dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • The Green Knight, mandragora briarwitch.
    • Drifting Snow, chuzan former farmer.
  • Bonnie, kong Auspicious Orator.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
Seriously injured but with their enemies dead, the party began cleaning up the loose ends. Elaphe searched the lab where the vampire had died, finding several seemingly-enchanted items--a suit of armor composed of tiny scales and fitting like a second skin, a cup as large as his forearm that had seemingly been filled with blood, and a set of chains made of soulsteel, as well as the cloak that the vampire had been wearing. He scooped them all up, as well as a pile of crystals, and the books on necromancy that were in a bookshelf against the wall. Shining Star offered her talents to the mercenaries, who had suffered several casualties and had severely injured members being carried out. They were also bringing out the corpses of the necromancers for burial, to prevent their angry ghosts from rising and attacking their killers. She spent some time on this while the Green Knight and Amos went down the remaining tunnel and found a living area with clothing, some money, but no food. They took the money and then left the cursed cave behind.

Outside, Crimson accepted the rest of the mercenaries' payment with grace, though obvious sadness. His company was in no condition to fight now and would need time to recover. They all made camp together away from the cave, and in the morning departed for Rockfort. This time, the mercenaries were not singing.

The trip back was uneventful under clear skies, though a chill wind was blowing from the north. Once in Rockfort, Bonnie told the wall guards about their success in fighting the necromancers and the undead, showing one of the necromancy books as proof after Elaphe would not give up the cloak to be used as a sign fearing that it would be taken from them. The guards were obviously skeptical, but they sent a runner off to the castle to consult with the king. The runner returned after about an hour with a message that the king's chancellor would speak with them after lunch the following day, and with no other option, the party accepted. They continued into Rockfort and through the pipe in the town square, passing into B'rabt, and taking a room at a hostel. They remained there that night, watching the B'rabti passing to and fro, the priests of the moon god, and the slow flow of the Kintai south to the Narrow Sea.

The following day, everyone except Elaphe went back to Rockfort to meet with the chancellor. Bonnie introduced herself as an Auspicious Orator of Chai and explained their deeds, and the chancellor eventually declared them knights of Fontina, subject to the rights and duties thereof. The Green Knight violently rejected the knighthood and almost earned a spear through the throat from the guards in the room, but stood down when Shining Star asked him too. The chancellor was very clear that the king was too busy to see the party, so they left and went back to Elaphe, who had been attempting to identify the items they had found. They rode north until the moons had risen in the sky and finally took a pipe through to the Scarlet City.

On the way in, Shining Star saw another one of the starfolk, who live in the Star Road and fight a ceaseless war against the demons to prevent them from descending in their swarms to the world below.
Bonnie's player: "Is there anywhere in this world which is just a nice place to live?"
Me: "Don't be ridiculous."
She nodded a greeting to them and received a nod in reply, and then they entered the temple. The Temple of the Goddesses in the Floral Quarter gave a warm welcome to Shining Star, especially when they heard that she had killed several necromancers and a vampire. The old priest of Tharu who had treated them last time gave them a room, though they would have to pay for their own food, and offered medical treatment of the injured. Elaphe' wounds were serious, and they would need at least six weeks to heal, so they settled in for a long convalescence.

Amos spent some time with a group of Muskalan mercenaries who followed the way of the Excellent Archer, eventually picking up their fighting style himself. Shining Star devoted herself to studying sorcery in the temple's library. The Green Knight spent time cultivating a patch of wilderness outside the city and training Drifting Snow to live off the land. Bonnie went to the Chaian consulate and spoke with a powerful orator stationed there about the books they had found. The orator was able to send a message back to Chai about the books--they were to be placed in the Orators' library--and realizing that she could convey a message, she asked if the orator would contact her father. She sent a message explaining what she had been doing, and her father sent her a reply about how proud he was of her and how he was glad she was accomplishing so much, since he had never left the borders of Chai. Bonnie left with a happy glow and spent time teaching Amos Muskalan and Shining Star Sarasan, using her supernatural understanding of languages to speed the learning process.

Elaphe, once he was cleared to walk again, took the artifacts they and found to a shady sorcerer for identification. The sorcerer told him that the cloak could be used to command the walking dead, the cup could be filled with blood that the owner could drink themselves or give to others to drink for healing, the chains had the ability to bind ghosts, and the scales were armor that would increase the wearer's mobility underwater. He later took them to be priced, but when he heard the princely sum offered for the armor--four and a half ryō, enough to retire on--he had second thoughts.

Two weeks before Elaphe's wounds healed, the first snow of the year fell.


Another logistics-based episode requiring convalescence extended by bad rolls on the part of the chirurgeon, much like session seventeen. Bonnie and the Green Knight's players are thinking of switching their characters out for new ones, but don't have their new characters finalized yet so that won't happen until next time. Elaphe's player also wants a set of silken armor, since he can't wear armor with Black Rose Style, but we saved that for the next game. The next game might be entirely more Scarlet City, actually, as new characters are introduced and the party figures out what they want to do. They thought about finally following the map to the treasure, but that requires winter travel into the wilderness. There's also exploring the safe route in Etemenanki they learned about, or the pipe through to the jungle ruins neither of which will be affected by the weather. We'll see!
dorchadas: (JCDenton)
Relevant title since it's 海の日 (umi no hi, "Marine Day") in Japan.

My shirt came in the mail! Even after I got an alert that it had been delivered, and then checked to find that it hadn't been delivered, but then it turned out that it was delivered.

Click below to hack the Gibson.
Picture )
Otherwise, spent the day playing Stardew Valley and Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. I forgot how terrible the interface on the original Warcraft was. No hotkeyed groups, only able to select four units as a time, no contextual mouse clicks...it's a DOS game. Despite that, I'm having some fun with it. I'm over halfway done already, and should have a review up tomorrow night or Wednesday morning.

We finished watching 少女革命ウテナ ("Revolutionary Girl Utena") with [twitter.com profile] xoDrVenture last night. It's much more optimistic on a second viewing, I think. And much more obviously about growing up, and how some people never do. We'll probably watch something light and fluffy next. We already watched Wakakozake afterward, now that [twitter.com profile] xoDrVenture has been to Japan with us and knows why [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I don't go to Japanese food in America very often.

We tried to order takeout 唐揚げ afterward. There were no restaurants that delivered it. The only restaurants still open were the Thai-food-and-sushi ones that are so common in Chicago and completely absent everywhere else. Emoji rain

This is the first day of my vacation, but it feels like I have to go back to work at any moment. Maybe after Japanese class tomorrow, I'll be able to relax a bit more. I can hope.

But right now, people are almost here for Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom!
dorchadas: (Darker than Black)
​On Friday [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I took a trip out to the suburbs to visit my parents. We managed to get on the express train, shaving twenty minutes off the trip, and then had a delicious dinner of salmon and vegetables with my mother's homemade ice cream pie for dessert. We came back on Saturday, later than we usually do since I'm feeling less time-crunched than I normally would what with my upcoming week of vacation, and spent most of the rest of the day at home. But we went out to dinner and on the way, we bought some chocolate.
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Tamagoyaki!

