Sisters in Harm
|Sisters in Harm|
|ShadowHaven||Rival Black Mages|
In which Babylon is tasked by her sensei with recovering a tome of forbidden lore from an erstwhile apprentice.
Years ago, Chaplain Carmilla was a promising student of Juliette Burns - however when she eventually hit a plateau of magical power and the two of them subsequently had a falling out (with Juliette denouncing Carmilla's "lack of talent"), Carmilla stole a grimoire of demonology (the "Malleus Infernus") from Juilette and fled to the Seattle to set up a cabal of her own.
Babylon is contacted by Juliette Burns via the Matrix and told the story of her and Carmilla, and that she's managed to track her to Seattle; she requests that Babylon retrieve the Malleus Infernus for her. She is understandably hesitant about venturing into Glow City, but agrees to do so since Juliette has been helpful to her in the past, and for the potential to access some forbidden knowledge.
Contacting her fixer Ether, Babylon asks her to acquire an extreme environment suit to protect from radiation and asks her a few questions about Glow City; a few hours later, a junior member of the Ancients delivers the suit to her, and she offers the kid a bit of advice to help himself survive in the life. While preparing for the trip into the Glow, she is contacted by her other fixer Argent, who heard through the ganger grapevine about her plans and tells her of a group of ghouls who have a base of operations in Glow City that the Ancients have had some dealings with in the past; he tells her about the underground route to their compound, and has her deliver a datachip containing the location of a dead drop with the bodies from rival gangers. Kitting up, she heads out to meet with them.
Arriving in the compound below Glow City, Babylon talks her way past the guards and meets with Nameless who she has a brief conversation with, asking about the ghouls and their dealings with Carmilla's cabal of black mages (see: The Blood War for more). He shows her a map with the safest route to their compound, and points her towards a magician in his little flock who tells her a bit more about the dangers above (including telling her to stay away from stagnant water, and of the dangers of toxic spirits). After changing into her hazmat suit and acquiring a bicycle from the ghouls for transportation, she heads to the surface and begins the expedition.
As it turns out, biking through Glow City is a difficult prospect, what with abundance of potholes and such, so her going is slow. Considering summoning a spirit to help defend her against the many horrors of the radioactive wastes, Babylon instead attempts to commune with the local spirits, running into a rather noxious one which manifests as a snake and offers her promises of power - while tempted, she ultimately reaches out to strangle it with astral combat, not willing to risk embracing taint of toxic magic. Continuing onward, she comes to a manor house at the edge of the devastation which she confidently approaches the gates of and is met by a pair of guards who demand to know what she wants - introducing herself, she says she's there to see Carmilla and flexes her black mage muscles a bit, and when she's initially rebuffed she probes the mind of one of the guards, reading his thoughts and impressing them enough with her skills to earn an audience (since they outnumber her, they believe she's little threat and thus indulge her, rolling out a literal red carpet).
Inside, Babylon notices that she's in a magical lodge aspected to her own tradition, and sees the place is crawling with, well, crawler demons, which seem to be peeking through a temporary astral shallow. Steeling herself, she meets with Carmilla in a makeshift throne room, who is accompanied by a powerful-looking free spirit calling itself "Draghignazzo". Calling on her own bound spirits to flank her as she takes a seat, Babylon gets into a bit of a power-measuring contest with Carmilla, testing eachother's wits and taking measure of one another before getting down to the matter at hand. Carmilla notices Babylon's necklace, which is tainted with shadow magic due to her repeated encounters with Pump King Jack (see: Made in Abyss), and becomes intrigued at the potential source of power; Babylon tells her about the spirit, and when Carmilla notices her regret over her dealings with it she offers to take it off her hands in exchange for what she came for. The offer is a tempting one, but Babylon tells her that it is not worth trifling with and that there are plans in place to destroy Jack for good (see: The Vantablack). Carmilla then proposes a counter-offer - allow her to reap the benefits of this by filling the power vaccume left behind, a prospect to which Babylon agrees.
Things become a bit tense when Babylon reveals that she was sent by Juliette for the Malleus Infernus; she attempts to persuade Carmilla to return the book to Juliette of her own accord and attempt to mend fences, telling her that they could be colleagues and peers who benefit from one-another's experiences, but Carmilla remains unconvinced at the idea, still having a chip on her shoulder from being rejected by Juliette years ago, telling Babylon that she will give her the book but that she must tell Juliette that she had no more need of it. Seeing that she only interested in accruing power to spite Juliette and prove her assessment of her wrong (and sensing that perhaps there is more going on between them on a personal level as well), Babylon says that she will simply pass along her regards, taking the book and leaving her commcode to continue collaborating in the future.
Leaving the manor as the doors slam shut behind her, Babylon chances a peek inside, projecting through the ward and noticing that Carmilla's spirit pal Draghignazzo seems less powerful than she initially assumed, and that Carmilla herself seems rather drained from the effort of posturing so hard. Satisfied that she came out of the exchange the winner, Babylon returns to Nameless' compound and exits the Glow, reading over the Malleus Infernus a bit before having it smuggled through the Ancients back to Juliette in Montreal.
Player After Action Reports (AARs)
I'm not sure what to think after this one if I'm being honest - I figured a trip into Glow City would be a harrowing experience, I suppose I just didn't expect it would be so in quite this way. Meeting that Carmilla woman was something else... I saw a lot of myself in her, her desire for power and her hunger to prove she was better than someone who had slighted her in the past. I tried to get her to see reason, to reconcile with Ms. Burns and show that she had grown beyond what she thought she was capable of, but she was too stubborn to admit that she wanted her recognition and believed that she had outgrown her. Such foolishness really, and I fear it will lead her down this path from which she cannot return, but those are concerns for another time I think, once this shadow spirit business is sorted - she could be a useful ally in that endeavor, but perhaps I should view her as more of a cautionary tale. Speaking with her was like looking at a twisted reflection of myself, and I don't think I quite like what I saw; I fear that this is how others must see me, as an obstinate petty person who is only interested in my own self-aggrandizement... perhaps I have more reflection to do yet.