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Thread: Mixed Family (SFW, SI, Slash) - A Chronicles of Darkness/New World of Darkness 2e Crossover Story.

  1. #1

    Mixed Family (SFW, SI, Slash) - A Chronicles of Darkness/New World of Darkness 2e Crossover Story.

    Prologue - Awakened Blossoms

    List of Game Lines listed in the Crossover:
    Werewolf the Forsaken Second Edition, Mage the Awakening Second Edition, Princess: The Hopeful (Homebrew). Other Gamelines are also given minor mentions.

    My twin and I were always weird.

    When Dad turned the lights off after telling us a bedtime story, we saw that our eyes glinted like wolves' in the night. We were three then, but we knew enough to see that this was weird.

    What was even weirder was that the story our father told us was not just supposed to be fiction, but part of a tabletop game whose second edition had not been released yet. And yet, the tale which he recounted in such solemn tones, and which he bequeathed to us as a future 'duty, was identical to the backstory of the Uratha; the faction of Werewolves known as 'The Forsaken' from the New World of Darkness/Chronicles of Darkness.

    "The world was once whole, a Pangaea where people crossed the border between spirit and flesh. Then Father Wolf and Mother Luna, the Spirits of Hunting and The Moon, fell in love and created The People, the unified tribes of Werewolves. Then Father Wolf grew old and weak and our ancestors had to replace him, and so they went for his throat, tearing it out and killing him so we can take his duty," another three years later, Mom summarized what Dad had said as she sat us down after school when we told her about the shadowy shapes behind every wall, the strange noises near the boiler room, and the pale and sickly green lights close to the sky.

    "Luna then cursed us with a tendency for madness and a vulnerability to silver in response to her consort's death," Mom said, her tone less soft and soothing but easier to understand. "On the plus side, she did allow us to have children with Humans and other Werewolves..."

    "So we are in Second Edition after all -" my brother took the second Mom took to muse to whisper to me, only for Mom to hear and ask:

    "What edition? This is not a game," she said in a clipped tone as her eyes narrowed in rebuke.

    I nodded quickly and gently pushed the back of my brother's head so he'd nod as well; there'd be time to find out more as we grew up...

    ------

    "Another fight?" Dad said as he looked at my bruised face and my twin's swollen fist. "Let me guess; you allowed someone to see your eyes when the lights were out? Or did you see something which 'doesn't exist'?"

    He was smiling when using that last term.

    "A group of kids were bullying another kid and said kid almost jumped off the roof," my brother responded in a cool tone that let the implications hang in the air. "We beat up the bullies after talking the kid out of it."

    As Dad's face twisted in disbelief and he opened his mouth to ask if we were indeed telling the truth, I pulled out my new smartphone and showed him the recordings I made. Even now, I knew that they bulged out in rare surprise.

    "Daniel," he said to me, "you and Leon shouldn't draw attention to yourselves. But you did the right thing. I'll have the Pack look into it, make sure Depression spirits don't form around the area."

    He sighed loudly, his shoulders slumping in an Un-Werewolf-like way. "That said, it's time to bring you into The Academy; if you two insist on tackling your duties early, then you should be trained in such - Add that to the fact that the world is more than our kind, the Spirits, and Mortals..."

    -------

    'The Academy' was an institution for Wolf-Blooded kids. What are Wolf-Blooded, one may ask? Humans who are touched by Luna, the Spirit of the Moon, with a special connection to the Spirit World (aka what we call the Hisil). Many of them have descent from Werewolves or were badly affected by seeing one or had ‘exchanged bodily fluids’ with one, sometimes through the stereotypical ‘bite’. Many of them also turn into Werewolves eventually, but not all, but unlike in the Old World of Darkness, even those who don't turn into Werewolves are treated with respect because, well, they can still defend themselves.

    Thanks to an agreement with the local Mage Consilium, Changeling Freehold, and Demon Agency, we also had a number of Proximi, Fae-Touched (Mortals who can see Changelings and Faerie Magic), and Demon-blooded (Note that in this world, 'God' is actually the God-Machine, Angels operate on Occult Cybernetics, and Demons are fallen Cyber-Angels who can also sire offpring with some Demon Powers).

    Complicating the picture was that there were True Mages, Changelings, and yes, a Demon or two in the school as well, although the teachers made clear that any attempt to create a 'pecking order' among the students or bully them for having weaker powers would be cracked down on with extreme prejudice.

    Needless to say, our good looks and charm (I had the brightest golden eyes while Leon's were soulful black) made us the talk of the town; Leon was cool, aloof in the the way which drew girls and boys to him, while I was happy, bubbly, and enthusiastic and knew when looking adorable would get me and whoever I was hanging out with out of trouble.

    Oh, right, we were aware that we liked both guys and gals as we were growing up.

    But if we were weird, we were weird in a way that made us special. And we were weirder than what we might eventually become or what might happen to us in this world… no, these Chronicles of Darkness...

    -------

    “Daniel, time to wake up!”

    My mother’s voice snapped me awake from my dreams of the past. As my eyes opened wide, I swiftly moved to change from my PJs to the shirt, jacket, pants, and footwear that made up my ‘school clothes’ before going downstairs for breakfast.

    Me


    Originally David Garcia Martinez from Lalin’s Curse, a Webcomic by Isaky on Webtoons, now used for Daniel Palaiologos with her consent.


    “You’re almost late,” Leon said as he was wolfing down (there’s a pun to be made there involving our ancestry, but now wasn’t the time to say it) his meal of pancakes, sausages, and bacon, occasionally snatching pieces of the latter from my plate.

    “Stop that!” I said in turn as I rushed to the table, took a seat, and began gorging myself on what meat and pancakes remained, as well as the last third of a ham-and-cheese omelet which I washed down with a still-full glass of orange juice.

    My Brother


    Custom Art by Jitobeans I paid for. Now Leon.


    “Seriously, though,” Leon said to me with a sigh, “This is our sixteenth birthday - Can't you take this seriously? More importantly, Summer is over; we’re going back to class and we need to prove we haven't been slacking!”

    “It’s only been a few minutes, Leon!” I protested, “We’re not even late for school - If anything, we might come early!”

    Was it weird that I actually liked School, particularly as the School I am in was special?

    “Brush your teeth, boys!” Mom said as we got up to leave, “And use mouthwash! And make sure not to forget your bags!”

    Knowing full well that Mom was a Werewolf who specialized in using Human and Spirit laws to bring their quarry low even before closing in with her claws only made us more prompt.

    Either way, we made sure to be thorough with our oral hygiene lest we get a reputation for bad breath in addition to weird eyes which saw the impossible. After that, it was time to go to The Academy; it wasn’t that far so I and Leon could just walk.

    -------

    “Daniel,” Leon whispered as we walked to The Academy, "We need to talk. About being reincarnates."

    The breeeze was blowing hard, almost howling even though it was summer; the sound of cars zooming near the sidewalk drowned out my brother's whisper further. Nevertheless, I told him, "Do we have to, our in the open?"

    "It's been sixteen years!" Leon dropped the whisper. "Sixteen years since we were reborn here, and we still don't know why! And what's worse, we're likely to spend the rest of our lives as Werewolves or stay Wolf-blooded forever, and that last part is not a good scenario even though it's miles better than being a Kinfolk in the Old World of Darkness!"

    "I didn't know you didn't want to be that -" I said just before Leon pulled me back from the road as the 'Walk' sign was still turned off.

    "Do you want to be Isekai'd again?! At least it's quicker than the Pandemic, though..." Leon then continued as we waited for the signal to cross the road, "But yes, I do not want to be a Werewolf or keep being a Wolf-Blooded. I want to be a -"

    Reality lurched, and Leon vanished before my eyes as my surroundings disappeared, shifting into motes of light amidst a sky that blazed with cloudless lightning and blue-white fire, where clouds made of those same motes of light mixed with imperial purple aurorae which shone amidst a howling, heavy wind.

