Philadelphia By Night

Call of the Crone

Session 52

Your daydreams have a visitor. You wake up in your bed in the middle of the day. You can still feel the pull of slumber on you that indicates it’s still midday with the sun still high in the sky over the city. You can’t move. You can’t access your blood, your disciplines. But you see a shadow grow on the wall. You also see spiders crawl from your body quickly. You see a gruesomely long claw reach over your chest and pick one spider between two nails, crushing its abdomen. The shadow looks gaunt and crooked, with two spindly arms, and boney limbs. And then an ancient hag climbs over to your bedside and climbs onto your chest, like a great vulture peering down at its prey. You begin to sweat blood as she leans in and whispers, “You are my true daughter. You know you are good and you are evil. You do not bow to alien gods. You do not bows to kings. You are both naive and fresh-eyed and yet you are the hag, as I am. You are my true childe.” She leans back and looks you face to face, her hooked nose almost touching yours, the smell of rot and soil and … empty milk containers… rank off her. You realize you’re looking at Mother Farka. And you awaken with a start. – from the dreams of Rowana Arina O’ren

Rowana’s dreams had been plagued by the ancient hag kindred for months. She’d sought out the hag, found her owl guardian, found the junkyard, spoken with the hag, and now she thought to herself, maybe it was time to awaken the creature. It was dangerous, but the Black Dove coterie had need of dangerous allies…

She thought about these things as she flew with Tyler to the Most Blessed Sacrament Cathedral and Church – headquarters for The Bastion. Only experienced Philadelphia kindred knew the truth of its location, but The Doves had their share of dealings with the Black Fox coterie. They were rivals of sorts, even adversaries in their recent trip to Chicago – but never had they been enemies. How things could change in a night.

Deep Throat was already there when they arrived. He’d circled the perimeter of the building, looked inside the barred windows only to find them painted black. He found the etched glyphs painted in dried paint and determined the Lancea Sanctum ritual they invoked. He studied the entrances, but found that every entrance would lead to terrible wracking pains. Someone who’d mastered Theban Sorcery, the Lancea Sanctum’s ritual magic, had protected the building thoroughly. When Deep Throat met the group he told them of the relquaries being held in the building, the magically enhanced weapons, the prisoners in the basement, and the sewers that led to Blake’s cell, where he lay torpored. Even if they rescued Blake they would need to find a way to revive Deep Throat’s mentor.

He didn’t say much about Jin Li, but he’d heard and seen Jin Li in his mad speech:

Though they slept
and hunted and fed
in the streets of the city,
I saw that they were truly
like wild animals.
The Damned who stalked
within the walls
snarled and behaved
like predatory beasts,
but they had no thoughts
left above it all.
They thirsted
without purpose.
I hoped I might find
kindred spirits among that lot,
but how could I know
what to tell them
until I had heard
to tell myself?
I thirsted for purpose.
…And now I have it. I will purge this whole land of them. I will wipe them from the face of this place
— The Testament of Longinus

And at the end, Deep Throat heard Jin Li rename his coterie the Black Hand of God, to represent the black and holy work of vengeance that lay before them. For once the Black Doves found themselves outmatched. Too much was at risk. Sand might have gotten them through the sewers, but Sand was missing. Grant’s luck might have been just the trick, but he wasn’t answering his calls. Elijah might have been able to bypass glyphs that Deep Throat couldn’t, or at least even the number if they met the Black Fox coterie head on, but he wasn’t answering calls. They couldn’t bring themselves to risk a botched job and lose William Blake. And it was then that Rowana proposed a bold plan: awaken Mother Farka; she knew her resting place; and ask the ancient Crone to take bloody vengeance on the Lancea Sanctum, ancient rivals and enemies. In its desperation, the coterie agreed.

Open the Gates …of Hell – Please
Rowana led them northwest, at first along Rt. 309 and then further north into the forested land. They arrived at Odell’s Junkyard. After a few moments of deliberation, Tyler led them to walking straight up to the chained fenced gate. He shook the gate, triggering motion sensor floodlights. The coterie squinted and instantly heard large dogs erupt in angry barking. When the dogs ran up to the fence, Rowana calmed them with a few keen words. Soon a pot-bellied man with a stained wife-beater emerged carrying a shotgun and slinging curses. Deep Throat stepped beside Rowana and asked him politely to open the gates. …“Open the gates please Mr. Odell.” Moments later they were inside and Mrs. Odell smiled as she cozied up to the tall, dark, and handsome vampire in biker leathers. Tyler accepted her invitation inside. In the kitchen there, Deep Throat worked through her addled mind until her son came in, at which time Deep Throat told him to get some sleep and not to come out for anything. Soon the coterie had the three guards sleeping peacefully.

