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J Osako 18 April 1998
Last Revised 11 November 1998
Daria is owned by MTV Networks. Used without permission. Daria created by Glenn Eicher. World of Darkness and related trademarks owned by White Wolf Games. Used without permission.

A Few Words from the Guilty Party Author

Some time ago, in the aftermath a friend's housewarming party the previous night, I and several friends/acquaintances/total strangers had been watching a tape containing much of the first two seasons of Daria. All six hours' worth. Naturally, extensive commentary was inserted by the various viewers. Among those watching was Kevin Murphy, a game designer with White Wolf and the author of the (im)famous 'Penny Dreadful' novellas. He (and others - it was a room full of gamers) made a handful of comments about Daria and Jane apropos gaming, one of which stuck in my mind : he stated that the episode 'Pinch Sitters' is proof positive that Jane was a mind mage - she clearly used magick to change the personalities of the Gupty children. He then said something comparing the two to Penny ('Yet another example of Hollow Ones who should have been Hermetics' or some such). The rest of the banter, mercifully, has been excised from my memory, but that part remained. Did I mention that I'd only seen one episode ('The Road Worrier') before this? Oh, well.

The next day, flush in my newfound Daria fandom, I spent an unconscionable amount of time looking through Planet Daria and alt.lawndale.com, including the extensive fanfic section of the former. Now, like all fanfic, the Daria pages offered further proof of Sturgeons' Law - I shan't name names, but I'm sure you can imagine whose work I mean. Still, the good ones were often very good, at least as fanfic goes.

Kevin's comment floated through my mind just about that time. Suddenly I was inspired - yes! I too can write some crappy fanfic! Let's do it!

That having been said, I'd like to apologize in advance for this dog to those who don't like it. To those who do like, I suggest raising your reading standards. Thank you.

Joseph John 'Jay' Osako, AKA First Speaker Schol-R-LEA

 


Part 1

I wake up, like usual, to the sound of the universe shouting in my ear. Sitting up in bed, I try to clear my mind of everything. Well. That seemed to do the trick; now only my bedroom is overwhelming me. A vast improvement, to be sure. Certainly better than when I still needed an alarm clock.

A quick trip to the bathroom leaves me feeling chipper, or at least as close to it as I ever get in the normal run of things. I wonder if anyone noticed that I just took an 8.9 second shower...and stepped out of the bathroom dry. Not likely. The 'rents are both downstairs by now, busy getting ready for work, and the day that Quinn gets up before 7:30 is the day I join the Pep Squad.

Well, that grasping sensation in my skull tells me that Jane is awake, too. The phrase What a way to start the morning, huh? seeps up from my subconscious. Yup, must be why we do it every day, I think back.

If this is as wierd as the day gets today, we'll be pretty well off.

 


As it happens, it turns out to be a typically boring morning. By the time lunch rolls around I'm actually eager to talk about the stranger things in life with Jane.

"So, Tommy's been kinda quiet, right?"

A sour look crosses her face. "Yeah. I'm hoping he's gone for good this time, but with my luck he'll show up again eventually."

"Hey, it's not like you meant to kill him or anything. You didn't know what you were doing. I mean, its not like he deserved to die, but he didn't really deserve to live, either."

"Thanks, Daria, that cheers me up so." Her expression gets meaner.

"Let's not dwell on it. I still want to know what we should do about Brittany."

She sighs. "Listen, I know you said that her aura..."

"I didn't say aura. I hate that word, it sounds like something my mother would have said when she and dad were cutting college classes."

"...like I was saying, that her aura was the only one around here that was like mine."

"No, I said that it was the only one except yours that was stronger than everyone else's, except maybe mine." Unlike Jane, I haven't learned how to look at myself without a mirror.

"Right. And that makes you think that she might have some of these wierd psychic powers that we've got."

"I dunno. It isn't like we know much about this. I mean, odd things have always happened to both of us...like how I knew not to eat the psychedelic berries, or how I always just happened to catch," my voice lowers a bit, "Beavis and Butthead just when I could embarrass them most. Or how you can always tell when something was about to fall apart. But its only been since the Tommy Sherman thing that its gotten so obvious."

"OK, but what does that have to do with Princess Glitter over..." she pauses to look around, "...where is she, anyway?"