2017-Jul-14, Friday 11:07
dorchadas: (Perfection)
Prime Day happened and we didn't pay much attention, but we did take the opportunity to grab some new cookware. A replacement for the crockpot we've had since we got married, a new lunchbag to replace the tattered one I've used since I started my current job, and something else that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd found that got me really excited:

Tamagoyaki Pan
A tamagoyaki pan!


[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd makes dashimaki for me every time we eat breakfast together, and the pan we've been using is adequate but obviously not designed for the purpose. Since we have next week off together, I'm really excited for all the new delicious dashimaki I'm going to get to eat! Emoji Fairy La
dorchadas: (Toon Link happy)
I was originally planning to play both Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages--fushigi no kinomi -jikū no shō-, "The Mysterious Seed -Time-Space Chapter-"--together and then write a joint review because I wasn't sure there was enough difference beween them to warrant separate treatments. Obviously, now I know that's wrong. They have the same premise, where Link is tested by the Triforce and dumped into a land that may or may not really exist, but beyond that and the basic gameplay conceits of the Legend of Zelda series nearly everything is different. Oracle of Seasons focused on combat and the end result was mostly a disappointment for me, but Oracle of Ages focused on puzzles and that was a much better choice for the format. If I had played this game first and then played Seasons, I might have been happier overall. This is definitely my favorite of the two.

Oracle of Ages Nayru's Song

"Quiet! I can't hear Nayru's song!"

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(-_-) zzzzzzz

2017-Jul-13, Thursday 08:57
dorchadas: (Broken Dream)
I was planning to go to sleep early last night but was foiled twice over. The first time because I insisted on staying up and making sure that I could get Phantom Hourglass and Skyward Sword--well, 夢幻の砂時計 and スカイウォードソード--working correctly through DeSmuMe and Dolphin, respectively. I originally tried NosGBA for Phantom Hourglass, but it had horrible screen tearing that would have made all the screenshots I took look like garbage, and while Skyward Sword booted up and gave me the proper warning messages, I can't really test it because I don't have the right setup. We have our old WiiMote, but not the WiiMotion Plus, and I haven't bought a USB Wii sensor bar yet since I'm just finishing up Oracle of Ages and still have a long road ahead of me.

And then when I finally lay down to go to sleep, the party that the people in the building next door were having was still going. Maybe they were celebrating the end of summer school, since [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd just finished her stint helping with summer school yesterday? I don't know. I was annoyed enough to look up the noise complaint procedure but not annoyed enough to actually call in, and when the rain started the party died down.

Farmer's Market Dinner )
Tomorrow we're going out to the suburbs to visit my parents for a day and then my week-long vacation starts. We're going to go to the Museum of Contemporary Art to see an exhibit of Japanese art and probably going to go to a few restaurants that we've been wanting to get to for a while. And I'm going to play a ton of video games, of course. Emoji Waddle Dee Two more days!
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • The Green Knight, mandragora briarwitch.
    • Drifting Snow, chuzan former farmer.
  • Bonnie, kong Auspicious Orator.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
The adventurers and the mercenaries entered the cave mouth, descending into the depths of the earth. The darkness was oppressive, even more so than normal, and Shining Star felt the taint of darkness in the walls and floor all around them. They heard chanting as they reached an intersection and Elaphe sniffed at each of the passages. The left-hand side bore the strongest smell of rot, so Crimson left four mercenaries to guard the passage back and then continued downward. After only a minute or so, the emerged into a large circular room, maybe twenty yards across, with several of the walking dead milling around and a piled altar of rough stone in the center. Around the altar were four figures--the skeleton mycon they had seen at the entrance to the cave, a chuzan holding a strange mercurial sphere, a slightly smaller kappa, and a mycon with glowing red eyes standing further back. As they entered, the red-eyed mycon looked up at them and said in Floral, "Kill them."

The remainder of the session was a battle. The mercenaries surged forward into the walking dead as Amos quickly aimed at the chuzan necromancer and fired, seriously injuring him, while the chuzan threw the sphere he held into the mercenaries, hitting one and knocking him over. The skeletal mycon charged forward while the Green Knight prepared for his arrival and they began trading blows. One of the mycon's blows hit the Green Knight, scoring a cut on his side. The red-eyed mycon waved his hands and shadows descended on Shining Star and the Green Knight, draining their vitality, but Shining Star's answering bolt of white fire just missed.

As Amos fired another arrow at the skeletal mycon, half-a-dozen maggot-white hands attached to long arms erupted from the ground and grabbed at the mercenaries. Crimson shouted at his men to push the walking dead back and open up a path, but they were wavering. The red-eyed mycon gestured at one of the bleeding wounds on a mercenary and the blood leaped through the air into their mouth, which did not help with morale.

Elaphe sent out a mental call to his claw strider mount and drank a Crimson Hero's Elixir he had waiting for just such an occasion and collapsed on the floor, writhing in agony but growing in size. As he stood up again, now almost five yards high, he leapt over the mercenaries and brought his blade down onto the red-eyed mycon, but the mycon's body fell apart into mist as Elaphe struck.

Shining Star blasted the skeletal mycon with holy fire as Elaphe laid into the two necromancers near him, cutting the chuzan in half and seriously injuring the kappa. His claw strider leapt forward to guard him, but both of them were assaulted by shadow energy. The red-eyed mycon was revealed in the light as the mercenaries surged forward, though Bonnie saw one of them have her throat bitten out as something emerged from the dirt before vanishing again. Then hands burst from the dirt around her and pulled her to the floor.

Elaphe sent his claw strider to free Bonnie, and it bit one of the arms in half and ripped it from the soil, allowing Bonnie to push herself up from the soil and out of immediate danger. The red-eyed mycon, seeing that it was in danger, fell into mist again and Elaphe's attack missed...but Amos's arrow, or at least the fires on it, seemed effective. As the mist fled from them, the party chased it through the tunnels to a small laboratory or workshop filled with corpses and unholy texts and, just as it was going to some cracks in the wall, Amos's last shot struck home. The mycon reformed briefly, silently screaming, and then exploded into ash, leaving only the black cloak it was wearing behind.


And that was it. The battle took almost the entire session between the mercenaries, the thing under the ground, the three necromancers and the vampire, and the PCs. The Green Knight's retainer Drifting Snow botched her Valor roll, so she spent most of the battle cowering in fear. And yes, they left the mercenaries to kill off the skeletal mycon. Did they? We'll see.

I guess in one way I went easy on the PCs because I had to make a snap decision about how they could hurt the vampire's mist form, but fire harms mist in Vampire: the Masquerade, so that's the precedent I drew on.

Next session is next week due to the hiatus we've had, where we'll also deal with the fallout from the battle and what the PCs do next.
dorchadas: (Awake in the Night)
It's probably not a good idea for me to read climate news right before bed.

