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IC Morgrave High: Passing Marks 7

OldKentuckyShark

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"If you were a demon possessing someone, wouldn't you want to keep it a secret?," Alishia murmured back. "Something's not right here. I saw him come back. He had some kind of, I dunno, cat-headed bodyguards or something with him. Shusane's a necromancer, if he wants bodyguards he'd make'em himself." The mention of undead prompted another concern as Alishia glanced furtively around the room, more worried by what she wasn't seeing than by what she was. "And where's Cassia's mother? She should be here."

Spoiler: Show
That's a 5 and a 6 on Religion and Insight respectively, if Nicodemus would like to weigh in that would be really helpful right about now, not gonna lie.
So here’s the thing; while you’ve never seen an actual exorcism before, you’re pretty familiar with the mechanics of one. After all, they’re a regular feature in several kinds of popular pulp novels, from schlocky horror books to two-fisted tales of Gentleman Monster-hunters to sexy incubus romances. You’ve also seen some presumably accurate depictions in earnestly but embarrassingly acted public stage productions put on by the Silver Flame as part of their public awareness campaign for protection against supernatural evils. So you know enough to know that every exorcism has three stages.

The first stage is the drawing of the ritual circle of protection, to protect the exorcist and prevent the demon from escaping. It’s a tedious and laborious process that involves much slow, careful drawing as Grace Shadar checks and re-checks her geometric inscriptions.

The second stage involves the chanting of ritualized prayers, interspersed with probing questions, in order to draw the demon out into the open and reveal its personality. Grace Shadar walks around Shusane slowly in a circle, holding aloft her holy symbol, a silver-arrowhead embedded in a chunk of blue quartz carved into a stylized flame, at the end of a silver chain. The symbols swings back and forth in time with her droning prayers, making slow circles in the air. In between ancient prayers Grace tosses questions to Shusane: “When was the last time you had a dream? What language did you speak in it? How many students do you have in your morning class? Describe in single words, only the good things that come into your mind about your mother.”

It is at this point that things definitely start to slide sideways. You know Grace Shadar to be many things; – a cat person, a giving lover, a collector of embroidered shawls – but chief among these is that she is a competent and skilled exorcist. She may be a mediocre scholarly theologian, but she’s a hell of a practical field-priest. This is by no means the first time she’s been dragged away from an official function to conduct an exorcism. But you can tell that even her professional demeanor starts to crack early on when Shusane doesn’t react to the ritual the way she clearly expected. Instead of being harmed by the ritual prayers, he punctuates them with long, drawn out sighs. Occasionally he corrects Grace’s pronunciation and grammar; she’s apparently using ecclesiastical Draconic, with it’s soft s-sounds and shortened vowels, something that Shusane pedantically objects to several times. When she asks him questions, he rolls his eyes but answers quickly and, as far as you can tell, truthfully, if not always helpfully: “I never knew my mother. She died before I was born.” He seems to know all the things Shusane would know, and shows no sign of any underlying, hidden personality.

As Grace winds down, she turns to look at the Headmaster with an awkward shrug. He nods to her. She turns back to Shsuane and raises her holy symbol.

The third stage of every exorcism is, of course, the casting out of the evil spirit.

Grace says a word that you can’t hear; even as she speaks it, it erases itself from your memory. Not many know the right way to to rebuke demons. Her holy symbol flares with blinding white light, and everyone in the little audience turns away. When the light fades into afterimages, Shusane is still sitting in his chair. The one eye capable of closing is blinking rapidly, the other leaks pale, pink-ish tears. When he speaks, his voice is a little rough, but no more than you’d expect from someone who just got blinded by a bright light.

“Are you satisfied?” he asks. “Are we done here?”

Argo ir’Witt looks even more troubled now than he did when he knocked on Shusane’s door. “There was something about… ah… Lady Carmina?”

Shusane stares directly at Alishia with his unblinking white eye. “She dropped in briefly earlier tonight,” he says dryly, “to have a little chat. She had to clear out rather abruptly, afterwards.”

