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The Purple Flame(IC)

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November 3rd, 2012, 10.45

The message had arrived at Parkhurst, delivered in a small white card slipped into the mailbox. It bore the simple message Dear Residents of Parkhurst Hotel, I have been visited by the one known as Lantern Jack, who claims that something dangerous is brewing, and wishes me to request the presence of Changeling and Crow at the St. Andrew church by 11.00 AM. I will explain myself fully upon our meeting. I am yours, etc, Arnold Simmons.

The church was a bright, airy place with beautiful stained-glass windows imported from an ancient church in southern Hungary. No candles were lit, and all was silent and still.

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Crow never entered conventionally.

It wasn't a habit or anything like that; more a truism of the world. Morgan Crowe, alias Crow, never entered any building conventionally. Well, almost never - but the vast bulk of the time he always found an incredibly odd or secondary way of entering into a building. In this case, he'd chosen the bell tower. Coming in through one of the upper windows, scaling down the galleries, and eventually vanishing to appear on an upper wooden beam.

And so it was that a figure clad entirely in black perched within the high vaulted ceiling of the St. Andrew church, looking down to survey that silent and still scene...odd. Very odd.

Morgan's bump of trouble itched. He'd heard of Lantern Jack, of course - having Parkhurst on Lantern Hill meant that the old ghost had passed by more than once; at least according to their own ghosts. And bets that Nick had met him too...he never had himself, though. Truth be told, the off-ness of the situation somewhat amused him; amused and appalled. A child of a pagan goddess and a distinctly...fey...individual, meeting a ghost in an old church?

...Gabriel would have been appalled.

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Changeling, used the door. It was really just the thing to do, not that anybody noticed her using the door. No one heard it's loud creaks, the moonlight pouring through the cracks and competing with the soft colored light pouring from the stained glass window, or the thump it made as it closed. Not a soul saw the women in gold thigh high boots walk on the carpet examining the pews and glance up at her companion in the rapters almost immediately through a slightly pointed domino mask. In fact, to all those in attendance, Changeling was just there. She more or less faded into existance like she had always been there and you had just failed to notice. She didn't look towards anybody in particular, just said to the darkness,

"Well, let us start this then."

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GM

On cue, the window depicting the deeds of St. Margaret exploded into the church, broken under the flying weight of a stocky, gray-haired man wearing a winter jacket, thick denim pants, thick boots, a bristling beard and burning brown eyes that blazed in the dull sunlight that filtered through the broken window. Getting unsteadily to his feet from where he had fallen, practically on the other side of the room from Changeling. He looked quite calm about what had just happened, brushing his clothes down to remove shards of ancient glass as he walked with quick, stiff steps over to the central aisle, looking over the two young heroes with birdlike movements of his head. After a minute or two had passed he said calmly in a slightly wheezy voice "You are early. Good, the Dis-Possessed are on their way. One moment" he added, reaching around his back to pull out a long, blade-like shard that had gotten lodged inside his ribs, tossing the blood-spattered piece out the window carelessly. "Now then, I'm Arnold Simmons." he went on in an even softer and shakier voice than before "A few nights ago, I was visited by Lantern Jack who told me that he could sense an influx of infernal power somewhere in Lantern Hill, and asked me to help him find out who was responsible. It took until the day before yester, asking around the circles of mages I am..acquainted with, before I thought to ask for help from some fellows more skilled in fighting than I can truthfully claim to be. I was referred to you fine young people by a friend, came by when you seemed not to be at home, left a note and went home." He sat down on the pew next to him, sighing and panting for many long seconds as he got his breath back. Getting back up he said with quiet firmness

"I was attacked this morning, barely half and hour ago. Three people, each of whom I know and had asked about this demonic presence, barged straight through the walls and doors of my house looking me. I could see it in their eyes, didn't need to cast a spell to know they were possessed. Them chanting "We are Dis the Many, Dis the Many" helped. I barely escaped. I ran straight here hoping to warn you about what was going on." his faced darkened and he said more loudly "They can't be hurt by magic, we'll need to beat them physically, restrain them, and purify them to save those poor souls."

From outside, the two Claremont students could hear an insistent, distant sound of chanting voices.

"We are Dis the Many, Dis the Many..."

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A figure simply shimmered into existence beside Mr. Simmons, taking in a sharp breath. This was...unpleasant, to say the least. Very unpleasant. Possessed individuals were always annoying as hell to deal with - even moreso if it was an outright mindphreak rather than simply glamoured. Removing glamour from the eyes could be done in an expeditious manner if you knew how, or could find the fae to thump. A spirit infesting the mind required complex exorcisms and distinct care not to damage the poor victim's mind.