I've since read some cogent critiques of the piece, pointing out its Eurocentrism and factual errors like the invocation of medieval stasis in the idea that for thousands of years, people would live mostly the same as their parents and grandparents did. This was the popular conception even at the time--see all those medieval paintings with Jesus and the disciples dressed like someone from medieval France--but it was never actually true. There were a lot of changes over that time, just none as visible from the modern age as the industrial or green revolutions.

There was also a good point about the wisdom of "The situation is bad and requires immediate action" vs. "Your descendants will ritually curse your names in the ruins of their ancestors' cities." The first is true, the second might be true, but encourages paralysis. If civilization is doomed, why bother trying to save it? Live in luxury now while it's still possible. Eat, drink, and be merry, etc. I'm definitely inclined more towards inevitable doom, but more in ScreamingInternally.jpg model than the conspicuous consumption model.

I could have written this last night around 1 a.m., but fortunately I've developed better bedtime discipline as I've gotten older and I just stayed in bed and kept trying to sleep.

I'm slowly making progress on re-linking all the photo embeds to their new hosting. I've done Darker than Black, all my video game reviews, and my Japan, Chicago, Translation, Warcraft, and Travel tags. Now I'm working on Fifty Weeks, Fifty Curries and then I'll get to the RPGs tag and that'll probably be the vast majority of everything necessary. I'll catch the last few photos when I find them.

Tonight is the next session of Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom after a month hiatus due to conflicting schedules. We left off right before the protagonists and their hired mercenaries entered a cave system in pursuit of a group of necromancers. They've spent half-a-dozen sessions tracking down the source of the walking dead plague and following them to this cave system, and now the climactic battle happens against at least three necromancers and whatever else is down there. They're mostly uninjured but fatigued, having force-marched through the day to arrive before sundown, and while they have mounts the mercenaries were on foot. Who will win? This or that by brokenboulevard
dorchadas: (Warcraft Won't Stop Searching)
Listening to the latest episode of Vidjagame Apocalypse yesterday and they had a brief section about Night in the Woods, the adventure game about snake person angst, and included a cover of one of the songs from the protagonist's band:


I played it for [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and gave a summary of the premise as I knew it, since I knew she'd understand. She's from Paducah, and as a child she had the goal to just get out in the way that I think a lot of kids from rural areas do. I'm from the Chicago suburbs, so it never affected me the same way, but I know people who lived in those dying towns before they moved away. The factories have closed, the malls are ghost towns, and people work retail because that's all that's available and mark off the days on the calendar. I mentioned that the protagonist and her friends hang out at the hardware store for lack of anywhere else to go, and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd nodded sagely.

I'm leaning towards buying the game based on how much I liked that song, honestly.

Farmer's Market Dinner )

For class, we were supposed to discuss an article but Aya-sensei forgot to email me, so we just chatted for an hour (and I did okay! Weeee smiling happy face). We're doing the article next week, though--an essay by Hirano Keiichirō entitled 無常ということ (mujou to iu koto, "On impermanence"), about the changes Kyōto has undergone, efforts against that, and what the "real Kyōto" is anyway.

One part stood out to me:
人が死ぬように、建造物も壊れる。人が移り変わるように、風景もまた絶え間なく変化する。そうした存在の絶望的な不安を慰める為にこそ、不変の聖所としての神社仏閣がかくも膨大な数築かれなければならなかったのではあるまいか
Which I would translate as
Much like humans die, buildings will crumble. Much like people change, the scenery will ceaselessly change. Surely to console that desperate existential dread, is that not why we must build temples and shrines in such huge numbers as eternal sacred spaces?
At what point does preservation become killing something and preserving it in amber? At what point does change destroy that which came before and make something completely new? I'm sure the people in the dying rural towns, both here and in Japan, would prefer there had been a bit less change, even if younger people are moving to those towns sometimes.

I haven't finished the essay, so I can't answer those questions. Question block

TCP/IPoop

2017-Jul-02, Sunday 20:45
dorchadas: (Warcraft Face your Nightmares)
I spent several hours today trying to get a multiplayer game of Warcraft III to work. There's a map called Sunken City that looks like a lot of fun that's designed for three players, so [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I roped in [livejournal.com profile] uriany to play with us, but we ad to jump through all kind of hoops. First they had to update their games to 1.28, which broke and required them to delete the game and completely reinstall. Then I had to set up port forwarding to allow [livejournal.com profile] uriany to successfully see and join the game. Then, when I figured out everything that was wrong and we had finally all joined and gotten the map started...[livejournal.com profile] uriany got dropped out of the game. Twice.

Remember when we had to put up with this every time we tried to play games online? At least I didn't have to set my IRQ.

On the other hand, we got to eat lunch with [livejournal.com profile] daveax! He's in town visiting family and had a lunch free today, so we ,eat him downtown at Vermillion, a Latin/Indian fusion restaurant near where I work. That was lovely and I'm glad we did that first so I wasn't in a bad mood before we went to lunch.

Now, to cap off the day, we're watching Laser Time play through the first hour and half of Metroid: Other M (THE BABY THE BABY THE BABY THE BABY). Now that Metroid Prime 4 has been announced, it doesn't sting so badly.
dorchadas: (Darker than Black)
I've occasionally seen fancy food being marketed as made with genmaicha, or "Genmaicha Brown Rice Tea" (see also Panko Bread Crumbs or ATM Machine--玄米茶 is literally "brown rice tea"), and it always makes me laugh. Genmaicha is upper-end working class food, a way for people to stretch out their supplies of tea in the post-war period when shortages were common. But just like with sushi rice, it turned out that he additives were pretty tasty and improved the whole product, and so it's still sold to this day. Including at the Persian grocery store in Andersonville, which is why we currently have half a bag of genmaicha in our tea cupboard.
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dorchadas: (Office Space)
Yesterday the internet was full of the news that Photobucket had decided to start charging $400 a year for the privilege of third-party linking, breaking millions of photo links all across the internet and devastating the blogging and forum communities. I post a lot of pictures with all my food and video game posts, and they're all hosted on Photobucket. The pictures still work, for the moment, but I'm not taking any chances.

So now I have to go through my posts and correct hundreds of photo links and point them to the new hosting site I transferred everything to. I already fixed my Japan tag, mostly so that my Japan vacation blogstorm would be in order, and I'm working now on the anime conventions tag. Doing video games or food will...take a lot longer, though fortunately my photo captions transferred over so if I do wake up to a bunch of dead links, I'll be able to reconstruct everything pretty easily.

And I was actually paying for a Photobucket plan, too, because I had so many pictures there! Oh well.
dorchadas: (Kirby Walk)
For a game that seems mostly forgotten and whose legacy only survives through cameos in the Kirby games, I got a big response to Adventures of Lolo when I posted a screenshot of a level on Facebook. I never played it as a child, but I looked at the images in Nintendo Power published as part of the Counselor's Corner and thought it sounded like a lot of fun. And like so many other games I saw in Nintendo Power, I stuck it in the back of my mind, carried it through the years, and waited until I got a chance to play it. It's worth it.