    And ahead of me, I saw a watchtower of golden moving parts, with Angels - Supernal Angels, I knew now, not the Occult Machine Cyber-Magical ‘Angels’ of the God-Machine - flitting about its upper heights, inviting me to the tower, the only refuge against the fire, lightning, thunder, and wind outside.

    I rushed to them; what else can I do, even though I knew too that one does not get gratification without a price? I signed my name on the Watchtower, though with what, I did not know. My tongue burnt with a speech that was not the First Tongue of those blessed by Luna, this speech was of a metaphysical truth that cried out to be said, not merely the Spirits’ language.

    This was not natural, even for the World of Darkness; not the Awakening itself, which proceeded according to the template provided by the books I read in my previous life, but the fact that it was being handed over to me - Something which should be impossible without complications, something which even the God-Machine has not demonstrated itself capable of doing.

    Oh, my God! What if the Awakening grows wrong? What if I become someone who cannot use their Magic right?

    "Do not be afraid. You were sent here for a purpose."

    The words burnt with metaphyiscal truth, and I swooned, overwhelmed by transcendent thoughts...

    ------

    I opened my eyes, although I did not remember closing them. And we were at the gates of The Academy.

    The sun was glinting brightly on the red glazed tiles of the roofs and windows, causing the dew to glimmer like thousands of clear gems. As we stepped through the gates and into the gardens, dozens of flowers bloomed like a carpet of color, with gold roses with silvery edges sticking out amongst the reds and blues and purples and whites.

    “Are these even possible?” Leon said while I sniffed the air, looking for any unusual resonances and finding a few, but not hostile ones. As it is, the place seemed less stuffy and boring than it seemed to be, and more… Blessed.

    “You can look it up, but we have other things to worry about,” I told him as I pulled him into the school building; normally he was the one pulling me. "By the way, are you whole?"

    Leon smiled back and said, “I’m alright. And yes, I am ‘whole’. Of course, we just lost all traces of our Wolf-Blooded heritage except our glinting eyes, and we have some explaining to the faculty and our parents to do, but…”

    “This ain’t normal and this ain’t the bad kind of abnormal either,” I continued as we entered a relatively deserted alcove. "I think that we just crossed over with that Homebrew involving Magical Girls and Boys."

    "Princess?" Leon smiled briefly before pursing his lips and trying to look 'cool' again. "Nah, that can't be."

    Footsteps - Unfamiliar ones - Could be heard coming towards us, as he said, "But it is. But it is, Daniel and Leon Palaiologos... Or should I say, Daniel and Leon Cook?"

    We whirled at the person who just butted in, only to recognize -

    Our New Friend


    Art Commissioned by me, now Ken


    "Ken!" I shouted eagerly, "Nice to meet you in real life, even if it is in 'another', well..." my voice lowered to a whisper, "World."

    “Yep,” Ken said before shifting to a more formal tone. “But you'd know me as Ken Illustrious Ikari now instead of the more mundane Ken Aizawa..."

    He then gave a smirk which in Anime, meant he knew more than he let on, “And we have much to talk about after class.”

    I knew enough narrative convention to know that a quest awaited and that we might finally get answers...
    Last edited by Dragos Bee; November 9th, 2022 at 11:22 PM.

  2. #2
    Looks interesting

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by rosa78 View Post
    Looks interesting
    Thanks!

  4. #4
    Chapter One: Setting up the Groundwork

    “You two know what the God-Machine is, right?” Ken said to us when classes were done.

    We both nodded as we met in a small rose garden laced with lines of spellwork that Leon and I could now perceive were effective at blocking out eavesdropping mundane and magical; it was worth the rent from the Gardening Club. Ken paid in a Blu-Ray disc which judging from the label and artwork, contained an Anime movie not released outside of Japan yet.

    “Neither of us actually had a copy of Demon the Descent while we’re alive,” I said to Ken, “but we know the gist: It’s an ‘Occult AI’ which uses technology so advanced that it is as powerful as Magic or Magic so organized that it’s almost indistinguishable from technology.”

    Ken nodded in a slow and measured way to confirm what we just said, then continued, “The God-Machine is like that, yes, but far more powerful, with only one weakness: It needs an ‘occult matrix’ centered around Capital-I Infrastructure in order to implement changes in reality. And by that, it can do almost anything but it needs to set up that Infrastructure I mentioned to do it… And some of that can go faulty or be hijacked by a Demon Agency.”

    He then smirked lightly as he said, “Guess what happened and how our souls got reincarnated into this world, as well as how all three of us now have the Supernatural ‘Splat/Template’ we wanted just as we wished for it.”

    It hit us like the usual ‘Isekai Truck’.

    “Don’t tell me that a Demon Agency is behind this!” Leon shouted first.

    “Are they asking for anything in return?” I asked next.

    Ken gave his answer, “Make the Chronicles of Darkness a better place. We have full freedom of action.”

    “And you trust them without corroborating data?” Leon said. “These are people who can literally make what they say look true to all senses, including supernatural ones! As in -”

    Ken interrupted, “As in they can deceive all supernatural powers which can ferret out the truth. I know this. However, every action they’ve taken for the past three years has only supported what they say; they really are interested in overturning the conventions of the Chronicles of Darkness and making it a better place.”

    He then followed up with, “They’re behind The Academy, btw.”

    I knew that Ken was telling the truth about his claim or at least thought that he was. Demons might be able to deceive all truth-ferreting powers, but Ken wasn’t one; he was a Prince/Noble/Magical Boy and I used to read him just fine, back in our previous lives, without powers.

    “Ken,” Leon said, “Do Princesses and Princes get a boost in power in this world? Mages are the most powerful template in the ‘Chronicles of Darkness’ and people keep harping about that back in my old world. I need to make sure that they, and you if you have such grand ambitions, can keep up with us.”

    Ouch. For a brief moment, I looked at Ken expecting him to be annoyed, but the other boy smiled and said, “Yes. We got buffed to miniature Exalted levels.”

    “Hot,” I said before shutting up my mouth. “I mean, I didn’t say that you’re hot - I mean, you are hot, but…”

    Leon was chuckling now, while Ken stayed quiet for several seconds, trying to suppress a blush; was he flustered?

    As for me, I always knew that Leon, Ken, and I shared the same ‘inclinations’, but I never thought of Ken that way until now. To be honest, I was glad that this came out this early and any potential romantic complications or misunderstandings were nipped in the bud.

    I heard Ken clear his throat; he had more to say?

    “So, any leads as to how to make the Chronicles of Darkness a better place?” Leon asked. “The Academy already helps clean up local malign supernatural phenomena in the neighborhood.”

    “Not all of them,” Ken said. “There are plenty of things in the shadows which Mages think of as irrelevant and not mysterious enough to warrant investigation, which is a shame as Mages are very good investigators.”

    “We know,” I said, “We both just Awakened as Mages.” I then turned to my brother and asked, “By the way, what ‘Path’ did you awaken to? Is it -”

    Leon interrupted, “I have Fate and Time as my primary powers and invested what I had left in Death. You?”

    I suck in my breath. "Nice. I got Prime, Forces, Matter--"

    "Wizard Classic!" Leon interrupted. "Prime to manipulate the magical energy-- even magical truth!-- and Forces and Matter to turn it into whatever you want."

    “Acanthus and Obrimos, then,” Ken said. “Decent. As for my own powers…”

    Ken glowed brightly, and for a few brief moments, his body was covered with a coat of bright orange-white flames which slowly peeled away to reveal combat boots, tan military fatigues, a desert brown flak jacket, and a combat helmet.

    My magical senses flashed, registering this transformed ‘form’ as a different person from the boy who had just stood before us. As I focused my ‘Mage Sight’ on him, I felt, rather than saw, great heat and pressure which almost overwhelmed even me. And looking at Leon, I noticed him trying to put on a calm, passive expression, even as he slightly trembled in panic.

    So this was what the boost to Princess powers entailed; in the Chronicles of Darkness, the creators of the homebrew had taken a stand against writing Princesses, or anyone, as just as powerful as Mages. But in this version of the Chronicles, this timeline or splinter universe, whoever was behind all this didn’t actually care about ‘balance’ or lack of it between major supernatural templates/races.

