[Mage: The Suppressed Transmission] Trial by Fire

Mage: The Suppressed Transmission is a Mage: The Ascension campaign I ran from the summer to winter of 2005 at Quarterstaff Games. I think of it as my first “real” campaign and present my session reports, mostly written just after the action, exactly as they are, excepting the occasional corrected typo.

Before departing to confront Rosen and Stern, the cabal arrived in the central hall of the Winchester chantry, where Mark Gillan introduced them to a new arrival in the San Francisco area, Master Lu Tze of the Akashic Brotherhood, and his pupil, Khan Li. Rather unexpectedly, Lu Tze announced Khan Li was to join the cabal in support of the spirit of unity and cooperation among the Traditions in which it had originally formed. Unsure what to make of these three strangers, Khan Li dutifully followed his master’s instructions, joining the cabal in their endeavors.

As they drove through the city towards the Golden Cup bakery, Henry attempted to recount the cabal’s recent activities to Khan Li. Occasional interjections from Evan and Kay in the front seat did little to make the torturous tales any clearer. Meanwhile, Evan applied an alchemical unguent he had previously prepared, specially formulated to create a barrier against mental incursion. On arrival at the bakery, the mages deemed a subtle approach suitable. To that end, they visited the attached outlet store.

While feigning to examine the store’s goods, Kay discovered a secondary entrance into the main factory. At the group’s prompting, Khan Li reached out through the Tapestry and caused the mental Pattern bound within the cashier to suffer a bout of dizzying nausea. As she rushed to the restroom, the cabal took advantage of the now-empty storefront and stole through to the entrance to the factory floor.

Approaching down a long walkway across a shipping yard, they were struck by the absence of people, particularly in the middle of a weekday afternoon. As they drew closer, Henry’s sharp ears picked up on an obnoxious klaxon sounding repeatedly. On entering the main bakery, the mages were deafened by what they realized to be a fire alarm. In the middle of the open floor area, a fire grew steadily with every passing moment.

Evan took the lead, knowing that time was of the essence if they were to track down Rosen and Stern — whom Henry’s crystalline senses insisted were still in the area — and retrieve the blood which they had forcibly extracted from he and Kay, lest they use it in mystical rites aimed against he and his cabalmates. Halfway up the wrought iron stairs to the catwalk that spanned the length and breadth of the factory, Evan noticed the steps ahead somehow curling. His sense of the ambient Quintessential flow pinged as he realized some being fabricated almost entirely of magic was ahead of him. Even as he began to beat a retreat backwards, the entity lunged forward and grappled with him, its undeniably material talons tearing into Evan. Half falling, half running, Evan, the creature and the other three mages landed back on the factory floor.

Once extricated from the creature’s talons, Evan led the charge out of the bakery, back across the shipping yard and to Kay’s car, left waiting outside the storefront. Behind them they could hear the pounding footfalls of whatever invisible monstrosity chased them. Bursting out on the street, the mages found themselves standing in the headlights of a half-dozen emergency services agencies. As police officers came forward to escort them away and take statements, firemen marched forward to combat the now-raging blaze.

A few moments later, while answering an officer’s questions, Kay glanced over to see the storefront’s windows splattered with impossibly deep crimson gore. Over the crackling noise of the fire, he and everyone else outside could hear the agonized screams from within. As the remaining first responders ran forward to help their comrades, the cabalmates, scattered amongst the vehicles, exchanged a glance. They knew what had to be done. Without time for fear or second-guessing, they charged once more into the fray, led by Kay and Khan Li.

Inside, Kay and Khan Li both neatly kept their balance as they ran across the blood-slick floor. Behind them followed Evan more slowly, while Henry saw to helping the surviving injured out into the street. On the factory floor, Khan Li and Kay found small knots of police officers desperately firing into thin air where a length of I-beam swung about, as though of its own volition. It was when a firefighter ran by, swinging a fire ax wildly, and the responding spurt of ichor from seemingly out of thin air, that showed the mages where to direct the might of their mystic arts. Kay, guided by the divine, perceived the beast as born of flame and shadow.

While Evan attempted to terrify the monster with mental illusions of whatever things monsters have nightmares about, Khan Li opted to face the unseen demon head-on, directing the full force of his ki into a single punch. It landed unerringly, and succeeded in bringing the thing’s attention away from the hapless Sleepers, to bear entirely on Khan Li. It responded by swatting the novice monk away into a nearby brick wall.

Nearby, Kay realized the fire was about to reach a gas line that ran the length of the wall. Proffering his sword before him, Kay beseeched the angels Gabriel and Jordi for aid. In response, a blistering cloud of frost and winter gales howled forth from the tip of his sword, subduing the inferno and coating the entirety of the bakery wall in a coating of ice.

Henry joined the struggle at that point, lobbing whatever debris he could bring to hand in the general direction of whatever it was his friends were fighting. Evan’s continued psychic attacks began to take their toll, and Khan Li had recovered enough to drive another strike at the invisible beast.

A keening wail tore through the bakery, drowning out even the still-sounding fire alarms. Then, with a floor-shaking crash, the beast fell backwards to the ground, scattering cinders and debris in the process. Taking no chances, Kay ran forward and drove his sword deep into where he estimated the left eye to be. He drove it deep, up to the hilt, before hearing the satisfying scrape of metal on bone.

The battle over, the four mages looked at each other as they tried to catch their breaths. The surviving police and firefighters began to step forward, in awe and aghast by what they had witnessed. It was then a heavy groan prompted everyone to look upward, where the roof, eaten away from flame and weakened by frost, finally gave in and plummeted towards them.

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