Curse of the Centipede

GM: Lotus
Players: Walker
Synopsis: As Asian crime syndicates are waking up around the lunar new year, Lotus invites Walker to attend a Daoist exorcism at the temple of a Chinese Tong. There, they encounter an infamous ancient curse known as a Gu in Chinese, leading them to a Malaysian cult practising ancient black magic. The Tong declares war on the cult and storms their compound, while Walker faces off with their leaders.
Date: 31st of January, 2081

Everybody has noticed all the activity and anticipation building up in Asiatown as the year of the Ox approaches. The area has a festive mood, but there are also other, more occult things, happening amidsts its dark alleyways and gated communities. One evening, Pema sends Walker a message.
« Hey, remember Mr. Lam? Just got an… unusual request for him. A ritual. Would be nice to have you here just in case. Plus, it might be an interesting thing to watch. Meet up by Tong house tonight? /P »

« I do. Would be interesting to see a ritual that isn't a dance for a change. I'll see you there. /W »
At the appointed time, Walker arrives. This time the elf has made no attempt to blend in, wearing a smart if unremarkable navy suit over a fitted shirt (and plated vest, natch). He waits at the streetcorner a block up from the Tong house, not wanting to raise hackles.

Pema is not to be seen outside. Instead, a young local man approaches. His semi-traditional Chinese streetwear, cybernetic arm and skull and mirrorshades makes him pretty obviously a Tong member. "Mr. Walker?" He says, switching to Cantonese after these words. "I'm from the Gau Tin Tong, your friend Lotus sent me to pick you up. She's preparing for the ceremony." He nods his head politely. "Would you follow me to the temple, please?"
Returning the young man's nod in kind, Walker straightens up from his casual lean against a wall. "Lead on," he replies, his Cantonese almost off-puttingly precise. As he strolls along behind the young man, the elf makes small talk. "I was unaware that Lotus would be taking part in the ritual," he remarks casually, "May I inquire as to its nature?"

"A seance with our patron goddess, the Lady of Nine Heavens," the young man replies as he calmly walks down the dark, winding alleys of Chinatown. Wherever they walk, Walker certainly stands out, even more than usual, and the locals on the streets stop to stare. "A young woman is needed for the goddess to inhabit but our regular one has fallen sick. Miss Lotus was thus asked, since although she is an outsider she's trained in our ways." he smiles a bit, "It will be interesting for you, I think."

Amidst the alleys and the tall concrete blocks they encounter a much smaller building. If its traditional Chinese architecture with swaying roofs and red beams would not identify it as a temple, the glowing neon signs and perpetually scrolling trideo text lighting up the gloom with Daoist religious prayers certainly will. There are already a small crowd of people outside carrying flags and torches, and from the interior of the temple they're already playing some sort of ceremonial Chinese music with cymbals and horns. The young man heads towards the entrance, beckoning Walker to follow.

Quirking an eyebrow slightly at the smile and the use of 'interesting' in this context, Walker contents himself with a silent nod as the pair continue through the alleys. The stares don't even seem to register with the elf, who either is so used to the attention that he doesn't notice or confident enough that he doesn't care.

Upon arriving at the temple, Walker gives a place a once over and smiles at this alien fusion of neon and old-school Daoism. Running his eye over the crowd for a moment, he quickly notices his guide beckoning him inside and tags along.
The interior of the temple is a magnificient display of Chinese folk religion. The walls are covered with large plaques full of Daoist slogans, trid screens showing scenes of Daoist mythology, large curtains adorned with Yin-yang symbols and other iconography. The ceiling is covered by huge coil-shaped sticks of incense and paper lanterns. Large red columns surround the inner chamber where a large crowd has gathered; a mix of regular local people, tong members as well as Daoist clergy clad in colourful long silk robes. The music is very loud and probably quite jarring to someone not used to it.

In the far end of the temple is the main altar, with a big statue of a beautiful woman wielding a sword, surrounded by myriads of smaller statues of various deities. The wall behind the statue is a big trid screen that gives her a glowing halo of brilliant light, and there's even a smoke machine hidden somewhere at her feet perpetually producing artificial heavenly clouds for her to stand on. In front of her are the main priests in their robes, a young woman on a stretcher, as well as Pema. At this point, Pema is wearing just a thin tank top and loose trousers on her emaciated, frozen body. The woman on the stretcher though, probably no older than sixteen, looks even worse for wear though, sickly pale and with numerous yellow paper talismans on top of her blankets.

«Plot» Walker says, "I'd like to assense the younger woman on the stretcher, see what's going on illness/talisman-wise."
«Plot» Lotus says, "Sure"
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Intelligence + Astral Pool: 8 for "Dunno if we have BG here, probably some for a temple":
1 1 1 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 5 9 10 11
«Plot» Lotus says, "The talismans are mostly just religious in nature, not actually magical. The girl's aura is tainted by some sort of magical curse, though."

It takes Walker a while to take all this in. Native get-togethers he's used to, and they're no less boisterous, colourful or noisy, but he's used to them. He spends a couple moments gawking like a tourist - although he manages to keep from staring and keeps his mouth shut at least - before he notices Pema among the throng, giving her a quick wave.

The young woman on the stretcher gets a concerned look though, and the elf's eyes glitter ever-so-softly as he checks into what's going on there. His brow creases in a small frown.

A bunch of ritual dancers leap about the room, dressed up in elaborate costumes, some of them wielding ceremonial swords, another frantically waving a big black flag full of talismanic Chinese writing on it. Another comes up with an incense burner, wafting smoke in Pema's face while the main priests chant along with the crowds. Pema's eyes are closed and she begins to twitch as the ceremony slowly sinks her into a trance which should feel very familiar for a shaman. Eventually, they dress up her under-dressed body in a colourful robe and tie up her hair in a topknot upon which they attach an elaborate headdress similar to the one the Lady of Nine Heavens above is wearing. When she's fully dressed up as the goddess, they give her a sword and a massively oversized calligraphy brush and she steps out into the open space in the heart of the temple, in front of the stretcher.

Pema opens her eyes, as the ancestral goddess has taken her guise. She beings to dance around with the sword, in a very graceful and almost martial manner very unlike anything the physically awkward girl has even shown herself to be capable of. She begins to dance about the girl on the stretcher.

On the astral plane, it is clear that some form of spirit has nestled itself in Pema's body. She begins to chant out syllables with her powerful voice, sounding like Chinese but utterly incomprehensible. It goes on for a while, until she finally stops for a certain number of syllables that she repeats again and again.

The girl on the stretches goes into violent convulsions, and eventually she screams and chokes. In a dramatic moment, she turns over and vomits all over the floor. Out of her mouth comes a foul black ichor, together with scores of live centipedes and small scorpions that begin to crawl about over the floor.

«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Magic Background for "Is that… normal? >.>":
1 2 3 5 15
«Plot» Walker says, "Perhaps more relevant, are any of the bystanders reacting to this with panic or concern?"
«Plot» Lotus says, "Oh they are, but they're also reluctant to interrupt the ceremony"
«Plot» Lotus says, "But yes, on the whole it is a pretty disturbing affair"

Walker watches the ceremony with keen interest, intrigued by the similarities between it and those of his own people. When Pema manages to channel a spirit his eyebrows climb upwards, and he watches the girl dance with something bordering on fascination. Wondering for a moment if she's using a Chinese dialect he's unfamiliar with or if he should get his money back on those primers, his attention is called back to the present when the sick girl turns the entire thing into something out of the exorcist.

A hand closes firmly on his guide's shoulder. "I presume that this is not part of the ceremony?" he asks pointedly as he throws out a net of magical protection - better safe than sorry.

The cascades of black vomit and live insects spewing out of the poor girl evokes a loud gasp out of the crowds, but the congregation nonetheless keeps on chanting and playing the loud instruments. The black vomit begins to ooze and emit dark smoke, almost as if it was a powerful acid, the centipedes writhing and rolling around on the floor as if possessed. An evil presence begins to take astral shape in the room; a monstrous giant centipede dripping with black astral venom.
«Plot» Lotus says, "So, an unknown but very nasty kind of spirit appears in the room"
«Plot» Walker says, "You reckon I've got time to astrally project before it starts causing trouble?"
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Intelligence + Astral Pool: 8 for "Perhaps more importantly, assensing to figure out the thing's force. :/":
1 1 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 9 10 11
«Plot» Lotus says, "No problem"
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Intelligence + Astral Pool: 8 - 3 (Successes) for "Reroll 1 (guessing BG count is less than 5), KP1":
1 1 1 2 3 3 4 4 4 5 8 9
«Plot» Walker guesses that should do it?
«Plot» Lotus says, "Yeah. He doesn't know what type of spirit that is, never seen anything like it, as for force…"
«Plot» Lotus says, "A Force 7 spirit, appearing like a toxic insect but being neither of the two. It's some sort of evil entity conjured out of the shadows of Asia."

Eyes narrowing as the dark spirit takes shape, Walker leans forward to hiss in his guide's ear. "Keep an eye on my body." He doesn't bother trying to explain - really, what would he even say? Taking a cross-legged seat on the floor, he pretends to be meditating while projecting out of his body.

He isn't sure if anyone else is paying attention to astral space, but just in case he clads his astral form in some traditional - he thinks - Chinese armour and does his best impression of a protector god. The fact that his quickened spells look a bit like twin halos probably doesn't hurt any, and the golden fire that licks through the eye holes in his ceremonial mask are a nice touch.
~Get thee gone abomination! Leave these people be!~ His voice echoes around astral space.