    “Perfect,” I grinned. “It seems we have a decent chance at bettering the world after all.”

    Then someone knocked on the door of the rose garden; it was the Gardening Club’s head, Amelia Thoreau.

    Hidden for Size


    Originally Kudelia Aina Bernstein from Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, now Amelia Thoreau.


    As we opened the door, she said, “Extracurricular activities are over. Also, you lot are wanted in the Principal’s Office.”

    She looked at us two, frowning before she said in a slight chill tone, “Your parents are there too; let’s just say they’re distressed about you two no longer being ‘cute fluffs’.”

    Oh, right, we’re no longer Wolf-Blooded and that had implications. I also did not miss the subtext that Amelia actually preferred us as Wolf-Blooded.

    Nevertheless, before I can speak, Leon got up and said in a formal tone, cold as well, “Tell them we’ll arrive soon.”

    And with that, he went out the door, only picking up the pace once we followed him through the corridors, shuddering in anger as he walked, his hands in his pockets like an emo edgelord (no one tells him I said that, okay!).

    ------

    “So it is true,” Dad said as he looked us over. “Luna’s blessings are gone for the most part.”

    “An utterly random Awakening,” Mom was making small biting motions as she said that. “What are the odds.” She then sighed and said, “I suppose I can’t blame you two if you did want this, but you do realize that this complicates our position in the local Pack immensely, right? I am what passes as a ‘Face’ among Werewolves, but even I am not sure I can get you ‘dual citizenship’ in whatever local Mages are organized as and -”

    I can,” Dad interrupted. “I’m the Loremaster and I know that there are precedents.” He then looked at the Principal, a heavily-built, well-muscled black man who observed the proceedings with a perpetual growl, “You’re our Pack Leader and the highest member of the Iron Masters Tribe here. The Academy is the greatest precedent of them all. If anyone can help us resolve this situation, it’s you.”

    The Principal looked at the three of us and said, “I’ll do better than that. From now on, you three have a special status; you work for The Academy now. I’ll contact the local Mage Consilium to allow you two and your companion to attend their meetings and make use of some of their Cabals’ facilities. As for the Pack… You’re still in it and now that you have powers, you’re going to participate in the Sacred Hunt. Got it?”

    What was the Sacred Hunt? Well, each of the Five Tribes of Forsaken Werewolves chooses a special type of ‘Prey’ to hunt (but not necessarily kill). The other Tribes hunt down monsters such as Spirits, Other Werewolves, Alien Gods (or shards of them), and those possessed by Spirits.

    My Tribe, the Iron Masters, select Humans to Hunt (but again, not necessarily kill!). This is less bad than it sounds, as the Tribe selects Humans who are actively wrecking the boundaries between the Material and Spirit Worlds by creating Spirits of Murder by murdering people, polluting the land with a factory that violates environmental safety rules, and also people who consort with ‘Dark Powers’ which are anathema to Humanity as a whole anyway.

    And finally, the Iron Masters’ Sacred Hunt covered every other Non-Werewolf, Non-Spirit, Non-Alien God, Supernatural beings.

    “We would be glad to,” I said, imitating Leon’s usual formal tone.

    “Sure,” Leon said in rare nonchalance. “I’m just glad things didn’t get worse.”

    “Now go back home with your parents,” The Principal waves his large hand dismissively, “I and your friend,” he indicated to a De-Transformed Ken, “Have more things to discuss.”

    Leon nodded, resuming his usual formality, while I waved bye, even as inwardly, there was a sinking feeling in my stomach as I thought of even more potential drama at home…

    ------

    At home, Mom’s first words as she served dinner were, “You’re too young. You are too young to participate in a flipping’ Sacred Hunt.”

    Dad looked at her, his expression… strange, before he said, “Honey, we started even younger -”

    “That proves my point,” Mom made jabbing motions at the air with her fork - The alloy didn’t include enough silver to burn her skin. “They’re sixteen, prone to getting into danger, and they’re not able to change into a Werewolf form which would at least allow them to shrug off bullets and automatically heal wounds!”

    “They can launch fireballs, though,” Dad said. “Isn’t that right, kids?”

    “Yep!” I said enthusiastically. “Well, I can. Leon, however, can -”

    “I can bless people with luck so extreme a speeding truck would miss them in a crowded street,” Leon said in as solemn a tone as he can manage. “I can curse them to get hit by that same truck inside their own house. And I can slow down or speed up time.”

    “Still. Squishy.” Mom was now stabbing at the meat before us as though it was alive. “One hit and you’d go down. And I know enough that you can’t cast your powers willy-nilly or around mundane witnesses.”

    This was true. What kept Mages in the Chronicles of Darkness from dominating the setting is Paradox, which basically inserted pieces of literal anti-reality into the world should you cast too strong a spell and flub it up, and Paradox is aggravated by disbelievers being around to witness one’s Magic. As for Disbelief, there is literally a force that erases memories of Magic from the minds of normal witnesses when it does not drive them insane first.

    Factor in the Exarchs, ancient Mages who entered the Supernal Realms (Reality’s other cornerstone aside from the God-Machine) and now seek to hoard control of Reality from every other Mage in existence (and who are as powerful as the God-Machine and made a flipping deal with it), and suddenly becoming Mages was not as much an improvement over being Werewolves or Wolf-Blooded as we thought.

    ‘Not as much isn’t the same as ‘Not at all, though!

    “Well, nothing much we can do about it,” Dad said. “What the Pack Leader says, goes.”

    “I also managed to wheedle out a ‘leak’ of the place the Sacred Hunt is going to attack,” Mom was gnashing her teeth. “It’s not just a Wound,” Capital-W Wounds are places where the Spirit World broke through to the Mundane World through acts of depravity and violence, by the way, “But it’s also a Tainted Place with those creatures called Darkspawn. So our kids will be tackling two different forms of interdimensional shenanigans at the same time with whoever goes with them.”

    What was a Tainted Place and what are Darkspawn? Well, in Princess the Hopeful, Tainted Places are where cruel and malicious acts cause the Darkness to seep through and curse a place so that it is easier to commit sins there, to hurt and harm and not give a dang about it. These are different from Wounds in that they don’t necessarily need big acts of cruelty to manifest; you just need to do many small acts such as, say, spread lies and slander about the ‘School Paragon’, in one place and watch it slowly make people more callous about evil-er actions.

    As for Darkspawn, they are people who die inside a Tainted Place after committing so many crimes that the Darkness mutated them or gave them powers before their lives ended. The ‘Dark World’ then transforms their corrupted bodies into new, monstrous life forms, such as large, slimy centipede-like beasts who nevertheless used to be human, or grotesque balls of fat who slide under beds and snatch children.

    And if we’re to fight them as well as the usual Spirits of Violence/Alcoholism/Bloodshed, we are going to hope that Ken’s ‘boost’ ought to be enough to tip the scales in our favor…
    Last edited by Dragos Bee; June 29th, 2022 at 06:18 AM.

  5. #5
    Made some minor edits to Chapter One!

  6. #6
    Chapter Two: Ramifications and Explorations (of Awakening)

    I didn’t truly understand before what the writers of Mage were trying to get across when they used ‘Asleep’ and ‘Awake’ as descriptions for life before and after, well, Awakening. But now I do. For Awakening is more about seeing the Supernatural, seeing Magic, and seeing the energies which permeated our world. No, it’s about having one’s senses opened wide, like a shell that has been pulled apart to reveal the matured being underneath, and coming out of a cocoon after reaching the next stage of our growth.

    Awakening as a Mage is being able to see the colors not just of magic, but of the foundations of our world, and for me, that meant being able to see literal physical forces, ultraviolet and infrared and everything in between, to see sound as sight and vice versa, to track down radio waves and satellite networks with my brain alone. I can also literally register the composition of any form of matter by touch and smell and sight, as well as see various spells as faint glowing light, glowing webbing, and layers of color that identified what portions of reality they are influencing.

