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The Parkhurst

July 12, 2018

 

The Parkhurst had been a hotel, at one point. Between being a family home and being a haunted wreck, and long before it was a dwelling place for some of Freedom's occult community. It made perfect sense that it would serve as a gathering place for travelers tonight.

 

Outside, in the distance, Nick Cimitiere watched the great fires lick up from Liberty Park. He had done what he could, where he could. But after the first day, he knew there was a chance this would not end as anyone hoped. He remembered the stories of the first Invasion, remembered being dragged out of school as grim angels with steel wings flew through the air and the scent of oblivion spread through the city. Now, death walked through the city again, hungry and rabid, with a taste for destruction that would make Ammut herself cringe. 

 

If there was a time for a miracle - or an infernal bargain - it would be tonight. And he could only hope for the former, but prepare for the latter.

 

Nick stubbed out his cigarette and returned to the manor, ready to make preparations for his guests. Corporeal and otherwise. 

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Rene

 

On another Day, Rene would have come by taxi and walking, and made a great song and dance about his hips and knees. But these were dangerous days, and Nick Cimitiere was no fool. 

 

He had stepped through a picture of the Parkhurst hotel, and landed there quite calmly. It had been some time since he was last here. He had been distracted, never enough time. He had never made enough time. 

 

Bah, he was not the young man he once was. He was truly old now, his body propelled more by force of will than physiology. He suspected he had a decade of life at most left. Well, it was a life well spent, for the most part. Sour and bitter and peppered with regrets like every life, but he could hold his head up high on his death bed, and savour the spices of it too. 

 

"Nick, you old devil, I am here" he grumbled as he came in. 

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Phantom appeared in the lobby, looking more translucent than usual. The Master Mage might have looked drawn and tired; but that was what the mask and cowl were for. Her features were hidden by their shadows but there was no mistaking the lines that bracketed her mouth. They looked deeper today. 

 

Without a word, she exerted the effort to turn fully solid, her booted feet landing with a thump. She was shorter than most people expected, once standing, and it left her cape to billow out along the ground in a wind that didn't blow, at least not across Prime. "Time is short." Phantom said simply, as if picking up the thread of a conversation already in progress. She nodded once to Rene before asking their host, "What do you need of me?"

Edited by alderwitch

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Nick smiled to Rene as he entered the lobby. "It's been too long," he said. "And while I wish we were getting under together under more pleasant circumstances, well... this is how it is. If it helps, I have coffee, pastries, and liquor set out in the kitchen. But we may need to save some of them for our guests."

 

When Phantom arrived, he gave a polite nod. "I've got the offerings set up, as requested. All we need to do is beseech them, perform the right rituals... in my case, I'll have to get around the Pact, but it should be relatively easy as long as I don't step over the line." Nick rapped his knuckles against the wall. "I also spent most of the day working magic into the walls. Once we convene at the table, the Parkhurst is technically going to exist on multiple planes. We will be of Earth and outside of it. It will allow those who might be affected by the Pact full ability to lend influence, but only as long as they stay here. And if anyone gets too rowdy, I can collapse the enchantment and hurl us back into reality."  

 

Nick looked at the corner, where a large amount of items were gathered. "I... may be pulling double duty. Triple, even. Some of the Deathlords are extremely possessive, and if they find out a deal was made regarding matters of death on this scale, they may just throw a wrench in the works. Even if it's their own continued existence on the line." He shook his head. "We are entering... very experimental territory here. I'm giving you full veto power. You're the Master Mage - they'll listen to you above anyone else."

 

He clapped his hands. "Once Ms. Britannia gets here, we can start. But if anyone thinks it might take longer to invoke your particular representative, feel free to get stared." 

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Rene

 

Rene sat himself down, tired. He had no wish for drinks, or food, right now. 

 

He was disconcerted. Had it come to this? Spirits and Gods. Gods and spirits. Bah! I spit at them all!

 

Except Marianne. To his my mind, liberty was the highest force - the freedom from force. 