While the vast majority of the congregation are - unsurprisingly - mundane, some of the priesthood appear to be Awakened, and the spirit of the Dark Lady of Nine Heavens dwells within Pema's body. In the midst of all this rears the horrid centipede-shaped spirit, its myriads of legs flailing in the air, scattering dark droplet of foul poison, each droplet turning into more centipedes as they hit a surface. It makes no sound whatsoever but radiates an aura of anguish and a mindless desire to destroy.
«Plot» Walker smash puny centipede! Or something like that.
«Plot» Lotus says, "Astral combat then"
«Plot» Walker nods
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 1 for "Cursed spirit Init 1D6+27":
«Plot» Walker always has to do sums for astral init, one sec…
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Initiative with a modifier of +30 with a result of 39.
«Plot» Walker says, "Intelligence is 7 (2 higher than Reaction), Grade is 8, then 20 for astral combat."
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 1 for "F8 Ancestral spirit initiative, 1D6 + 28":
«Plot» Lotus says, "Walker, Nine Heavens, nasty centipede"
«Plot» Walker says, "Does it look big enough to have reach?"
«Plot» Walker says, "Asking for a friend. >.>"
«Plot» Lotus says, "Nah, it's not a Great Form"
«Plot» Walker phews. "Straight up astral combat using sorcery then. What's BG count? Might need to center to get rid of visibility penalties…"
«Plot» Lotus says, "I'd say this place has a BG count of 3"
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Centering + 3 (Focus) vs TN 2 for "Against penalties. Vis penalty is half BG for astral combat because it's melee, so need 2.":
1 2 2 4 4 5 8 = 6 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Sorcery + Combat Pool: 6 + Astral Pool: 4 vs TN 4 for "Astral combat, ACP:10/16, AP:4/8":
1 1 1 2 2 3 4 5 5 5 7 7 8 10 10 10 = 10 Successes
«Plot» Walker stands
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 7 (Force) + 6 (Combat Pool) vs TN 6 for "Spirit fighting back":
1 1 1 2 2 3 3 4 5 5 8 9 10 = 3 Successes
«Plot» Lotus says, "Wait, that should've been a TN5 I think"
«Plot» Walker says, "Probably… +1 BG, right?"
«Plot» Lotus says, "Yeah"
«Plot» Lotus says, "So 5 successes"
«Plot» Walker says, "Any KP?"
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 7 (Force) + 6 (Combat Pool) - 5 vs TN 5 for "Spirit fighting back, KP1":
1 2 2 3 3 3 4 8 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 7 (Force) + 6 (Combat Pool) - 6 vs TN 5 for "Spirit fighting back, KP3":
1 4 4 5 5 9 10 = 4 Successes
«Plot» Lotus says, "10 vs 10 successes"
«Plot» Lotus says, "Defender or attacker wins in a tie?"
«Plot» Walker says, "Attackers win ties. 14M damage incoming."
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 7 (Willpower) vs TN 14 for "Spirit resisting 14M damage":
1 1 3 3 4 4 5 = 0 Successes
«Plot» Lotus says, "Yeah, not likely to happen. Spirit takes M damage."

As the creatures unthinking menace becomes apparent, Walker's jaw clenches and the shaman and his totem's goals align for once. The golden figure hits the centipede spirit squarely in it's thorax and while the beast fights desperately to stay alive the armoured elf's astral hands carve ragged wounds through its exoskeleton and the blackened flesh beneath.
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 8 (Force) + 6 (Combat Pool) vs TN 4 for "Ancestral Spirit melee attack, +1 Friend in melee":
1 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 4 5 5 10 11 13 = 8 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 7 vs TN 6 for "Centipede defending, no CP left":
1 3 3 4 5 10 11 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 7 - 2 vs TN 6 for "Centipede defending, no CP left, KP4":
1 2 3 4 11 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 7 - 3 vs TN 6 for "Centipede defending, no CP left, last KP!":
1 9 11 11 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 7 (Willpower) vs TN 10 for "Centipede resiting 8S, +2 from M wound":
1 2 2 3 5 5 5 = 0 Successes
«Plot» Lotus says, "Almost dead, but not quite!"

After Walker, in the shape of an ancestral Chinese deity goes in for the fight, the deity possessing Pema's body rises to the defence of her people on the astral plane. The great goddess, riding upon a brilliant Phoenix, leaps out with its sword drawn. The sword cuts a graceful arc through astral space, cutting the centipede cleanly in two. The two halves fly off in opposite directions, frantically flailing its many limbs and spewing out black venom but does not look quite dead yet.
«Plot» Lotus says, "The spirit will attempt two attacks, one on each of its enemies, represented by the two halves each attacking one opponent"
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 7 vs TN 10 for "Attacking Walker, +3 S wound, +2 surrounded, +2 multiple attack":
1 2 3 3 4 4 4 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 7 vs TN 10 for "Attacking Ancestral spirit, +3 S wound, +2 surrounded, +2 multiple attack":
1 1 2 3 3 4 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Sorcery + Combat Pool: 6 + Astral Pool: 4 vs TN 4 for "Counter, ACP:4/16, AP:0/8":
1 1 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 7 11 = 9 Successes
«Plot» Walker says, "16D I think?"
«Plot» Lotus :D "I think we can conclude that the two halves of the centipede both get massacred by its respective opponents. Wanna pose killing it?"
As the mutilated spirit windmills towards them, Walker's arm snaps out, closing around the remains of half the creature's head with a sickening crunch. With a contemptuous flick of the wrist the elf jerks the rest of it away from the goddess, catching the other end in his free hand. Holding their quarry motionless in his grip, the elf focuses his will on the monster. Golden flames ripple out from his hands, quickly engulfing the grisly remains and reducing the spirit to nothing more than a cloud of smoke. With a smirk, the elf turns to the goddess and drawls, "You always bring me to such fun places."

The manifestation of the Daoist goddess flares a mysterious smile in return to her ally before lowering her sword and sinking back onto her phoenix throne.

Almost immediately, the young girl on the stretcher looks better. She sits, coughs a bit and turns towards the goddess made manifest. She gets up from the stretcher, but proceeds to join hands in worship and goes down to kneel before her. The crowds begin to shout:

"Gu! Gu!"

The goddess, made manifest in Pema's body, lowers the sword and raises the calligraphy brush. Immediately one man runs up to her offering a vessel of ink, upon which she dips the brush and a huge yellow sheet of paper is produced on the floor by other temple servants. Pema drops to her knee, then in a fit of possessed craze, proceeds to write out a single Chinese character upon the paper: the character for 'Victory' [勝].
People begin to shout, "The Sing Zun Tong! The Sing Zun Tong did it! They put a curse on our goddess!"
«Plot» Lotus says, "The character for victory is read as 'Sing' in Cantonese, for the record"
«Plot» Walker says, "Much obliged, I would not have got that reference, though Blondie might. ;)"
«Plot» Walker says, "I'd like to 'suggest' to the guide that he spread the word that folks seem to have the wrong idea. You think I'd default to Leadership for that or something?"
«Plot» Lotus says, "Persuasion?"
«Plot» Walker says, "Blondie's social skills are etiquette or intimidation. Beyond that I have to just throw lots of dice at his problems. :3"
«Plot» Lotus says, "Having to default to Charisma, what horror"
«Plot» Walker snickers. "TN?"
«Plot» Lotus says, "+4 for defaulting to attribute, right?"
«Plot» Walker says, "Yup"
«Plot» Lotus says, "10, then"
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Charisma vs TN 10 for "Good thing I'm a charming devil }:)":
1 2 2 3 3 4 4 5 5 5 7 9 10 11 = 2 Successes
In all the excitement, Walker is occupied getting back into his body. As he blinks his eyes open and picks himself up, Pema is industriously scrawling something on the paper in front of her. What comes next is a bit of a shock, largely ignorant as he is of intra-tong politics, but after a moment of thought he thought hits him. Grabbing his erstwhile guide's shoulder again, he murmurs, "Without wishing to overstep, the plain meaning is 'victory'. I don't think your goddess wants to start a war over this: she's saying the girl is better. That might come better from you than me."

The young man who escorted Walker to the temple hesitates. He looks up to the taller elf, "Yes… maybe you're right. It could just mean the Curse is defeated…" he says and looks around, tapping the next person in the crowd on the shoulder and begins to disseminate the idea.
Pema puts away the brush and the sword, and after a bit of further dancing about in the goddess' guise, she sits down in a lotus pose on the floor, going into silence. The instruments are still playing, but much less intensely slow, indicating that the ritual might be nearing its end.
Working his way through the crowd in the other direction, Walker picks out the more thoughtful-looking folks - the quiet ones, the older ones… the ones not chanting like idiots. He really doesn't want a riot on his hands. Once it looks like the dominoes are falling without him having to do anything more, he finds a quiet spot at the back by one of the pillars and watches the ceremony with one eye while the other keeps an eye on the crowd.

The ceremony goes on for a bit longer until the sound of motorcycles can be heard outside. Earlier, the cacophony of cymbals and trumpets would've drowned out even the sound of revving engines outside but by now they can be heard quite clearly, and it is something that seems to catch people off-guard. Then, the sound of automatic gunfire breaks the sacral illusion of the ceremony. Bullets fly in through the open doors of the temple, striking several people in the crowd, including the girl just cured of the curse. The falls over, clutching her shoulder, while two others in the crowd are killed on the spot. The motorcycle then quickly drives off into the night. At this point the ceremony finishes, and people are shouting angrily for vengeance.

Mr. Lam comes out of the crowd, shouting over the mayhem.

