Spear of Destiny

0c - Prelude: Matilda

A World of Adventure

These scenes are set during the apprenticeship of Matilda, a young American tomboy college student who Awoke as a Moros. She’s apprenticed to one of her professors, Dr. Victor “Archibald” Walthingstone, a middle-aged, dashing British adventuring Free Councilor.

A young woman and a middle-aged man stand across from each other, eyes locked. The man lunges with his sword, which is parried handily by the woman. “Closer, that time!” he says. They trade blows until finally the older man forces several hasty retreats on the woman, finally beating her defenses and lunging in for the kill. A red mark spreads across the white fabric.

The man drops the mask he’s been holding in front of his face and salutes the woman with his epee. Dr. Victor Walthingstone, professor of electrical and mechanical engineering at Stanford University, and now known to to woman as “Archibald”, has been teaching Matilda fencing as well as the magical arts.

He brushes the red chalk from the end of his weapon. “Ready to go again?”

“Damn your height advantage. If we were fighting with foil, I would have the advantage,” Matilda said as she took a deep breath, removed her mask, and wiped a single drop of sweat from her temple.

“We fight with the advantages we have,” Archibald replies, “though we Awakened have a few extra tricks up our sleeves as well. How about we go again, but this time with a little… enhancement?”

Matilda sees her mentor concentrate as he makes a few hand motions, and can tell he’s chanting a bit under his breath. Matilda cracks a small grin taking the clue to parry Archibald’s magical advances and closes her eyes. “You are on.” She mumbles under her breath as she starts to concentrate.

They’re using Alter Accuracy. Matilda fails pretty badly for a 4-die roll, then finally burns a point of willpower to make it go through.

Matilda attempts to strengthen her weapon, and fails twice. She finally catches her mental breath and succeeds. Archibald brings the mask up to his face and the two advance towards each other.

A fencing match proceeds as a Dex + Athletics versus roll. Archibald rolls far, far better than the novice mage.

The more experienced Brit and the American novice parry and thrust back and forth again until Archibald finds another hole in Matilda’s defenses. To her surprise, he doesn’t connect the weapon to her chest – instead, he stops several inches short…and a stream of black liquid shoots out of the end of the sword, staining her white fencing jacket. “Hah!” he says. “Jury Rig, one of my favorites. Combined my epee with an ink pen!”

Matilda looks down at her once white jacket, and ducks under Archibald’s blade only to come up to his off side and shove the bell of her epee an inch short of his nose. “See, I can do that too.” She smiles, rolls her eyes and puts her off hand forward to shake hands, “You best me every time.”

“With practice, and your determination, my dear, I’m sure you’ll be bruising me to no end soon enough,” he chuckles in his gentle mid-Atlantic accent. The sun has gone down as the two have sparred. Archibald eventually calls off the fencing practice and removes his fencing jacket, replacing it with his usual tan shooting coat with leather elbow patches. “We should do some more practical application of your new skills.” With a mischievous twinkle in his eye, he asks Matilda, “Up for a little late-night breaking and entering?”

“With you I will,” Matilda purses her lips tightly. She normally just kept to her gadgets to keep out of trouble. Archibald seemed to be trying to get her out of her shell and be a rebel as much as learn her new skills.

“Oh, it’s not as bad as it sounds,” he says with a smirk. “A friend of mine in the anthropology department just received some exciting new shipments from a dig in Egypt that will be going on display soon. What say we nip in and take a bit of an early peek?”

“I’ll be right there.” Matilda removes her fencing gear and lets her locks of auburn hair fall to her shoulders. She quickly pulls on her tweed knickers and cable sweater before dashing out the door behind Archibald. He leads on out of the building and across the lighted paths of the campus.

The mentor and apprentice reach a small solid back door. Archibald pulls on the handle. “Locked,” he says, “but not too much of an obstacle for us, eh Matilda? Why don’t you take a stab at it – oh, but try not to leave any permanent damage; we don’t need the police, or God forbid one of the deans looking for a burglar.”

Matilda sizes up the door while pulling a shiny pocket watch from her knickers. She holds the watch in front of her while chanting in Atlantean. The reflection in the watch face quickly rotates as the spell is cast.

Plasticity on the door, with a bonus for chanting and the paradox reduction of her dedicated magical tool, her father’s pocket watch. 6 dice and still fails, but thankfully no paradox on the chance die.

“Jezebel!" She hisses under her breath. After a quick huff at the wooden door and a stare that if powered could have opened the door on it’s own, Matilda turned to Archibald, “I’ll give it another try, if it’s alright.”

This time it succeeds, though only for a few seconds duration.

Matilda quickly catches the bottom corner of the door with her foot and passes it to her hand, pulling it up several more inches before it turns hard again. Archibald reaches under and unlocks the door. The two enter, and he closes the misshapen wooden thing. “Do you want to put it back in proper shape, or shall I?” he whispers to Matilda.

Though Matilda’s glare should have been heated enough to melt the door. “I’ll do it.”