While the dogs remained restless, they walked out into a heavy and eerily sudden downpour. Rowana called the junkyard rats to her and they were only too happy to oblige and tell her where the Crone resided. Rowana led the coterie through the mudslicked paths of the junkyard maze. Deep Throat and Tyler did their best to follow. Eventually they reached a gaping maw in the belly of the junkyard. There was no turning back now: they slid down the mudslide.

Rowana continued to lead them through living thorns that tore at their legs and their arms, tried to grab their torsos and pull them down in a bloody feast for the thorned roots. They passed under Obfuscate through narrow tunnels, and followed their instincts to choose the right paths. Finally they came to an underground pool surrounded by fungus and grasses and mud. They tried to pass their way through, but once again they were harried by aggressive thorned vines, and then a shape emerged from the lagoon. Greenteeth and seconds later Deep Throat noticed tendrils moving toward Tyler, that of the Whispering Strangler. Tyler noticed another figure emerging from an adjacent hall: Isobel Galeano. The Green Lane Coven guarded this chamber, and it delighted in its prize. It was clear this was not the ground to battle. Once again, undermanned, on enemy territory, the Black Dove coterie knew this would not be the time to battle.

Tyler unexpectedly took the lead and turn up his charm. He complimented Isobel on her grace, and she took amusement in his stylish retreat. Eventually Tyler talked her into letting them pass. Isobel was so impressed by his boldness she admitted that she would enjoy a dance at the next Elysium with such a renowned gangrel. Sighing inwardly, the coterie moved forward, fought their way through an even thicker wall of thorns to the hall of the Crone herself.

They found Mother Farka on a slab, her dessicated corpse lying plainly beside a basin of blood clearly prepared for her, still moist somehow. Three large homunculi, massive stone creatures that clawed their way from the mud. The coterie looked at them with gaunt faces: Rowana stood close to the pedestal, drained of blood, drained of will, her body beaten and sliced looking hungrily on the vulnerable torpor elder in front of her; Tyler dropped to his knees, sure to show the proper modesty and hungry, but careful to quell his desire to drink the blood or the ancient; and Deep Throat sliding cautiously into the room, surprised at his own hunger and weary. There she lay, his only hope to save his mentor, and he had no idea if she would awaken and feed upon his frail corpse. At least she’d go for Tyler first, since he knelt in front of him. But if she did awaken with anger or uncontrolled hunger, they would never make it out alive.

Rowana shakily grabbed the basin of blood and poured it into Mother Farka’s mouth. The crone stretched her fingers – long sharp willow branches – and screeched a gleeful call. “Ahhhhhhhh!! I. Have. Awoken!!” Rowana stepped back, unsure. “Free!!!! Free once again!! Free!!” Her eyes searched the room madly, passing quickly over the coterie while it stood stiffly before her.

Before long Mother Farka turned to address her ‘servants’ like an alien creature, and found them sufficiently humble. She spoke to Rowana of her due destiny, and eventually she asked them what they might have of her, since they’d done her this courtesy. Tyler, then Deep Throat warily asked if she could rescue William Blake and destroy the Black Fox coterie. She granted them this request after a few questions to remind herself of pertinent details: what the address meant, what the district meant, who the Black Fox coterie consisted of, how Meir was dead – details, all trivial details.

Then, she flew off, transforming into a host of bats, screaming in rapture, “Freeee!!! I’m free!!! Hahahahaha!!!”

The coterie crawled its way out safely, with 45 minutes to spare. They fed cursorily on rats and vermin of the junkyard. Then they crawled into the car and barely got to Deep Throat’s house before dawn. Just before dawn Deep Throat noticed the 6 texts from Grant.

“Calling you back. Not answering. Why? What’s up?”
“Ran into trouble with kindred assassin. Will call.”
“Could use help Dammit.”
“Elijah’s not answering. Still trouble with assassin. His name is Samuel Mirbeu. Think you know him.”
“Elijah’s still not answering. Think he was ambushed inside the Last Drink. Were separated. Where ARE you?”
“Eli never left the Last Drink. …Still with Samuel. It’s Seven. Eli may be dead. Text dammit. Text.”

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