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dorchadas: (Not he who tells it)
I spent a big chunk of yesterday dealing with the ripples from the Jewish Pride flag ban incident, including one guy who, if he wasn't actually a Nazi, was happy to play one on the internet for the lels. After all that, coming home to a delicious local dinner was just what I needed.

Tasty food )

I originally asked [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd if we could have sauteed mushrooms on the side before she told me that they were already included in the meal. Maitake is about twice as expensive in America as it was in Japan, which is a problem when we developed a huge taste for it in Japan put it on everything (along with enoki, another mushroom that's too expensive for daily use here). Zucchini noodles is our go-to for "pasta" dishes now that we don't eat much pasta anymore. Tastes amazing with pesto and a good way to get more vegetables.

I'm almost done with Adventures of Lolo, and since [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd has to attend a school function tonight, I'll almost certainly finish it and have a review up later tonight (Edit: here). While I love my dozens-of-hours JRPGs, there's something to be said for a game that can be finished in three hours. My lifespan is finite but World of Warcraft is eternal, which is part of the reason I no longer play it. Oh dear
dorchadas: (Warcraft Moonkin Moonfire)
Just got out of a three-hour meeting where they again mentioned that we need fewer meetings. Maybe they can form an exploratory committee that can meet and determine a meeting schedule where they hammer out a plan for having fewer meetings.

I mean, some of the supervisors near me were playing Candy Crush on their phones. These are not vital meetings here.

I've been working on a Pathfinder adaptation of Warcraft, sourced partially from the old World of Warcraft RPG and partially from my eternal desire to tinker with systems. I already added two ability scores to the classic Strength-Dex-Con-Int-Wis-Cha lineup (one for Perception, and splitting Dexterity into full-body agility and fine manipulation) and am writing out all the spells myself rather than using the classic magic missile and cure light wounds. Now I'm working on the druid, and I'm trying to do it without any moon or sun spells. Moonfire is probably the iconic druid ability--it's what the moonkin is casting in the icon I used for this post--but in Warcraft III druids didn't have any of that. They summoned plants, roared loudly, and turned into animals.

The ones with the moon-themed spells were, of course, the priestesses of the moon. WoW brought in shadow priests and didn't want too many race-specific classes--and I don't blame them, it was a balancing nightmare for years until they finally wiped out almost all the edge-case buffs and special racial spells--so they didn't make night elf priests moon-themed, but I can ignore that for these purposes. Druids get to grow thorns and summon roots and spores and control the weather, and priestesses call down the light of the moons.

Moonfires will still be spammed, but in a more thematic way.

I took that Potter quiz that's all around social media now and got Slytherin, again. I always considered myself as a Ravenclaw until I starting taking those quizzes and they just came back Slytherin, Slytherin, Slytherin, Slytherin... Well, green and black are my favorite colors, and sometimes I do know what's best for you.

And I almost forgot, but I found an article on USGamer about a fan-made Final Fantasy XV cookbook. I showed it to [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and now she's fired up about trying to make some of the recipes, so maybe when we draw Darker than Black to a close, we'll have a new cooking project to match it and 50 Weeks, 50 Curries.
Maybe I should actually play Final Fantasy XV first, though...
dorchadas: (Great Old Ones)
​​Dramatis Personae
  • Luc Durand, French Professor of Linguistics
  • Radovan Venclovic, Romani ex-soldier
  • Rosaline St. Clair, American Antiquities Dealer
  • Valentina Durnovo, Russian Countess/Gentlewoman
  • Yan Nikolaev, Bulgarian police inspector
After taking the weapons distributed by Major Kristova's associates, the inspectors sat and waited until dawn. The professor sat by himself, casting surreptitious glances at the major's associates and wondering if they could be trusted. The countess offered up a brief prayer in memory of Jazmina, thinking of all the people she had lost. Radovan cleaned the shotgun he had taken, checked his ammunition, and otherwise fell back into his soldier training. Rosaline stared off into space, almost in shock.

Near dawn, they all piled into a truck and drove southeast of Sofia, to a set of caves near a smaller village. The entrance had been concealed and behind was an obvious emplacement for an ambush, with barbed wire and sandbags set up in front of a machine gun emplacement. The actual machine gun was lying yards away, smashed to uselessness against a rock wall. There were several trucks parked nearby but all of them had ruptured fuel tanks and were undriveable. The major surveyed the carnage, hoisted his rifle, and shared a grim expression with his men. There would be no prisoners.

The cave was completely dark, with a slick floor and unsteady footing. Further in were cave paintings, a bison and hunters frozen in time. The passages looped in on themselves as the group descended further and further into the earth, and finally they heard the sound of boiling water and the faint stench of decay. Through a jagged arch of rocks was a giant chamber, full of echoes, and liberally strewn with bodies with a strange pyramid in the center. As the police fanned out and secured the room, the investigators moved in an examined the scene. The bodies had been torn apart, still clutching weapons that had proved useless against what they had faced. Radovan examined the bodies and found that there was much less blood than there should be. He looked closer and and realized that they were already starting to rot, and then realized that only parts were staring to rot. Parts which had been attached to living bodies by unnatural means.

As Radovan reeled back, the countess moved to see what was wrong and, as she crossed the room, she saw her own eye staring at her from a dead man's eye socket.

The major followed a trail of blood toward a crevice leading upward, with the sky visible through the other side. It was far too narrow for a human to make it through, and he abandoned any attempt to follow the trail. As the group approached the pyramid, they realized that it was made of skulls. Fifteen feet high, growing more and more fleshy as it rose. The top was flat, possibly intended to be used as a platform, and the countess mused that the head may be here. Radovan tried to climb and backed off in disgust when one of the skulls fell on him, and Rosaline suffered a similar fate. Yan asked what they were doing, and when the professor explained he asked for a boost and easily climbed the pyramid of skulls. It was strangely stable, and from the top he could a shrine on top with a pillow, bearing the indentation of a heavy object but otherwise empty. Yan called down that there was nothing there except the shrine, and then climbed down.

Following another trail of blood that led behind the pyramid, the group entered a narrow passage and found a dead cultist who had been torn to sheds. Behind him was a small opening, two feet in diameter, that descended down into the depths of the earth. Rosaline shined a light down but couldn't see anything, and Radovan dropped a rock. When the sound came back, Rosaline reached a hand in, twisting her arm around the passage's turns, and felt two garlic cloves and something smooth, with eye sockets. She lost her footing and her check against the rock, but reached further and further and pulled out the Head of the Sedefkar Simulacrum.

As they existed the small passage, they noticed that most of the bodies on the ground had gone missing.

Radovan stared, seemingly in shock, but the group noticed that the other policemen were still there and had seemingly missed the bodies. One of the police shouted something, and the group noticed movement in the darkness, something darting around in the shadows. Climbing the walls and crawling along the ceiling, and a Yan called out to the major that they needed to leave immediately. A hundred feet from the exit, things came charging out of the shadows. Long-clawed, red-eyed, sharp-toothed, muzzled gray-skinned monsters, and the group prepared for battle.

