It took a bit, but we finally wrapped up “Necromancer’s Gambit” from Tome of Mysteries. For sure, there are spoilers here.
One of our players unfortunately couldn’t make it due to real life considerations, so our group this time consisted of:
- Cordelia Miranova, the Initiate
- Miranda “Andi” Caruso, the Spell-slinger
- Ophelia Graves, the Spooky
We still referenced Alice (the Chosen) as doing some of the driving, so as to maintain a little bit of narrative continuity.
When we pick up, the necromancer is escaping in a van that has had the everloving hell beat out of it. ((As we are picking up in media res, the “start of mystery” moves don’t apply.)) Cordelia calls upon the magic of her order to look down the road and see if perhaps his van crashed out. Half a mile down, she can see a bumper and some extremely imbalanced tire tracks, but the van isn’t there. He’s gotten away for the moment.
The group decides to search his house. Inside, they find tremendous clutter: not just dirty dishes, leftover food containers, and soiled laundry everywhere (although those things too!) but lots of stuffed or mounted animals, mostly evidencing a halfway-decent taxidermist but not fully professional quality. The home also has many framed Bible verses and related art, all having to do with the end of the world, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and similar themes. After a brief discussion with Ophelia about how she should not raise these animals as her undead army – at least, not now – they decide to hit him where it hurts in case they can’t track him down again.
Stealing his occult tomes and research notes will do just that. He can’t perform his necromancy without those, and especially not without the other various magical implements and components they find: a sacrificial dagger (as requested by the Order of Fallen Night), a jar of blood in the refrigerator, and the like. Ophelia does grab a stuffed snake for an undead pet; this leads to a long discussion about whether to reanimate a possum instead as well as how this fits with the spells they’ve recently learned from the “Christian Book of the Dead”.
Andi focuses on much more clearly ethical concerns, like determining who the next victim might be. Notes indicate that the funeral home employee, Jessica, has likely drawn Nathan’s eye for this purpose. All the victims are members of this Sunset Prayer Group, and they look at the rest of the list. One of them is the law enforcement contact that the FBI mentioned, Bob Carter. Of course they can’t trust the cops! While looking up more information on the Internet about Jessica, like her home address, they hear a siren outside and see flashing blue lights. Police have arrived to investigate the disturbance and possible break-in. The group jumps in the van that Alice has pulled around back, but ((fails their act under pressure roll and so)) the police get a real good look at the license plate and, well, the rest of their unusual vehicle. Not many black conversion vans with an airbrushed vampire on the side, especially out here in East Texas!
While driving down the road and trying to decide where to go, Ophelia sees something odd: all the trees are dead, with no leaves and bare, crackling branches. When she comments on this, everyone looks at her oddly as they see the trees as perfectly normal, healthy, leaved trees as you’d expect during the summer. After she tells Cordelia about what happened during her earlier ritual (when a tree animated and lashed out with a tentacle), they decide that she has some sort of a curse. Cord wants to banish it; her eyes go black and she mutters in ancient Hebrew. This doesn’t go well: Ophelia’s arm turns into writhing worm-like tentacles ((think Princess Mononoke)), as normally happens when she unleashes the “big whammy”, but the tentacles strike Cordelia instead.
The hunters arrive at Jessica’s home: a small, tidy, yellow bungalow with no car in the driveway and no lights on inside. By this time, it’s quite late at night; where is she? Ophelia calls upon her magic to look back in time, and instead only feels something looking back at them instead. No, they can’t see anyone inside the house, but they feel like somebody’s watching. At this point, they have concerns that the police or at least Carter might be tracking them. They discuss whether it would be better just to destroy the town; once again, Cordelia and Andi convince Ophelia that this is not the way. It’s really late and car rental places are not open here in Tyler, Texas, so instead they go to Wal-Mart and buy black spray paint. The vampire on the side of the van is no longer visible.
At this point, they believe they need to go to the funeral home and see whether anyone is there. The employee lot has several cars in it, and a few office lights are lit. Ophelia decides to unleash her power and end the threat by calling upon whatever dark master has granted her this magic. The trees in the area animate into horrifying abominations with three stumpy legs and flailing tentacles, then converge on the building and destroy it. No one escapes. Andi confirms that three rapidly-cooling corpses lay in the wreckage.
At about this time, they can hear sirens down the road of several sorts and flashing lights on the horizon. They peel out, although they pass by the parade of emergency vehicles and can certainly be observed by law enforcement. On the late-night drive back to Dallas, in the wee hours of the morning, they throw their license plates in a river so they can report the plates stolen in the morning (hopefully throwing any investigators off their tail). Mystery concluded!
Epilogue: As promised, Andi shows up early the next morning with that congratulatory cake for Cordelia’s promotion. Nobody really could sleep after all that, so… time to eat!