[OOC: with your absolutely stellar rolls, you’re pretty sure that you have just witnessed a perfectly competently-performed exorcism that failed to exorcise anything.]

Xali gives Elzabeth a look. "You think I know where Fleshbinder is right now? Or where he lives? If we knew that then we would summon help and burn his place down. I know the name Dire Bat Girl makes people think I am world-greatest inquisitive, but is not so. Yet. We are talking about an evil conspiracy man with evil conspiracy minions wearing evil conspiracy clothes. If we ever find a lair, he just leaves and picks a new one."
Elzabeth stares at Xali’s face searchingly. You feel that mental pressure again, the subtle probing of the top layers of your mind. Fortunately, Xali’s mind is super-duper probe-proof! The psion-wizard-whatever gives a little grunt of annoyance and slams her hands together in irritation.

“So, can you actually turn into a dire bat?” Xaipho wants to know. This single thought has been preying on her the entire conversation. Callixo looks away, bored; Xali has ceased to be a threat, and the truth or falsehood of her statement holds no interest to them.

Rysha’s nostrils flare, and she gives Xali a friendly little smile. You get the sinking feeling that you maybe didn’t get one over on the druid as well as you thought. Instead of saying anything, though, she makes a little mark in her wax tablet.

“This is useless,” Elzabeth complains. “She’s useless.”

“We could question the chubby dwarf or other tiny drow who are trying to listen in on our conversation,” Callixo announces. “They might prove less… silly.”

Out of the corner of your eye, you see Abigail and Raven trying to lurk surreptitiously. They’re actually pretty good at it.


Then Xali notices that besides the royal party there's another group leaving: Alishia and the teachers.

"Ah. I think this is about the demon-possessed lich I mentioned. Say, earlier you chased Ella, did you not? To a barricaded door? It was around there. Tell you what, we make a deal: we follow those people there and listen in as they discuss the lich. You will then know that what I said is true."
Elzabeth throws up her hands in disgust. “Why not?! It can’t be any worse than hanging around here.”

You get to the little tete-a-tete in Shusane’s quarters a few seconds before the flash of light fills the hallway. Lord ir’Tarn, clearly the most confused faculty member present, has been hanging back. He sees you approach. “Hello.” He blinks. “Oh, say; aren’t you the girl who performed the, ah, cultural dance at parent teacher night?”
 

Sage Genesis

Two
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Elzabeth stares at Xali’s face searchingly. You feel that mental pressure again, the subtle probing of the top layers of your mind. Fortunately, Xali’s mind is super-duper probe-proof! The psion-wizard-whatever gives a little grunt of annoyance and slams her hands together in irritation.

“So, can you actually turn into a dire bat?” Xaipho wants to know. This single thought has been preying on her the entire conversation. Callixo looks away, bored; Xali has ceased to be a threat, and the truth or falsehood of her statement holds no interest to them.
"Hm? Oh, no, it is the totem of a Dire Bat. You see, criminal men on this continent are a cowardly and superstitious lot..."

[Some Time Later]

"...and that is why clowns are harbingers are evil."


Rysha’s nostrils flare, and she gives Xali a friendly little smile. You get the sinking feeling that you maybe didn’t get one over on the druid as well as you thought. Instead of saying anything, though, she makes a little mark in her wax tablet.

“This is useless,” Elzabeth complains. “She’s useless.”

“We could question the chubby dwarf or other tiny drow who are trying to listen in on our conversation,” Callixo announces. “They might prove less… silly.”

Out of the corner of your eye, you see Abigail and Raven trying to lurk surreptitiously. They’re actually pretty good at it.
"If you look for less silly then I do recommend talking to them. The other drow was once a dead human made to keep walking by the lich I mention earlier, until we rebuilt her. I think she never quite got better. But she tries real good at being a drow and learns very quick."


Elzabeth throws up her hands in disgust. “Why not?! It can’t be any worse than hanging around here.”

You get to the little tete-a-tete in Shusane’s quarters a few seconds before the flash of light fills the hallway. Lord ir’Tarn, clearly the most confused faculty member present, has been hanging back. He sees you approach. “Hello.” He blinks. “Oh, say; aren’t you the girl who performed the, ah, cultural dance at parent teacher night?”
"Yes, that was me, along with mother. How are things here? Is the very evil teacher back to his only slightly evil self?"
 