"Don't ask me. The point I'm making - in case you missed it the first five times - is that this kind of power in the hands of someone that stupid could make Lawndale look like the ending of Carrie."

"And that would be a bad thing?" she said, grinning.

"You may have a point. The problem is, I have one of those feelings that its going to happen very soon. We should at least be ready for..."

Suddenly, there was a lot of noise from outside in the hall, and half the cafeteria crowd started heading for the door. It seems it was little too late for being prepared.

 


After about five minutes, the crowd around the door sort of congeals as people realize that pushing won't get things moving faster. Jane starts to get up, but I wave her down.

"Don't bother. School security will be breaking it up soon anyway." No sooner had I said that, than the kids at the door start filtering back in, mumbling and pissed off. "I'm sure they'll have an announcement about it in a few minutes."

Well, its was about ten minutes, but sure enough Ms. Li's voice came over the intercomm. "Students of Lawndale, your attention please. It is my sad duty to inform you that, due to a terrible accident in the gymnasium, classes will be cancelled for the rest of the day. We ask that you remain in your classrooms for the next twenty minutes so that an ambulance crew can come in to help the injured teacher."

Jane suddenly looked pale. "That's bullshit," she said in too loud a voice. "Someone's dead and they don't want us to see what happened..." she turned even paler, suddenly, as she realised that several of the others were staring at her. "What are you looking at?" she growled.

Then the chair she was sitting on fell apart.

"Shit!" she shouted. Everyone in the room looked in our direction. "NOTHING TO LOOK AT, FOLKS! Move along quietly!" I say to the gawkers. Then, once their attention was elsewhere, I said to her, "Uh, so why didn't know that was coming?"

"Who knows? Damn, that hurt.", she said, sitting back down on another chair. It broke, too.

"YOOOWW!" she cried. You know, I don't think I've ever since her this angry before.

"Hey, Janey, puttin' on some weight there? I can help you get some exercise, if you know what I mean...rrrwr!"

"DROP..." "Jane, no!" I shouted, interrupting her. The last thing she needs is another corpse on her hands. Once again, everyone is looking at us, and I'm too distracted by now to stop her from kicking Upchuck in the nuts.

To be honest, I'd almost say that the look on his face right then was worth catching hell for. Almost, except that the campus guards were already really edgy, and one of them rushes in and starts waving a Maglite in our faces.

"Okay, which of you started this?!?!"

All in all, a rotten day...

 


Part 2

"Daria, I can't believe that you and Jean started a riot in your school like that."

"Mom, it wasn't a riot. Upchuck made one of his typical pig remarks to Jane when she was already upset and she hit him. Frankly I think he got what he deserved."

"Well, that's the sort of attitude that gets you into this kind of trouble! If you'd only spoken to me about it, instead of resorting to violence, I could have gotten a court order against him, or something."

"He's in three of our classes with us. Besides, with everything else that was going on, its no surprise that someone snapped. Every student in Lawndale was wondering what was going on."

"Oh my God! Did you hear about this?" Dad said, pointing to the headline in the paper about Mr. Sevrin's murder.

"Jake, will you please pay..."

"Mom, this is what I'm talking about. We were all sitting around waiting to find out what had happened and a lot of us were getting nervous about it. Jane was begining to panic when her chair broke. Twice. Is it really surprising that she blew up at Chuck when he started hitting on her?"

"That's still no excuse for violence. Really, Daria, I can't let you hang around with someone who is going to be a bad influence on you like..."

"EEEEEEEW! It looks like something ate him!" Quinn was staring at the lurid color photos of the dead gym teacher.

"Jake, will you please put that away, its disturbing the children!" Then, turning back to me, "I refuse to let you spend any more time with this Joan person. And that goes double for her brother. You shouldn't be spending so much time with an older man, especially one as aimless as he is."

"You confidence in my judgement is overwhelming. If you don't mind, I'm going up to my room to pick up the shattered pieces of my life."

"Daria, don't you dare ignore me! If you don't come back here this instant, I'll, I'll...send you to your room!"

"Darling, does Daria seem upset to you?"

"JAKE!"