    Like me, Leon was learning to appreciate the inexorable flow of time and yet realize that it was, itself, an illusion. The Eddies of fate and death would be oblivious to the other students as they gossiped and dawdled around the main building after a successful day of classes to meet with The Principal, who was going to drive us to the forward base for the Sacred Hunt later tonight in his car (Mom and Dad were there too, so it wasn’t dubious).

    “So…” my brother asked me, “Did you get your Dedicated Tool yet?”

    What was a Dedicated Tool, one may ask? Well, in Mage the Awakening, some materials, and types of objects resonate with a specific ‘Supernal Realm’ and the Magical ‘Path’ associated with it. For example, gold, steel, and double-edged swords resonate with the Obrimos path (my own) while the Acanthus path (my brother’s) resonated with silver, reflective materials, rapiers, and bows. Oh, and crystals.

    Now, the pedant who has read the book several times over would say, ‘Those are Path Tools! Dedicated Tools are the specific instruments that resonate with your Nimbus/Aura to make your spells even more powerful!

    Well, I say that a Path Tool can be a Dedicated tool, and so the difference means squat. End of story -

    “Daniel, stop spacing out!” Leon hissed at me as he pulled me into where our parents sat in the backseat of the car, “Anyway, I got a silver ring with a crystal on it; what about you?”

    I held up a golden ring on my finger, before saying, “I arranged this with Dad beforehand, by the way.”

    -------

    The trip was uneventful, and we arrived at the forward base; a small drive-thru cinema that was close to the abandoned mall where the Wound (which doubled as a Tainted Place) was situated. There were two other cars besides ours’; a small orange car with a glossy coat and a larger pale blue one with chipped paint. As we got out of the Principal’s car, the orange car opened and its driver hopped out; it was Ken.

    “Do your parents know you’re driving on your own?” Mom asked Ken, looking at him with a mild glare, which I suspected wouldn’t be there if I hadn’t told her I really liked him and his blue eyes and sharp features.

    Ken nodded dutifully and said, “I told them I needed to get used to my learner’s permit.” As the other car opened to reveal my parents’ ‘co-workers’ (both in mundane and supernatural lives), he continued, “You guys have enough Werewolves to fill every Auspice, right?”

    The Principal said, “Yes; let me introduce you…”

    And it was then that I spaced out to remind myself what Auspices were. Basically, each Werewolf, in addition to their transformations, has a ‘sub-type’ corresponding to a phase of the Moon which dictates their role in the pack. For example, Mom is an Edoloth, or Half-moon, meaning that she is the ‘face’ of the group and tasked with diplomacy (both the honest and lying types), building social connections, and covering up property damage.

    She is also prepared to sacrifice almost anyone to accomplish a Sacred Hunt’s goals.

    Dad, meanwhile, is a Cahalith, or Gibbous Moon; a storyteller and loremaster, and seer who is tasked with keeping morale up while also having prophetic dreams, prophetic dreams which Leon might probably mess up with his ability to affect Fate and Time.

    Elise, one of my parents’ co-workers, is an Irraka, or New Moon - She stalks the target to inflict maximum damage so that the others can get the killing blow. Basically, a stealth assassin who constantly thinks of how to kill everyone around her… Including me right now, it seems. Brr.

    Simon, another kid around our age, is an Itheaur, a Crescent Moon. We’ve talked to him before and he says that being one isn’t fun, given that a Crescent Moon can always see Spirits and their intentions and they are always watching him. On the plus side, he can establish dominance over said Spirits and trap them in items and mess with Spirits in general.

    And the Principal is a Rahu; basically the physically strongest, most enduring, and tactically adept of all Auspices. He’s the one you call when you need to cut the Gordian Knot with overwhelming force. Even we fear him.

    The Principal’s growl woke me up from my reverie as he said, “Boy, do not make me regret bringing you. You’ve absorbed the introductions, right?”

    I nodded and said, “Yes, yes I have.”

    And I realized that it was actually true; that I had taken information from the introductions and mixed it with my musings. So I picked up the courage to say my next words, “What’s the plan; what specific thing are we hunting?”

    The Principal said, “You’re still part of the Iron Masters, Boy; you know that we hunt the most dangerous prey - People. Sapient beings who consciously make the worst possible choices for others, the Spirit World, and now them. As it is, the hunt is in three stages; the first is to clear out the malign Spirits and Darkspawn which infest the mall. The second is to remove the ‘Taint’ of the Tainted Place; Mr. Ikari will help with that. And the third and last phase, which you two will help with, is to take care of the one responsible for sucking out the light and hope from the place and allowing ‘Taint’ to set in and a wound to open.”

    He then looked at us as the fading sunset glinted from his eyes and the shadows made him look bigger than he already was. He then said in a sharp, somewhat thick tone that brooked no opposition, “One of Mr. Ikari’s kind caused this; a ‘Twilight Prince’ serving the ‘Queen of Tears’. You two will prove your loyalty to the Pack and Tribe by helping us hunt him down before he sucks out more hope and light from similar buildings. And by ‘hunt him down’, I do not necessarily mean kill, but I am more than open to such a solution.”

    We looked around and saw that everyone’s faces, including our parents’, were firmly set; they had all agreed that the death of this ‘Twilight Prince’ was a desirable outcome.

    I grit my teeth and thought: This is why we didn’t want to become Werewolves. But apparently, becoming Mages instead has not freed us of the ‘obligation’ to kill.

    Then I heard my brother take a deep breath and say, “It’s best if we just scare the ‘Prince of Tears’ to within an inch of his life. Fear will serve our interests more than Blood; I predict this and my father will back me up - Right, Dad?”

    Dad looked at us and said, “I do; I’ve seen it in my dreams that frightening the enemy would be more fortunate for us - At the very least, it allows for multiple Sacred Hunts to be conducted in the future.”

    The Principal growled, and so did Elise. But it was the former who said as he began to shift into a humanoid wolf form, “Very well; we will strive to frighten him if we could. But if killing him would have earned this city a better future, on your heads be it.”

    And so it was done; have we made the right choice?
    Last edited by Dragos Bee; June 23rd, 2022 at 11:27 PM.

  7. #7
    Made minor edits to Chapter Two!

  8. #8
    Lost inspiration for this story, sorry.

  9. #9
    Inspiration has been regained... for now.

    ------

    Chapter Three: The Hunt

    We were ambushed as soon as we entered the mall’s lower ground floor. As a small army of Darkspawn and malign Spirits came at us from all sides as we stepped off the broken escalators leading downwards.

    “Fate reweaves itself as Time bares its secrets,” Leon said as he gestured towards Elise, skillfully reweaving the threads of probability to guarantee her a sure hit as she clawed at a Cradlesnatcher (Darkspawn made up of fat and folds of loose skin descended from people who kidnap children to influence or silence their parents), drawing a mix of blood and fat and disgusting slime from the wound.

    As Ken, in his Transformed form, began mowing down a throng of Corpse-eaters (Cannibalistic Darkspawn with a craving for human flesh) with a magically-conjured assault rifle which spat out bolts of fire instead of bullets, I lifted my right hand and the finger with the golden ring on it, then instead of saying something poetic, I just said, “Burn!”

    And the fires Ken already set while shooting at the Darkspawn burst for one moment, utterly consuming their bodies before fading to nothingness, thus sparing the very flammable wood and paint of the mall’s floor from further damage.

    Mom, Dad, and Simon were facing down a particularly strong Spirit of Alcoholism which had materialized into a glowing cloud of clear liquor, beating it into submission with claws and furred fists. As for the Principal, he was smashing through a half-dozen Spirits of Violence, his exhortations and that of other members of the pack overriding any supernatural inducement to cowardice.

    This was not to say that the Tainted Place did not send an unnatural chill down our spines; we were just more resolute thanks to the Werewolves in the pack using their Capital-G Gifts to keep our fury bubbling hot enough to fuel our resolve but not so hot we’d suddenly be reckless.

    “To the center of the Wound!” shouted the Principal, gesturing for Ken to follow him, “Show us what you can do!”