 

"It is desperate times" he mumbled. "Forgive me, but my heart is heavy and troubled. I bring Ze spirit of liberty, Marianne, always closest to my heart, and whose philosophy is mine own" he explained. "These days might threaten our freedom. Or our lives" he sighed. "It will take me no time to call her. Her answer, however..."

 

He shrugged. 

 

He smiled at Phantom, whose image shone in his head. "Ze Master Mage is here, then" he said, not unkindly. If anyone was to be Master Mage, she was eminantly suitable. And yet, he never liked Master Mages, at least, not the title. Broken Crow had taught him centuries ago, and he had warmth in his heart for his tutor. And indeed for many othe Master Mages. Yet despite this warmth for the person, he disliked the title. Master. An ambigious word. Either it impled mastery of magics (and implied a heirachy of mastery), or it implied an authority. The term, and the implications, rankled him. 

 

Such philosophical defiance was best set aside. Phantom was wise and benign and if she wished the mantle of Master Mage, then good luck to her. And if she was here, it was good luck to them all. 

 

"Ze world needs all ze strength it can muster" he added, bowing to Phantom. "Ah! It is good to see you. It fosters hope. I am sadly just a helpless old man, you see..." he smiled. And gave Nick a wink. 

 

 

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Ms Britannia

Agnus knew how frustrating it had been for Vanguard to be told to stay put, even if she understood the Ministry's logic. In fact, she'd convinced VERA to conveniently lose any logs if people just happened to teleport themselves to Freedom City, she, however, had a different path to walk to be able to help save that city and hopefully the whole world.

 

Canteen, Holby Hospital, Bristol
Despite working a full shift at the hospital Doctor Collins still looked remarkably energetic, a side effect of embodying the spirit of Britannia and if Dame Pennington was anything to go by they could both live a long life. If they survived the next couple of day of course.

 

"I feel so helpless, I should be over there fighting, but I can't leave in case..." unlike her features she did sound completely tired 

 

 

"I think I can help, but I need to borrow the power of Britannia for a little while."

 

"If it'll help then I'll gladly give you the power."

 

Grabbing hold of each other's hand there was a small flash of light as the power was transferred.

 

The Noosphere
Agnus didn't normal concern herself much with the mystical side of her legacy, but some had in the past and she understood that this was the space that some, if not all, of the Personifications, resided. And if the world was in that much danger then all of the deserved a chance to speak on their behalf. So with a brief moment of hesitation, it was possible she could get lost in the jumble of identities, but this was worth the risk. Opening her mind she invited them all to use her as a conduit to say there piece. Some refuse, some already had become involved, but many, many more agreed to the terms offered.

 

Parkhurst Hotel, Freedom City
With a burst of white light, Agnus appeared literally glowing with the power she held within, dressed in a white suit instead of the costume she normally wore, as today it wasn't just one nation she spoke for. She floated down beside the other, but her feet remained a few centimeters above the ground.

 

"We are here as requested." her voice sounded strange as if she was speaking with many voices at once.

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Nick retreated to his corner of the Parkhurst, where he'd set aside the materials he needed for this ritual. 

 

This would be tricky. He remembered something he'd heard from an occultist who'd managed to pull off one of these multi-party deals - you never want to do them close enough together that the first party going runs into the second party coming. Of course, he'd been dealing with the infernal, and eventually, the only thing found left of him was a large intestine left hanging from a lamppost on Bourbon Street. These were not demons, though some of them did like to front as such.

 

It began with the invocation to Legba, the opening of the crossroads. Four paths that would open through the halls of Parkhurst, leading the gods to the central room. Now began the offerings. Camphor and grave dirt, fine wine and cigars, rotted fruit and maggot-ridden meat - and finally, two coins, one of iron, one of gold.

 

From the west came a black man in coat tails and top hat. Unlike his more prominent brother, he carried himself with a regal air, the cigar in his fingers held with a gentleman's grace. "I, Baron Cimitiere, speak for the lwa."

 

From the east came a woman in a gown that was likely once white; now, it was caked through with pus and ruin millennia old. Her face was ragged and maggot-eaten, her nails long and terrible, and her eyes possessed of hunger. "I, Inazami-no-Mikoto, speak for the kami."