Kai Tave

Registered User
Validated User
As Grace winds down, she turns to look at the Headmaster with an awkward shrug. He nods to her. She turns back to Shsuane and raises her holy symbol.

The third stage of every exorcism is, of course, the casting out of the evil spirit.

Grace says a word that you can’t hear; even as she speaks it, it erases itself from your memory. Not many know the right way to to rebuke demons. Her holy symbol flares with blinding white light, and everyone in the little audience turns away. When the light fades into afterimages, Shusane is still sitting in his chair. The one eye capable of closing is blinking rapidly, the other leaks pale, pink-ish tears. When he speaks, his voice is a little rough, but no more than you’d expect from someone who just got blinded by a bright light.

“Are you satisfied?” he asks. “Are we done here?”

Argo ir’Witt looks even more troubled now than he did when he knocked on Shusane’s door. “There was something about… ah… Lady Carmina?”

Shusane stares directly at Alishia with his unblinking white eye. “She dropped in briefly earlier tonight,” he says dryly, “to have a little chat. She had to clear out rather abruptly, afterwards.”
Alishia knew absolutely nothing about exorcisms or the efficacy thereof, but what she did know was that there was no chance everything was as normal as it appeared to be (which, for Morgrave University, wasn't really saying much, but still). "Oh yeah?," she said, meeting Shusane's gaze unflinchingly. "Where'd she say she was headed? Skipping out on an important social function like this, must have been something important that came up."
 

Ax_

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The little clutch of teachers trudges out of the party and down the stairs to the teacher’s apartments. Hakar keeps Alishia close to himself while the Headmaster walks up to Shusane’s door and tentatively knocks.

“Dr. Shusane?” he asks, obviously not expecting a reply. “We’d like to have a word.”

Argo’s already reaching into his jacket pocket for the master key when the door opens. Dr. Shusane stares out at you. He looks absolutely terrible. The silk half-mask is gone and you can see underneath it that Shusane has been horribly scarred. New skin has formed over the wounds, but the muscle underneath it is atrophied or missing, so that you can literally see the indentations of cheek and jawbone stretching his paper-thin skin. Argo flinches, and Lord ir’Tarn turns pale. He's ditched his plush travel robes and tiger cloak for a plain grey shirt and pants; his usual attire.

“Yes?” Shusane demands. “What is it?”

There’s an awkward pause. “So, I see that you survived your battle,” Argo manages eventually.

“As did you,” Shusane says coolly.

“And you didn’t think to send a message to that effect?” Argo asks.

“I only just returned to the city,” Shusane says. He catches sight of Alishia, and rolls his eyes. Given that one eye is missing an eyelid, this is a gruesome sight. “After you abandoned me in the middle of the ocean, I was indisposed for quite some time.”

“Understandable, understandable,” Argo says, flapping his hands. “Well, if you need to take your time off, to recover from your injuries, don’t hesitate at all.”

“I am fully recovered,” Shusane says, daring anyone to disagree.

“…. Well,” Argo says. “That’s good to hear.” He coughs desperately to fill the stretched out silence. “You see, the thing is, we’ve had reports that you’ve been… ah… possessed by a demon. Which, given the circumstances when last we saw you, seems… ah… plausible. And as you know, you signed the standard Morgrave teaching contract, which specifies that you may be tested randomly for… uh, possession by hostile entities.”

Shusane stares. His baleful gaze passes over the party, lingering on Alishia and Hakar Sharaat. Then he steps back from the doorway. “Very well. Let’s get the farce over with.”

The inside of his apartments is immaculately clean and 100% undead, demon, and bone-golem free. As you file in, Lord ir’Tarn stares with fascination at the huge oil painting portrait of young Shusane and his dead wife. Shusane takes his largest chair and drags it out into the center of the floor, rolling up the carpet. Then he sits down. “Go on,” he says wearily. “Draw your magic circle.”