    As we pressed on, I swiftly pointed my ring finger at another Cradlesnatcher, snapping a few syllables in High Speech (Special Mage Language) which caused its personal gravity to reverse (Forces 2, baby!), and rendering it helpless, pinned to the ceiling, where Elise in her partial wolf form could leap up to tear out its throat.

    “These monsters taste like shit!” she said as I reversed the spell, causing the now-dying Darkspawn to fall down and take more damage as it bled out.

    “Yes,” Simon took the time to talk, “Spirits taste better.”

    Stronger Darkspawn and manifested Spirits awaited us closer to the Tainted Place’s center, an old department store that had been drained of hope well before the mall was rendered ‘condemned’. There, we ought to find a ‘Dark Door’ which leads to a ‘Nightscape’, a small-e echo of the atrocities which led to the place being tainted in the first place.

    Not that we planned to enter; that was Ken’s job.

    "Good luck, boy," the Principal said to Ken as he fast-walked into the 'Dark Door', leaving us behind. Then as the Magical Boy vanished, he then looked at us, sniffed the air, and spoke, "Our quarry is here. Change of plans; if he dies, he dies. If he lives, he lives - But prophecy or no prophecy, it's best to take the hunt to its logical conclusion."

    Why that son of a -

    "As if you mutts, a fortune teller, and a seller of party tricks can take me," a voice echoed out from the shadows, followed by the whirr of... Skateboard wheels?

    And looking at us, no, looking down on us from the escalator we just descended from, was a young man of about our age on a skateboard, wearing a black-and-blue suit-and-long coat of shimmering silk. His left shoulder and the tips and soles of his boots were armored with a silvery-steel material, and his right hand grasped a dark blue scythe with a glittering sapphire edge whose handle was smaller than what was allowed normally.

    Hidden for Size


    Noah from Elsword; imagine that he has a matching Skateboard.


    He then announced his identity, introducing himself in a cold tone as grave as a whole row of mausoleums, "My name is Langa Nikiforov; yes, it's a fake one - Like heck I'm revealing my real identity to people from the Rebellious Provinces."

    The Principal snarled and said, "Your 'Corpse-Queen' never ruled us. The only one who is rebellious is you!"

    Simon, our Itheaur teammate, then gestured for the Spirit of a nearby chandelier to cause its earthly vessel to fall on top of where LN (I am not referring to him by the Anime references he used!) currently was, only for the boy on the skateboard to wheel himself down the worn down rubber which covered sections of the escalator railing, then do one of those fancy somersaults which flung him up to the air... Where he stayed, flying literal circles around us and occasionally rolling sideways on the walls.

    This was highly irregular, as in the version of Princess we knew, Flight was a power reserved for the Princesses on our side (aka those who didn't serve the Queen of Tears) who had an emotional connection to the ideals of freedom and laughter Alhambra and the Princes/Princesses of Tears were definitely not about.

    Then I looked directly at his skateboard and saw that the magic wasn't that of the air and wind or even gravity, but rather floated on the shadows and darkness as though those were material things - Which was not a power Princesses and Princes had in any version that we knew and must have come with the boost in power they received from the alterations to this setting!

    "Fancy Tricks," my Mom said next, the bile in her voice making it sound like she was almost spitting. Then she, still in a half-wolf form, drew a semi-automatic pistol and fired one, two, three shots at LN, who merely dodged, ducked, and even somersaulted over the bullets.

    Elise then shook my shoulders and shouted, "That brat's skating on shadows! We need light -"

    "Levinbolt, Multiple, Draining," LN said before a rain of shimmering violet bolts fell all around us, and the Principal grabbed me and Leon in a rough 'hug' and bore us down to the ground for our own safety, even as Mom and Dad put up a destroyed shelf as a barricade against the shower of energy, which continued on for far longer than the original game rules and mechanics ruled it should.

    "This is but the smallest measure of the power granted to me by the desire to protect Alhambra, the last true remnant of The Kingdom," the enemy Magical Boy said as the shower faded, and the Principal faced him, his already half-lupine features transforming to a full-on Wolfman, with fangs and claws, strength several times the average man, and quick, almost effortless regeneration from wounds not inflicted by silver.

    Gauru (not to be confused with the Garou from Old World of Darkness), the war form any Werewolf can access, which can only be controlled for a short period of time until they lost themselves in Primal Rage (capital). As my parents and every Werewolf in the abandoned chamber followed suit, their clothes seamlessly transforming along with their skin into glossy, shimmering fur, I realized that shit just got real.

    "We have to help," Leon whispered to me, even as the Pack leaped to surround LN, who matched them in speed and strength, his scythe spinning in circles and spirals as he matched the Principal blew for blow, then batted aside an attempt by Elise to backstab him, the edges of his cape cutting through her fur and causing the wounds it caused to burn just like silver did (there was a canonical Princess power which can cause one's attacks to take on the properties of silver or cold iron or some special Capital-B Bane of a supernatural if they 'used up' a piece of silver beforehand, so it seemed that LN was expecting us).

    This revelation enraged the Werewolves almost beyond reason, and now it was the turn of our enemy to grow alarmed, skating downward through the small-d darkness and shadows, zig-zagging, rolling, ducking very low, and even leaping up from his skateboard to land on it later on. His strength was in agility and the ability to not get hit, and should one of the Pack get even one blow in -

    Then he dashed straight towards where we were still watching behind the barricade, moving so fast we weren't able to chant, gesture, or even think up the mental images and exercises which made casting spells so easy.

    "Spell-Shattering Palm!" he shouted as he threw his scythe high up to slam his palms against mine and Leon's chests - Wasn't Spell-Shattering Palm from Exalted, and not the latest edition at that?

    The protective spells we've already woven onto our bodies were dispelled, the Clash of Wills (gamer jargon; it's self-explanatory here) not being much of a contest between his uncanonically-boosted powers and our Supernal Magic.

    Mom and Dad were the first to de-transform back to 'merely' being humanoid wolves; the rest of the Pack did so as well, instinctively trying to shake obvious rage from their heads - They had been about to hit their time limit, I thought through the pain from my chest being bruised and my ribs being almost broken.

    The next thing I saw as I forced my eyes to focus, using Forces to clear my mundane sight, was a scythe blade pressed to my throat even as LN pointed a gun of his own at Leon.

    Then he said, "To serve the Queen of Tears and save Alhambra, I will do anything... So do not take another step or I will kill these two mongrels..."
    Last edited by Dragos Bee; October 4th, 2022 at 10:36 PM.

  10. #10
    Chapter Four: Rescue

    As our parents and the rest of the pack growled at LN, Leon faced the barrel of the kid's gun head-on even as Mom growled, “What are your terms for our packmates? Let you go?”

    The Prince of Tears had the gall to tut at us., “I can extract more than that for the lives of two Magelings. The Queen of Tears wishes to sustain Alhambra’s existence in the realms of The Darkness, and -”

    I tuned out the politics while my mother handled negotiations and tried to dredge up what I knew of Princess lore and what LN was talking about. Basically, Alhambra was the last remnant of The Kingdom, a federation of Kings and Queens who were more akin to spiritual guides and embodiments of ideals than actual monarchs. Their realm had covered much of the world in an era before recorded history before being reduced.

    The Kingdom was a place of happiness and bliss, compassion and kindness, which nevertheless stood firm against The Darkness, a force of decay and rot that embodied the murkier aspects of the human heart. However, the Kings and Queens grew dogmatic and arrogant before falling into discord about who was right and proper. This allowed The Darkness to destroy all but the city of Alhambra, where the local Queen had projected a barrier that allowed it to survive. What was left had become the Dark World, a realm of rot and corruption anathema to Humanity.

    Still, the barrier needed Hope to sustain it. This resulted in Alhambra stealing Hope from the ‘Rebellious Provinces’, their term for our world. Which they believed had been left to fall into savagery as recorded history began. How this works with the Mages’ tales about Atlantis as The Awakened City is a question to ask Ken or his patrons.