 

From the north came a man with green skin and a long, stylized beard, smelling of kohl. The flail in his hand looked like it could tear down buildings, but the smile on his face was far too affable. "I, Osiris, speak for Heliopolis."

 

And from the south came tongues of flames - flames Nick found entirely unnecessary, but knew they would be part of the display. An olive-skinned man emerged, clad in armor of crimson and gold - armor that soon faded away into a suit the color of obsidian that looked like it cost several souls.

 

"I am Hades. And I speak for my world."

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Rene

 

"Bah!" muttered Rene at the sight of the various Gods. "You speak for yourselves, most suredly" he said, neither loud nor soft. "Such is your nature, and your nature is such". 

 

He turned away in contempt of the Gods, like every God. A blight on the liberty and will of mankind. 

 

"But what do I know?, I am but a helpless old man. A fool" he added, contemplating the roof of Parkhurst - until he turned serious eyes back to the Gods assembled. 

 

"A fool who would know your agenda..."

Edited by Supercape

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Ms Britannia

"Normally we would agree, but the stakes are high enough that the little god has everything to lose."

 

In the churning gathering of the mids and wisdom of hundreds if not thousands of those that had come before was the experience of Hades and his type that despite the situation would try and take advantage of any situation, however.

 

"But it would be wise to put in some form of  protection in place, I would suggest that a pact of some kind that only those that are here can make or accept offers so those outside of this place won't suffer from what we decide in this place."

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"Pact's already been erected," said Nick. "First thing I did before we called all this down. Everyone here, sitting here in this manse, has been let into this world by somebody seeking their benediction. However."

 

Nick pointed to the various walls of the house. "That benediction only applies to this manor. Not the grounds, not the airspace above it, not the tectonic plates beneath it. This house. Go out the doors, slide out the windows, decide to pull a Kool-Aid Man and bulldoze through the walls... the Pact kicks in. Any action outside of these bonds that applies to this plane of reality, and not the greater structures of the divine work, gets you booted back up to the great beyond."

 

He took a seat at the table, pretending as if he was in control. "So. We have called entities of the spirit world, the greater powers that shape the multiverse, and the Deathlords who usher souls off into the beyond. You all know what's at stake if our world falls. You all know what happens to your domains if the Terminus grabs it. Because I've seen it, and it is not the good death. It is the great gnashing jaws of oblivion, the kind of thing that makes Ammut look like a yappy dog." 

 

"Do you really have to refer to her that way?"

 

"Sorry, Osiris, trying to make a point here. What I am saying is... we have the power to move mountains, to turn back time, to stop death, in this very room tonight. We have all the powers of the divine of our behalf, when the mortals below you need them the most.

 

"We are here to discuss terms for the continued survival of this world, and/or the souls that call it home." 

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GM

 

Rene leaned forwardm, stroking his beard and slumping his back. 

 

"Survival...mmmm...." he mumbled. He wondered how much fooling these Gods and powers there was. Despite all their strength they were limited. And full of hubris. How often the two went together. 

 

"Oh powerful and mighty gods, we most humble and ignoble mortals beseech ye, save us!" he said in a cracked and feeble voice, wondering if and how they would bite. Whatever they did, it would give insight into their state of mind, and give none away of his own. 

Edited by Supercape

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Ms Britannia

"Is it not strange that we bring in the gods of the dead to discuss the survival of humanity, it seems to us that they win either way. But we are prepared to listen to whatever they have to say."

 

The light around Ms Britannia faded a little and she spoke again in a singular voice.

 

"Can we maybe move this along a little, please? I have trouble with just one personality up here, let alone untold multitudes!" she managed a weak smile, it was worth the pain if as many people as they could get out of this alive.

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"The Deathlords are just as concerned about survival as the rest of us," said Nick. "From what we understand, the Terminus is oblivion. There have been reports of worlds and their pantheons being consumed by its hunger --"

 

"Reports." Izanami-no-Mikoto's nails, ivory done up in dried gore, rapped on the table, leaving narrow gouges. "Rumor. Whisper. You have dragged us down here to discuss hollow fears? Why should we not leave now?"