Grace Shadar eyes both the Headmaster and Shusane skeptically, then bends, pausing to fussily arrange her dress, and starts to chalk silver sigils on the stone floor.

“He does not seem possessed,” Hakar murmurs in Alishia’s ear.
Quietly, Nicodemus looks on.
Shusane thinks him a fool, or at least he did before.
To the point he didn't wish to admit when the Cleric had good ideas in the past.

Hopefully, the madman keeps up with that now, and ignores him.

Spoiler: Show

Taking 10
 

OldKentuckyShark

Doritos from Japan
Validated User
"Hm? Oh, no, it is the totem of a Dire Bat. You see, criminal men on this continent are a cowardly and superstitious lot..."

[Some Time Later]

"...and that is why clowns are harbingers are evil."
Xaipho listens to all of this very carefully. There’s a very Abigail-esque quality to the big lizard-person, although she’s not nearly as flighty and exuberant, and she’s a little more steady in her thinking; she gets there, eventually, but the path is plodding. “So you can’t turn into a dire bat,” she says finally. “Can you fly at all?”

Pause.

“What’s a clown?”

"If you look for less silly then I do recommend talking to them. The other drow was once a dead human made to keep walking by the lich I mention earlier, until we rebuilt her. I think she never quite got better. But she tries real good at being a drow and learns very quick."
Rysha and Elzabeth exchange puzzled glances at this odd aside.

“It’s a polymorph case,” Elzabeth finally says, as if that explains everything.

Callixo’s head turns slightly for a brief moment, and then they go back to staring straight ahead. “The shape of her mind is drow, except for the deep-seated sexual repression and hunger for human flesh. The other one is in love with this one, and should prove biddable as long as we keep the drow captive.”

“And she can hear you,” Raven calls from around the corner. “Wait, what hunger for human flesh?

Abigail coughs nervously.

"Yes, that was me, along with mother. How are things here? Is the very evil teacher back to his only slightly evil self?"
”Uh, that is what we are trying to determine, young lady,” Lord ir’Tarn says distractedly. “It’s nothing to worry about, just a bit of professional screening.” He tries to stand in the doorway to block your view of the exorcism circle.

“Your mother isn’t in the city, is she?” he asks, with slightly-too-forced nonchalance. “Only, my wife never did get a chance to speak with her after the, ah, dance. She had some questions she wanted to put to her.”

Alishia knew absolutely nothing about exorcisms or the efficacy thereof, but what she did know was that there was no chance everything was as normal as it appeared to be (which, for Morgrave University, wasn't really saying much, but still). "Oh yeah?," she said, meeting Shusane's gaze unflinchingly. "Where'd she say she was headed? Skipping out on an important social function like this, must have been something important that came up."
”She didn’t say,” Shusane sneers. “I believe her exact words were, ‘Shit, I’m out of here.’”

Argo glances at lord ir’Tarn, as the lady in question was a friend of a family friend, but he’s currently being distracted by Xali. “Well that sounds... unusual,” he finally manages, but leaves it there. Everyone in the room is perfectly aware that the lady in question is a vampire who can turn into a cloud of mist and fly through a keyhole if she wanted to, but it would be terribly gauche to say so.

Quietly, Nicodemus looks on.

Shusane thinks him a fool, or at least he did before.

To the point he didn't wish to admit when the Cleric had good ideas in the past.

Hopefully, the madman keeps up with that now, and ignores him.

Spoiler: Show



Taking 10
Spoiler: Show
Okay.

A 24 Religion check gets you the following: this looks to be an extremely competently performed traditional exorcism. Grace Shadar is a pro who has been doing this sort of thing for literally decades at this point. The magic circle is complete and unbroken, the prayer chants were, if not up to Shusane’s grammatical standards, then at least still potent. The magic was there, it just failed to find purchase on any possessing spirit. As far as you can tell, to the best of your abilities, there’s no demon in there. It’s just Shusane.

Only the maneuver Grace perfomed at the end was slightly unusual; it's a technique similar to the one used to turn or rebuke undead, but adapted to work on demons. It's something more powerful than the ordinary exorcist of the Silver Flame can pull out of their toolkit.