"Brothers and sisters, this is an attack upon our society! First by foul magic, and then by violence! We must defend ourselves!"

Walker doesn't waste time after the shooting stops: either someone else can help those people or they're already dead. He's never been much of a healer anyway. As the sound of motorcycles begins to fade, the elf hurries to the door, fishing his pocsec out and tapping out a message to Pema as he goes

« Give my condolences to Lam, but tell him to keep the idiots on a leash. At least for an hour. »
Once outside, the elf disappears from sight completely after a brief pass of his hands to clear the local mana haze.

«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Centering + 3 (Focus) vs TN 2 for "Against penalties 4+3=7-8=2":
1 2 3 4 5 5 5 = 6 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Sorcery + Spell Pool: 6 + 3 (Power Focus) vs TN 4 for "F6 Improved Invisibility":
1 1 2 3 3 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 17 = 10 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Willpower vs TN 4 for "4M drain":
1 1 1 3 3 3 4 4 4 5 7 8 = 6 Successes
«Plot» Walker puts it in his sustaining focus.

People begin spilling out of the temple, some of them brandishing guns, others with swords. They're not immediately going out on a crusade, though, rather gathering up outside as if expecting a second attack upon the temple. The music inside finally stops, and it seems that the ritual is finally over, but the sentiment among the tong members is still far from calm. As of yet Pema has not replied to any of the messages.

«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Centering + 3 (Focus) vs TN 2 for "Against penalties for summoning F5 Wind Spirit, TN5+2-8=-1=>2":
1 2 3 4 4 5 9 = 6 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Conjuring + 3 (Power Focus) vs TN 5 for "Summoning":
1 2 3 3 5 5 9 11 17 = 5 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Conjuring vs TN 2 for "Invoking":
1 1 1 5 5 11 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) has the Attribute Charisma with the value '8 (14)'.
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) has the Bioware Trauma Damper with the following information:
-----> Bioware Item for Walker (#12094) <----
Item Name: Trauma Damper
Body Index: 0.36
Installed: Yes

«Plot» Walker says, "6L drain mysteriously vanishes. :3"
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Centering + 3 (Focus) vs TN 2 for "Against penalties for summoning F5 Wind Spirit #2, TN5+2-8=-1=>2":
1 1 3 4 5 5 9 = 5 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Conjuring + 3 (Power Focus) vs TN 5 for "Summoning":
1 1 2 2 3 4 4 5 9 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Conjuring vs TN 2 for "Invoking":
1 1 3 4 4 5 = 4 Successes
«Plot» Walker says, "Second verse, same as the first. Have 2 great form wind spirits (let's say with +2 reach). Will instruct one to locate the bikes fleeing the scene and slow them down, while the second will accompany Walker as he flies along to catch up, speeding him up along the way."

After his disappearing act, Walker floats up and away from the temple, arms tracing flowing patterns in the air around him as he zips along invisibly above the rooftops. In answer, a pair of pale shapes twine out of astral space nearby, looking like a pair of eastern dragons that grow to an impressive size as the shaman feeds his own power into them.

"Nei hou," he says with a respectful nod, high speed flight making a proper bow rather difficult, before continuing in Cantonese, "A group of people on bikes recently attacked that temple. I want you to find them and slow them down while you accompany me." The first spirit lets out a strange roar that sounds like wind whistling between buildings before zipping away in search of them while the other flies around the shaman, quite literally putting the wind at his back as he zips along.
«Plot» Walker says, "Search is a bit of a funny power. There are long or short rules, depending how/if you want it rolled. Simple option is 2xForce against intelligence."

The motorcycles that attacked the temple run off into the night and it would seem they'd disappear out of view. For ordinary people, taking up chase would seem hopeless, but perhaps they did not expect the spirits to join in against them. As Walker levitates up towards the night sky above the dark glittering spires of Asiatown and leaves the angry mob of faithful tong members behind, the first spirit races off to locate the assassins. A few minutes later, it appears the spirit has found something.
Flying over there, Walker reunites with the first spirit at a typical Asiatown complex of buildings encircling a courtyard. Piles of litter and old paper flyers whirl up violently and gets thrown around as the wind spirits enter, effectively sweeping the spot where they land clear. Fortunately for them, there are no people to notice the dramatic entry, but they do notice some motorcycles parked there. However, the assassins seem to have successfully escaped into one of the buildings. Which one, though? Naturally, the buildings are covered with signs and advertising, perhaps some of them might give a clue?
«Plot» Lotus says, "I'd like two checks, please. First; a perception check"
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Intelligence:
1 2 2 2 3 5 11
«Plot» Lotus says, "Goodie. Now, a roll for Mandarin, please"
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Mandarin:
2 2 4 27

Is there anything here that could give a clue? Most of the signs are in Chinese, some of them bilingual with English or other languages. Unlicensed dentists, simsense parlours, masseurs and Mah-jong halls all proudly advert their services here. However, one of the paper flyers on the floor here are even more noticeable: The picture of a bearded Asian man in a traditional silk suit holding a strange symbol that seems to be an amalgamation of a swastika, a yin-yang symbol, a crucifix, a hand-shaped amulet from Islamic tradition among others. The Chinese characters of the title are too smudged out to read, but the transcription blow is still legible. It says 'Chang Sheng Zhu Jiao Hui' [常勝主教會].

From his Mandarin studies, Walker remembers that the word 'Sheng' has many possible meanings, depending on the character used. One of them being 'victory', the same character that would be pronounced 'Sing' in Cantonese and the one that the goddess wrote in the temple. That would render the text as the 'Church of the Ever-Victorious Lord', which seems to make sense for a weird cult of some sort to be called.

And indeed, with a bit of looking, one of the doors in this compound carries a plaque proudly proclaiming it belongs to the Ever-Victorious Lord's Assembly.


Turning to the two spirits again, Walker takes a moment to give them a proper bow. "My thanks for your efforts. Rest on the rooftops and keep an eye on those bikes," he indicates the offending vehicles with a tilt of his head, "If anyone attempts to leave on them, confuse them and generally get in their way."

With that detail taken care of, the still-invisible elf floats towards the door, giving it a cautious look.
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Intelligence + Astral Pool: 8 for "Assensing for any magical nonsense":
1 1 1 2 2 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 5 5 5
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Intelligence + Astral Pool: 8 for "Assensing for any magical nonsense, reroll KP1":
1 2 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 5 5 8 9 14 14
«Plot» Walker says, "I can't remember if I had used any last time, but I don't believe I was in danger of running out."
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Security Systems for "To spot anything sneaky":
2 3 5 9 10
«Plot» Lotus says, "He used 1KP last session"

The door is made from steel and naturally locked up tight, a terminal with a keypad and a camera mounted in the middle of it. Looks fairly paranoid, even for a seedy part of town. Gazing upon it from the astral realm also reveals that most of the place is warded off. Clearly, this society is magically active and they do not want anyone to know what goes on inside there.

«Plot» Walker says, "Any read on the force of the wards?"
«Plot» Lotus says, "F8"
«Plot» Walker says, "Can I roll gang or street rumors to see if he's heard of this group?"
«Plot» Lotus says, "It's a bit outside of the Gang or Street field so the TN will be 10 but hey, silly dice do happen so give it a shot"
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Street Rumors vs TN 10 for "Let's see…":
1 5 5 9 10 = 1 Success
«Plot» Lotus says, "The Church of the Ever-Victorious Lord is some obscure cult from Malaysia incorporating elements from the various religions of the area. Declared illegal in their own country, they moved to America to set up shop. Mainly popular among people of South-East Asian descent, but supposedly pretty rich and powerful. This is just some local branch, not their headquarters."
«Plot» Lotus says, "Notably, Mr. Lam and his Tong mainly consist of ethnic Chinese from that region"

Frowning at the security measures in place, Walker flits up to the roof where the two wind serpents are merrily horsing around chasing each other to consider his next move. "If it's not too much trouble, you two can keep an eye on my body while I'm out," he suggests pointedly before settling down, well out of sight, propped against an air-conditioning block.

«Plot» Walker will do a careful reccy of the unwarded section if there is one, take a look at it from a few angles then pick a likely spot to synchronise auras and sneak through the ward.
«Plot» Walker says, "Shielding on, naturally, using all of his spell pool (10)."
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Stealth + Astral Pool: 8 for "Sneakity sneak >.>":
1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 3 5
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Stealth + Astral Pool: 8 for "Sneakity sneak >.> reroll KP3":
1 1 2 2 3 4 4 5 5 8 11

While Walker flies up to the rooftops to plan what to do next, a message comes in on his pocsec. It's from Pema.

«I'm back. People here are in uproar. What's going on? /P »

«Think I found what your recent house guest was talking about. Some people aren't as careful about avoiding pursuit as they might be. I have an address. Going to take a quick look around but might need a team if we want to get inside. /W »

«o_O Address plz?»

That's the message that comes back. Meanwhile, a bit of recon around the place astrally yields a fairly strong warding around the place. Notably, and perhaps more ominously, there is a warding that goes down one level too, a basement if you will, that has an even stronger ward placed on it. The place to infiltrate seems to be the upper floor, close to the main entrance. The risk of Watcher spirits seems to be fairly high though.

«Plot» Walker says, "How big is the place? Like a multistorey house or an entire apartment block? Just trying to get an idea of size/possible numbers…"
«Plot» Walker will be heading back to talk to Pema though.
«Plot» Lotus says, "The entire complex consists of three buildings of about ten floors each in a U-shape, but the warded-off section is obviously much smaller. The vast majority of tenants in these buildings probably have no idea what really goes on behind those steel double doors."