 


By the time I get upstairs, Jane is already waiting for me in my room. She has a bandage on one hand and a black eye. I knew about the black eye; she ran into a door on the way out of school.

"I guess you heard that, huh?"

"In Dolby stereo. Lock the door, will you?"

I wave a hand at the door and the lock moves itself into place. For some reason, there's a lot of that wierd energy around in my room, and it makes it easier to do that sort of thing.

"Great," she says, waving a newspaper in my face, "have you seen this yet?"

"Dad was busy reading it. Quinn nearly vomited when she saw the photos."

"Well, I guess some good can come out of tragedy, after all." Sitting on my bed, she continued, "According to the article, he was attacked by some kind of animal, but no one remembers seeing anything like that on the school grounds."

"Well, a bear wandering the halls isn't really something that would draw attention, is it?"

"Aaaactuallly....they say that the bite marks are remarkably like those of a wolf."

"Jane, don't even say it. There's no way in a million years that you're going to convince me that..." I stopped short.

"Well, it sure wasn't aliens. And at least one student who was near the gym office at the time fainted. Whatever she saw, it must have scared the piss out of her, 'cos she doesn't remember any of it."

"Jane, there's got to be a better explanation than..."

"Quit doing you Scully impression and sit down. We both know that ordinary explanations don't work. We went over that when our psychic powers started appearing. Now, we know that some people...like you and me...can do things like teleport and read minds and screw around with time. The two of us do it all the time lately. You've seen enough Sick, Sad World to know that there's all kinds of crazy shit out there. Remember the Serculius thing?"

Of course. It was the first time that Highland was on Sick, Sad World: some kind of talking cloud appeared at a monster truck rally and dumped an enormous pile of crap on everyone. I even remember what Beavis and Butthead looked like on the way home; it was the best laugh I'd had in a long time.

Coming back out of my litle flashback, I said, "That still doesn't mean that werewolves exist. I've got to draw the line somewhere."

"You can't draw a straight line to save your life."

Thank you miss art critic. "Funny. Not that you'll be drawing any time soon from the look of things. What happened, anyway?"

"Tried to pick up one of my mom's vases when it was still hot. Don't change the subject. Just because you don't believe in something doesn't mean it can't exist."

"It doesn't mean it does either. I know you're into the whole Area 51, X-Files thing, but..."

"But nothing. The truth is out there, and we already have a piece of it ourselves. Why can't you accept that?"

"Let's not argue over this anymore. What else does the paper say?"

"OK. According to reports, there were bloody tracks of some kind leading from the office to the girl's locker room. They end right in front of one of the sinks."

"So what did it do, fall down the drain? Jump into the looking glass? I don't remember any werewolves in Wonderland..."

"May be it just turned back to it's normal form. Maybe its just one of the students, like you and me."

"Oh, of course. Brittany's a werewolf. Sure."

"What? I never said Brittany. Are you still convinced that she's got some kind of powers?"

"I'm not sure. It's a terrifying thought."

"That's for sure. The biggest ditz in school turning into a giant killing machine. Just what Lawndale needs."

 


The next day, there was a meeting in the principal's office about Jane's fight with Upchuck. To make a long story short, Ms. Li concluded that Jane had been perfectly right to 'proactively respond to Charles' unwanted advances' and gave Upchuck a week's detention. I suspect that her conference with Ms. Barch just beforehand may have had something to do with her decision.

Anyway, as we were coming out of her office, we saw Brittany in the hallway. She was wearing a blue dress, and had an odd look on her face.

"Uh, Daria? Can I talk to you?" Oh, no, its time for me to be 'the misery chick' again. I'll probably be getting this all day.

"Sure. I'll bet you want to talk to me about Coach Sevrin, right?"

Panic flashed on her face. "Uh, yeah. I mean, its not like there was anything I had to do with it, but its really wierd, y'know?"

"Oh, I thought giant animals appeared out of nowhere to eat people all the time."

"You do? I mean, why d'you say that?"

"Never mind. I'll bet that you feel guilty because you never really thought much about Mr. Sevrin, and now that he's gone you can't help thinking that something might happen to you suddenly, right?"

"Uh, yeah, I mean no, I...." she was turning paler. "...I mean, he was a real jerk of a teacher anyway, but its not like he deserved it, y'know? I mean, it just sort of happened, right?"