Shots range out as the investigators fired at the rushing group of monsters. The major made the first kill, blasting one with its shotgun and sending it falling apart in a spray of accelerated decay, but then the monsters were on them. One of them hit Yan, knocking him to the ground, but Yan brought his pistol up and blew it apart. Another clawed Radovan and tried to seize him, reaching around Radovan's attempt to push it off and sunk its fangs into Radovan's neck...and then it crumbled as the major shot it in the head. Rosaline crushed a clove of her garlic and the creature attacking her backed off, hissing. As one of the monsters approached the professor, he drew forth the Mims Sahis, slashed the vampire, and cut it in half.

As the countess backed away from the creature attacking her, the major shouted at them to run and ordered Yan to follow them. Rosaline threw another clove to the major and the investigators moved toward the cave entrance, avoiding the creatures who reached for them, and fled through the passage toward the surface and into the sunlight. The monsters' footsteps followed them through the tunnels, but as they left the tunnel their flesh seared in the sunlight and they fled howling into the caves. The major, having followed them, punched the wall in fury and stalked to his truck. He said he had lost good men and there would be vengeance, and pulled out dynamite and passed it out to the investigators. They laid it down, triggered it, and an explosion sealed the entrance to the horrible caves where the Butchers had their temple.

Rosaline applied first aid to Radovan's wounds as the professor carefully examined the wound's reaction to sunlight. It seemed benign, and Radovan claimed that no blood was drawn, but the professor watched him all the way back to Sofia. There, the major and Yan had a private discussion and then Yan said that he would travel with them to accompany them on their trip. Yan grabbed his equipment and they all returned to the investigators hotel, where they had an almost supernatural compulsion to reassemble the Sedefkar Simulacrum.

HotOE Completed Sedefkar Simulacrum

Each investigator saw something of themselves in it, and they spent some time gazing at it. Yan asked them their plan, and the investigators explained the Shunned Mosque, the Brotherhood of the Skin, and the need to destroy it. The professor explained about Le Comte and the expectation that he would be coming for them, soon, and the investigators split up to prepare. The countess bought garlic, Yan bought wood to be whittled into stakes and "acquired" some holy water from a local church, and the professor picked up the Arabic translation materials he had had forwarded to Sofia. The professor wrote letters to his sons and daughter, and the countess bought a fashionable eyepatch. Then, they boarded the train for their last night on the Orient Express.

The investigators were exhausted, but they knew they were in danger. The professor suggested they crush garlic and apply it to the seams of the outdoor windows. Yan suggested that they jam the doors in their rooms that led to other rooms, and the countess suggested that they set a watch. After an uneasy dinner, they returned to their rooms and fell asleep, and in the night, there was a knock on the countess's door. Her questions as to the identity of the person were answered only with more knocks. The noise alerted Yan and Radovan, and Yan peeks out into the hall and saw a conductor. The conductor seemed to be sleepwalking, but they raised a shotgun, slowly, and fired. The sound raised screams and and shouts, and as the conductor raised his shotgun, Yan charged. The conductor moved backward just in time to be hit by Rosaline and the countess opening the door to their room.

As conductors came running and shouted at Yan about whether to arrest the conductor, the conductor who had the gun protested his ignorance and eventually was led away. After some brief argument about what to do, the investigators drifted into uneasy sleep. After about an hour, the professor heard a whispered voice demanding that he return the "skin." The professor said nothing, retrieving some garlic, and knocked on the door to the women's room. As the voice ranted, Rosaline knocked and the professor opened the door, shushing her. Eventually Le Comte promised to kill one passenger per hour that the Simulacrum was not returned, and the voice fell silent.

Waking the others up, the professor explained the situation. The investigators decided that they would have to track down Le Comte and destroy him, and so they girded for battle and proceeded to the Fourgon, where they assumed that Le Comte must have some coffin that protects him from the sun. As they walked down the corridor, they heard a roaring sound, and coming around the corner they saw a tiger that sprang on Yan, biting him! As the tiger's fangs sank into his flesh, Yan drove his stake into the tiger, but it didn't seem to have any effect. Rosaline crushed some garlic and hurled it at the tiger, and it recoiled and its body rippled and twisted into the form of a man. A horrific mockery of the human form, long arms and covered in scars, with a muzzle-like face, rotted nose, and hideous fangs. The countess threw holy water to no effect, Le Comte stared at Radovan but Radovan fired his shotgun, blowing a hole into Le Comte. Then the professor pulled out the Lover's Heart. The red light of hatred seared the ancient monster's face, and its body fell apart into mist as it fled.

As they entered the salon car, they were questioned by a conductor, but Yan managed to bluster enough to ward him off. To assuage further suspicious, Rosaline, Yan, and Radovan briefly went back to their room, but the professor and the countess stayed for a drink. As they drank, they heard from another passenger than one of the passengers had died.

The others returned and the professor told the conductor that he needed to retrieve something from this luggage and the conductor, who seemed unsteady on his feet, shuffled aside. They entered the Fourgon and began to search, frantically looking for a coffin or something large enough for one. They found an unregistered crate, clearly large enough to contain a body. Radovan and Yan pried it open and found a coffin, padlocked shut, and the investigators forced it open. The coffin cracked open, revealing a layer of blood-soaked earth and...Le Comte, who opened his eyes and attacked.

Yan hurled garlic and Rosaline tried to stake the vampire, who clawed her across they face, dropping her with hideous wounds. The vampire leaped up and stared at Yan to no effect, and Radovan grabbed Yan's carbine and fired, blasting a hole in the vampire. The countess quickly bandaged Rosaline as the professor pulled out the Lover's Heart and, in Latin, intoned, "Tullius Corvus, go now to thy reward!" The red beam illuminated the vampire, spreading like a bloodstain across his body, and the shock of hearing his name was the last thing he knew as his body exploded into dust and the ancient monster was finally laid to rest.

In the chaos of the passenger death, the investigators were able to scatter the blood-soaked earth and destroy the coffin. They told the conductors that there had been an anarchist bomb in the unregistered coffin, and surprisingly their story was accepted. They finally went to sleep, knowing that one threat had been dealt with, but they were traveling straight into the maw of danger.
Annals of the Fallen
  1. Gianni Abbadelli, Italian Vatican Parapsychologist, arm torn off by čudovište in Vinkovci, February 8th, 1923.
  2. Demir Sadik, Turkish Revolutionary/Field Medic, devoured by the living lair of the Baba Yaga in the forests outside Orašac, February 13th, 1923.
  3. Jazmina Moric, Croat Linguist, killed by a thrown grenade during a battle with the Butchers at Sofiiski Universet, February 15th, 1923.
Crawl 'til dawn
On my hands and knees
God damn these vampires
For what they've done to me


I definitely thought we were going to lose Rosaline this session, but the countess pulled a clutch first aid roll at the last moment! And it's a good thing that none of us approached the windows. There's a lot of terrible things the vampire can do from the safety of outside the train.