    I got ripped back into reality when the Principal barked at the Prince of Tears, “No! Your Queen and her agents will not be allowed to even come close to The Academy. It is forbidden.”

    ‘LN’ replied with a sigh, “Then I’ll just have the deaths of two fellow children on my conscience -”

    Ken interrupted from out of nowhere saying, “Lightning Sparks.”

    LN replied with a sigh. “Then I’ll just have the deaths of two fellow children on my conscience-” He didn't get any further as Ken interrupted with two words.

    “Lightning Sparks.”

    The Prince of Tears was lit up by electricity arcing through his body, forcing him to let go of his gun and scythe as he fell to his knees.

    Lightning Sparks was a technique belonging to the lost Queen of Cups. A monarch whose powers were linked to self-discovery, personal journey and development. The invocation had become completely inaccessible as she had long since become the Queen of Tears due to the corruption of her ideals.

    So how did he have it?

    I stood up to stare at the scene while Ken walked forwards, looking very dashing in the military fatigues of his Transformed Form. He lifted LN up by the scruff of his neck. “You’re lucky I stopped you before you could make the greatest mistake of your life.”He tossed the Prince of Tears to the ground. “You’re not worth slaying yet. But be warned, we can hunt you again and again until you learn your lesson. Now go, and don’t come back.”

    LN gathered up his scythe and pistol, as got on his skateboard to leave. To everyone’s surprise, he didn’t say any last harsh words, verbal barbs, or even public vows of revenge, Still, he resisted the urge to flee so fast that he’d come off as a coward. Instead keeping a calm, steady pace, while he tried to look cool even as he left for an unused side entrance to our right.

    Ken gallantly walked to me, keeping an even pace that made even his footsteps sound rhythmic. He offered me his hand, which I bashfully took as he raised me up.

    I couldn’t resist hugging the other boy as I was lifted to my feet with his help, my head rested on his shoulders as we held each other close.

    Mom gave a low growl that I instinctively sensed was directed at Ken. We pulled back from each other with a yelp of embarrassment at our public display of affection.

    I looked at Mom andI gave her puppy dog eyes, which might wolf cub eyes in our family. “I’m sorry.”

    My mother sighed as she transformed back to full human form. “Make sure to keep safe. Both of you.” She went over and hugged me for a long moment with a sigh on her lips. “My boy is growing up…” That moment was cut off as she walked over to Ken. “You took care of my son. This gives you a provisional right to date him. But be warned, hurt him in any way and I will tear out your throat. Magical Boy powers or no.”

    Ken nodded courteously, replying in a calm and even tone. “And I give you every right to watch over me as I woo him.”

    I blushed red at that, before the Principal interrupted, taking Mom's lead in shifting back even as his expression was still hardened in frustration, “The Taint is gone and the Wound is closed. Let’s go back home.”

    And with that, the hunt ended.

    ------

    Breakfast the next day involved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, more eggs, and bacon, which I and Leon gorged on heavily. Dad insisted on getting milk instead of apple juice, as we were still growing boys.

    My brother was the first to speak, “We frightened him off, but I didn’t expect Princesses, or rather, Princes, to be so strong. By the way, I think Mom is less hostile to your Prince now, so why not ask him for a date?”

    Mom looked at us with a half-glare as she and Dad washed the dishes.“Only. Him. Only. Ken. If Daniel dates someone else, he’s grounded, even if he can throw fireballs.”

    I retorted. “Like my heart belongs to anyone but Ken.”

    “So, Leon,” Dad said, “Any plans for a boyfriend or girlfriend?”

    Leon made direct eye contact with Dad, then Mom, before saying, “Langa Nikiforov. The boy who pointed a gun at me. I’m planning to mess with his heart as payback.”

    As all three of us realized that Leon was serious, Mom huffed, then puffed, before sighing and saying, “If I wasn’t an Elodoth, I would not approve of this. But I have to offer my help because my duty to my pack involves building and using connections,.” She smiled a little before saying, “Plus the fact that you were daring enough to bring this up while I’m around. That was brave.”

    Dad muttered under his breath, “He’ll succeed, by the way. I saw it in a dream last night.”

    “Nice!” I couldn’t help but exclaim, “Let’s bring up seducing him when we meet with Ken.”

    Dad interrupted that before I could go further, “About that; you boys are to meet with the Principal later today. He’s introducing both of you to the people who will mentor you as Mages. Now finish your food so you two can go to the Academy.”

    ------

    We met up with Ken after classes had let out and went to the Principal’s Office. Despite us letting LN live during the hunt, The Principal had a smile on his face while he sat on the chair and looked at us. He gestured to the side, introducing us to his guest. The woman looked to be in her twenties with long, lustrous black tresses, limpid blue eyes, small diamond earrings, and a grey and black dress that marked her as one of the Academy’s teachers even if we didn’t interact much.

    Her name came to me, Elise Carpenter. She was the one who taught the Proximi, the people who had partial access to limited versions of Mage spells in exchange for an inborn weakness. They could Awaken as True Mages just like the Mortals could and the few other True Mages we had done already. She was definitely a member of the Free Council from what we knew, one of the most open-minded and innovative of the five Orders of Magi who made up mainstream Magi society.

    “Daniel, Leon,” Elise greeted us with a smile. “I’m happy to hear that you two have Awakened to the truths of the Supernal. This means private classes with little old me of course, but it also gives you a place in the local Mage Consilium. That’s where The Pentacle, the five Magi orders who want Humanity to become Mages or at least Supernatural and ascend to something more, gathers in order to discuss matters of importance.”

    Elise gave us a sly wink as she continued. “Then again, Daniel and Leon Cook, we’ve always known you were likely to Awaken to become Magi. Most reincarnates from your world do.”

    We froze, then looked at both her and the Principal. The teacher smiled. “What? You forget that while Werewolves are great at Spirit-related matters, we Mages can see what others can’t, including interdimensional connections. Let’s just say that even before the God-Machine’s occult Infrastructure started to break, a certain Demon Agency has been ‘Isekai-ing’ people from your world for at least a century or so..”

    The Principal interjected, “Despite Elise downplaying our powers, we Uratha, the Forsaken, the ‘playable’ Werewolf faction, can more easily detect Multiversal Reincarnates than other people bar some groups of Hunters. We’ve known that your souls are from another world since you were born.”

    He paused to let that sink in before continuing “The Academy couldn’t have existed without the help of a Demon Agency hijacking portions of the God-Machine, which in turn they could not have done without Reincarnates like you two. Because of that, we have a fighting chance. A fighting chance to fix these Chronicles of Darkness….”

  11. #11
    Interlude One: Ken

    Note: Shout out to bronxterror from QuestionableQuesting for helping me make this chapter as respectful to the transgender community as possible!

    As Daniel and Leon talked with Elise about their joining the Free Council (without leaving the Iron Masters), I took my leave of the Principal’s Office and walked towards the parking lot, where my car waited; I had a trip to the local Changeling Freehold. Now, what exactly are Changelings, one may ask?

    I’m not as good as my new boyfriend in internal exposition (I think that’s what he’s doing when he spaces out?), but I am good enough to keep two trains of thought up while heading for my car. After all, who knows when my private thoughts need to be copied from my head and set down in a journal in order to guide future generations of ‘Reincarnates’?

    Now, on the subject of Changelings; they are basically humans who had been kidnapped by the True Fae and taken to ‘Arcadia’ (which is not the same Arcadia some Mages go to), where they are then abused and tortured and used as playthings by the Fae, changing their bodies and souls to a hybrid of Human and Faerie.

    How come these abductions aren’t discovered? Because the True Fae replace their kidnapees with a ‘Fetch’, a duplicate made of magically-infused twigs, string, and a piece of the abductee’s shadow which transforms into a clone of the kidnapped person with a duplicate of their memories. This means that a Changeling cannot just get back their former life, especially as their Fetches are not always unsympathetic replacements; some even lack a personality flaw that their ‘original’ had (although others lack one of the original’s positive personality traits instead).