After a quick astral once over, Walker gets to his feet and dismisses the two spirits. The twin dragons spiral upwards into the sky before disappearing back into astral space. Then he spots the message on his phone.

« Sit tight, I'll come to you. »

With that he flits back across Asiatown to the temple where this entire strange evening began. He stays airborne and invisible for the time being, trying to spot Pema from the air.

Finding his way back to the temple isn't difficult. It's not even that far, actually, not even a full mile. Once he returns to the colourful temple with its shining lights, he sees people are crowded outside and are only marginally calmer than they were when he left. Pema is not among them, though, probably being still inside the temple proper.

Not wanting to add fuel to this fire, Walker stays invisible for the time being, looking for an opportunity to get inside without having to navigate the crowd. While he waits for an opening, he scrubs his astral signatures from outside the temple, just in case.
«Plot» Lotus says, "Note; wandering invisible into a temple might be considered offensive by some, especially in the aftermath of a magical attack (even if he helped fending it off)"
«Plot» Walker says, "The thought did occur. Was thinking of using it just to navigate past the crowd, then getting behind a pillar and dropping it once inside."
«Plot» Lotus nodnods

The crowds aren't that hard to avoid; they're distracted by their agitations and finding a place to slip into the temple without drawing attention doesn't take long.

Once inside the temple, things are a bit more quiet. The ritual is obviously over and the place is almost empty of people. Mr. Lam, a few of the other elders and the priests are there, along with a group of people with blood-soaked shirts. Pema is also there, having changed back to her normal clothes, seemingly helping the priest cast Heal spells on those injured during the attack. The young exorcised woman is nowhere to be seen, though.

After flitting inside and finding a quiet corner to let the tyranny of gravity and visibility reassert itself, Walker heads towards Pema and the others. Without anything in the way of preamble, he begins in Cantonese, "Once these people are cared for we should talk." He looks between Pema and Lam as he talks, the others might as well not be there.

When Walker approaches, Pema is kneeling before one person on a stretcher. It appears he took a stray bullet from the assassin's SMG straight in his stomach. His bloodied shirt is torn open but he wound has been closed and she is currently wiping his stomach clean with a wet piece of torn up t-shirt. She throws the cloth in a bucket and gets up on her feet, a worried look on her face. "What did you find?" She replies, in the same language.

Mr. Lam comes up. He turns to Pema, saying, "Ask Mr. Walker if he knows who the fuck did it, if it's those fucking pieces of shit in the Sing Zun Tong." Apparently, he's unaware of Walker's recent linguistic conquests. Also, Mr. Lam apparently swears like a sailor.

«OOC» Walker says, "To make sure I understood correctly, the Chang Sheng Zhu Jiao Hui are a different group, correct? Not same shit with a different name?"
«OOC» Lotus says, "Completely different. The Sing Zun are another Tong, not a cult"

Making mental note of the exact usage of those terms - matrix language courses are very limited in some respects - Walker gives Lam a polite nod. "I do know, but it was not the Sing Zun Tong. I tracked the bikes to a surprisingly well-secured building about a mile away. The motherless, fatherless, honourless pieces of shit you want are the Chang Sheng Zhu Jiao Hui: a Malaysian cult if memory serves correctly." Walker's rather prosaic insults seem to combine quite well with Lam's invective, although the end result might be comical. "I strongly suggest you keep your people well clear of them: if the security is any indication they are quite deadly serious."

Mr. Lam's reaction coils his hand into a fist and slams it into his other palm. "I knew it!" He says, obviously well-familiar with the group. "It makes perfect sense; Chen I-Peng and her mangy dog-kennel have been aggressively proselytising among our members for some time. They've also publicly mocked our temple and our relationship with the Mysterious Lady of Nine Heavens, calling us 'heretical' and such crap, worthless crap-talk gushing out of their fathers' swollen assholes. Fuck," he beings to angrily walk in circles, then goes off to talk to the priests and the other elders. A very loud and very Cantonese conversation follows.

Pema has a bit of frown on her face. She turns to Walker. "This is bad… that cult is infamous, and they've specifically targeted this tong since they're both from South-east Asia. I did not know them to be capable of…" she stops for a moment and looks to the floor. There are still bloodstains and bits of crushed centipede on the floor. "Do you know what spell they cast on their oracle? It's a Gu; a horrid ancient curse originating with the Hmong people from the border region between China and South-East Asia. Supposedly involves a complex ritual of throwing poisonous insects in a pot, letting them consume each other then extracting the poison and using it in a ritual." The Tibetan's nose wrinkles. "It's very infamous but I did not think it to be a real thing; but apparently it is. Clearly that cult is in possession of some terrible magical secrets." She turns to Mr. Lam, then back. "They will not let this go unpunished. There will be war."

Drawing Pema aside while Lam and his group 'discuss' the matter, Walker looks a little conflicted. At first his expression turns to
stone as she describes the Gu, his eyes glittering gold in an unmistakable signal that both minds at work in there don't want to let it go unpunished either. When she mentions war though, the glow fades to leave behind a troubled frown.

Switching to English, the elf murmurs softly, "Pema, I don't know what their resources are like, but I saw the security they had over there: no disrespect to Lam but I don't think his people are equipped to take that on. You saw the spirit they sent." He glances briefly to the loud huddle before going on, "I'm on board to stop whatever this cult is up to, but I won't let them throw their lives away."

The wounded man that Pema tended to earlier seems to be waking up, the magical healing having fully sealed his wounds at this point. He gets up, bows in gratitude to Pema and leaves. She returns the gesture, albeit with not as a deep a bow. She watches him leave and join the others, conflicting emotions coming over her as well. "You're right, but you have to understand these people. This is an attack against the very core of their being. The oracle, a fourteen-year old girl, was cursed and then shot. DocWagon came and picked her up just a couple minutes ago. Many of these young men will be ready to sacrifice their lives in protection of her, and for each other. That's what their blood oath is about." She turns back to Walker. "I suppose what we can do is provide some magical assistance, try to keep any more curses they've got at bay. I suspect they'll start marching at any time now. Perhaps they might even manage to rally some allies from other Tongs."

Walker sighs, clearly conflicted about the entire affair. "You think we could convince them to hold off long enough for us to do some proper recon?" he asks, not especially optimistic from the tone, "I understand how serious oaths are but marching over there half-cocked with no idea of what you're heading into…" He shakes his head and gives her a lingering, sad look, "I really don't want to watch a bunch of young idiots get killed if I could do something to prevent it. You know these people better than I do though, is that even an option?"

"Probably not," Pema says shaking her head. "But if we pull it off quickly enough we might be able to do it for them. The cult is probably not really expecting the Tong to be able to track them down. Although on the other hand, they must've somehow known that their curse was broken, that's why they sent the assassin." She rubs her chin and looks troubled. "Shall we head there now and see what we can do to help them out?"

Walker gives her a long look, no doubt remembering facing down a blood spirit in her body and not wanting to repeat the experience. Then he brightens a little, a hint of a grin curling the corner of his mouth. "I guess if Lam's intent on going the noisy route that makes it a little easier in some ways," he muses with a resigned tone, "I wasn't planning to smash the ward to pieces but I certainly can once we've checked it out and the Tong's ready. Just be careful, so ka? I don't want to get you hurt again." An uncharacteristically apologetic smile accompanies that.

Pema looks like she isn't all too confident about things either. Tong wars is probably a new thing to her. "If it makes you feel better I can keep watch while you go in," she says. She looks back to Mr. Lam, the priesthood and the elders, who are still holding conversation. "Let's get out of here before they actually come to some sort of conclusion." She goes to fetch her winter coat and her giant scarf that she wraps over her narrow shoulders.
"It might be prudent," Walker mutters, scrubbing a hand through his hair, "The wards are strong and I might have some trouble syncing through them. Having someone on the outside would be helpful." He gives her a nod as she goes to fetch her things and calls, "I'll be outside," before heading to the doors.

A minute later, Pema is ready and they set off levitating through the night again, Pema's long scarf dramatically fluttering behind her like the tail of a comet. Not before long, they arrive back at the U-shaped complex where Walker discovered the hideout, and where the wind spirits are still playing around, waiting for him.
«Plot» Walker will recast his invisibility before projecting. His focus will keep it sustained as he projects.
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Centering + 3 (Focus) vs TN 2 for "Against penalties for casting Improved Invisibility, TN4+2-8=-2=>2":
1 1 3 4 5 5 5 = 5 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Sorcery + Spell Pool: 6 + 3 (Power Focus) vs TN 4 for "F6 Improved Invisibility":
2 2 2 2 2 2 3 4 4 5 5 5 7 7 8 = 8 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Willpower + Spell Pool: 4 vs TN 4 for "4M drain":
1 1 1 1 1 2 3 3 3 4 4 4 5 5 7 13 = 7 Successes
Once the pair are hunkered down on the rooftop, Walker points out the cult's hideout to Pema so she at least knows where he's gone. "The wards are better than security grade," he explains, "but I should be able to ghost them. If I get hurt you OK to patch me up?" He glances up to the two wind dragons. One is intent on the bikes, its final task foremost in its mind. Walker addresses the other one. "Do as she says," he instructs it in Cantonese, motioning to Pema. The serpent peers at the girl for a moment but nods its understanding. "You OK with this?" he checks as he settles down.