Le Comte is finally dead (through the professor doesn't entirely think so, and he's followed us across Europe this far so I don't think it's entirely unreasonable to be suspicious). Now we just have the Brotherhood left to deal with. Just.
dorchadas: (JCDenton)
​Before I begin, I have a disclaimer: [personal profile] theome bought this game for me for the purposes of he thought I would like it. And so it is with a heavy heart that I say that I...don't.

I had such high hopes! I put Read Only Memories on my Steam wishlist basically as soon as I heard about it. A new adventure game, with pixel art, in a cyberpunk setting with a robot as one of the major characters and made by the people behind GaymerX? That sounds amazing! And when I started it I was having a lot of fun, but as I played the annoyances started to pile up until an event near the end of the game that completely cut me off from caring about the story. Then it was just clicking through a lot of text boxes until the end so I could finish.


Symbolism.

Read more... )
dorchadas: (Kirby Spaceship Happy)
It's farmer's market season, and we live pretty close to a large farmer's market. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd had the idea to start going there every Wednesday and make dinner using fresh ingredients from the market, since right now she's working the summer school shift and so gets done with work just after noon, and yesterday was the first dinner she made. And it was delicious.

Food pictures )

Everything tasted amazing, and it wasn't particularly expensive either! Less expensive than going out to dinner, which only makes sense since we had to cook and clean it up. This was a trial run to see if we wanted to make it a Wednesday tradition, and it came off splendidly. And tasty.
dorchadas: (Blue Rose)
Last weekend [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I took a vacation, sort of! We went out to Portland for [twitter.com profile] faylynne and [twitter.com profile] ntcomplete's wedding, and unlike the last time we were there in 2015, the weather cooperated. For Portland, anyway. It was cool and cloudy--just the way I liked it--and being next to the Willamette meant that sometimes there were passing boaters, though at least they cut the motor when they noticed that there was a ceremony happening. But everything else was lovely. I especially liked the sling that the maid of honor, [twitter.com profile] faylynne's eldest sister, had rigged up to allow her new baby to participate in the ceremony.


I also loved how most of the wedding party entered to the main hobbit theme from The Fellowship of the Ring, while the bride and groom entered to an instrumental cover of the Legend of Zelda fairy fountain theme. Link smilie

The ceremony was extremely short and to the point. After a brief opening, the couple gave their vows--almost inaudible to us sitting in the back, but from what I could tell a variation on the traditional ones--and then exchanged rings, soldiering through [twitter.com profile] ntcomplete dropping them when the best man handed them to him and [twitter.com profile] faylynne initially trying to put the ring on his right hand. Then they kissed, the ceremony was over, and the guests all went back to the hall for drinks and snacks before the reception. I drank red wine and gin, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd drank white wine and cider, and our friend [facebook.com profile] aaron.hosek does not drink, but we were all united in our love for the snacks. Caprese skewers and grilled cheese shooters, with a tiny bit of grilled-cheese sandwich stuck in the top of an ounce or so of tomato-basil soup in a shotglass. It was delicious and I'm amazed that I haven't seen it anywhere else.

Inside, we took our seat at the labeled tables, each themed after a specific fantasy setting. The three of us were seated at the Tortall table, which immediately made [facebook.com profile] aaron.hosek text his girlfriend. She was unable to attend due to a family emergency, but despite not really being geeky at all, she's read the Song of the Lioness books and would have instantly recognized the table title.

Then was a buffet dinner and dancing. I was initially a bit worried that no dinner preference had been specified, but [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd correctly pointed out that it was almost certainly a buffet. And it was, with nothing that we can't eat. The salmon and asparagus were especially tasty. Weeee smiling happy face

We did not dance, at least for my part because none of the songs being played are the kind I like to dance to, but the dance floor wasn't particularly well attended. There were a lot of people chatting and eating, and then speeches and cake.


I don't like most cakes, but they did look wonderful. And they were made by the maid of honor. I heard a couple people asking [twitter.com profile] faylynne if her sister was a chef, and her reply was that her sister had taken a pastry class one summer.

As we left, we got a bit of a chance to chat with both of them. [twitter.com profile] ntcomplete tried to sell [facebook.com profile] aaron.hosek on attending PAX and mostly succeeded and both of them told us about their honeymoon in Japan and how they wanted us all to go back in 2020 when the new Ghibli Theme Park will be opened. I mentioned that was also when the Nintendo Theme Park would be open and that's in Ōsaka, far away from the Tokyo crowds. [facebook.com profile] aaron.hosek suggested making the Japan trip a biannual thing and you know, that sounds like a great idea. Walking chocobo

[twitter.com profile] faylynne also mentioned that she had been practicing Japanese on DuoLingo and how shocked she was when the writing suddenly changed and she realized she had to learn another syllabary. All I could do was nod, half sagely, half sympathetically. I've been there.

She wants to get to conversational Japanese in time for 2020. I wish her good luck. She will need it. Sad pikachu flag

Other things I did in Portland!:
  • Stayed with my sister, who kindly put us up in her apartment's spare room!
  • Went to House of Ramen, which featured build-your-own ramen so [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I could have porkless ramen. We got a small size bowl, also known as "the size ramen is served in Japan." My sister and her boyfriend split a regular.
  • Went to the farmer's market and bought a bunch of cheese and smoked salmon. They also had delicious macaroon cookies but we were too full to eat them.
  • Bought some Edo Jidai-era lacquerware at the going-out-of-business sale at Shogun's Gallery.
  • Went to Moonstruck chocolate, which I obliquely wrote about here.
It was a lovely way to spend a weekend.
dorchadas: (Darker than Black)
This weekend [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I are in Portland for a wedding! I'm sure I'll be writing all about that tomorrow when I have more time to write, but at the moment we're sitting in my sister's apartment, where she kindly offered to put us up for the weekend, and eating chocolate. We walked downtown yesterday to one of Portland's farmers' markets, and after buying smoked salmon and a load of spiced cheese curds, my sister said that she and her boyfriend were going to go to Moonstruck Chocolate for dessert, so we tagged along. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd jokingly said that we should do a Darker than Black about the truffles we are, but then I noticed they had chocolate bars.
Read more... )
dorchadas: (JCDenton)
Came in to work an hour and a half early today, since I fortunately have a flexible schedule if necessary. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I are flying out to Portland tonight for [twitter.com profile] faylynne and [twitter.com profile] ntcomplete's wedding on the least annoying flight I could find, which still doesn't get us into Portland until almost eleven. Fortunately, my sister lives in Portland and has generously offered to pick us up from the airport and house us for the duration of our stay.

Of course, my stomach is tying itself in knots because that's always what happens with travel. What if the rain gets worse, what if we can't get to the airport on time, what if we can't fit everything in the bag. What if what if what if. Panic flailing At least we have an external battery, tablets, and a Switch, so we'll have plenty to do. We can be that annoying young hipster couple playing the Switch on a plane.

At least the problems mentioned in my last post were fixed. Without warning, of course--I just came in on Wednesday and it worked fine, and then on Thursday around lunch I got an email asking if it worked. Great response time, everyone. A+. Would use again because I don't have any other choice.

