell, not like she was going there anyways.

“Deal.”

“Let it be done, then.” The demon turned from her and started to force himself back through the gateway. Reality shuddered and cracked, the hole had shrunk in the time that had passed since his arrival. He managed to, with great effort, fit after a few awkward and disgusting-yet-funny moments of his bare ass hanging through the gateway — and then with a slick pop the gateway was the only thing that remained of the summons. Kelly took a deep breath, waved a hand at the gate, let the spell end and collapsed to the ground in an exhausted heap.

“…Can I touch it?” Stirfry boldly emerged from the rumpled fabric of her cowl, poking up over her head.

“I can still kill you,” Kelly grunted, standing up and waving her hand to dismiss the wards. The built-up bile and acid of the demon’s vomit spilled outward like the tide, melting the rubber of her sneakers.

“Damnit!” she exclaimed. “I just bought these!”

“Serves you right for wearing them to the big night,” Fry muttered.

“Shut up. It’s not like I could look like some poor shmuck who can’t afford decent shoes when a freaking avatar of Pandemonium shows up.”

“You never dress up for me.” Fry sounded hurt.

“That’s because you’re a twerp. I’m pretty sure the word Avatar is bigger than you are, let alone Pandemonium.” She fished the gemstone out of a crack in the cobblestone with her wand and pulled her hand into her robe’s sleeve so she could pick it up. There was no way in Hell, supernal or otherwise, that she was going to put this thing in her mouth before rinsing it out.

“So. Think he was onto something? Faith and knowledge, blahbity blah?” Fry asked. So many questions. So little patience.

“Maybe. Pandemonium is a different world from the Fallen, but that’s just as much reason to dismiss him as believe him. That’s his whole shtick, right? Making me wonder? You should know more than I do.”

“The only thing you wonder at is bread, K,” he hung down in front of her face from her head.

Somehow, despite the fact that his taunt barely made sense, Kelly was filled with a sudden irritation. “Shut up.”

The two bickered their way into the house, to the bathroom. Kelly took the robe off, put her Pendant back around her neck and set her staff aside while the gemstone soaked in the sink. She gave it a while, taking the opportunity to fix her hair in the mirror. Stirfry rolled his eyes. Every time he reached for the supernal stone, she flicked his hand with her wand the way a teacher might strike a student with a ruler at a catholic school.

Finally, she couldn’t wait any longer, and she plucked the alien rock out of the water. It was the size of a small pill, and no matter how much she rinsed it, splashing it around, it still stank like demon. Ugh. No getting round it, then: She plugged her nose and tossed it into her mouth like a piece of popcorn, swallowing before she had the chance to taste it.

It threw her into a coughing fit. She almost vomited; the thing was sharp, she could feel it scraping down her throat and abrasively shoving it’s way through her esophagus. After what felt like way too long to bear, it dissolved all at once: And then she was struck with a jolt of invisible lightning (or at least that’s what it felt like.) Her muscles spasmed, throwing her into the air. She came crashing down into the toilet, breaking the bowl and spilling it’s water everywhere; she was unconscious by the time she hit the ground.

*          *          *

When she awoke, it was only because Stirfry was leaning over her face, smacking her cheeks. His tiny little hands made little clapping sounds.

“C’mon, K. Get up! They’ll be home soon, and I am so not getting blamed for this!”

Kelly groaned, shoving her familiar off of her chest and standing up. Her hair was drenched, the bathroom was flooded. But she… knew. It had worked. She could feel it coursing through her, through everything. The Truth. Everything that was, everything that had substance. Like her own arm, she could feel it.

“Oh thank god. You—”

“—Stop saying that,” Kelly froze, looking at her familiar. “Or else.”

The familiar swallowed. “Yes, ma’am.”

Kelly rubbed her face and hair out with her robe’s sleeve. After catching her breath and finding her balance, she took a deep breath. She reached a hand toward her staff and brought it to her hand by force of will alone.

Stirfry ducked under the staff as it flew through the air to her. She caught it and looked at her hand, nodding in understanding. She then looked around the bathroom and finally relaxed her shoulders. Gremlin was gonna be pissed -- but that was a price Kelly was willing to pay. She’d done it. The summoning, the pacting, everything. It’d worked.

“Neat trick. He gave you the Force?” the imp peered at the staff, curiously.

Kelly smirked. “No,” she shook her head. “Just strength beyond flesh. Hoodlum is going to be so jealous.

~Fin.~

Spoiler: show
Dice, if it floats your boat
Supernal Research
Assuming 8-again from Mind 3. One roll per day, Good Time Management makes that two. Spending a day studying.
Roll one: Intelligence 6 + Occult 3 = 9 dice
EvilSqueegee rolled 9d10:
6, 6, 1, 7, 5, 8, 4, 2, 6

Exploders:
EvilSqueegee rolled 1d10:
3

Roll two: Intelligence 6 + Occult 3 = 9 dice
EvilSqueegee rolled 9d10:
10, 9, 2, 5, 10, 3, 6, 2, 1

Exploders:
EvilSqueegee rolled 3d10:
5, 10, 2

Exploders:
EvilSqueegee rolled 1d10:
7


Warding (Space •••, Mind•••)
Quick description of effect: Variant on Hostile Mind. Erecting a circle through which a demon cannot pass, to prevent it's powers and passage from escaping the designated area. The demon must overcome the Potency of the circle with a Willpower roll in order to pass the circle, or at the very least break down the walls of the barrier through repeated attacks. The Barrier has durability = the spellcaster's Gnosis (in this case, 3.)