Pema hunkers down in a spot that's not too windy, wrapping that scarf an extra time around her and putting on a pair of adorable knit mittens. She takes out her gun, that monstrously oversized .50 calibre hand-cannon she hauls around for some reason, then realises that pulling a trigger in mittens will be difficult. Well, hopefully she won't have to. "They must be fairly powerful mages, those cult leaders, given the size and power of these wards. And the fact they pulled off that curse. " She nods to Walker, "Be safe in there, I'll keep watch here. Can you set up a telepathic link so we can communicate?"
«Plot» Walker gets a fun idea. :3
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Centering + 3 (Focus) vs TN 2 for "Against penalties for summoning F7 Storm Spirit, TN7+2-8=1=>2":
1 2 2 2 2 2 4 = 6 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Conjuring + 3 (Power Focus) vs TN 7 for "Summoning":
1 1 1 2 2 4 5 7 9 = 2 Successes
«Plot» Walker says, "No invoking this time, regular spirit. No drain as before though due to 14 charisma and trauma damper."
As he gets comfortable, Walker shakes his head. "It'd get cut as soon as I crossed the ward," he explains before getting a thoughtful look, "Although…" He reaches out to the sky, fingers beckoning in an odd rhythm as another draconic spirit descends, this one of more fearsome aspect with lightning between it's jaws.
"Await my call," the shaman instructs it after a bow of the head in greeting. The spirit fades from sight, returning to it's metaplanar home. "She can bring you a message from inside if things go sideways," he comments as his fingers flicker again, this time causing him to disappear. Once concealed, he projects out of his body and turns to confront the wards.

"Right, forgot about that." Pema says, putting the big gun away next to her. "Well, be careful in there, there are powerful mages at work here."
With that, his astral presence escapes his form and begins to float down towards the glowing astral bastion that is the sect's compound.
«Plot» Lotus says, "Alright, so what's the plan for passing through the ward? The weakest point is the front door."
«Plot» Walker says, "Front door seems like a dicey proposition. I was thinking of entering the warded section from above if possible, sneaking by watchers if there are any."
«Plot» Lotus says, "Doable"
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls InitiateGrade + InitiateGrade vs TN 8 for "Twice grade vs. Force of ward…":
1 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 5 5 7 8 9 10 13 15 = 5 Successes
«Plot» Walker stands on 5.
«Plot» Walker says, "Ward rolls its force vs Walker's grade (8)."
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 8 vs TN 8 for "Ward F8 vs Grade 8":
1 2 3 3 4 4 7 22 = 1 Success

As Walker descends, he clads his golden astral form in a deep blue cloak that seems to shift colours as it moves. Flitting through the building above the ward, the shaman tests a few points in the barrier before finding a promising spot and attunes his energy to it, sliding through to the other side.

The ward, which appears not quite as a solid wall but rather as very tightly packed bits of floating magical writing, roughly of the same type Pema uses on her paper foci. They flicker a bit at first touch but quickly calms down, and a moment later Walker's astral form shifts through and appears inside the cult compound.
He finds himself in a lecture hall, much like one would find at a university campus, with a podium and numerous seats. There are a few people here, maybe 10 or so, most of them mundanes. One person, seemingly an Awakened, is also there, perhaps holding a conversation. The lecture hall leads off to other typical facilities; a communal room, a kitchen, offices, a storage room… more disturbingly, there's also a small room locked away which appears to be soundproofed, and contains nothing but a metal chair bolted to the floor. There's also a staircase leading to the basement.
«Plot» Walker says, "Any strange BG count visible here? Or patrolling spirits?"
«Plot» Lotus says, "Yeah, BG count is higher here. 2 out on the streets, 3 in most of the compound. The… unpleasant room… has even higher."
«Plot» Walker nods. "Did you say the basement was a separate warding? Or is that accessible from inside?"
«Plot» Lotus says, "It's accessible from the inside"
After a brief tour around the ground floor, pausing only to force himself to calm after experiencing the disturbing aura of the padded room, Walker heads for the stairs, carefully picking his way down into the bowels of the cult's hideout.
«Plot» Lotus says, "Stealth check, please!"
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Stealth + Astral Pool: 8 for "Tip… toe… tip… toe…":
1 2 3 3 3 3 4 5 5 9 14
«Plot» Walker stands on the 14.
«Plot» Lotus says, "Perception too, s'il vous plait"
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Intelligence + Astral Pool: 8 for "That too":
1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 3 3 4 4 4 5 8
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Intelligence + Astral Pool: 8 for "That too, reroll KP4":
1 1 1 1 2 2 3 3 4 4 4 5 5 5 7
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Intelligence + Astral Pool: 8 for "That too, reroll KP6":
1 1 2 3 3 4 4 4 4 5 5 8 9 15 17
«Plot» Walker says, "Better."
The staircase down to the basement seems to be leading down to a small annex, ending in a set of large double doors with some sort of magical lock or ward to it. The lock itself glows with energy.
More notably, however, this area seems guarded, by a Watcher Spirit. It lingers in astral space, like a floating shadowy form with two round black holes for eyes.
«Plot» Walker says, "Can I tell if the watcher's astral signature matches the awakened cultist I saw upstairs?"
«Plot» Lotus says, "Is there something you can roll for that? Assensing?"
«Plot» Walker says, "I think on three successes it would read the spirit's signature… although I'm not sure if you can read a magician's like that."
«Plot» Walker says, "It's not critically important, just a thought. I'd like to get a read on the lock/ward on the doors though."
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Intelligence + Astral Pool: 8 for "Assensing the ward":
1 1 1 2 2 3 3 4 5 5 5 5 8 11 14
«Plot» Lotus says, "Yeah, it's probably the guy upstairs that conjured it"
«Plot» Lotus says, "The door does not seem warded, it's rather some sort of anchored defensive spell put on the door"
«Plot» Walker says, "Intriguing. Can I tell what kind of spell? Sometimes you can with assensing, but 'Anchoring Focus' might be all I can get unless it activates."
«Plot» Lotus says, "Something nasty you don't want in your face, probably"
«Plot» Walker nods, "Unless it looks like there's anything I haven't seen that I can get to I'll zoop out through the ward and give Lam et all the details."
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls InitiateGrade + InitiateGrade vs TN 8 for "Syncing out again":
1 1 2 2 2 2 2 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 8 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls InitiateGrade + InitiateGrade - 1 vs TN 8 for "Syncing out again, KP7":
1 1 1 1 2 2 2 3 4 4 5 5 5 9 14 = 2 Successes
«Plot» Walker stands there.
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 8 vs TN 8 for "Ward putting up resistance":
2 2 3 4 4 5 5 9 = 1 Success
Noting the unpleasant-looking trap on the door and the watcher spirit lurking nearby, Walker flits back upstairs, sliding back out through the ward before heading back to his body.
"Well," he mutters softly as he sits up and stretches out the kinks, "They have a mage on site, plus some astral security and some kind of anchored trap in the basement. We should probably let Lam know." Getting to his feet, he dusts himself off as he glances to Pema, "Any sign of his people yet?"

Pema is frankly looking rather bored as Walker returns to physical space. Which is good, that implies nothing has happened while he's been gone. She leans over the surface of the rooftop, looking down at the courtyard below, hands playing with prayer beads. "Nothing yet, I think they're trying to recruit allies. Does the cult look prepared for war? Apart from astral security, do they have a lot of people on-site?"

"A little over ten that I saw upstairs," Walker hazards as he thinks back over his jaunt inside, "Couldn't get a good look in the basement though so that's a bit of an unknown." He nods down towards the sturdy steel door that seems to be the only entrance to the cult's section, "Also we're going to need a way to get through that."

"They'll probably find a way through," Pema says and looks towards the door though it's not visible from their vantage spot. "Not a subtle one, though. Hopefully it won't attract too much attention." She bites her lip, as if finding her own words ludicrous. "I guess I better call them… hold on." She takes out her pocsec and goes to find a not too windy spot.

Walker frowns a little at that, glancing over to the spirits still waiting nearby. "I suspect we could provide a bit of cover for that," he suggests with a grin that is mirrored by the larger spirit, "So long as your buddies don't object to getting wet."

Pema returns after a moment, closing up pocsec and slipping it back into her coat. "They're coming… very soon." She nods at the suggestion of cover, knowing what it is he's referring to. "Apparently the Shining Mountain aren't too fond of this cult either so hopefully they won't interfere too quickly." She looks over the edge, at the calm streets below. "This place will turn into a warzone when they arrive." She doesn't exactly look thrilled over this fact. "I hope they can exact their revenge without too many innocents getting hurt."
"Go," Walker tells the spirit, which wastes no time heading upwards to gather the clouds above them. Before too long, rain begins to patter down, quickly building in intensity to a downpour. "I'll try and get inside with them, that way I can hopefully keep things conveniently one-sided," he muses before looking to her, "What are you planning to do? Having a spotter up high seems like it'd be a good idea…"
«Plot» Walker says, "A thought occurs… are there ways into the building housing the cult section that are accessible? Roof access perhaps?"
«Plot» Walker says, "Thinking of getting a spirit ready that has its domain in there so I could channel on the way in instead of having to do everything once the shooting starts."
To (Walker, Lotus), Laz pages: night guys, see ya tomorrow
«Plot» Lotus says, "It's just a common building of flats, so there are plenty of ways to access it. They are on the bottom floor plus the basement, and the regular flats are accessed from the first floor via a flight of stairs from the courtyard. So there might be ways in from above."
«Plot» Lotus says, "Alternatively, since the buildings are sort of connected, there might be access into one basement from the other"
«Plot» Walker says, "If we've got the time, an astral sweep through them to check seems like a good idea. If not I'll pick a likely looking route inside and do the conjuring trick."
«Plot» Lotus says, "The connecting basement seems like the most likely option"

The rain comes quickly, washing away the gentle little bits of snow on the rooftops, causing flowing canals of water down the sides of the buildings and pools in the courtyard. "I guess I can stay up here, if you don't need help with the cult's mages. The Tong is probably going to bring some of the priesthood too." She looks up at the sky and frowns a bit. "Should've brought an umbrella…"

"I can probably manage," he reassures her, "Maybe keep an eye on astral space, interfere with any spell-casting the cult tries: they have at least one mage so there might be more." Approaching the edge, he glances back, "Do you have a commlink? I'm going to take a quick look at the rest of the building."