That, and he hated taking down innocent people. Seriously, that was just plain wrong.

Bah. Take them down quick and with minimal damage, then - that was Changeling's bailiwick if there ever was one. The black figure snapped out three curt orders before snapping his cuffs forward, a rune on the back of the coat smoking for a second or three.

"Changeling, confounding illusions. Fog out in three. Mr. Simmons, draw them in."

From those cuffs poured a rolling wave of thick, chalk-white fog; filling up the stone walls within moments, and hanging heavy in the air like a cloud stolen from the sky. It was thick, very thick - to anyone other than those of Morgan's choosing, they would have been completely blind the moment they stepped inside. To those who he knew well, and who he had marked before tapping the rune of the spell...clear as day.

Man, he loved his tricks.

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GM

With a dark smile Arnold nodded at Crow's request, and with a breath of wind he swept back through the window he had crashed in, alighting on the roof and shouting out at the stumbling forms outside the church "Come inside, mindless demon! Are you so afraid of a mere church, two children and an old man?!" he asked mockingly, a flare of light around him making sure he was seen.

As his words echoed out over the street, the Dis-Possessed stopped for a moment to consider the invitation. With a growl one of the trio, a young and very fit woman wearing a heavy leather jacket over a white shirt, scuffed jeans and with dirty blonde hair in a ponytail dashed forward into the bank of fog that drifted out the door, shouting out "We will not be denied!"

The other two, a looked at each other and shook their heads. as one they spoke "She will not last." The one on the left, a vaguely middle-aged man, stepped backwards into the middle of the street, looked up at the two on the roof, and began murmuring in a language that seemed to darken the air, the all-too familiar scent of brimstone beginning to roll through the air, and hellfire beginning to coalesce between his fingers. The other, a woman of roughly the same age, walked next to them, raising her hand over his as cold light began to shine over it. "I do not miss." they said.

The possessed woman hurled herself clean through the door in a shower of splinters and a neat roll a few feet from Changeling. Springing to her feet, she cast about in the fog before suddenly growing still and sniffing the air. "We sense you!" she cried, lashing out at the elegant illusionist with a burning leg that missed entirely, instead smashing a gigantic chunk out of the pew next to her and scattering its smouldering pieces against the wall.

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Changeling drew her blade from it's hilt almost immediately before sending Crow a note through her magic. It said in scrolled letters in the air for his vision only,

He is correct in his assessment, magic will not harm these creatures, this includes any illusions I can create.

While she did this she approached with her sword at the ready and took a good look at them, they moved with a certainty in their movements that they could certainly hit if they needed too. But also, this meant that they could be hit as well if she closed the gap. She looked on them intently and stroked forward to hit them squarely with her blade only to misstep and sweep straight past. She sent another message to Crow,

I would like some assistance if you would like to remove yourself from your perch.

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A voice from behind the vaguely middle-aged woman - gravelly, and cold. "You already have."

Rewind a few seconds back. Morgan looked down into the thin fog - as much as he wanted to give assistance right there and then? Opportunity knocked. Had to stick to the plan for now.

Shades of training with several different figures flooded his head as he checked the straps on his gloves; chiefest among those memories at this particular juncture being the idea of...misdirection. Give them a show - give them lights and noise and sights and sounds. Put something on stage for the whole world to see...then hit them from behind while they're not looking at the garbage can you're hiding in.

Granted, at this particular juncture in time he was perched on a church beam instead of a rooftop, but the principle remained sound in theory.

Neck-crack. Time to put it into action.

Fast forward to the present. The second the words entered the air, the black-clad figure who had appeared behind the two Dis-possessed just burst into action. Hard foot down, check, hip-turn; a hard elbow strike shot forward and impacted with vicious force into the man's sternum, sending wind exploding out from his lungs. Check self again - turn on the hard foot; bring up leg - 90% angle. The woman's raised hand left her side completely open, and the heel of a black combat boot slammed into it with a similar level of force; calculated to shock and wind in equal measure.

Three seconds. Both hit the ground at roughly the same time - twin thuds onto the concrete. Crow let out a rush of his own breath - clamping down on Morgan's urge to do a tiny happy dance. Archer would have been proud.

Then he simply wasn't there.

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GM

Blinking in surprise at the sudden and vicious display of martial prowess, Simmons whistled low and flew down on a rushing wave of power to the pair on the road, carefully beginning to tie their hands and feet together with short lengths of rope he carried in his pockets, grunting a little as he tugged at the knots. He glanced briefly at the holy place behind him, muttering "Hope those two have sense..."