The 24 Insight gets you the same thing; It looks, speaks, and condescends just like the real Shusane. There’s no sign that it’s a double or a shapeshifted stand-in, or a demon putting on a Shusane impression. Everything you see and hear reads just like the real Shusane.
As if to put a fine point on it, Shusane stands up from his chair and steps over the edge of the magic circle without encountering any kind of visible barrier. “Are we finally done here?” he asks the headmaster acerbically. “I have put up with the little charade long enough out of a sense of duty because it was I myself who wrote the school’s anti-possession protocols, but I am clearly not possessed, and while I do not sleep, I am sorely in need of rest. If there is nothing else required of me, I would kindly invite you all to get the hell out of my bedchamber.”

Argo ir’Witt looks nonplussed. “Well, ah… I don’t have any more to add.” He looks to Alishia and Nicodemus. “Do you?”

Speak now or forever hold your peace.
 

Kai Tave

Registered User
Validated User
As if to put a fine point on it, Shusane stands up from his chair and steps over the edge of the magic circle without encountering any kind of visible barrier. “Are we finally done here?” he asks the headmaster acerbically. “I have put up with the little charade long enough out of a sense of duty because it was I myself who wrote the school’s anti-possession protocols, but I am clearly not possessed, and while I do not sleep, I am sorely in need of rest. If there is nothing else required of me, I would kindly invite you all to get the hell out of my bedchamber.”

Argo ir’Witt looks nonplussed. “Well, ah… I don’t have any more to add.” He looks to Alishia and Nicodemus. “Do you?”

Speak now or forever hold your peace.
"All right," Alishia said, unwilling to trust Shusane (possessed or no, it seemed like a sensible decision in general) but unable to find any apparent flaw with Grace Shadar's methods or techniques, "but then what happened? I mean, we saw what happened when you went overboard but...you've been gone for, well, a while. Why come back now instead of sooner? Where have you been all this time?"
 

OldKentuckyShark

Doritos from Japan
Validated User
"All right," Alishia said, unwilling to trust Shusane (possessed or no, it seemed like a sensible decision in general) but unable to find any apparent flaw with Grace Shadar's methods or techniques, "but then what happened? I mean, we saw what happened when you went overboard but...you've been gone for, well, a while. Why come back now instead of sooner? Where have you been all this time?"
Shusane hesitates for a split second, and you know that, in front of Argo ir'Witt at least, you're getting an edited version of the truth. "After the fight with the demon," he admits, "I was very, very badly injured. I was, in point of fact, at death's door. I have spent months recuperating."

Shusane's mauled face backs that part up at least, but it can't be the whole story; when last you saw the Rakshasa, he was alive and well and definitely seems to have won the battle between himself and Shusane.

Shusane stands up, and very pointedly ushers you towards the door. "Now if you will excuse me, I must rest."

Once he shuts the door behind you, the teachers shuffle around awkwardly. "Did anybody ever imagine," Argo says, "that Shusane would meekly submit to a an exorcism like that?"

Hakar Sharaat says something in the goblin language that literally translate's to something like "my grandmother's asshole", but loosely translates to "not in a million years."

"And you're sure he's not possessed?" he asks Grace Shadar.

She looks troubled. "I'm almost certain. But with him, how could we ever be sure?"

"And Lady Carmina?" he asks.

Grace rolls her eyes. "I know how to get in touch with her, assuming that she's still... around." She was about to say alive, but stopped herself.

Argo turns to Alishia. "It appears I owe you an apology, young lady. You were right to bring this to our attention. Something is definitely going on with our Arcana professor. I think we can avoid evacuating the upstairs ballroom, but I'll put in a word to the royal minders to hurry along the prince and princess's visit as much as possible, just to be safe. Do you want an escort, for security?"

He glances at Xali and Teen Dragon Squad. "Maybe you could go with some of your friends? Safety in numbers, and all that."
 

Sage Genesis

Two
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Xali looks vaguely disappointed.