"Yeah." Jane was obviously bored stupid, and I could guess what was coming next, as burst of psi energy flared out from her. "It really makes you think, doesn't it?"

Well, that was original, I thought at her. A chill welled up on my spine, as I 'remembered' her reply. Hey, it worked, didn't it? That much was clear, from the stricken look on Brittany's face; it must be hard to have to think so much when you have so little practice. Easy target, she continued.

We'd better just leave her with her pain, I answer, slowly moving on. A slight grin crosses both our faces once we're out of sight.

 


It wasn't until the end of the day that anything else happened. Or rather, didn't happen.

What didn't happen was Kevin leaning on my locker like he usually does. Instead, he was just sort of standing in front Brittany's locker, looking more confused than usual.

"Uh, Darlene? Have you seen Brittany around?"

"Its Daria, and no, not since this morning."

"Oh, wow. She was really upset today, and she hasn't been around since before lunch. I mean its kind of depressing me too, y'know? The thing about Coach Sevrin. It really..."

"...makes you think. Listen, why don't you just see if she's gone home? She probably could use you're firm guidance in this time of troubles, you know."

"Yeah! I bet she's waiting for me right now!" Sarcasm is wasted on him, obviously. "Thanks!"

He ran down the hall to where his own locker was. Problem solved.

Or perhaps not. A few minutes later, I heard some shouting from just about that vicinity. Intrepid investigator that I aspire to be, I walk over to see what's happening.

"YOU BASTARD! How can you go around with your best friend's girl like that?"

"Are you crazy? I asked you how it got in my locker in the first place!"

"Oh, sure. I'm sure you planned it that way, to make me think it wasn't you!"

"Kevin, your nuts! Take a look at it! It s all torn up and bloody like Coach's clothes were! Aren't you..."

"Sure there torn up! You couldn't pull'em off her fast enough!"

"Aren't you worried about what's happened to her..."

"You better worry about what I'm gonna do to you..."

Wonderful. I pull up a little closer, and can see that, sure enough, Mac's got a shredded cheerleader's outfit in his hands.

"ITOLDYOUIDONTKNOWHOWITGOTINMYLOCKER!!!!"

This is getting really scary. Brittany's missing, and her clothes are all torn up? Is she the victim of whatever it is that's around? And why would it end up in Mack's locker?

 


Part 3

"What do you mean Brittany's not home?"

"She hasn't been home for two days. I have been worried sick over her. Oh, the thought of something bad happening to my little princess just scares me so."

"Uh...Don't worry, I'm sure she'll be fine. Really."

"Thank you oh so much! It so nice that her friends are concerned for her! Are you sure you won't come in for some lemonade?"

"No, thanks, Mr. Taylor. We've gotta get going...."

"Bye bye!"

At the foot of the Taylor yard, Jane turns to me and says, "That explains a lot. I'll bet he takes the same sensitivity classes as Mr. O'Neill."

"No doubt. But we're back to where we started now, except that this...uhm..."

"Werewolf?"

"Whatever. That its probably gotten Brittany."

"Or else it is Brittany, and she's run off hiding."

"Do you think she's that smart?"

"No." Jane usual smirk grew a bit tighter. "Why are we doing this, anyway?"

"I was just going to ask you that."

"Oh. Well, I guess that we're trying to solve a deep and interesting mystery that threatens the lives of those we love. OK?"

"Not good enough. There isn't anyone in Lawndale that I love."

"Except Trent."

"Your hilarious. I mean, we must be pretty hard up for entertainment these days if we're going around looking into what Brittany of all people is up to, right?"

"Good point. Let's head to your place."

A few blocks down, we get stopped by a man with a microphone and another with a TV camera.

"Hey, young ladies. Would you like to tell our 'Sick, Sad World' viewers what you think of the Monster of Lawndale?"

"Monster of Lawndale? You mean the thing that killed Coach Sevrin and may have gone off with the head cheerleader? Never heard of it." Jane cracks a slight smile.

"Cheerleader? Hold on. Ted, did you hear anything from the boss about a cheerleader?"

"I don't think so..."