Alright, back to work.
dorchadas: (Office Space)
So on Friday last week, I arrived at work, booted up our database program, got to work, and immediately received a "number precision too large" error. So I fired off an email to support and waited. I heard nothing, but I was only there for a half-day since it was [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and my ten year wedding anniversary. I figured they'd work on it and I'd come back on Monday and it'd be fixed.

Narrator voice: It was not fixed. Shaking fist emoji

It is now Tuesday, and I've gotten two emails, one of which asked me if it worked now (it did not), and the other saying they had escalated the problem up the ladder. It still does not work. This is pretty much confirming my preconceptions about corporate projects, where the new database was six months late, has a terrible UI, is less efficient than the 19-year-old internal software it replaced...and currently doesn't work. Good job. Congratulations all around.

And of course, all the people who originally pushed this project have left the organization. They made their dramatic mark, but deal with the aftermath? Pfft.

We'll see how long our new fancy database software doesn't work. Will it be down for a week? Tune in later and find out!
dorchadas: (Toon Link)
I'm not sure I had even heard of Oracle of Seasons--in Japanese, fushigi no kinomi -daichi no shō-, "The Mysterious Seed -Land Chapter-"--before I set out on my Zelda chronogaming quest. It was twinned together with Oracle of Ages and released in 2001, the height of my anti-console snobbery. My loss. But the march of time and technological progress means I can go back to those games that I missed and play them now, when I'll appreciate them. Truly, we live in the the golden age of gaming.

Oracle of Seasons is another weird portable entry, starting a trend that began with Link's Awakening and continuing to this day. The mainline console entries, with the exception of Majora's Mask, are the traditional Zelda games where Link fights Ganon and rescues the Princess, and the handheld games are the ones where he talks to a psychedelic winged whale, rides trains, and plumbs the depths of the same dungeon a dozen times. Or here, uses the progression of the seasons to save a land where the seasons have been thrown into disorder.


Link's dancing was already disordered.

Read more... )
dorchadas: (Great Old Ones)
​​Dramatis Personae
  • Jazmina Moric, Croat Linguist
  • Luc Durand, French Professor of Linguistics
  • Radovan Venclovic, Romani ex-soldier
  • Rosaline St. Clair, American Antiquities Dealer
  • Valentina Durnovo, Russian Countess/Gentlewoman
​It was a ten hour train ride to Sofia, and the party used the time to catch up Rosaline on what had happened in the forest and explain what they were up against to Radovan. To their relief, Radovan accepted their story of secret cults, lands of dream, and vampires without much question, and when the story was done, the countess proposed a toast "to those who are no longer with us." The party drank gladly, though with some tears in Jazmina's eyes as she thought of Demir.

As they lowered their glasses, Jazmina spotted her father's friend Radko Jordanov, sitting alone at the far end of the dining car and taking notes on some documents spread on the table in front of him. Led by Jazmina, the party approached, noticing over his shoulder the words "Sedefkar" and "Simulare," as well as "Dzhudzheta" underlined several times. Jazmina greeted him and he responded warmly, astonishment that they were on the same train. The party asked him his business, and he said that he was on the way to Sofia to catalogue Dr. Moric's possessions and was studying a student's old paper that had some remarkable similarities. The student Ivo Pinev found a statue head that he claimed he bought from a farmer and spun a fantastical tale of a prehuman race, which he named after the Dzhudzheta of Slavic myth. His paper was full of gross inaccuracies and he was laughed out of academia, but Dr. Jordanov added that he was surprised to see that the strange words like "Sedefkar" that he thought were simply fabrications were reflected in the papers from Mr. Moric's cache.

As he spoke, Jazmina and the countess noticed that one of the waiters had stopped doing serving and was blatantly listening in to Dr. Jordanov's conversation and taking notes in his serving pad, ignoring all of the summons from the diners. When he noticed the party's attention, he turned and began moving toward the far end of the car. When the maître d' asked him why he was leaving, the waiter drew a knife and slashed at him!

As the panic started in the car, Radovan jumped up and began leaping from table to table in pursuit, while Jazmina tried to force her way through the crowd. Radovan was notably more successful, forcing open the door at the far end and struggling with the assailant as one of the conductors tried to dissuade Jazmina pursuit. She was not delayed long, however, and arrived as the waiter was trying to leap off the train and Radovan was grabbing at the briefcase the waiter carried. As he grabbed at the satchel, the strap broke and it went tumbling off the train. Soon after, the pair were able to restrain the waiter, after which the conductor arrived with several men to haul him away.

Radovan followed his nose and found the corpse of a young man, stripped to his underclothes and missing his right hand.

The party reconvened and discussed the situation. They couldn't think of of a reason why the hand would missing, and Jazmina, the professor, and Rosaline eventually decided to go check on the man himself. When they arrived, the guards told them in confidence that the waiter had killed himself while he was in the cell. Jazmina spun a tale of a ring that the waiter had snatched from her, which got the professor entrance to the cell. The waiter had killed himself by stabbing himself in the eye, and after a moment controlling his stomach, the professor inspected the body. The waiter had both hands, no rings, no tattoos, and nothing suspicious about him. His search fruitless, the professor exited the cell and they all returned to their rooms, where the awaited their arrival in Sofia.

In Sofia they were met by a grizzled police inspector, Major Kristova, who took them to the station and questioned them about the events on the train. He seemed to accept even the strangest of their stories about cults, and when Rosaline asked if these events were common, he replied in the affirmative. He seemed like he wanted to say more, and at the countess's urging he revealed that there was a group of slavers operating in Sofia called the Butchers, who kidnapped people and occasionally took body parts as trophies. He urged them to be careful and report anything they saw, and led the group out to the street. As they left, the investigators noticed that the other policemen snickered at the inspector as they walked out.

Dr. Jordanov offered the use of his car to the group if they would drop him off and the investigators accepted. They took rooms at the Hotel de la Bulgarie, and while everyone else went to bed, the professor and the countess ordered up wine and cheese and had a quick meal before retiring.

In the middle of the night, Radovan and the professor were awoken by scuttling in the middle of the night and awoke to find disembodied hands clambering toward them! They began to scuffle, dodging the hands' attacks. Radovan grabbed his hand and hurled it out the window, and the professor tried to hurl blankets over it but failed.

In the other room, the countess was awoken by cold fingers as the hand plucked out her eye! Emoji Face gonk

Rosaline and Jazmina were also under attack, but after the hands strangled them for a moment, they let go and began to run toward the heating vents. Most of the party let their hands go, and the professor's attempts to capture his were unsuccessful.

As the countess screamed in agony, Rosaline ran over and treated the wound while the professor called the front desk and demanded a doctor. Radovan closed the heating vents and searched the room before the doctor arrived and began to treat the countess. The professor said that he and awoken to figures in the room, but they fled as soon as they noticed their targets were awake. The doctor replied that this fit with the times, gave the countess some laudanum, and said the police had been called. The police took a statement, looked around, and then left, and the group drifted into an uneasy sleep.