Inside, the Dis-possessed woman shook off the small anklet of wood that had come free after her brutal kick through the pew. Breathing in sharply with a hiss, she suddenly lashed around with her left arm, a trail of brimstone following it as she struck several inches beside Changeling's face, a deep growl that could never have left the throat of someone built like her thundering through the air when she realized that the punch had missed.

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The hit was signaled a mile away, flashing brightly with it's energy she leaned back in a short duck and spun around it building momentum in her blade. Angling it upward she dug it's silver tip into the demonically charged womans side and slashed clear across her chest up to her shoulder digging past the entire way freeing the tip all the way past the shoulder with a slight flick of scarlet clearing the air as it exited. After it was released Changeling took a step back not a single drop on her and flicked the excess blood on the blade back to the body of the demonically charged before holding it before her in an even stance prepared for any further assault.

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GM

Even faster than they had arrived, the trio had been defeated with ease! Arnold dragged the two left out on the road inside the church, shutting and locking the doors behind himself as he painfully lugged the two unconscious forms into the center of the room. Frowning briefly at the long cut in the woman Changeling had bested, he glanced up at her questioningly before shrugging and saying "Bah, you did what was needed. I'll not whine to my rescuers. Just give me a moment to try and remove whatever shackles are about these people."

So saying he gathered up the ones possessed by Dis, and arranged them carefully with their feet close to anothers' head in a triangle. Raising a hand over them he began a slow and quiet incantation that gradually filled the church with a soft green light that slid around the forms of the three people, Changeling's eyes seeing a solemn crowd of angelic beings walking out from behind him to inspect the shells, each shaking their head in resignation and sorrow before turning away. After several minutes the older man was sweating and still chanting, until at last his hand dropped and he fell to his hands and knees, panting heavily.

Looking back up he said wearily "Forgive me, youngsters, but I can't do it so quickly."

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"Take your time." was the quiet reply from the teenager in black, now leaning with his arms crossed against a pew. Crow had drawn his hood further over his head to obscure his features when the magic had began, and he felt more than saw something begin emerging from the walls; when the incantation had begun and the soft green light began to flow.

It was moments like this that consistently reminded him that, even if just in his own mind, he was still naught but a piker when it came to the arcane. It rankled slightly. And he had to focus on not letting that feeling linger - it didn't feel right to have it in this place.

Damnit - he was a craftsman, not a ritualist or a proper wizard. He'd never done exorcisms before or anything like that - save beating the spirit out of some old shark bones. Violence of that nature wouldn't help these people, he was quite certain of that. Call it personal experience; or maybe influence from his father, and all his compatriots at Parkhurst - something taught him by example. He was very cognizant that any magic he knew that could be used on other human beings must be selected very carefully. And used properly.

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GM

Rubbing an arm across his face, Arnold smiled wearily. "Can't afford to take too much time. Dis moves quickly, and the longer it takes us to destroy the hold he has on these people, the greater the chance we will be too late to stop him ourselves. We need to defeat this menace as quickly as we can, before it gets too big." He clenched his hands together for a long moment, eyes shut tight as he concentrated and held his breath. At last, he exhaled slowly, and the green light appeared again.

"If you could find some way to strengthen this, or help weaken the demon's hold on these people, I would be deeply grateful to you. If you try something, keep in mind it affects Dis just as much as the person. Even ways of...altering perception might help, if I can just get a handhold under these shells."

He glanced sorrowfully at the possessed lying before him in the triangle "Any ideas? If you'd like I can start again, and if you come up with anything I'll incorporate it. My magic's not too hard to augment and alter once it's in motion."

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"That will not be nessicary,"

From her spot she got the gist of what was being done,

"It is an ensnarement of the mind yes,"

She didn't make any sudden movements she just kept her pace and concentrated her gaze on the demon bound,

"Then I can cut the link,"

And just like that it was gone. There was no lingering effects, no sound, Changeling overrode any mental commands they were given with her own input and the suggestion could not fight it.

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GM

In a moment, the demonic carapace was torn away from the three possessed humans, and their normal selves blazed free before Changeling's eyes.

Each of them stirred, felt the other person nearby and hastily got to their feet, holding their bruises(and in the young woman's case, gash) in pained hands. The man who had been about to fling a fireball looked around in horror, from the broken window to the bloodied Arnold to his wounded comrade. "Did-did we do this, brother Simmons? Can you remember anything Leah?" he asked in horror, eyes glowing and ageless words seeping from his mouth as he stretched out a hand and began to mend the woman's torn side. Leaning against an damaged pew, Leah winced as the flesh reknit itself "I can't. But if we did anything evil to you guys, I'm very sorry" she told Changeling and Crow earnestly.