"Man, are you guys behind!" Jane goes on. "It was seen carrying the whole football team off in broad daylight. Its about fifteen feet high and looks like one of the aliens from Starship Troopers."

"Ted did you get that? Good. Contact the studio immediately, we've got a hot lead! Where did you say it was?"

"Down by the Lawndale Cemetary. Near Turgen's Creek."

"Let's get going!"

After they left, I turn and say, "Turgen's Creek is nowhere near the cemetary."

"They don't know that."

 


Once back in my room, I bring up again what I saw of the fight between Kevin and Mackie. "You know, it would make a lot of sense if it was Mackie who killed them."

"You've got to be kidding."

"No, really, hear me out. Mackie and Sevrin never really got along. In fact, Sevrin tried to kick him off the team once, right?"

"How do you know...nevermind. Anyway, why would he wait until now? Its been almost two years since that. Besides, I've known Mack for years and he's never been the violent type, except when he's hanging out with Kevin."

"Sure. And then he snaps, killing a teacher he had a grudge with..."

"And his best friend's girlfriend. Not likely. Besides, you never saw anything strange in his aura, did you?"

"I told you I don't...oh, hell. No, not really. Its a little different, but..."

"Huh? You never mentioned that before."

"Well... none are quite the same, you know. Like snowflakes. His seemed more unusual than most, but it wasn't as strong as yours or Brittany's."

"Oh."

Something occurs to me. "You know," I finally say, "there's an odd resemblance between his and Brittany's, actually. I never noticed it before."

"I'm sure its not something he'd be proud of. How are they alike?"

"I'm not sure how to describe it...They're both very...irregular, like a fractal. Swirling lines and motes. Mr. Taylor's looked like that, too."

"Wow, your imagery is astonishing. No wonder you win so many writing contests."

"Hey, I put a lot of work into my stories. Describing things off the top of my head is much harder."

"OK, I get your point. So, do you think there might be a connection?"

"Let's go find out. Where does Mack live?"

 


On the way, we kept talking. "I'll bet it was Brittany after all," I said, "Mack's got to be covering for her."

"Sure. Mr. Sevrin must of tried something with her in his office. She got scared and tore him apart."

"Shit, this is all making too much sense. Do you remember the last time we saw her?"

"Sure, What about it?"

"She was wearing an ordinary dress. Not her cheerleading outfit."

"I never noticed. That is odd. Since when do you care about fashion?"

"The outfit I saw in Mack's locker must have been there since Monday. He's known about this all along."

"Great. So why are we going to Mack's now?"

"Simple. They're gonna take us to where Brittany's hiding."

Just as we were getting to Mack's house, Mack and his father are packing up the Range Rover parked in their driveway. On a hunch, I take a look at Mr. MacKenzie's...energy level, and surprise, surprise, its as high as any I've seen.

"Going on a long weekend, eh?" Jane says as we walk toward them. "Its only Thursday."

Mack's father looks at us icily. Mack himself says, "Not exactly. We're just running up to our cabin to drop off some stuff...uh, some other folks are there and we promised to bring them supplies."

"Anyone we know?" I ask, and then realised I made a mistake.

"The Tay...uh, no, you've never met'em."

"Something tells me that's not quite true," Jane retorts, "Is that where Brittany's hiding?"

Mr. MacKenzie steps in front of us, looming larger than I'd realized.

"I think you'd both best get going. This is none of your business."

"Your aura's showing..." What's making me put my foot in my mouth like that?

"I said its none of your goddamn business! If you don't get the hell out of here you'll regret it!"

"Pop! What's gotten into you?"

"Get inside, son. You know the rules about strangers..."

"Finding out about werewolves?" Oh, shit, Jane, what do you think you're saying? He's ready to kill us. I can see it in his eyes.

His eyes suddenly cool. Oh. Jane pulled it off; I can feel his anger seeping away. He's figured out where we stand, too, I think.

"Get in the car, both of you. You've got some business up in the mountains with us."

 


Part 4

The trip into the mountains was uneventful, even boring. For once that doesn't seem such a bad thing. Not at all. As we get off the main road, into a heavily wooded area, Mr. MacKenzie turns to us and says, "Ordinarily, we'd blindfold any strangers we bring up here, not that we bring very many. In your case, though, I doubt it'd make much of a difference. I will need you to swear yourselves to lifetime secrecy about this." He continues, "You must also swear not to draw upon the power of this caern while you are here. If either of you break these oaths, you will both be killed, no questions asked. Do you understand?"

