Chapter 22: Chicago
The game continued from Chapter 21: Arles.
Shadows and Dust
game session #106
played on August 6, 2012
The group awakened to discover that someone had placed explosive collars on their necks, each with a taut line running to the others. As Caleb warned not to move, Elise leaned in, giving the others slack and causing fatal explosions. They found themselves in a brown world of dust and haze, with no people. Exploring the farm around them, Sagesse and Elijah battled off a shadowy figure before deciding to drive toward the city in the distance, which Elijah learned was Chicago from a piece of mail. A booming voice warned that they were being hunted and should flee. Meanwhile, Elise was horrified at the corpses of her friends, but her attempt to flee the scene was met with gunfire from old nemesis Solomon Kane. He shrugged off her rock attacks and chased her down in the cornfield, shooting her dead. She found herself in the same dusty area as the rest of the group, and traveled with them into the city. They stopped to answer HELP on a storefront, but were ambushed by more shadowy figures, who distracted them long enough to pull Sagesse's assistant François into the shadows beneath the truck. Caleb almost let the same happen to him when the booming voice warned that there would be no return if the "dustforms" got hold of him. They fled to a church that the dustforms couldn't enter, where a darkling told them that this "shadow realm" was created for beings like him. Their best bet was to seek out their leader, a powerful darkling whose name they recognized: Lyon Omen.
Elijah searching the farmhouse for clues
They Tell Me You are Wicked and I Believe Them
game session #107
played on August 13, 2012
After fighting their way through more dustforms, the group made it to Lyon's hideout in a massive cathedral, realizing that the booming voice was his. He thanked Caleb and Elise for saving him from the tree of life after Paris, and told them he would be trapped here for many years. This Shadow Realm was a place where darklings could hide out to regenerate from injury or death. After learning more about the place, they pleaded with him for a way home. With his father, he brokered a pact: In exchange for restoring their lives in the regular world, they would have to kill four strangers at four addresses in Chicago, or be damned to Hell forever. Sagesse and Elise were reluctant until Caleb used mind-control to turn the tide. The group agreed and found themselves on Earth again. Sagesse went to the police and learned that one of the addresses was a mafia graveyard. Caleb, Elijah, and Elise bumped into an old enemy, Liesel Schreiner, who revealed that Aidan Kane was her husband (and father of her unborn child), while Solomon Kane was his father, inspiring the man's quest for vengeance against the group. She observed Caleb's powers and proclaimed his need to die, but Elise warned her never to interfere with the group again.
Caleb for resolving the group's disagreement over four assassinations
Elise for warning off Liesel Schreiner instead of killing her
Victory or Death
game session #108
played on August 20, 2012
In the library, the group found a Bible opened to the Book of Revelations, by a spirit. At the first address, they found a condemned church where four sleeping bags were inside a protection circle. A young priest attacked them with a shotgun, dying after inflicting significant wounds on them. Elise deduced that he was one of the new Four Horsemen, assassins trained by the Vatican, a second group too violent even for Aidan Kane, the original "death." When Elise contacted his spirit, he accused them of being "agents of Zackaari." At the second address, a large graveyard, the group talked to random Chicagoans before finding a mausoleum labeled Zackaari. Stepping inside, Sagesse was set upon by an acid-spitting spider that the tomb awakened as a protector. Elise smashed it and the Horseman lurking inside, who had been performing a seance. In his pocket, they found a note with the name Leigngod and an address, checked off.
Elise for destroying the mausoleum spider
The City Beautiful
game session #109
played on September 3, 2012
At the home of their old friend Fayt Leigngod, they found the darkling trapped in demon form, unable to escape from a seal on the floor. They convinced him to revert to human form, and he apologized: He had come to Chicago seeking his mother Ursula, who herself pursued the Four Horsemen, but he was found by nemesis Clementine Grose and trapped in a room for months. Together they found his "landlord," really a US Marshal undercover watching him, crucified by someone named Varian Stavis. After staying a night in a hotel during which they fought off another spider attack, the group traveled with Fayt to the permanent fair at Midway, where they engaged various locals and found Ursula Leigngod trying to reach their target, one of the Four Horsemen, on a giant Ferris wheel. The group killed him, but not before Fayt transformed into a demon before the crowd and flew away in a blind fury, his mind taken over by the beast. Once they evaded police questioning with the help of Sagesse's credentials, the group traveled to the address of their fourth and final target, finding the city's tallest skyscraper with a Masonic temple on the top floor. Their target pleaded to be heard before dying: He explained that a former paladin had intervened in the spells of a lich and himself become undead, taking the name Zackaari from traitors in the Bible, and had inspired the Vatican assassin program in the first place. He was trying to complete the Rituale Dracolyte, a ceremony that would open the gates of Heaven that he so desired to enter, but he would need massive power first. Inside the Freemason meeting room, Caleb found the city's leaders including mayor Carter Harrison and city planner Varian Stavis, who revealed their allegiance to Zackaari just before attacking him with necrotizing curses that dessicated his limbs. The group did battle, smashing open the roof of the skyscraper during a lightning storm and destroying the villainous creatures one by one, finding them to be energy beings who had assumed the form of humans they had murdered. The final Horseman died in the battle, and with him, the knowledge of how to kill Zackaari. Ursula found the group in the ruins and healed their flesh in exchange for a promise to help her son defeat the beast within. Elise mentioned that the Freemasons had mentioned currents, and Ursula helped them deduce Zackaari's next move: The Vatican was at a nexus of telluric currents that enhanced magical power, but was just shy of enough power to perform the Rituale Dracolyte. By manipulating the city's leaders, Zackaari was trying to reverse the direction of the Chicago River, altering the flow of telluric currents worldwide to make the ritual possible.