The older woman was already sketching out a small circle on the floor "Dis is three blocks up the road. In that old townhouse, 3327 West Gold Drive. Nobody else in there, we might be the only ones he had" she shrugged and gave the two young heroes a sad smile "'Fraid I'm useless in a fight with a thing like that, darlings. Arnold, you go with them, make sure they get in right." with that she bent back to her circle, from which cold flames were springing in miniature around a tiny house. There was no more talk

Arnold shrugged his tight shoulders and led the way down the street, pointing out the house as they approached it "It's been abandoned for years, asbestos in the walls, gas leak menace before its pipes were dug up and rerouted. Makes sense that's where some demon would make his lair." passing up the decrepit lane leading to the tilting, ramshackle Victorian house, the three were doing splendidly until Arnold tried to open the door, which caused a small green rune to appear on it, and he only got his hand off the handle in time to avoid the dart of fire. A fine mist appeared around the house in the same moment. He glanced back at the two "I'll leave the breaking and entering to you, if you don't mind. There's a shield of some sort."

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Crow just shifted by Arnold, examining the mist and the small green rune on the door. Demon. Lair. Green runes - green runes. Green was never a good color for a rune. Orange and red flames, grey smoke, those were good colors for runes. Green, most definitley not.

Purple's pretty good too. Shut up. Just saying. Shut up!

Without a word, he just went to work; switching through the different forms of scrying enchanted into his mask; kneeling down to test the boards of the porch, stepping up to the doorway and examining the metal carefully - the spot where the rune came from even moreso. At one point he took out a pinch of salt; sprinkling it over the doorknob - watching for a reaction. A moment of consideration. One more. Two more.

He looked to Etain, quirking an eyebrow. She knew him well enough to understand - that was his way of saying 'thoughts?' without actually speaking. He really had been diving into that whole 'mystique' thing recently, come to think of it.

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She took a second to walk around it before looking at Crow and holding up her hand. Only he could see the crackle of electricity in it which spelt out rather conviently,

Give it a jolt.

She turned away and gave him some time to set about doing the spell as she turned around and walked over to the man who summoned him,

"Mr. Simmons,"

Her voice was polite and accusitory at the same time,

"What unusual circumstances you have called us under? I believe there is some detailed explanation due, especially since you arrived with trouble in your wake. It is a rather suspicious circumstance afterall."

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GM

Arnold glanced sharply around, having just seated himself on one of the porch's rotting steps. Looking dubiously at Changeling he said "Well miss, it all began just a little while, not even a week, from today. I got visited by Lantern Jack, who told me about some kind of surge in demonic energy around the Hill, which he claimed he couldn't deal with on his own. He didn't mention many specific, I gotta admit, and got a bit testy when I pressed for details, but I passed that off as just ol' Jack being himself. He's, uh, not the most sociable of spirits, if you get my meaning. Even for a ghost he's a chilly guy. Anyway, he told me to look into this while he took his own path, and I set off on mine. Looked high and low for any signs that infernal powers were about and found squat. Got a bit lucky with m'dowsing and drew near this house, got some fearsome signs but decided I ought to get some backup for a fight I wasn't ready for. I was told by the young lady you passed a sword through about your Circle at Parkhurst, and so here we are."

He raised a bushy eyebrow "It is suspicious though, I admit. Why would Jack ask for me, a Hermetic in Thoth's path, when there are so many skilled spiritualists just a block from me? Admittedly, not a lot of 'em can exorcise demons, and I've had a bit of experience with that, but you need more than an exorcism for stuff like this. Why not the priest?" he was talking mostly to himself now "She could turn a demon like Dis inside-out, if she got it trapped first..."

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"Multiple reasons. Could be positive. Could be nefarious." Rah. Crow vastly preferred it when he had more information at hand - going into a situation blind was against the rules. Not that he didn't do it frequently, but still! He'd been learning! How could one display one's brilliance and how much one had learned if...rah. Never mind. A chalk piece danced over one glove backplate; small sparks beginning to pop between his fingers.

 

"Jack's reasons often arcane. Usually good, though." Was he attempting to be reassuring? Good grief. The teenager cut his words short there, bracing his feet and drawing his hand back. "Hm. Should work. Estimate 65% chance of backfire. Better than usual."

 

No, he was not attempting to be reassuring.

 

Lightning erupted around his fist as he hissed between his teeth - rushing air out at the same time that fist shot forward. Enchanted glove and hard-packed muscle, backed by a near-indomitable will or just mulish stubborness (take your pick) met warded wooden door.

 

Cue thunderclap.