"Yes, I think." I had no idea what a caern was, but they obviously were dead serious. Jane also agreed.

As soon as the car stopped, we all got out. Mack pulled out some kind of ceremonial knife, and handed it to Jane; she silently unwrapped the bandage from her hand and drew the knife across it, and swore upon her blood not to reveal their secret or 'draw upon the caern'. She handed it to me; after a moment's hesitation, I did the same.

Then they led us down a rough path deeper into the woods. After about an hour's walking, I began to get a sense of gathering energy, which grew as we kept walking. I think I've figured out what the caern is, I sent to Jane. Well, whatever you do don't touch it, she sent back. Uh, actually I think we're in the middle of it right now.

We entered a clearing, in which about twenty people were gathered. The energy seemed centered on the clearing, a lot of energy, more than I'd ever imagined. I could guess why they wanted to protect it. All around there was a feeling of warmth, a protective glow which ran all through me. Wow.

After getting a bit more used to it all, I realised that we were standing in front of some kind of throne or something. A woman who looked suspiciously like Brittany was sitting on it. Yeah, we'd hit the jackpot... Brittany was sitting a few feet away, looking half dead.

It was then that I'd noticed the guards. Big guards. Hairy, lupine ones. With swords. Oh, shit.

"Watcher-of-Truth," the queen bee or whatever said to Mack's father, "why have you brought these two mortals here? I trust you have good reason." She was genuinely pissed, I'd say.

"You Emminence, these two sorceresses have been seeking the cause to your daughter's recent disappearance. They confronted my son and I with knowledge of our true nature. I felt it wisest to bring them before you so that your... wisdom might be consulted." What's gotten into him? He sounds about ready to lick her feet.

"Uh, your Highness, or whatever...listen, all we want is to know what's really going on." I can barely get the words out.

"You don't deserve such answers!"

"My liege, as I say, these two are mages, and it may not be wise to..."

"Silence! I will hear their story, and then they shall face Gaia's justice. Proceed."

Well, Jane and I start taking turns telling what we found out and what we knew. I winced when Jane mentioned how she jerked Brittany's head around, but I think we were both too scared to leave it out.

"I cannot say I am surprised by any of this, save perhaps your gall. I had never anticipated my daughter reaching the change on her own, or I would have brought her into our confidence sooner. As for the death of the teacher, it is unfortunate but just. He had attempted to force himself upon her, and his fate was sealed by his own evil."

Makes sense. We'd kind of guessed that earlier. "But how did Brittany get out of there like that? And how did her clothes get in Mack's locker?" That was Jane, being too damn brave again.

"Your Highness, I think I'd better explain this," Mack said, standing up. "Well, I happened to be going to the gym when I heard this awful scream. I ran in, and there I saw Brittany all in Crinos. There was blood all over her, and on the floor and all, and there was this other girl passed out a few feet away. I knew that Brit's mom was Bearhunter, but I was pretty sure she didn't know anything about it, so I guessed she was really scared. I came up as close as I could to her, and started talking to her in as calm a voice as I could. She must have been more frightened than angry, 'cos she started listening to me right away. Anyway, I told here to go to the locker room, and walk into the mirror - she went in right away, and somehow she got home all right, so I guess I was kinda lucky. Anyway, when she was gone I grabbed her clothes, ran to my locker and stuffed it inside. I was just taking it out to get rid of it when Kevin showed up. I had to think fast, so I turned to him and asked him how it got in there."

Well, I guess that covers everything. Real deus ex machina like, but I'm not about to complain. "Uh, I guess that we're free to go then, huh?"

Mrs. Taylor, or Bearhunter or whatever, stands up and says, "There remains a matter of restitution. Because of your carelessness, my daughter and heir has fallen into Harano. You must pay for this insult."

I was about to ask what that meant, when Jane said, "Your kidding. I didn't think anything could make her depressed. I didn't think she was smart enough to get..."

"How dare you insult my line!" She was starting to look a bit hairy all of a sudden, and I realised we'd just blown it. Badly.