"Almost certainly more than one," Pema says, looking for a place of shelter from the rain. "Ritual curses like the one they've performed are very difficult to perform alone, they're probably an entire cabal of mages." She nods, and fishes a micro-transceiver out of her bag. "Go quickly, the Tong will be here any moment."
Still invisible, the elf steps off the roof to descend to the courtyard below, making some strange patterns in the falling rain. Darting towards the building to the right of the hideout, he looks for a route through the common areas to the basement.
«Plot» Lotus says, "I think we can fast-track the exploration part with a few rolls. Perception, I guess"
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Intelligence:
2 2 3 3 3 5 7
«Plot» Walker says, "I'll stand on a 7, sure."
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094)'s Electronics Gear (#13887) has the Voucher Item 3 Electronics Mini-Kit with the following information:
----------—[ Shadowrun Denver ]-
========================> Item 3 on Electronics Gear <=========================
Item Name: Electronics Mini-Kit
Item Type: ITEM
Quantity: 1
Fractional OK: No
Clonable: No
Players Can Link: No
Created For: Walker (#12094)
Created By: No (#9827)
IC Location: Carried
-----> GM Notes for Item <-----
Sep 26 15:43 +info gear custom misc minitools

Getting into the building isn't difficult. In fact, the main entrance is unlocked, the maglock on the door having been broken for a long time. Inside the dark and dirty corridors are a mixture of flats converted into shops and dentist's offices, and after a while he finds his way down into the basement, where he eventually encounters a service tunnel that might lead to the basement in the adjacent building. This one, however, is locked up tight with a keypad glowing red in the subterranean darkness.
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Security Systems for "Any clues to how secure it is?":
2 2 5 5 5
«Plot» Lotus says, "It's nothing particularly impressive. Rating 5 Maglock."
«Plot» Walker says, "Sure, I'll take a swing at that. Electronics B/R to take the casing off then Electronics to open, right?"
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094)'s Electronics Gear (#13887) has the Voucher Item 2 Microvision Goggles with the following information:
----------—[ Shadowrun Denver ]-
========================> Item 2 on Electronics Gear <=========================
Item Name: Microvision Goggles
Item Type: ITEM
Quantity: 1
Fractional OK: No
Clonable: No
Players Can Link: No
Created For: Walker (#12094)
Created By: No (#9827)
IC Location: Carried
-----> GM Notes for Item <-----
Sep 26 15:42 +info gear custom vision goggles

«Plot» Walker says, "That'll help for the actual circuit jumping."
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Electronics B/R + Karma Pool: 1 vs TN 5 for "Getting the case off":
1 2 2 4 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Electronics B/R + Karma Pool: 1 vs TN 5 for "Getting the case off, KP9":
2 3 3 4 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Electronics B/R + Karma Pool: 1 vs TN 5 for "Getting the case off, KP11":
4 5 5 8 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Electronics vs TN 3 for "Breaking the lock, TN -2 from microvision goggles":
1 3 7 = 2 Successes
«Plot» Lotus says, "Will he bother with putting it back in order again to hide the fact it's been tampered with?"
«Plot» Walker says, "Given the imminent raid? I'm thinking no. Does it look like anyone comes down here often? Or are there signs of surveillance?"
«Plot» Lotus says, "Not really, no"
It takes some doing - he's not exactly a tech wiz - but after a slightly tense minute Walker's efforts are rewarded with a blink of a green light. «Got the basement locks to the cult's area open,» he sends to Pema, «Let Lam know. I'm moving ahead.» With that he creeps forwards down the tunnel, alert for whatever comes his way.
«Roger that. I'll tell them to send some reinforcements your way.» Pema goes silent for a few moments, but then comes back on the wave. «Just had four vans and several bikes stop outsid of here… it's the Tong, things are about to go down. Be careful.»
«Plot» Walker says, "Will summon a hearth spirit as soon as I get to the next basement. Unless something hilarious happens first. :3"
«Plot» Lotus says, "Go ahead and summon"
«Plot» Walker says, "BG count?"
«Plot» Lotus says, "Down here BGcount 2"
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Centering + 3 (Focus) vs TN 2 for "Against penalties summoning F5 Hearth Great Form, TN5+2=7-8=-1=>2":
1 2 3 3 3 5 8 = 6 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Conjuring + 3 (Power Focus) vs TN 5 for "Summoning":
2 3 3 4 4 4 5 11 13 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Conjuring vs TN 2 for "Invoking":
2 2 3 3 5 5 = 6 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Conjuring vs TN 2 for "Channeling!":
1 2 3 5 5 11 = 5 Successes
«Plot» Walker says, "High charisma + trauma damper = happy elf with no drain"
«Plot» Walker says, "Three minutes of channelly goodness! :D"

As he moves along the tunnel, Walker traces his fingers along the walls, flicking them out and back in a rapidfire rhythm. An ethereal hand reaches out from the wall to hold his, before the spirit's astral form flows into him, his body shuddering a little at the rush. "PARty tIMe," two voices murmur quietly in unison in the empty hallway.
The corridor itself continues for some time, hardly any of the lights working properly down here, just flickering fixtures and the odd glowing lights from fuse boxes and Matrix junctions. Eventually, at the end of another corridor he comes upon what must be what he's looking for. A metal door, just like the one he bypassed a moment ago, but this one is covered in ominous yellow slips of paper that he's grown very familiar after getting to know Pema. Curiously, the door does not appear to be locked.
«The Tong's commencing the assault; they're going to breach the main door. At least thirty people here, plus the priests and some martial artists from another Tong. I told Mr. Lam to send some people your way too. Should I stay up here?»
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Intelligence + Astral Pool: 8 vs TN 6 for "Assensing the papers to try and figure what they do, beyond 'trap'.":
1 1 1 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 5 5 11 = 1 Success
«Plot» Lotus says, "Most of the papers seem to be in fact mundane, perhaps intended to frighten people off more than provide any effect. However, there is also a spell there"
«Plot» Lotus says, "Don't forget you can compdice with Aura reading!"
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Aura Reading vs TN 6 for "Comp-lol-mentary skill :P":
3 4 10 13 = 2 Successes
«Plot» Walker says, "It was useful! :D"
«Plot» Lotus says, "They cast Foreboding on the door, to make those ominous paper charms extra scary"
«Plot» Walker says, "Shielding plan it is! 19 dice on Blondie and anyone else who happens to follow him. :D"
«Plot» Lotus says, "Does he proceed right away or does he wait for them to catch up?"
The elf smirks at the paper tiger security - pardon the pun - but notes the working spell before setting his magical defenses around himself.
«Having someone as a spotter seems like a good idea, but I'd understand if you wanted to go inside with them. Just not front of the queue, yeah? Let me know when they breach in case I don't hear it.»
«Plot» Walker says, "I'll go when they go."
«Plot» Walker says, "The main force that is, at the front door."
«Plot» Lotus says, "I suppose he should be able to hear from there once the shooting starts"
«I have no desire to watch people get killed, but I feel I might need to protect th…>
And there a loud boom is heard overhead that almost sends the building quivering. Not long after, the sound of automatic gunfire can be heard. Also, Walker can heard the sound of footsteps behind him in the corridor, at least a handful of people running towards him. If he sticks around, he sees five men with ballistic vests and balaclavas over their Tong shirts, with Chinese two-handed swords on their backs and sub-machine guns in their hands.
«Plot» Walker says, "Amusingly, they can't see him, but he'll lump them in with the shielding as/when they catch up."
«Plot» Walker says, "Should I roll resistance for the Foreboding before I hit the door?"
«Plot» Lotus says, "It'll activate when he touches the door. F5"
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Willpower + 19 (Shielding) vs TN 5 for "Foreboding Resistance":
1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 7 7 7 8 10 11 = 9 Successes
«Plot» Lotus says, "Walker is not frightened!"

«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) has the GM Note "F4 Increase Reflexes Tattoo" by Missy (#11459) with the following information:
----------—[ Shadowrun Denver ]-
========================> GM Note On Walker (#12094) <=========================
Date: Wed Jul 24 11:54:30 2019
Posted By: Missy (#11459)
Subject: F4 Increase Reflexes Tattoo
------> Text of GM Note <-----—-
Walker has completed a plot that resulted in his totem, the Adversary, granting him a Tattoo that acts as Increase Reflexes F4. The tattoo has 4 successes for casting and 6 for drain. The description is as follows:
Across Walker's torso is a stylised image of a coyote's face in the colour of dried blood decorated in a tribal, if somewhat angular, fashion. The entire image seems to be formed from burns like some kind of brand, but the marking is unnaturally even and smooth, as if produced with medical grade precision.
When the tattoo activates, the coyote's eyes seem to burn with golden flame, which spreads across the entire pattern. This changes its appearance to that of fresh blood, though it does not flow or stain, and clearly does not come from Walker's body.