TN: 16
2: 2-yard Radius
3: 12-hour Duration
11: Potency (11 Health, 11 successes on WP check needed)

...Forum ran me out of dice for this post. This is average successes before you include the Patient merit bonus rolls, so we're going to assume it went off.

Summon Supernal Being (Space •••): TLDR -- Success in 3 & a half hours.
Practice - Weaving.
Action - Extended.
Duration - Special.
Aspect - Covert (LOL)
Cost - 10 Mana


Dice pool: 10 (3 Gnosis, 3 Space, 2 Summoning Circle, 2 Chanting)
Time per roll: Half an hour (One hour per roll for Gnosis 3, halved for Good Time Management merit)
Maximum rolls: No limit. Supernal Summonings do not cap like normal spells, as per Summoners p. 73

Target Number: 12
10 Base
+1 for the likelyhood that she's incurred a Paradox in the past week
+3 for reinforcing the entity for 1.5 hours of time in the Fallen World before it begins to decay
-2 for Supernal Research & attunement

0:00-0:30 -- 2 Successes
EvilSqueegee rolled 10d10:
2, 9, 4, 2, 5, 5, 9, 7, 1, 3

0:30-1:00 -- 3 Successes
EvilSqueegee rolled 10d10:
6, 6, 7, 2, 5, 2, 2, 1, 8, 7

1:00-1:30 -- 5 successes
EvilSqueegee rolled 10d10:
4, 4, 6, 8, 9, 7, 4, 3, 1, 5

1:30-2:00 -- 6 successes
EvilSqueegee rolled 10d10:
4, 5, 3, 3, 1, 9, 5, 7, 7, 3

2:00-2:30 -- 8 successes
EvilSqueegee rolled 10d10:
4, 8, 1, 5, 6, 7, 5, 7, 9, 7

2:30-3:00 -- 11 successes
EvilSqueegee rolled 10d10:
9, 2, 7, 2, 2, 6, 8, 6, 10, 4
Explosion:
EvilSqueegee rolled 1d10:
5

3:00-3:30 -- 14 Successes. WILLPOWER SPENT.
EvilSqueegee rolled 13d10:
1, 7, 6, 7, 8, 1, 3, 1, 7, 8, 9, 3, 2

7th check induces an Abyssal Buildup check.
EvilSqueegee rolled 3d10:
10, 10, 10
Explosions (holy fuck)
EvilSqueegee rolled 3d10:
8, 8, 1


Negotiations
Intelligence 6 + Subterfuge 3 (+2 Gain Skill modifier) + Willpower
Kelly's raw intellect lends itself to solving riddles & challenges, Subterfuge for her ability to detect deception. She passes, but it's not exceptional: She manages to allow two medial Costs to pay for a major Request.
EvilSqueegee rolled 14d10:
3, 4, 10, 7, 10, 5, 5, 6, 8, 7, 3, 2, 1, 7
Explosions:
EvilSqueegee rolled 2d10:
3, 6
EvilSqueegee
 
Posts: 31
Joined: Sat Feb 22, 2014 6:06 pm

Re: [Gloria Mundi] Scene 0: The Wonderful Wizard of Us

Postby EvilSqueegee » Wed May 28, 2014 1:20 pm

((Apparently there is a limit on how many dice rolls you can make in one post. Fuck that.))
Spoiler: show
Mortis Dictum (Celestial Fire rote)
Rote, Tool, first vulgarity: Paradox chance die
EvilSqueegee rolled 1d10:
9

Dice pool for rote, plus Willpower
EvilSqueegee rolled 16d10:
4, 8, 10, 2, 4, 10, 1, 5, 7, 3, 8, 5, 8, 4, 6, 1
Exploders
EvilSqueegee rolled 2d10:
7, 1


Summon's Power + Finesse
Durability 3, Structure 11 Wards. Demon does 2 automatic damage.
Demon does 4 damage. Wards drop to 10 structure.
EvilSqueegee rolled 10d10:
3, 2, 8, 1, 5, 5, 8, 5, 2, 7


Command Imp (Mind 3) TL;DR: She barely succeeds
Gnosis 3 + Mind 3 + Willpower 3 with 9-again. This marks her third WP for the scene. She has three remaining.
Applying metamagic Expertise, since she's literally commanding magic here.
EvilSqueegee rolled 9d10:
9, 10, 3, 1, 3, 5, 2, 7, 6
Explosions:
EvilSqueegee rolled 2d10:
4, 9

Resistance 5 + Rank 2 contested.
EvilSqueegee rolled 7d10:
4, 1, 4, 5, 9, 8, 5

Later in the scene, the same spell: 2 Willpower remaining. Chanting this time.
EvilSqueegee rolled 11d10:
2, 1, 5, 7, 9, 10, 4, 5, 2, 3, 7

Resistance:
EvilSqueegee rolled 7d10:
5, 5, 4, 7, 2, 8, 1
EvilSqueegee
 
Posts: 31
Joined: Sat Feb 22, 2014 6:06 pm


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