"My liege!" said Mr. MacKenzie, standing between us and her. "Surely... you can see your way, uh, to forgiving the folly of youth... I am sure they meant no disrespect." He was obviously as scared as we were.

"Very well. Child," she says, looking at Jane like she wanted to kill her right then and there, "can what you have done be undone?"

"Uh, well, I think so. I've never thought of making someone happy before, but I don't see why not."

Especially since we're dead if you can't, I sent.

Not now, Daria, this is serious, she replied, and walked over to where Brittany was sitting. She spent a few minutes concentrating on the airhead's head, and soon Brit's expression started to look brighter. "Hey," she said, looking up, "Where am I?"

Amazing how little some people change, isn't it?

La la LA la la...

 


BLOOD AND IRONY Story Notes

(Partial) Character Definitions
This is only meant to give a rough sketch of the characters abilities as they appear in this story (see the WoD notes below if you aren't familiar with the game).

Daria Morgendorfer
Orphan Mage
Arete 3, Will 3, Avatar 4
Forces 2, Matter 2, Mind 1, Prime 2, Time 3
Sanctum 2, Node 1, Fae Affinity, Intuition 2, Expression 2

Jane Lane
Orphan Mage
Arete 3, Will 4, Avatar 2
Corrospondence 3, Entropy 2, Mind 3, Spirit 2, Time 1
Arcane 2, Library 1, Dream 1, (Haunted -2), Enigmas 2, Expression 2

Brittany Taylor
Silver Fang Galliard
Gnosis 0, Honor 0, Renown 1
Derangement : Dumb as a post

Margorie Taylor (Bearhunter)
Silver Fang Ahroun
Gnosis 2, Honor 4, Renown 4

James Baldwin MacKenzie (Watcher-of-Truth)
Child of Gaia Philodox Gnosis 6, Honor 3, Renown 2

Michael Jordan MacKenzie
Child of Gaia kinfolk

Beavis & Butthead
Redcaps ('nightmare' Changelings), Unseelie

 


A few notes concerning Daria and Jane's paradigms
Our Heroes have not, at this time, learned about the true nature of their 'psychic powers' and thus have a fairly serious case of Hollywooditis. Jane, in particular, is willing enlist any conceivable explanation that takes her fancy, and often talks of mutations, UFOs, and other pop culture fixtures. Daria is more reluctant to give such things credence, but will accept anything she can't explain away. Oddly enough, neither one has seriously considered the possibility of a magickal explanation before the events of this story, though Jane is well versed in pop-occult literature. As a rule, they're both pragmatic about it; if it works, they don't wonder why too much. Since they are usually careful to hide their abilities from others (for various reasons), they have not figured out about Paradox (which Jane catches a small bit of early in the story).

The only real 'focus' either uses is Jane's method of using correspondence : she generally will make a drawing or painting whatever she is trying to view, and will 'reach through' the art in order to move things on 'the other side' or to teleport there. Once created, a picture is usable for an indefinite number of times, but is, of course, limited to the perspective shown on it, and if the corrosponding real-world scene changes dramatically enough (i.e., a building in the foreground is torn down) the picture loses its effectiveness. Also, she avoids using Spirit magick actively, as that tends to draw the wraith which haunts her (Tommy Sherman, who was killed by her unconscious use of Entropy magick). Aside from that, the only constraints are their own assumptions about where there powers stem from.

 


For those unfamiliar with The World of Darkness TM game world

Mages
In the WoD, reality is shaped by human belief and willpower. If you are Awakened (that is, you understand this malleability), you are a 'willworker', better known as a mage. The beliefs of non-mages ('Sleepers') are the basis of 'static reality', the real world of everyday events. Disbelief, in turn, could make willworking backfire, a phenomenon called Paradox. 'Vulgar' or obvious magick, which is likely to cause paradox, is very dangerous and can kill or maim the mage who risks it, while 'coincidental' magick, which seems unlikely but not impossible, is relatively safe. A battle between two master mages is often less a matter of 'fireballs at thirty paces' than what would appear to be a string of incredible coincidences.