    As I entered my car and drove to the Freehold’s site - A large mixed-use building with numerous small shops and restaurants on its south front and ground floors and apartments on its upper levels and a roof garden sustained by the co-operative which owned the commercial building. I thought wistfully: I’m coming home.

    ------

    In my past life, I had a typical family; a mother, a father, and a sister. In this world, however, I have two mothers. I was found as a baby, abandoned near a dumpster. My mothers, already Changelings, said that my birth parent was a teenage girl who gave me up for adoption after I was born. She then ended up in a building that was being drained of its ambient hope by the Queen of Tears’ followers, who drained her of hope again and left her to die.

    My mothers found her as well and paid for her hospital bills; not that she was ever likely to wake up, even with all the magic I can access now - Some things are just beyond recovery.

    That isn’t the entire story. But if someone is recording my thoughts for future generations, well, let’s just say that there are some things I wouldn’t reveal yet; some suspense is to be kept.

    My mothers’ business was a small Italian Restaurant, one which produced some of the best Pizzas in our home: Infinity City, a city built where the Olympic National Park should be standing in my native world. I was eating one of their best Margherita Pizzas even as my first mother, Catalina Moretti, asked me about how I was doing and about my now-boyfriend, Daniel.

    “You’ve talked about how he and his brother were your best friends in your past life; they and… One other person.”

    I nodded, remembering them. They were a biological female who was as comfortable with a male image as a female one, who switched between both not out of sexual desire but rather as an affirmation of identity.

    What was their name again? Their new name; not their birth name? Or were they one of the people who merely altered or modified their birth name?

    A flash of memory as I remembered them: Alex. But why was their face unclear?

    Another flash: They themselves erased my memory, but they were definitely reborn in this universe.

    I trusted them. I still do. If they did that to me, it must have been with my agreement. As my second mother, Eleonora Brizzi-Moretti, entered the dining room, she brushed aside her long dark hair, revealing her leaf-shaped ears (usually concealed through Changeling Magic), she smiled and said, “You’re one blessed with true friends; would you prefer to live with them forever, or will you continue your Quest?”

    Still sitting down on the upholstered wooden chair, I finished a slice of pizza before continuing, “I must take the Queen of Tears’ place. Changeling Magic is the best way to do that without falling into the trap of following one of the other ‘Twilight Queens’. And by ‘Queens’, I mean ‘Spiritual Guides’, not actual monarchs although it’s easy to confuse the two.”

    Catalina - First Mom - looked at me, her somewhat chubby face and heavy build emphasizing her frown and the sad, doe-like eyes that made her feelings plain.

    “Mom,” I told her, “I love you, but I love the world too - We have a chance to make things better, the chance to make things right. If the King of Cups and its Invocation is restored, and power can be drawn from it, it’d be a step towards…”

    Freeing humanity from the maze of mortal slavery and supernatural predation. Breaking the monopolies of power both mundane and magical. Something the Old World of Darkness kept harping on about while mixing their content with hypocrisy, a hatred for modern technology and civilization, and misanthropy.

    A hand on each of my shoulders; it was both of my mothers. I broke down into tears as I saw how their faces were downcast with worry, their eyes unconsciously looking this way and that, seeking a way to help.

    “It’s so heavy,” I blurted out through my sobs, “A cause worth fighting for, but no guarantee of winning. Maybe winning isn’t even an option, maybe I’ll be fighting forever. But I want this better future - For myself, for Daniel and Leon, for Alex…”

    Eleonora - Second Mom - said gravely, “Your quest will take you beyond this world, to the center of the Freehold where there is a gate to The Hedge which separates our world and Arcadia. It took us a lot of favors to get the leader of the Freehold to allow you and maybe your friends to open said gate. Even then, all we gave up will be returned to us if you quit now; no consequences beyond not being able to do so again for a year and a day.”

    I chuckled wryly. For a year and a day; Arcadia had made it so that Changelings were creatures of narrative, bound by roles and tropes and the rules of fairy tales and other genres of story. Problem is, in real life; stories never truly end.

    It took a few more minutes to get my tears (The Queen of Tears must be enjoying the irony) out of my system before I gave my final answer and said, “Daniel and Leon need to learn how to use their magic better. Each of us is a peer to a True Fae, assuming that I got my lore from before my rebirth correctly. We can tackle their force with equal force of our own, and their trickery with our own intelligence. But once they are done learning how to use their Magic more effectively, we’re going to the Hedge and maybe even Arcadia to get the power needed to become the new King of Cups and redeem Alhambra.”

    My eyes glinted with reflected light from the setting sun and in a tone that I firmed up with teenage determination, I said, “And once Alhambra is redeemed, once these Chronicles of Darkness are rewritten, I will come back to my old world with my powers and my skills. I will remind the people there that they matter, that they deserve more than what they’ve got.”

    Second Mom looked at me, her dark eyes meeting my blue ones, before saying, “Be careful. Even without falling to a Twilight Queen themselves, you might still fall to their creeds. Remember; you yourself said even the Queen of Tears wasn’t evil in the beginning - Her turn began from a better place, to protect her own family and nation.”

    I nodded in acknowledgment and said, “That’s where Changeling Oaths come in; the most powerful ones can be modified into a failsafe which will kill me if I ever become a villain.”

    Finishing my pizza, cleaning my mouth with a napkin with an overdramatic flourish as though I had drunk blood, I looked at my shocked mothers before saying, “Now, let’s go to the Freehold’s own King, shall we? Summer is ending and so is his allotted time of rule, but we definitely have the time to see him.”

    Daniel and Leon, Alex, don’t worry; all will be well.

  12. #12
    Chapter Five: Born of Two Worlds

    “To be a Mage is to have seen the Supernal Realms, the underlying truth behind Reality, the meta-concepts which in turn form the higher ‘Root’ which is the foundation of this world,” the Magus giving us a tour around the Mage Consilium’s prime meeting spot. “You may know this already, have seen it for yourselves when you Awakened, but it is important to stress this: We Mages have seen metaphysical truth for ourselves. Other supernaturals have their own perspectives and otherworlds and those are not entirely invalid, but they are parts of a much greater whole.”

    Right now, all I could think of was, I know this already from the game books, and This guy looks like Wodime from FGO.

    Hidden for Size


    Originally Kirstachia Wodime from Fate/Grand Order.


    Of course, the name he gave was ‘Prometheus’, and he had introduced himself further as a ‘Magister of the Silver Ladder’s American Convocation’, marking him as of very high rank in the Order of the Silver Ladder, which in turn was the most elitist of the five Pentacle Orders, yet at the same time, voted to allow the fifth Order, the Free Council, to join the ‘Diamond’ (the previous conglomeration of Orders) in order to form a united front against the Seers.

    As he led us and Elise toward the Consilium’s meeting hall, ‘Prometheus’ said, “Note by the way that the existence of a world in which the ‘Chronicles of Darkness’ are fictional and most of our deepest secrets are well-known does irk many members of my Order and others who claim that it undermines the entire philosophy of Magic. So make sure to be tactful when bringing up your Reincarnations from that universe.”

    He then smiled warmly at us and spoke as we reached the large oaken door which led to the meeting hall, “After you’ve been introduced to the various high-ranking Mages of the Consilium, I’ll also give you a refresher on the Silver Ladder’s philosophies so that you can compare them with the Free Council’s; who knows, maybe I can debunk some myths and misperceptions…”

    -------

    The meeting hall was, in fact, a covert convention center hidden within the depths of a five-star hotel, a convention center that legally existed and was paid for but was never used by those unaware of the Supernatural. It had a stage, a podium, seats, and well, all that boring stuff. Oh, and a buffet close to the side, which is great as I’m hungry.

    Honestly, maybe I should skip the internal description of how we were introduced before the assembled Magi of Infinity City; it was a chore anyway.

    Yes, someone can make a meeting between Magi who can shoot fireballs boring, okay?

    -------

    Brodime Prometheus’ lecture, with Elise accompanying him, was much more entertaining and worthy of record, with Prometheus creating a whiteboard made up of pure, congealed Mana (Tass, which is also a term used in the other Mage, Mage the Ascension) while Erisse just took out a mundane erasable marker and began writing on it.