«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Willpower + 6 (Tattoo) vs TN 4 for "4D drain":
1 1 1 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 = 7 Successes
«Plot» Walker says, "Trauma damper eats the last."
When the explosion rocks the building, Walker wastes no time: with his tattoo crackling to life, the elf sprints towards the door, hitting it at a rather unreasonable speed. There's a momentary thought that crosses his mind - "I shouldn't be here" - discarded almost instantly for the trick that it is as he barrels through.

As the door swings open, the cacophony of gunfire upstairs becomes even louder, indicating that he's close to the target. He finds himself in the far corner of what appears to be a corridor at first with perpendicular sections extending from it at intervals of 20m or so, but looking closer he notices it's in fact all connected into a single, huge room, the "corridor" being a subsection with plumbing and cables going overhead, and the main room itself some sort of refurbished maintenance hall. It has instead become a ritual chamber, with large sheets of yellow cloth full of talismanic writing hanging off the walls and an altar section in the middle, tiered like steps. A low table full of wicked ritual implements is arranged in front, with several braziers spewing out thick incense smoke. Dozens of plastic jugs are scattered about, filled with crawling centipedes and other venomous critters.
A number of armed cultists are seated at the base of the altar, guns pointed to the door as if expecting an assault. Higher up on the steps sit three figures; two men wearing nothing but trousers and painted upper bodies; one completely in white, the other in black. On the top of the altar sits a shadowy figure wearing a tribal-looking wooden mask.

«Plot» Walker says, "The gun pointers: is that towards the door I came through or the main door?"
«Plot» Lotus says, "The main door"
«Plot» Lotus says, "A familiar pair of double doors"
«Plot» Lotus just remembers the Watcher spirit but it's probably already gone as their compound is breached
«Plot» Walker says, "Likely. They aren't very tough."
«Plot» Walker says, "OK, will get out of the firing line between the door I came through and the altar, then start confusing: beginning with the trio on the altar, staying airborne and invisible for now."
Walker's eyes narrow at the ritual trappings, but deciding that even bulletproof, getting out of the way of the friendlies with SMGs is probably a good plan, he darts to the side away from the door, finding a quiet spot behind some pipes and reaching out with the spirit's powers to fog the minds of the monochromatic trio and the two nearest guards.
«Plot» Walker says, "Shielding still up on Walker and the tunnel team for now."

The SMG-wielding allies of his prove to be four in number, fewer than the mundane hostiles with guns but so far they've managed to enter without being noticed. The gunfire upstairs clearly served as a good distraction. They're running to get in position in the subsection of the room, the place fortunately being rather dark.
One of the armed hostiles at the base looks over their direction, pointing his shotgun their way, but does not do anything. They're also wearing some sort of ritual masks, but behind them they're probably afraid.
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 6 vs TN 5 for "Black mage resisting confusion":
1 2 2 2 5 7 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 5 vs TN 5 for "White mage resisting confusion":
2 2 4 4 5 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 6 vs TN 5 for "Masked mage resisting confusion":
1 1 2 3 5 5 = 2 Successes

The magical trio are loudly chanting, while the one painted white pours insects from the jugs into a pot in the middle of the altar, the one in black pounding at them with a piece of human bone like it was a mortar and pestle.

«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Centering + 3 (Focus) vs TN 2 for "Against penalties casting Fireball, TN4+2=6-8=-1=>2":
2 3 3 4 5 8 11 = 7 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Sorcery + Spell Pool: 6 + 2 (Totem) + 3 (Power Focus) vs TN 4 for "6M Fireball":
1 1 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 4 5 5 5 5 11 19 = 7 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Sorcery + Spell Pool: 6 + 2 (Totem) + 3 (Power Focus) - 7 vs TN 4 for "6M Fireball, KP12":
1 1 1 3 3 4 4 4 5 5 = 5 Successes
«Plot» Walker stands on 12… pondering drain…
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Willpower + Spell Pool: 4 vs TN 5 for "5D drain, no shielding left, but since the magic folks seem busy…":
1 1 1 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 4 5 7 10 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Willpower + Spell Pool: 4 - 3 vs TN 5 for "5D drain, no shielding left, but since the magic folks seem busy… KP13":
1 2 2 2 2 3 3 4 4 4 4 5 10 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Willpower + Spell Pool: 4 - 3 - 2 vs TN 5 for "5D drain, no shielding left, but since the magic folks seem busy… KP15":
1 2 2 4 4 5 5 5 5 8 11 = 6 Successes
«Plot» Walker says, "Comedian dice this evening. No drain. Damage is 6D+8 successes."
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 17 vs TN 6 for "Trio of mages spell defence dice, 5+5+7":
1 1 1 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 5 7 7 7 8 9 9 = 6 Successes
«Plot» Walker says, "I think confusion should apply to that one…"
«Plot» Lotus says, "It should? Spell Defence dice are passive, aren't they?"
«Plot» Walker says, "Resistance is, defense is trying to counterspell as I understand it."
«Plot» Walker says, "The wording is ambiguous though, your call."
«Plot» Lotus says, "It says it does not require an action so I'd say it is unaffected by Confusion"
«Plot» Lotus says, "Not that it'll help them much…"
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 4 vs TN 6 for "White mage, Body vs 6D+2":
1 1 1 4 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 4 vs TN 6 for "White mage, Body vs 6D+2, KP1":
1 1 4 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 4 vs TN 6 for "White mage, Body vs 6D+2, KP3":
2 3 4 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 4 vs TN 6 for "White mage, Body vs 6D+2, KP6":
2 5 10 11 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 5 vs TN 6 for "Black mage, Body vs 6D+2":
1 1 2 3 11 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 5 - 1 vs TN 6 for "Black mage, Body vs 6D+2, KP1":
2 4 5 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 5 - 1 vs TN 6 for "Black mage, Body vs 6D+2, KP3":
2 2 4 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 5 - 1 vs TN 6 for "Black mage, Body vs 6D+2, KP6":
1 7 9 10 = 3 Successes
«Plot» Lotus says, "White Mage is Toast, Black Mage takes S wound"
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 1 for "How many goons are hit by fireball?":
«Plot» Lotus says, "will roll collectively for goons to avoid drowning in dice"
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 4 vs TN 4 for "Goon Body average 4, 4/2 impact vs 6D+2":
1 3 8 11 = 2 Successes
«Plot» Lotus says, "Let's say the fireball instantly kills the white mage and 3 of the goons, 2 goons and black mage get S worth of nasty burns"
«Plot» Lotus says, "Pose away"

It's not very often that Adversary's suggestions are helpful: at best they reach inappropriate. Sometimes however, the messy, violent solution is the best one available. Rotating lazily in the air, Walker's hands trail little lines of gold fire behind them as they twirl up and above his head to form a coruscating sphere of golden flame the size of a football. With an almost lazy throw, the shaman hurls it towards the other side of the altar.
There is a dull thump as the room fills with light and heat and screams.
In the aftermath, one of the mages on the altar is reduced to little more than a charred skeleton, their counterpart 'fortunate' enough to only escape with horrific burns. The armed cultists are likewise decimated, five blackened bodies remain, three silent, two screaming.

Although they're not entirely sure where this blessed fireball came from, it is enough for the four allies to open fire with their SMGs, hails of gunfire quickly mowing down the remaining defenders. In just a few seconds, the floor around the altar is littered with bodies.
The masked mage seated at the top of the altar falls over as well, the mask coming off its face and leaving an old crone of a woman underneath, easily in her 70's. She ends up hunched over, her face locked in a horrid grimace of anguish with wide open eyes and mouth.
The "leader" of the squad calls for cease fire and peeks out, looking for further hostiles.
«Plot» Walker says, "Don't suppose Walker recognises any of the four folk sent through the tunnel?"
«Plot» Lotus says, "Nah, just Tong members"
«Plot» Lotus says, "Plus they're wearing balaclavas"

Deciding that he'd better be very clear he's friendly before he appears out of thin air, bulletproof or not, Walker calls out in Cantonese, "My thanks to the servants of the Mysterious Lady of the Nine Heavens!" as he descends to the altar and releases the invisibility spell. Eyes still blazing with golden fire, he hauls the old woman upright with one hand. "Deactivate the magical trap on the main door. I will not ask a second time." His face could be chiselled from rock.
As Walker begins to scale the altar, the other four move forward as well with him, though they seem reluctant to step closer to the altar with all its cursed implements. The old crone twitches as Walker comes close and lifts her up, but before he has much chance to say anything her head leans back and disconnects from her body, leaping away from it like it had a life of its own, disturbingly taking the spine with her. The body Walker remains holding on to is a limp mass of flesh.
The spine extends as the head flies through the air, becoming several metres long and thicker, each vertebrae sprouting long bony appendages like ribs that turn into legs. In the end, what he finds in the room is a 15-foot long giant bone centipede with the head of the old crone in front.

«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Magic Background for "What DAT? o_O":
2 2 3 4 5
«Plot» Lotus says, "It's a… um, the disembodied head of an old witch that turned into a giant insectoid monster. You mean to say you've never met one of those before?"
«Plot» Lotus says, "On a serious note, Walker has never heard of this monstrosity before. Probably some other horror never seen before outside the jungles of Bali."
Darting backwards into the air to put himself between the four Tong members, Walker re-establishes his net of protective mana as he utters a single word to the four. "RUN!" Focussing on the monstrous centipede, he brings the spirit's powers to bear again, warping the creature's senses as he hisses into the commlink.
«Pema! I'm looking at a giant centipede made of fresh bones! Can I banish it? Also tell those priests to hurry the fuck up!»
«Plot» Walker says, "Shielding back up, confusing the centipede."
The four men do not need convincing, they quickly back off and run in terror at the hideous creature. One of them fire off a salvo of fire at it but the bullets don't seem to do much good at it. He drops the gun and runs out the way he came.
«You're looking at /what/ now??» Pema says in the radio, incredulously. Above, there's still gunfire going on, though it seems to have mostly died down. Unfortunately, this beast remains.