She fails again (terrible luck) but thankfully avoids the paradox, now on one die as it’s the second spell in the scene.

Matilda throws her hands up in the air. “Pfffft”

Archibald rolls his eyes. “Don’t fret about it.” He turns the door to putty again and bends it back to meet the door-frame. The two lead on cautiously into the dark hallway.

“Don’t want to risk any lights in here if we can help it – and we can, with a little Forces,” he says. “Shift the light entering your eyes from the infrared to the visible.” He casts the spell on himself.

Two tries AGAIN for Nightvision.

“Alright, I’ll try…<huff> Alright, I’ll try again.” Matilda says as she flubs her first attempt but is able to see down the dark abandoned hall after a second attempt.

Archibald motions her on and leads down the hall. He stops, reading the sign next to one door, nods, then opens it. Inside are four tables, each with a large coffin-sized crate on top. “This ought to be a lark,” he says, carefully moving the lid back from one of the crates. Inside – white cloth wrapped around a human-shaped form.

“What the HELL are you doing, sir? Careful or not, I have to say, this seems a little…well…bad”

“Relax, dear girl,” he laughs quietly as he moves the cloth back. Underneath is a brown, wrinkled, ancient face – a mummy. "These chaps have been dead for years, there’s nothing to fear.”

“Time is no barrier to the Death Arcana, though. See if you can tell how this one died!”

“Well, that would be okay…practice under pressure” She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath while putting her hands over the body and chanting softly….

Forensic Gaze, a very handy one-dot Death spell. Her player, “I sense something…a feeling I have not felt since….”

Matilda feels an image come into her mind – an old man in a strange-looking bed, surrounded by men dressed in white linen and gold jewelry. In her mind’s eye view, she sees the old man’s lungs and feels the bacteria growing inside, poisoning the man and stealing his breath. As she watches, the man gasps and then slumps, dead.

“What did I just see? Did it work?" Matilda explains what she saw to Archibald.

“You tell me – how did he die?”

Matilda closes her eyes hard and repictures the scene, “…sickness…” she says tentatively.

“Spectacularly non-specific,” Matilda’s mentor frowns. He moves the cloth back over the mummy and closes the lid. Archibald opens the next one and peels back the cloth again, revealing another dry face with gaunt cheeks and missing teeth. “How about this one?”

Much better luck on these, for whatever reason, even on 3 dice.

Another image comes into the apprentice mage’s mind. A younger man looks about as if hunted and moves quickly. Suddenly, the scene slows and she sees a small metal object fly through the man’s shoulder, leaving a spurt of blood flying out the front of his chest. The scene speeds up again and the man turns and falls. She realizes that something is out of place – the man is wearing the uniform of a Napoleanic soldier.

“That isn’t right…he shouldn’t be here. This man is not a mummy, he was a soldier killed in battle!” Matilda looks down curiously and pulls back the shroud further to reveal a gaping hole in the man’s chest.

“Hmmm, that doesn’t look like a spear wound. Cause of death on this one?” he asks, peering at the body.

“Bullet wound.”

HAH!” he shouts, making Matilda jump as he slaps the table. “Dr, Morrison’s got a fake! I wonder if he knows…”

Wits + Perception for 0 successes.

Matilda and Archibald flinch and cover their eyes and their dark-adjusted vision is suddenly overwhelmed by what seems like a searing light – someone has turned on the lights in the room. “Run, Matilda, run!” he shouts, laughing as he flees the room. Matilda turns on a dime and flails her way out of the room.

“…the hell?!” a man’s voice yells as the two flee down the hall. “Miscreant students! Come back here!” Echoing feet behind them reveal that the unknown man is giving chase.

Figuring Archibald would plan for such an outcome to this outing, Metilda follows closely behind her wise mentor. Archibald seems to be making fast, random turns through the halls,clearly not retracing the steps that brought you here.

Hah, yea, he didn’t plan for it at all, but the thrill of getting caught is part of the reason he did this on a whim. Matilda burns another point of Willpower on the Dex + Athletics roll to stay upright as she follows on the slippery floor.

Matilda manages to keep up with her mentor as he bursts through an exit door into the cool night. She can hear his laughs echo off the nearby buildings as he finally stops at a tree after putting some distance between themselves and the Anthropology building. He claps her on the shoulder, breathing heavily.

“Looks like we lost him!”

“Yes…now what?” Matilda asks. “Do we need to tell someone about the soldier?”

“And how would we know anything about it? After all, we were never anywhere near old Morrison’s room. Let him figure it out – it might just lend a little humility to that pompous fellow if he finds he has a century-old Frenchy rather than a millenias-dead Pharoah!”

He spins in glow of the streetlamp with his arms raised. “Ah, adventure! It really makes you feel ALIVE, doesn’t it!”

Matilda starts to scold her mentor and then stops herself. She quickly rolls her eyes and replaces her doubt with a subtle grin and she jogs to join Archibald in their walk home.

Tune in next time for more WORLD OF ADVENTURE!

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TJP

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