Sibling Rivalry

The Story So Far, Modern Age: Part 2
In which allies are gathered, Maggie's sword causes trouble, and a bear is suplexed.

Covers episodes 7-8.

“My master Ophois sends his regards,” the toothless mage in Ivan’s apartment said, and snapped his fingers to ignite the fumes from the broken gas pipe.

The dragons only had a moment to react – but they made the most of that moment. With their mental link giving everyone equal warning, and with their supernatural heritage boosting their reflexes, they scattered. George leapt out the front window, Maggie and Ivan grabbed Ivan’s kitten Mr. Snuggles and leapt out the back window, and Kimiko – standing directly in front of the mage – grabbed him and tried to throw him out the side window. (Shane was south of the river investigating John’s disappearance at the time.)

The blast blew Ivan and Maggie off the fire escape and down to the alley below, and left the insanely lucky George with only a few bruises from flying rubble. Kimiko, near ground zero, made the happy discovery that her dragon legacy sheltered her from the heat and energy of the explosion – but unfortunately did not protect her from being impaled through the chest by a heavy metal rod from Ivan’s exercise equipment. The group grabbed Kimiko’s body, stole the car of the government agent who had been tailing them, and once safe, entered the flashback that Kimiko had desperately self-induced while fighting for her life. They helped her fight through the memories and wake up, and Maggie channeled karmic energy from her heirloom sword to remove most of the damage.

The group tried to spend some time hiding and healing, but found it wasn’t so easy to escape the demands of their situation. For example, the Gehenna organization continued to escalate their recruitment efforts, first “inviting” them out to lunch (and closing the entire restaurant down for some privacy and as a show of power), then returning Father John to the group, and then freezing the group’s bank accounts as a warning of what they could do if their overtures kept getting rebuffed. The group’s negative assessment of Gehenna was only intensified when a stranger slipped them a note saying only “They are not your friends,” signed with a mark the group recognized as a symbol of dragon allegiance from the end of the Mythic Age.

Then the group got an unexpected visitor at their new, secret hideout: Henry Cornelius Agrippa’s niece Sarah. At her appearance, the group had a flashback to the Mythic Age, where she showed up as Lily – but Sarah didn’t seem to share their memories. She began to introduce herself, recognized the group from the charity ball (where she had been the woman Ivan grabbed), and bolted. After a chase, the group subdued her and corrected her mistaken impression that they were government agents. Sarah said she was there strictly as a messenger for her uncle (who backed up her story by phone), and made an offer for the sword. Maggie refused to sell.

Shortly after she left, Sir Arthur Lockholm contacted the group with a warning: Sarah was in fact internationally renowned thief Lise D’Fleur, and Ivan’s actions at the charity ball had inadvertently foiled her latest robbery. The group double-checked the hotel room – but nothing appeared to be missing, except a tuft of hair that had been pulled from one of Maggie’s hairbrushes.

Fortunately, another unlikely ally arrived to help explain things – Ivan’s kitten. Or, more accurately, a spirit from the Mythic Age that the characters’ previous selves bound into a bell and put onto a collar. The group received the bell as a gift from Kimiko’s ninja clan, who tested her claims of newfound power and accepted the group as the reincarnations of their ancient masters. Once the collar was put on Mr. Snuggles, Anagorais awoke within the kitten’s body, and spent her time alternately dispensing tidbits of magical knowledge and enacting acts of petty revenge for her prior mistreatment. One consequence of the hair theft was that whoever had Maggie’s hair could use it as a sympathetic link for spellcasting – making it easier to target the group from a distance. Concerned about scrying, the group moved again, and set up some wards in the new hotel room to ensure the hair thief couldn’t magically locate them.

Meanwhile, Ivan had a wrestling match scheduled, and wasn’t about to let a trivial little thing like “almost being blown up” keep him out of the ring. He got a concerned call from his promoter saying that bookies were receiving a small number of very high-value bets against him and wondering if something was up. The group took it upon themselves to keep the match free of foul play, and formulated a plan that involved getting backstage as the caterers. After nearly setting off an international incident by sabotaging the (Pakistani) catering company with a drive-by attack from an (Indian) rival firm’s van, they snuck in and replaced the (presumed crooked) referee with George, put Maggie and Shane in front-row seats, and verified that the weigh-ins, drug checks, etc., were all on the level. Nobody was expecting a mage in the audience to turn Ivan’s opponent into a grizzly bear, but a quick-thinking Maggie subdued it with her draconic powers, and Ivan suplexed it to enormous crowd applause.

Kimiko noticed that three Slavic men were in the audience and that they seemed to know the mage. Fearing Russian Mafia involvement, she set out to corner them after the match. She caught up with their leader in the parking lot and warned him against going after Ivan, but his two underlings had already headed backstage. The rest of the group, thus warned, retreated to Ivan’s dressing room and prepared for a fight – but the underlings stopped halfway down the locker-lined hall, sniffed the air, turned into giant werewolf beasts, and smashed through one of the full-length locker doors to pull out a hidden Lise. In the ensuing confrontation, the werewolves were doing some serious damage to the group, so Kimiko ran back inside to cover them as the others grabbed Lise and executed a tactical retreat back to the van. The group got away, and dropped off Lise after grilling her on her presence and the hair theft (which she genuinely seemed to know nothing about). She was thoroughly rattled by all the supernatural weirdness, and sufficiently grateful for the rescue to give back Maggie’s sword, which she had pilfered amid the chaos.