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GM

 

With a dull rasp and fading wail the door exploded inwards, the green ward bursting apart into shreds that mirrored the electric strike and vaporizing.

 

In the dusty gloom that the burst of violence revealed was an empty ground floor, filled with decay and mold, a broken staircase upstairs and a room at the far end with several chains across the door. To Changeling's eyes, a pair of long hands gripped each side of the frame, tugging viciously though without effect.

 

Stepping inside Arnold nodded at that door, and with a neat wave of his hand sent the chains crashing to the floor, causing the door to swing open with sudden violence and reveal the face of Dis.

 

It was very large. Looking at it had the same effect as looking at a vast mural from two feet away, its enormous hood-like head of chtin stretching off into the distance, red smoke curling from out of its body. A body that was an entire city thrumming with evil and rising like stalagmites to a yawning roof of fire. Four sets of spindly arms crooked on its belly.

 

"So. You are here. And now you will send me back whence I came, and order will be restored? Those weaklings have served their turn."

 

The voice was as ponderous as could be imagined, slow and quiet and soft. Two eyes on the sides of its head looked down at the trio as Arnold began walking forward and beginning an incantation "Don't listen to it" the wizard added warningly to the two young magic heroes "Dis is as much a liar as any other demon." Turning back to their enemy he continued the slow exorcism. "I have not lied. I told my summoners I would take over their minds and destroy them if they did not meet my requirements, and I did. That they did not understand my requests is their own fault. Though what can you expect from humans? They have no...conception of the outer worlds..." it looked at Crow and Changeling "What do you know of us?"

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"Enough that your right to speak has been revoked."

 

It actually looked somewhat comical. Crow stepped around Arnold, as the man began a complex incantation that he truly only understood a quarter of. Mostly the Latin parts. The others sort of soared over his head, but it didn't take a master magus to understand the gist of the 'hit the road, Jack, and don't you come back no more, no more, no more, no more' style of exorcism. But as to the comical bit...

 

This young, 5' something, less than 190 pounds soaking wet teenager in a slightly oversized coat and hood, crossed his arms in front of the daemonic face and just stared at it. Perhaps it was the whispers already in his head, or simple pig-headed stubbornness, but he feared no madness from the view; bracing his will against the sheer spiritual presence the being from the outer gates brought to the table.

 

He would not be found wanting.

 

"You have no hold, over them, us, or this world. Your words are anathema, your form is ridiculous, and your existence intolerable. Leave."

Edited by Quinn

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Etain didn't need to speak, she just stood by Crow's side. Smaller then him and more brightly dressed she might not of been much of a threat to most. But unlike his, her eyes were not concealed in the shadow of a hood, and they held such hatred that it burned through the monster. They blazed of something primal, that this creature had no right to exist on this plane, or any plane, and that with the slightest movement, slightest word she would move to correct this. And she was capable, she was entirely capable and willing of doing so. It was a hatred she had unfounded to creatures of his ilk, and her hand lay resting on her blade ready to dispatch him, by any means should he resist any further.

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GM

 

The effect was palpable. Whatever evil confidence Dis had, whatever monstrous power it wielded, deep in its cold heart it was suddenly...afraid. The picture edged away from the two young heroes, the insect eyes on either side of its upward-tapering head shrank, its spindly arms huddled closer to itself, and its voice quavered "I-I meant m-merely" "Abire! Depart Demon, in the name of The Almighty Word!" thundered Arnold as he finished the exorcism, slamming his palm against the thin sparking field around the circle with an explosion of pure light beyond color!

 

Dis shrieked, and the sensation of being merely a mile from an entire city screaming in pain and horror washed over Changeling and Crow like a physical wave! The picture swirled, roiling in the air in a more and more confused spiral, whirling into a single ugly and incoherent mass, until with a last wail that split the air the circle shattered!

 

As the demonic sound died away, Arnold paused, hand slowly dropping, until all was still and quiet in the abandoned house that smelled like old cheese. Taking a blue flowered handkerchief from his coat pocket, the old man mopped his brow, breathing heavily. "Thank you, young'uns" he gasped at last, stumping back up to the pair and shaking their hands "We've done a good thing today! I'll stay and cleanse this place, make sure..." he paused, the room behind him starting to glow, a small purple fire like lantern light making a slow circle of the wooden space. "On the other hand, seems like Lantern Jack is already on that! Thank you sir! I shall not forget this. Good day to you both Mr. Crowe, Ms. Maher. If we ever need to bust up another demon, you're first on my list. If I can ever help you just give me a ring!" Nodding and smiling kindly at the two Arnold marched out the door and down the street, humming an old hymn quietly to himself as the fog of Lantern Hill began to clear...

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