Posted by: markfender | March 25, 2015

C:tL – Eyes on Fire – Session 12

“To the Hills”

The PCs are returning their yuppie hostages. When they arrive at the Whispering Pines community, they find armed guards and makeshift barricades on the subdivision. At the gate, they meet Dani’s fetch’s husband. He’s obviously sad that his wife died, but, at the same time, she’d really gone crazy since the apocalypse and was becoming more and more unmanageable. The group pretty much confesses that it was her who spurred them to attack the changelings and, while they’re not comfortable with the monsters, they also didn’t have a large hate-on for them either. With Matthew leading the negotiations, the PCs exchange their hostages and sue for peace which is readily agreed to.

Matthew and Darby come up with a story about looking for some missing children and are given access to Whispering Pines’ creche. There, they spot Dani’s children and Matthew’s Pledge-enhanced senses see them as “wrong.” They fear that the information Dani learned from her Keeper is correct – that it is the children’s blood that’s needed to stop Him.

Back at the apartment complex, The Jack returns from his stalking mission. He hunted one of the larger Huntsman and killed it, expecting a gate to the Hedge to open. This was not the case, however, and the Huntsman was reborn again, but larger and stronger than before. As he relays his story to the PCs, the Huntsman himself shows up. He’s now a towering, troll/tree hybrid capable of smashing through the walls of buildings, which he does with abandon.

The Huntsman has also seemingly gained the ability to telephathically communicate because he begins talking to the PCs. He complains of being ripped apart, that he does not know where his body is, and that he is tortured endlessly. Nettle identifies him as Hail the Ash, or, at least, the scattered fragments of Hail the Ash. Apparently, the Gentry themselves are cut off from the Hedge and had to form servants from their loyal followers. As a privateer who worked with the Gentry (before the end of the world), none of the PCs feel too terrible about his new existence. He wanders off, but not before creating a DMZ-like area of knocked down buildings.

There was much speculation about what exactly this Huntsman was. One of the missing changelings and Nora were all put forward as potentials. It didn’t help that the only PC who had interacted with Hail the Ash before was missing that session. The group discussed finding a way to free him but haven’t pursued that avenue yet.

Darby travels in her dreams to try to find her fetch. She finds her hiding in the crawl space underneath a house. Her fetch seems much calmer now and resigned to her fate, an attitude seemingly matched by Darby. The two come to an understanding.

Flush with this new knowledge, the group sets out to rescue the fetch from whatever torture she’s undergoing. Dani locates her with the help of her dog packs roaming the city. As they approach the house itself, they see people moving around inside. Dani and Darby find the entrance to the crawl space and find Darby’s fetch trapped underneath. At this point, the sky fills with ice and snow and Darby’s Keeper descends from the heavens, screaming that Darby should stay away from her. The power of her wrath destroys the house and the group is forced to seek cover from the storm behind abandoned cars on the streets.

Meanwhile, in the eye of the storm, Darby’s fetch apologizes to Darby, saying that she “didn’t know.” She opens up her ribcage, revealing a crystal heart. Darby takes the heart in her hands, which is warm to the touch. As her fetch collapses, the fetch tells Darby to sing. Darby sings the song she learned from the Hedge and the crystal heart shatters, killing her Keeper, who falls apart into a small snow shower. Darby emerges from the experience, reconciled with her fetch.

The creepy house and the person under the floorboards was supposed to represent the bad side of humanity in a crisis like the apocalypse – the strong subjugating the weak and doing terrible things to them – without doing anything crass like having her raped and tortured. For one, bleah to depicting that in a game. For second, I don’t want to predict how Darby’s player would react to something like that (after all, she did throw coffee in the face of someone for daring to not follow her “plan”). So I kept it subtle. This also tied into the very first image I showed the players – an abandoned house. Did I know that this was necessarily where that picture was going at the time? No, but I thought the echo was important to make.

This song was hard. There are verses about Hail the Ash, Darby and her fetch, and about Darby’s Keeper buried in there, but Laurel is somewhere between Tori Amos and Sheryl Crow for lyrical obscurity so it’s more of a puzzle than some other songs.

In other news, I’m now caught up on reporting these sessions! The next session is actually tomorrow. So maybe I’ll remember more of the particulars (I am terrible at taking notes while running).

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