At sundown, Maggie was responding to a medical call a few blocks away – with Kimiko along, since the group had wisely decided in the wake of all the attacks to never leave anyone alone – when she instead drove to a tube station in central London. Kimiko, still unused to London geography, didn’t notice anything was wrong until Maggie met with a man in the station and started handing over her sword. Kimiko was charging in to subdue the clearly mind-controlled Maggie – and the others had jumped in a car and were rushing to assist – when suddenly Maggie felt a mental jolt and the sensation of drops of wetness on her skin, as if it were raining. Then suddenly things got confusing, and she was filled with rage and bloodlust, and only one thing was clear in her mind: The man was taking HER SWORD.

So, in the middle of a rush-hour crowd, she pulled out her pistol and shot him in the chest.

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The Story So Far, Modern Age: Part 1
Ominous beginnings as the dragons awaken.

Covers episodes 1-6.

Our story starts with five relative strangers stirring in their sleep amid dreams of a war in a long-distant time:

Maggie Aden, a “street doc” (former paramedic now working outside the system in order to help those who can’t go to hospitals) with an inexplicable attachment to her father’s heirloom sword;
Kimiko Kojiro, a ninja by training (and moderately popular author by cover story) who is visiting London on a mission to confirm the city’s recent resurgence of magic and determine its cause;
Ivan Ivanovic, a professional wrestler in the British federation circuit, who moved to London after his former career as a hitman for the Russian Mafia turned sour;
George MacQuid, an inexplicably lucky, smooth-talking drifter who has been living day-to-day since he walked away from a promising career in the Royal Navy; and
Father Shane MacGowan, a priest and former Army chaplain whose studies and extensive social connections have recently been leading him into occult topics.

Maggie, Kimiko, Ivan, and George woke up from their dreams and felt an almost physical pull toward central London (Shane was unconscious at the time after a car accident the previous night, and would join them the next day under similar circumstances). Their paths crossed at a downtown cafe, and when they met each other, the names – each others’ dragons names – that had been whispering in the back of their heads finally roared forth and then fell silent. The group found themselves with an inexplicable telepathic link and a lot of questions – as a group of wild-eyed people charged up the cafe stairs and attacked them with improvised weapons.

The startled group fled – evading not only the attack but bullets from a hidden assassin’s gun – and watched their would-be assailants burst into flame. This began a search for answers that would ultimately lead to them tracking down the gunman, who fled – and died of a massive brain hemmhorage once cornered. He did however whisper the name “Ophois” as he died.

The group also discovered that a shadowy government organization had taken over the police investigation into the cafe incident, and seemed very interested in the attackers who burst into flame. While following this lead, Kimiko’s break-in of the medical facility was foiled by a government agent who introduced himself as Sir Arthur Lockholm – and let a hint slip that he was a fellow supernatural being. He played a game of information exchange with her and expressed interest in the group, while warning them that he had to honor his loyalty to his employer.

This all was complicated by Maggie’s run-ins with the Freemasons – specifically an upper-class boor named Hugh MacHugh, who had stiffed her a large amount of money over a job. MacHugh sent a goon squad to break into her apartment, and stole her sword – which by this time Maggie had realized had an important connection to her dragon past. He set up a meeting to arrange its return in exchange for lots of money and a groveling apology – but it was really an ambush. The rest of the group discovered his intentions, and coordinated their efforts in real-time to foil his elaborate preparations, showing them the power of their mental link.

The group learned from MacHugh that he had taken the sword (and planned the double-cross) because another Freemason by the name of Henry Cornelius Agrippa was offering a truly absurd sum for anyone who could bring it to him: 2 million pounds! MacHugh didn’t know why it was worth so much. Kimiko cut off MacHugh’s ear as a warning against ever hassling the group again, and left him for the police.

The group had previously heard of – but not met – Agrippa, a rich old Marquis with an interest in antiques and charity work. By coincidence, he had hosted the charity ball at which the group arranged a meeting with Lockholm (in order to give their side of that week’s events to their sole sympathetic ear in the government). At that ball, the group and Lockholm all shared a flashback, which convinced him of the group’s sincerity and served as a bonding experience. The flashback ended with Ivan’s former self healing a human ally of theirs named Lily – as the present-day Ivan similarly reached out, grabbing a woman by the shoulder who looked almost identical to Lily. She slapped him and immediately fled the party, eluding pursuit.

Meanwhile, a fellow priest of Shane’s by the name of Father John left Shane some increasingly disturbing messages about a man looking for God’s blessing to go slay some dragons – and then, after John met some people at a cafe, he vanished, leaving behind only a hurried plea to delete his messages and forget anything to do with dragons. The group did their best to investigate his disappearance, but kept getting interrupted by more urgent situations. (Ultimately, an organization calling themselves “Gehenna” – who had been badgering the group with tactless and increasingly heavy-handed offers of “friendship” in service of a mutual quest for power – returned John to the group, along with the corpse of his kidnapper, in a “gesture of good faith,” which did nothing to improve their image in the group’s eyes. John told his story – that he had unintentionally eavesdropped on Gehenna’s efforts to bring the dragons under their control, and he was about to be killed when Gehenna realized that he was a friend of one of their targets and had value as leverage.)

As the group tried to cope with all of this crap hitting the fan at once, they returned home to Ivan’s apartment. The door was ajar, and the place smelled strangely unscented. There was a man tied to a chair amid giant streaks of blood in Ivan’s rec room. The group cautiously approached him, at which point he looked up, smiled (revealing that he was toothless like the original attackers at the cafe), and said “My master Ophois sends his regards.” He calmly lifted his arms from where he had faked being tied up, and made a gesture to dispel his scent-suppression spell.

As the group suddenly realized that the whole apartment was flooded with gas from a broken pipe at Ivan’s hot-water heater, the man calmly snapped his fingers for a spark spell.

The explosion set off car alarms for several blocks.

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