Most mages have a particular 'paradigm', or approach toward magick, and each mage's paradigm is different. Any way of viewing the wolrd is possible, so long as it allows you, as an individual, to visualize and affect the changes you want; magick may be 'focused' through prayer, Hermetic rituals, tantric sex, drugs, music, art, dance, blood sacrifice, meditation, martial artistry, computer programming, creating a scientific theory, gene splicing, or building and operating a machine. Traditions, Crafts and Conventions are groups of like-minded mages with a (partially) shared paradigm. So-called 'orphan' mages, those who self-Awaken without a teacher or mentor, will 'pick up' their own paradigm out of their assumptions about what magick 'really is'.

In the 13th century, a group of mages, concerned with the dangers that unchecked magick posed to the Sleepers, formed a group called the Order of Reason. They set out to change the beliefs of the 'common man' so as to allow only one type of carefully controlled magick : technology. This was the beginning of the Ascension War, so called because it was fought to determine how humanity would achieve its final state of perfection (Ascension). The Order of Reason was opposed by the Traditions, who wanted to restore freedom and wonder to humanity; the Marauders, who wanted to eliminate stasis and bring total chaos, and the Nephandi; who wanted to destroy (or enslave) humanity. All of this was, of course, kept secret from the ordinary humans.

Over time the Order of Reason won most of the fights, as they made more and more technology static and thus usable by Sleepers. However, by the 19th century, they lost much of their good intent, becoming more destructive and more tyrranical, and many of the supporters of the Technocratic Union (as it was now called) have since broken with them and joined the Traditions (including two whole former technocratic Conventions, the Sons of Ether in 1905 and the Virtual Adepts in 1961). As they pushed technology faster and faster, it grew farther away from the ordinary man; it became impossible to differentiate science from magic (which were the same thing anyway). The dissafected came to distrust the Technocrats, even though they never knew them by name. The balance of power has been shifting unpredictably throughout the 20th century, and many feel that the War is coming to a head.

 

Garou
The Garou, better known as werewolves, are (according to their own legends) the historical protectors of Gaia (the 'soul' of the Earth) from the Wyrm, the embodiment of destruction. Millenia ago, Garou ruled over humanity, keeping their numbers small and hunting them down when they strayed out of their villages. Garou kept select groups of humans as breed stock, and those humans with Garou blood were called 'the kinfolk' and were protected by them.

Eventually, the Garou came into conflict with each over the treatment of humanity. The pacifist Children of Gaia, in particular, argued that the oppression of humans would end in violence.The nobility of the Garou, the Silver Fangs, eventually chose to let humanity develop on its own. Within a few centuries, Garou rule over humanity (the Impergium) ended, and humans, developing magick and technology, hunted the Garou down. They have existed in hiding ever since.

Garou see humanity as controlled by the Weaver, the spirit of Order. They fight to restore the Wyld, the natural balance, and have been the driving impetus behind the ecological movement. Most live in smaller suburban or rural towns, but some, particularly the Glass Walkers and Bone Gnawers, are city dwellers. They live in among humanity (all except the Red Talons, who wish to destroy the humans), hiding their caerns (wellsprings of natural magic energy, which mages call 'nodes') from human magi who would steal its power, and keeping their secret rites and traditions. While they cannot use true magic, they have over the centuries learned to make pacts with nature spirits who the can call on for their Gifts, or bind into Fetishes. All Garou can 'step sideways', travelling into the spirit realm called the Umbra, with the help of a reflective surface such as a mirror. It is their belief that the Apocalypse, the destruction of the Garou Nation, is at hand.

One's place in Garou society is partially determined by the Tribe or bloodline you belong to (i.e., Siliver Fangs, Children of Gaia, Red Talons) and the 'auspice' or phase of the moon you were born under (i.e., the Philodox, born under the half-moon, are the lawkeepers; Ahroun, or full moons, are warriors and leaders; Galliards (gibbous moon) are the bards and socialites).

Others
While they don't appear in this story, there are three other major groups of magical beings in the WoD : the vampires, or Kindred, who trace their history supposedly to Caine and who are the secret masters of human politics; Wraiths, spirits of the restless dead; and the Changelings, faeries originally springing out of the Dreaming (the human collective unconscious) who have been forced to adopt human forms to survive the growing Banality of the world that the Kindred and the Technocracy have created.