As she slept her opium dream, the countess had visions of running through back alleys and climbing into a black car, leaving the city and speeding off into the country.

In the morning, Major Kristova was waiting for them in the lobby. The major did not buy their story of disembodied hands, and left in disgust after telling the investigators not to call him again. As they returned to their rooms, the countess told them about her visions and had another, of the car driving through the mountains, which had a very distinctive outline.

About this time, Rosaline, the countess, and the professor remembered what had happened to the priest whose eye was taken during the Fourth Crusade.

As they were leaving, the hotel staff took the professor aside and told the professor that an eye was found in the alley behind the hotel, but it was green and her eyes were brown. The professor thanked them and the group continued on to Dr. Jordanov's house, where after an awkward explanation and breakfast, he wrote down the title of the monograph and the party split up to search. Rosaline eventually found it in the library.

As the countess was searching, she had another vision, a stronger one almost crystal-clear. A person walking through a cavern carved out of the living rock.

In the study again, Jazmina sat down with the manuscript and began to read it. It claimed that the idol was created by prehuman dwarves, ridicules the academic establishment, and says the idol was sent to Dr. Todor Mativ at Sofiiski Universet. At that name, Dr. Jordanov pales and says that Dr. Mativ had killed his wife and sons and was found wearing their skins. He rushed at the police and was shot down like a mad dog. Years later, his assistant killed herself by stabbing herself in the eye. Dr. Jordanov sat down and said that he was done with the investigation, but the countess managed to drag a promise out of him to contact the Sofiiski Universet and arrange and introduction with Professor Chedenko.

As the investigators were leaving, the countess had another vision, again in the same cave. On a huge overhang, images were carved of mammoths and men wearing antlered headdresses.

At Sofiiski Universet, the staff were supremely uninterested in the urgency of the party's plight, until a professor of English took pity and, in a roundabout way, asked for a bribe. The countess gave over the money and he led them to Professor Chedenko's office, Jazmina knocked, and the investigators entered. Professor Chedenko was slightly absent-minded and easily distracted, but when Jazmina mentioned the Dzhudzheta Idol, Chedenko opined that it was probably a fake, maybe plastic. Rosaline tried to impress the urgency of their mission onto him with Jazmina's help translating, and Chedenko offered to show them the idol. Up a stair and down a hall lined with armor, was a door, and through the door was chaos. A headless man, spurting blood, and two seriously beaten men lay in the scattered parts of the workroom. Most of the investigators were okay, but for the professor this confirmed that Le Comte truly was after them, and he fled screaming.

The others saw men in dark clothes climbing out the window. One escaped, but the others turned at the opening of the doors and moved to attack. One of them had a shotgun, but his wild firing missed as Radovan charged in toward them. The other hurled a grenade. Jazmina tried to kick it back and Rosaline tried to throw it, while,the grenade man pulled a handgun and shot Radovan in the chest, dropping him. Then the grenade exploded.

Rosaline and Jazmina were seriously wounded and the countess, though she had run, was still shaken by the explosion. She stood up and treated Radovan and Rosaline, but her attempts to save Jazmina were unsuccessful, and Jazmina bled out on the floor of the Sofiiski Universet. Emoji Oh dear

As Rosaline worked, the countess looked out the window and saw the men in black standing by a large truck with a covered back. It screamed out of the parking lot and right into another car that moved to block it, plowing through the car and sending its driver flying. This knocked off the tarp and revealed a maxim gun, which the assailants fired at all the other cars in the parking lot as they fled.

The countess applied first aid to the only one of the survivors in the room, who muttered "Men. Robes. Who wear shoulders not their own," before passing into a coma. She checked on Professor Chedenko, but found that he was dead, and as she stood up she had a vision of a group of men in black robes walking through a fanged maw carved from living stone.

The students and faculty of the university arrived and, after some panic and worry, doctors were called, and Major Kristova was there as well. He said that he would protect them from the rest of the police, taking them in as witnesses, and he warded off the rest of the police when they tried to question the investigators and took the group away.

He managed to arrange some time for the investigators in the library, and the countess asked about the mountains. The librarian recognized it as the Sredna Gora, a local mountain range. Rosaline and the professor did some general research into eyes and heads, finding a few fragments about the eyes being the windows to the soul and cave paintings being symbolic representations of the animals. Then they left the library, went into a truck, Major Kristova whispered a password and the truck drove around randomly to confuse pursuers until it arrived at an abandoned bakery, where, after an exchange of knocks and passwords, they were admitted. In safety, they shared stories with the Major, explaining the cults that chased them, and the major replied that he had been chasing the Butchers for three years and now, the location of their base was finally known. The major said they would need a plan, and then attack tonight. Then he offered the base as a place to rest.

As they rest. The countess had another vision of horrific mutilations performed by something not quite seen. Limbs ripped out with impossible force, screaming faces torn apart, before something rushed at her and vanished in an explosion of light. As the countess panicked sightlessly, her brain refusing to see anything at all, she realized that the pain and itching in her eye was gone. Perhaps she was safe?

As they were resting, the group received a call from an informant saying that they saw a truck passing near full of bullet holes. The major stood up and said that this was their chance, and after passing out weapons, they all left to take the fight to the cult.
Annals of the Fallen
  1. Gianni Abbadelli, Italian Vatican Parapsychologist, arm torn off by čudovište in Vinkovci, February 8th, 1923.
  2. Demir Sadik, Turkish Revolutionary/Field Medic, devoured by the living lair of the Baba Yaga in the forests outside Orašac, February 13th, 1923.
  3. Jazmina Moric, Croat Linguist, killed by a thrown grenade during a battle with the Butchers at Sofiiski Universet, February 15th, 1923.
The deaths are coming faster now.

I forgot about the eye! And those cultists in the library were much deadlier than most of the opposition we've faced this far. Shotguns and grenades? We're going to need to start carrying tommy guns like the most stereotypical of Call of Cthulhu protagonists. At least now we have a group of heavily-armed paranoid conspiracy theorists on our side. It's almost like we're playing Delta Green again!

When I failed the SAN check in the library, I drew from [livejournal.com profile] mutantur's deck of failed SAN rolls and got unshakeable belief, so the professor is now even more convinced than ever before that the hand of Le Comte is behind everything. And honestly, I don't see why that's not correct. Once you admit that there are vampires, well.

Ten years!

2017-Jun-09, Friday 17:21
dorchadas: (Link and Zelda sitting together)
And many more to go!

Today is [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and my ten year wedding anniversary. Kawaii heart emoji As I posted on Facebook, to put that into perspective, I made sure to set my AIM away message to "AFK, getting married" on my wedding day.

Unlike most events, since ten years is a nice round number we actually bought presents for each other. Usually our celebrations consist of going out to dinner or lunch, and we did go out to lunch today at a pretty good restaurant, but here we made an exception and also bought gifts.

click for pictures )
It's been a great ten years and I think it only looks up from here! Kirby heart

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