«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Intelligence + Astral Pool: 8 vs TN 6 for "Looking for any clues…":
1 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 5 9 = 1 Success
«Plot» Lotus says, "It is actually a spirit, fortunately. Presumably a more powerful form of the one he fought off in the temple, now fully materialised"

~OH GOOD,~ a voice in his head mutters sardonically, ~THE CUTE NERD DOESN'T KNOW WHAT IT IS EITHER.~ Shaking his head irritably at the colour commentary, Walker shifts his perception to the astral plane to try and get any clue about the monster's nature. «Little old lady's head popped off and the spine grew into a giant centipede. I think some kind of spirit. I can probably hold it a while but I might need help with this…»

«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls Magic Background vs TN 8 for "Does even Pema know what it is? o_o":
2 2 3 5 9 = 1 Success
«I'm coming, hang in there!» Pema shouts through the comm unit.
Unfortunately for Walker, the monster does not seem intent on waiting for his backup to come, and it begins to advance, the long spindly bones making eerie cracking sounds as they walk.
«Plot» Lotus says, "Time for initiative, then"
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Initiative with a modifier of +3 with a result of 19.
«Plot» Walker says, "+3 from Quickness bonus from Channeling."
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 1 for "Centipede monster init 1D6+15":
«Plot» Walker says, "Well, in for a penny. Will attempt to banish the bug. I figure worst case I delay it for a bit."
«Plot» Walker says, "What's the force on this one, for the TNs?"
«Plot» Lotus says, "8"
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Centering + 3 (Focus) vs TN 2 for "Against penalties, TN=8+2-8=2":
2 2 2 4 5 5 7 = 7 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Conjuring + 3 (Power Focus) vs TN 8 for "Banishing":
1 2 2 3 3 3 5 5 8 = 1 Success
«Plot» Walker says, "It'll do."
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) has the Attribute Magic with the value '14 (13)'.
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 8 vs TN 13 for "Spirit resisting Banishment":
1 3 4 4 5 5 5 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 8 vs TN 13 for "Spirit resisting Banishment, KP1":
1 2 3 3 4 5 7 10 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 8 vs TN 13 for "Spirit resisting Banishment, KP3":
1 2 3 3 4 4 4 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 8 vs TN 13 for "Spirit resisting Banishment, KP6, last attempt":
1 2 2 2 4 4 8 22 = 1 Success
«Plot» Walker says, "Ties mean we keep pelting each other with dice. :P"
«Plot» Lotus says, "Fire away!"

«No rush,» he murmurs, almost dreamily as his fingers flick out in a complex pattern as if drawing a net around the monster. His eyes flare up again as the mana bites, but the spirit proves remarkably resilient to the punishment. Veins stand out on the elf's temple as his teeth grit in a manic snarl.

«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Centering + 3 (Focus) vs TN 2 for "Against penalties, TN=8+2-8=2":
2 2 3 4 5 5 9 = 7 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Conjuring vs TN 8 for "Banishing, no power focus dice until next turn :/":
1 2 3 3 4 11 = 1 Success
«Plot» Walker phews.
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 8 vs TN 13 for "Spirit resisting Banishment, no more KP to play with":
1 1 2 2 5 10 17 21 = 2 Successes
«Plot» Walker's Magic is reduced to 13(12), spirit can choose whether to continue or break off.
«Plot» Lotus says, "Spirit continues epic struggle"
«Plot» Walker says, "Oooh! Ballsy!"
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Centering + 3 (Focus) vs TN 2 for "Against penalties, TN=8+2-8=2":
2 3 3 4 5 5 8 = 7 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Conjuring + 3 (Power Focus) vs TN 8 for "Banishing, top of next turn by now":
2 2 2 2 3 4 4 5 11 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 8 vs TN 12 for "Spirit resisting again":
1 2 4 5 5 5 10 11 = 0 Successes
«Plot» Lotus says, "Spirit goes down to F7. Continue or break?"
«Plot» Walker says, "Continue."
«Plot» Lotus says, "Shoot!"
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Centering + 3 (Focus) vs TN 2 for "Against penalties, TN=7+2-8=1=>2":
2 2 3 3 8 10 11 = 7 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Conjuring vs TN 7 for "Banishing":
2 2 3 4 5 5 = 0 Successes
«Plot» Walker says, "Will KP that."
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Conjuring vs TN 7 for "Banishing, KP16":
1 3 3 5 8 11 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 7 vs TN 12 for "Spirit fighting back":
1 2 2 3 4 5 16 = 1 Success
«Plot» Lotus says, "Goes down to F6."
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Centering + 3 (Focus) vs TN 2 for "Against penalties, TN=6+2-8=0=>2":
2 2 3 4 5 5 9 = 7 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Conjuring + 3 (Power Focus) vs TN 6 for "Banishing":
1 1 1 2 3 4 4 4 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Conjuring + 3 (Power Focus) vs TN 6 for "Banishing, KP17":
1 1 1 2 2 2 3 4 10 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 6 vs TN 12 for "Spirit fighting back":
1 1 2 5 8 8 = 0 Successes
«Plot» Lotus says, "Now F5"
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Centering + 3 (Focus) vs TN 2 for "Against penalties, TN=5+2-8=-1=>2":
2 2 4 4 4 9 11 = 7 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Conjuring vs TN 5 for "Banishing, all over but the screaming hopefully…":
1 3 3 4 5 10 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 5 vs TN 12 for "Spirit goes arrrggghhh":
1 2 3 3 5 = 0 Successes
«Plot» Lotus says, "Down to F4. How about we do a short break here so I can pose what goes on in the meantime?"
«Plot» Walker says, "Sounds good, I'll pose some beam struggle nonsense. XD"

As Walker's hands whirl through the air in a desperate struggle to contain the abomination, it's flailing, clicking limbs seem to snap the astral threads as fast as he can form them. It even shakes loose part of his astral form, but the elf is far too focussed to even notice. Eyes blazing, Walker finally begins to find purchase, trapping more and more of the spirit in his constricting astral web. From fifteen feet in length, it shrinks with each jerk of its astral bonds, almost down to half it's intial size now, the elf's manic grin broadening as he senses its struggles weaken.

«Walker!» Pema gasps into the commlink, obviously out of breath from running. «You still alive?!? We're coming!» Her voice goes quieter as she obviously turns away from her comm unit, screaming "Blow up that door!" in Cantonese.
A moment later, the double doors to the sanctuary blow open - enchanted locks be damned - and a group of armed Tong members rush in, followed by two of the Tong priests in civilian clothes as well as Pema. They stop almost immediately at the sight of the horror, even though it's not nearly as big as it was when their epic astral wrestling match began.

«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Centering + 3 (Focus) vs TN 2 for "Against penalties, TN=4+2-8=-2=>2":
1 1 2 3 4 5 8 = 5 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Conjuring + 3 (Power Focus) vs TN 4 for "Banishing":
1 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 15 = 6 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls 4 vs TN 12 for "Bony centipede starting to struggle for real now":
2 3 4 9 = 0 Successes
«Plot» Walker says, "That oughta do it. Big finish! :D"
«Plot» Lotus says, "Ayep! Pose away!"
«Auto-Judge[]» Walker (#12094) rolls Charisma vs TN 5 for "5D Channeling drain":
1 1 1 2 4 5 5 5 7 7 8 9 10 11 = 9 Successes

As he finally finds the purchase he wants, Walker's hands stop dead in mid-air. For a moment, nothing moves in the corrupt shrine. Then the elf grins wickedly, roars a wordless cry of victory and claps his hands together.

The centipede implodes, bone and flesh liquefying then igniting in a brilliant furnace as the spirit's astral essence is entirely consumed.

Walker drops to his knees, shoulders heaving, the spells torn from his foci and the spirit draining from his body. His head, eyes no longer flaming but still glowing a steady gold, turns towards Pema and the rest, "What kept you guys? You missed all the fun…"

The spirit burns up and disappears, leaving nothing behind but a strong smell of vinegar and a lot of terrified Tong members. Pema does not look any less intimidated though she steps forward when quiet befalls the room, littered with corpses and the few wounded still left. The two priests proceed to go up to the altar, and they cast jets of fire upon it to destroy the objects upon it. The wounded but surviving cult members are spared, but the mage in black gets incinerated along with the foul magics he practised upon that altar.

Pema holds up her scarf over face. "That was… a Penanggalan, another piece of foul magic from Malaysia. At least the disembodied head part, the insect; that's new. Are you alright? You look like you could use a bit of rest."

"See? She did know," Walker mutters under his breath, in response to nothing that anyone else heard. Still panting heavily, he watches the cleansing of the shrine with something akin to fascination. After a moment he shakes himself out of it. "Penanggalan… got it," he repeats earnestly, "I'll remember. I'll live I think… just need a little rest." That certainly seems accurate, given the way he barely makes it to his feet and stumbles as he moves towards her.

"Ultimately what matters is you got rid of the thing." Pema says, looking around as the Tong begins to clear out the place, tearing down the tapestries and dismantling the altar. The insects all get mercilessly torched. "Well, the Tong got their revenge. Some of the cult members surrendered, the others are all gone. Seems you put an end to their magic too. Good work, Mr. Lam will be quite pleased. Shall we go?" She says, looking one final time over at the altar before heading back up the stairs, away from this cursed chamber.

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