    “All right,” Prometheus said in a warmer, softer tone which nevertheless echoed through the small room which had been reserved for the four of us beforehand, “Let us begin; how much do you know of the Silver Ladder from your previous incarnations?”

    His eyes and posture were relaxed, in a way that made him look more like a dork than a properly elegant and refined man even as he held a cane with a top of pure electrum and used it as a pointer.

    I raised my hand like the dutiful schoolboy I am (of course it was difficult not to cringe internally, I probably looked too eager and ridiculous in that respect) and said, “Well, to summarize, the Silver Ladder are descended from the alleged Priest-Kings of Atlantis, the ancient civilization of Awakened that most Magi claim their heritage from, and believe that Mages should lead Humanity but all Humans should be Mages and that the difference between them and the Seers of the Throne, their enemy, is that they want the entire Human race to be ‘uplifted’... Under their leadership.”

    Prometheus chuckled at that and said, "Well...you aren't wrong, but the phrasing you've decided to use...It draws a clear line between 'us' and 'them'. Making the other side appear to be little more than megalomaniacs, barely removed from the Seers."

    The congealed Mana which made up the whiteboard began forming letters that assumed a matte-black color, letters which spelled out: The Elemental Precepts of the Silver Ladder.

    Diamond; the Awakened are one Nation,” Prometheus spoke as he twirled his cane theatrically, catching the glimmer of the electric lights above, "Diamond is earth, purified and strengthened under the crucibles of fire, hardship, and time. A natural transformative process that forms the foundation of our philosophies - that Mages have a common bond, descending from the Awakened Civilization of Atlantis. They are then further united by the struggle of exaltation, guiding mankind beyond divinity."

    Elise then wrote down on the whiteboard, Drawback: The Silver Ladder believe themselves to be above all mundane laws, which is dangerous when people who hunt 'Witches' are more powerful here than they are in other versions of the setting and have technology which is equal to Magic. Or in other words, Hunters are very strong in this ‘continuity’.

    Prometheus nodded gravely, acknowledging the point before smiling and taking a step back, “This is valid and true, but we have more to gain than we have to lose. Dual citizenship to both mundane and magical nations is always an option, of course... Not that I have ever had to worry about such things before. Now, for the second tenet.”

    He cleared his throat and said, “Thunder: Imperium is the Birthright of all Humanity. No God or Metaphysical Personification of any given Concept has the right to control Human Destiny and there is no Original Sin, no deserving of the punishment levied by a Fallen World. That phrase I emphasized is in the sourcebook you’ve read in your previous lives, by the way, ‘Mage the Awakening Second Edition’, right?”

    We cringed at that, considering how before we got reincarnated into the Chronicles of Darkness/New World of Darkness 2e, we did believe in some form of ‘Original Sin’ as it made sense to us, more so than the restrictions on who we can love.

    After all, before I and Leon died the first time, we saw enough of our own world to know that Humans are not innately good and that it is as naive as a belief in any God to believe that Humans have an innate goodness that will cause them to help each other when every ‘impediment’ to doing so is destroyed.

    This is only my personal opinion; I am not going to preach to you guys - Find your own path.

    Prometheus’ eyes glinted as he looked at me and Leon and said, “Point is, all Humanity has the right to Awaken and become Mages and the Silver Ladder shapes society so that more people can Awaken, become Mages, and then Ascend, retaking Reality from the Seers and the Exarchs and breaking this cycle of futility, death, and despair.”

    Then he gave an exaggerated sigh as he wiped his brow with the head of his cane - How impractical! - and admitted, “Note that this effort is undermined by the fact that no one knows what exactly causes people to Awaken as Mages; some people say that the ‘Oracles’, allegedly Atlantean Mages who defied the Exarchs and their minions, the Seers of the Throne in order to retain a presence in the Supernal Realms and keep part of Reality free, created the Watchtowers which act as a mechanism for Mages to Awaken. Of course, as a member of the Silver Ladder, I do not disbelieve in this dogma as the ‘Supernal’ portion of Reality is literally malleable and subject to multiple entities who can literally rewrite reality so that their intended changes were already part of the universe since their origins…”

    Elise interrupted by raising her hand and saying, “Uh-huh. Enough with the suspiciously specific denial and allow me to write down the Free Council’s compatible yet competing tenet.”

    And she wrote down on the whiteboard: Humanity is Magical.

    “By Humanity,” Elise said sternly, “I mean mundane Humanity; unawakened Humanity, in groups and as a species. Human culture, science, technology, and art already reflect the Supernal Realms, corresponding to new symbols which they themselves create in ‘Supernal Reality’. Note that like the Silver Ladder, we seek to make all Humanity worthy of Ascension, but we do so not by teaching or ‘leading’ individual humans or groups of them but by destroying the Capital-L Lies which crush the Human soul so that all Humans, everywhere, can Awaken simultaneously in a revolution!”

    Prometheus blinked and said, lightly tapping the whiteboard with his cane, “And that is not actually in opposition to our own beliefs; most of us just disdain Sleeper, aka mundane human, culture, science, and technology and that holds us back.” He then made red writing appear on the whiteboard, Blood: The Sleepers Follow.

    His tone turned firmer, more serious, “If Diamond is Earth and Thunder is energized Air, Blood is living Water. Sleepers are wounded by The Lie, which keeps them from becoming Mages themselves. Until we create a Utopia where everyone becomes a Mage, the Silver Ladder must lead Humanity.”

    He then stood aside to let Elise write the next countervailing creed of the Free Council on the whiteboard with her marker: Democracy fosters the Trurh.

    “Yes, you can be skeptical,” Erisse spoke as she waved her right index finger in a tut-tutting way, “But one must remember that the people using lies to get an advantage in democratic politics are those who believe in Hierarchy, and Hierarchy innately dilutes the power of the Supernal World, power shown by Humanity acting in groups, even if the Hierarchy is led by Mages. Thus, we preserve the potency of Supernal Truth by making group decisions, taking on collective responsibility, and electing temporary leaders based on current needs.”

    Prometheus cleared his throat and said, “Which nevertheless leaves room for cooperation as said temporary leaders are often experienced Mages.”

    Then with a flourish of his right hand and a twirl of his staff, the entire top section of the whiteboard turned into floating liquid mana which floated up and congealed into the glowing, blue-white words: Star: The Silver Ladder is the Path to Victory.

    “The Ladder is made up of the stages of enlightenment, and all Humans have the right to select which rung they want to be on, even if it’s not at the top. Despite the Free Council railing against Hierarchy, freedom means the right to choose not to be on top. Of course, this also means that the Awakened, or Mages, have the obligation to uplift Humans towards Awakening, which leads us to…”

    He glanced at a faux-offended Elise, who wrote on the bottom of the board, Destroy the Followers of the Lie.

    Elise then intoned in a solemn tone which sounded like a gothic mausoleum, “The Lie represents the hostile forces keeping Humanity from Awakening, and which forces the artificial divide between Mage and mundane Human by existing. The Seers of the Throne, our enemies, want to keep said divide existent because they are literally motivated by wealth, power, and pleasure. Note that due to the Silver Ladder being arrogant like the Seers and even making occasional common cause with them ‘to save the Awakened as a people, some among us see the Silver Ladder as ‘Followers of the Lie’ too.”

    Prometheus then spoke, “Which I assume is a notion I’ve disabused you two of. So, I presume that you two will at least consider being part of the Silver Ladder?”

    “Not me,” Leon was blunt and unhesitating, “I’ve already chosen.”

    Then he turned to me and saw, in my eyes, that I was not going to share his choice.

    “Daniel, please no. Don’t get taken in,” he implored, even as I turned to Prometheus and said:

    “I will seriously consider it, yes.”

    I am not afraid of thinking differently from my brother. As explained by Prometheus, the Silver Ladder’s creed didn’t sound that bad anymore and they were one of the five Orders of Magi non-villainous PCs can choose to belong to for a reason…

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