 

"Because, for all that some of you like to treat the daily death toll like it's a sports match, I know you have a reason you care for souls. It may be some sort of benevolence. It may be a cosmic game of 'mine's bigger.' But I also know you're likely not fans of what might happens if someone comes along and sets your scoreboard on fire. If they don't catch you in the inferno as well." Nick took a quick breath. "We are here to discuss alternatives. Possibilities, for if this fight doesn't go horribly wrong. Others here are better suited to discuss the creation of new realms for the living. I myself am best suited to discuss the creation of new realms for the dead."

 

"I'm sorry." Hades leaned in over the table. "Here you are talking about us like we're a bunch of capering egotists, and now you want to talk to us about holding hands and getting along as an escape mechanism in the face of oblivion? Let us say that your fears are true. Let us say that we can create a little 'escape hatch' in the back corners of divinity. Who would rule over it?" A terrible smile flickered across his face. "Mr. Cimitiere, are you actually trying to appeal for divinity?"

 

Nick grinned. "I would make the worst god," he said, "and I've seen some truly terrible ones. No, what I'm proposing is... actually, I think I've hogged my space at the table long enough." He looked to Rene, Phantom, and Miss Britannia. "Time to hear from the other parties."

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Rene

 

"I know how seductive you can be, Ares..." said Rene, giving the god a lusty look. He did, of course, not for one moment harbour any erotic or romantic feelings towards the arrogant God, but he wondered if Ares being subjected to such a look and insinuation from a lecherous old man might disorientate him. 

 

He let the moment sink in just long enough. Which was an uncomfortable second. Maybe two. 

 

"If the world burns, so do those who worship you. I am sure you could bear such a sting, but a sting it would be most assuredly. I would say it would be so for all Gods. You may wish to consider possibilities..." he said, leaving the thought dangling. 

 

Damned if we give them a noose around the neck of any man. The world would be better of burning!

 

No, let us see if we can seduce them. If they want to help, this ceases to be a barter, and becomes a plan. 

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Ms Britannia

"Divinity is overrated, we ask for no such thing and yet we still have the respect of our people. Who are the ones fighting off the menace that has invaded this planet, the physical battle will be close but I have faith that it will be won." she paused before adding

 

"The spiritual harm of this invasion is a much more dangerous thing, which is why we're here to determine how to fight that menace. As in all thing like this it will probably require a sacrifice of some kind, like the last time the Terminus invaded."

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"A sacrifice, yes." Baron Cimitiere leaned in at the table. "This is often what is necessary to stand before the tide. To maintain the balance of life and death --"

 

Izanagi-no-Mikoto's talons began to peel the wood from the table. "I have had it up to here with 'borders' and 'balance,'" she said. "There is an order to these things. The skull man knows this. We are called. Things are offered. We do not have time to approach this with all the graces of a tea ceremony." She pointed a claw at Nick Cimitiere. "This one asks. He makes a world. What will he offer for it?" 

 

Nick Cimitiere folded his hands. The Master Mage was standing right next to him, and it felt like he was about to take a leak in the middle of church. Time to do the dumbest goddamn thing I've ever done.

 

"I offer freedom from The Pact." 

 

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Phantom had remained a still and silent presence as the bargaining began; her features difficult to see behind the shifting shadows of her cowl. One might have thought the Master Mage was immune to the threat on the doorstep except for the fact that she was here at all. She had made no supplications and invoked no higher powers. The Mordoros, after all, would have answered her plea. The eye of Heshem winked once at her throat; the endless writhing of her cloak stilling for a brief moment as Nick tossed out his wager. Her white gaze shifted from the gods to Nick then with the full weight of who she was behind it. Phantom's full attention was not an easy thing to bear; gods had quaked under her glare before - and would again.

 

If it had been anyone else, anyone that Phantom trusted one iota less she would simply and flatly shot down the offer before it gained any traction. Nick, however, had earned at least her moment of silence - not assent - but chances were good the gods would read into her silence as potential wiggle room although that gaze never left Nick's features. 

 

He had the Master Mage's trust but he should choose his next words verrrry carefully. 

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