Elijah for killing Saxton Finn
Sagesse for rescuing Elijah from the police
game session #110
played on September 12, 2012
After Ursula healed the group, she took them to a church to get their mundane weapons blessed, at Elijah's insistence after learning that ordinary weapons would not harm Zackaari. The group said prayers for lost friends and hurried to the river downtown, where the deputy mayor was performing the opening ceremony. One by one, gates opened that reversed the flow of the river, bringing Zackaari's plan to fruition. Elise got into the water and tried to seal the gates shut with stone, but they were pried off their hinges magically. Dynamite and animated spiders took care of other gates as the group tried to stop one by one. Caleb came face-to-face with the withered undead Zackaari, who offered to pray for his soul as he died. Fayt arrived acting like a wild beast, dispersing the crowd; Elijah fought him to a standstill while Sagesse convinced the police not to shoot him. When he lunged at Ursula to kill her, she struck him with a holy dagger and cried in anguish as her son died. As the final gate opened and the river flowed in full, a thunderclap announced the completion of Zackaari's portal spell, too late for the group to stop him. Elise asked Ursula if she wanted her son resurrected.
Hell and High Water
game session #111
played on September 24, 2012
As reporters swooped in on the group, they accepted a sudden offer from a U.S. marshal to escort them and Fayt to safety in a carriage. Elise resurrected Fayt, who was weak and disoriented. After the group told the marshal their plan, he turned out to be a minion of Zackaari, who plunged the carriage into Lake Michigan. Caleb discovered that the dagger he had taken from Zackaari could draw the life force out of the enemy, and they escaped the sinking carriage. La Lumière's local cell leader met them and offered them a safehouse where they could stay the night and recuperate. He inducted Sagesse and Elijah as agents, and reaffirmed Elise and Caleb's good standing, expressing some concern for Gao's whereabouts. Fayt and Ursula opted to leave, saying they were both leaving paranormal work in light of the price it almost cost them. A Catholic scholar told the group of a three-part spell that would carry them over telluric currents to the Vatican. They learned the first part, an invocation, from a priest after Sagesse convinced him to overlook Elise's demonstration of her powers. The second was a candle at a closed orphanage where Elise recognized childhood photos of former ally Katerina Petrovich. When another minion of Zackaari swallowed the candle, they destroyed him and took it from his remains.
Sagesse for talking the priest into teaching her a spell invocation
Beasts of Burden
game session #112
played on October 3, 2012
The group visited a Catholic school to find the third and final item, a map. An excited student named Gilbert, who witnessed their heroics the day before, insisted on helping them, particularly Sagesse. On animal statues in the garden, the group noticed numbers corresponding to Bible verses. It took some time to find and arrange the words, but they found a secret compartment under one statue, where a note directed them to the city's historic water tower if they wanted their map. Inside the building, Caleb was pinned inside a cage as the room was flooded and snipers opened fire with powerful rifles, aiming directly for him. Elise freed him and created a large enough gap for them to escape. When the snipers retreated and spoke German, Elise deduced that they were agents of rival group Die Wächtern, who must have sought to exterminate the "unnatural" Caleb after he was witnessed using his powers in public. They retrieved a stone lithograph containing their map.
Caleb for evading the snipers
Sagesse for solving the animal statue puzzle
game session #113
played on October 11, 2012
With the three spell components and their new assistant Gilbert, the group entered the Chicago River in a boat and cast the spell, transporting them suddenly to the Tiber River in front of St. Peter's Square, where Sagesse nearly drowned. Locals brought them the only other American in the vicinity, old ally Katerina Petrovich. She gave them an audience with Pope Leo XIII who pledged his support. In the VIO office, they equipped holy weapons and learned of Solomon Kane's origin and how a magic spear resurrects him whenever he dies, unable to be killed the same way twice, with the knowledge of where to find his prey next. In the catacombs beneath St. Peter's Basilica, the group discovered that old enemy Salistra had been freed from the prison cell where Katerina had incarcerated her. After surviving her traps, they found Zackaari performing his ritual. The rock opened beneath them and old enemies began emerging from the hellfire, while beams of light from above revealed the spirits of deceased friends and family, including the ghost of Katerina herself. Before they could stop her, the fake Katerina stabbed Elijah, extracting his soul, and revealing herself as a minion of Zackaari wearing Katerina's flesh. Salistra also revealed herself and was stabbed dead for her treachery. Elijah's desecration of the holy site was punished by a near-collapse into the hellfire. The battle against Zackaari was difficult and pitched. Caleb disrupted his spell and sealed the gates of Heaven, and was killed by repeated bolts of raw power, though Elise resurrected him. Together, all four heroes battered Zackaari into submission, until a giant fiery hand pulled him down into the hellfire.
Caleb for teamwork in defeating Zackaari
Elijah for teamwork in defeating Zackaari
Elise for teamwork in defeating Zackaari
Sagesse for teamwork in defeating Zackaari
The game continued in Chapter 23: Flagstaff.