"Come now my child, if we were planning to harm you, do you think we'd be lurking here beside the path in the very darkest part of the forest..." - Kenneth Patchen, "Even So."

THIS IS A BLOG ABOUT STORIES AND STORYTELLING; some are true, some are false, and some are a matter of perspective. Herein the brave traveller shall find dark musings on horror, explorations of the occult, and wild flights of fantasy.

Monday, July 27, 2015


In the central part of the kingdom lis the unassuming castle of Anatrea, a noblewoman who has traceries of light running just beneath her skin in elaborate patterns...Anatrea has a fascination with the numenera and dreams of one day fusing herself entirely with a machine, ascending to a type of godhood, as she believes the people of past aeons once did...


One of the usual tricks I use in running a campaign is to set aside a few sessions to focus on each of the characters, something I learned from watching TV shows with large ensemble casts.  The session involves everybody, but the focus that week is squarely on one of the protagonists.  Basically I take cues that the players give me--either from choices in play or character creation--and run with them. On a few occasions, such as when one player in Unknown Armies told me he wanted to play a reincarnated Roman soldier, entire story arcs emerge from this.  In the second episode of Numenera: Jihad, "Castle Aventur," I singled out the Jack, "Beatrix."  His Focus is "Fuses Flesh with Steel" and he chose to leave it open-ended how that happened to him.  How could I resist such an invitation?

THE STORY BEGINS right where we left off.  The Wasteland visionary, Lugar of the Marked Name, bought time for the escape of his comrades from the Shadow Table by turning to confront the pursuing shadow wraith alone.  They make the portal that the shadowy numenera-broker Drakoven opened for them, and Lugar braces for a fight.  It never comes.  The wraith encircles Lugar and prepares to devour him...until suddenly recoiling and fleeing with an unearthly screaming sound.  Something about Lugar scared the thing, and badly.  More on that later. (Hint: It has something to do with HIS Focus, 'Knows Too Much,' from the 'Celestial Wisdom' sourcebook)

Back in Qi the others check into an inn and wait to see if Lugar survived.  The as-yet-unnamed Nano Who Works Miracles (hint to his player...get a name STAT) notices that Beatrix has gone missing.  There are signs of a struggle in his room, but no trace of him.

Half-way across Draolis, in the shadow of Castle Aventur, Myrna--a Graceful Jack Who Fights With Panache--is fleeing a pack of weird Broken Hounds fused with numenera under cover of darkness and in the pouring rain.  She has recovered a powerful numenera artefact from a ruin on the lands of Lady Anatrea, and the noblewoman believes the device rightfully belongs to her.  Despite a valiant effort she is captured, and brought to the cells beneath Castle Aventur.  

Much of the action takes place in this cell block, so we should take a moment to describe it.  There are six cells, three on each side of the hall, labelled "A Matrix," "B Matrix," "C Matrix," etc.  The doors have no bars but approaching them causing severe weakness, nausea, and collapse.  Myrna has been tossed into the A Matrix cell, which has yet another occupant.  This is the girl, Ama, an unfortunate creature who has been the subject of hideous experiments.  (Ama 2(6), a mad deformed thing of putrescent flesh and sticky, oozing metal)  Sometimes she screams herself hoarse in agony, while much of the time she is just catatonic.

The cells have another guest.  Across the way in B Matrix is our missing Jack.  He and Myrna are able to speak across the corridor and he reveals he has been here before...in fact, he spent years on that cell and the laboratories nearby.  In her quest to fuse herself with machine, the Lady Anatrea experimented on Beatrix and his sister, Ama, as well as their other siblings...none of whom seem to have survived.  He escaped a few years back but she has found him and brought him back.

Back in Qi there is a division in opinion how to find Beatrix.  Lugar wants to return to Drakoven, whose information network and teleportation portal could be valuable.  But his Nano companion is against this; he distrusts the shadowy Drakoven and questions his motives.  He decides instead to reach into his own past; though now his is something of a wandering charismatic, part con artist and part faith healer, for years he studied to be an Aeon Priest.  He goes to the Order and his old mentor, Elder Jansen.  Jansen promises to help, and warns him against Drakoven, who is believed to be connected to the Convergence.  

Lugar, meanwhile, goes straight back to Drakoven...who is indeed able to help.  His intelligence tells him Beatrix is back in the dungeons of Aventur, and he sends Lugar there via his portal device.  His arrival is timely.  Myrna and Beatrix had been working together to escape, and Lugar is able to help them do it.  The Nano arrives independently as well; the Order was able to "hack" the dimensional tunnel Anatrea used to abduct Beatrix in the first place and send him through to the source of the transmission.

Their attempt to escape the dungeons fails, and trapped in Anatrea's laboratory they confront her guards.  Hovering in the centre of the room is the Silverite Womb...a blob of protoplasmic silvery liquid 2-three meters in diameter that hovers off the floor.  This numenera fuses any living matter thrust into it with machine.  It was used on Beatrix successfully and Ama less so.  Anatrea hopes to some day use it on herself.

As they confront the guards the lady herself makes an entrance, and we learn the final truths.  Beatrix (whose name comes from his designation, B-Matrix) is not only Anatrea's experiment...he is her son.  Ama is her daughter.  In her obsession, Anatrea used her own children to explore the possibilities of fusing flesh and machine, believing what would work on them should work on their mother as well.  As the others defeat the guards, Beatrix confronts his mother, and tosses her into the Silverite Womb, throwing whatever numenera and random detritus is lying around the lab inside as well.  The Womb seems to overload, it collapses into a puddle on the floor with no trace of Anatrea...as if it digested her.  Beatrix scoops up as much of the silverite liquid metal as he can.

Upon returning to Qi, Beatrix tosses the liquid at the feet of Anatrea's ninth husband, Beleth, who sits on the Council of Spheres.

Missed Episode One?  Look here.

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