"Okay," she admits to the dragons in disguise, "So it turns out the lich might not be possessed by a demon after all. I thought he was though. We all did! But hey if I am wrong about this, maybe I am wrong about your friend being dead. Who knows? Keep hope going."

At this point it's bordering on cruelty to the give them hope. So, you know, Xali does it. We could blame it on drow culture but let's be frank, she's the kind of teen who would do this so others even if she were human.

"So now what?"

Ideally, Xali will keep the dragons in the presence of the teachers for just a minute longer. With any luck one of them has some true seeing or similar effect going on, and Shusane can't keep them distracting forever. It's not Xali's fault if the dragons get spotted here...
 

OldKentuckyShark

Doritos from Japan
Validated User
Xali looks vaguely disappointed.

"Okay," she admits to the dragons in disguise, "So it turns out the lich might not be possessed by a demon after all. I thought he was though. We all did! But hey if I am wrong about this, maybe I am wrong about your friend being dead. Who knows? Keep hope going."

At this point it's bordering on cruelty to the give them hope. So, you know, Xali does it. We could blame it on drow culture but let's be frank, she's the kind of teen who would do this so others even if she were human.
You catch Elzabeth’s eyes flaring the second Xali mentions Mazragul. It’s probably better not to poke that sore spot. She is in a genuinely homicidal frame of mind.

"So now what?"

Ideally, Xali will keep the dragons in the presence of the teachers for just a minute longer. With any luck one of them has some true seeing or similar effect going on, and Shusane can't keep them distracting forever. It's not Xali's fault if the dragons get spotted here...
Unfortunately, the only teacher with True Seeing was Shusane, who shut the door. Although it’s possible he can see through doors.

“Now,” Elzabeth says, “we introduce ourselves to this charming teacher. Lord ir’Tarn?”

He turns his attention away from Xali with some effort. “Yes?”

“My name is Elzabeth Zillskin. I’m Ella’s cousin,” Elzabeth says, suddenly radiating demure professionalism. “She wrote in her letters back home that you were looking for a teaching assistant. As it so happens, I’ve recently finished my apprenticeship in the Library at Korranberg, and I was looking for some paying work for the semester.”

Lord ir’Tarn’s eyes brighten. He’s a wizard, as well as a merchant prince, and the only thing better than beauty is knowledge, which is, after all, the same thing as power. “That would be wonderful! I’ve had a half dozen applicants, but none from anywhere as distinguished as the Korranberg Library.” His face falls. “Ah. But now that Doctor Shusane is back, I doubt the University will require me to cover his classes any longer.” He looks genuinely disappointed. Compared to the world of mercantile wizardry and magical land zoning, teaching at Morgrave is actually very interesting.

The Headmaster clears his throat. “I somehow doubt that Doctor Shusane will be returning to his regular teaching duties immediately. Or ever,” he adds under his breath.

"As far as I'm concerned, the job is yours," Lord ir'Tarn says to the tiny dragon.




*******************



To make a long story short; you survive the night. You aren’t visited by demons, or dragons, and none of the towers explode while you sleep.

The next morning Katya, who did not sleep in her dorm room as she makes it a habit never to spend the night in a room that a rakshasa can locate, knocks on your doors and reports that Auralisa is staying in an inn in the Middle Menthis Plateau, which means that she barely made it out of the university district before going to ground. She paid for her room and board with small gold Vol trading tokens, an antique lineage of currency that’s been the talk of the Everbright bazaar since they first showed up this morning. “So at least we know where to fucking find her, if you want to send someone down there to kick in her door and bundle her away.”

The making of further plans is interrupted by the sudden, stone-faced appearance of nearly all the remaining Kells, bearing an invitation from Mr. Khan, on chalk white parchment in his finest calligraphy.

It has been brought to our attention that there exists an ongoing dispute between two parties who we are well acquainted with. We have been formally requested by the first party, a fey gentleman known to us as “Doctor Shusane”, to act as an impartial civil mediator in his ongoing dispute with the second party (and here there is a long list of names of the members of your group, in which the only notable exceptions are Ella and Auralisa; Kell-y/Emily is listed under her changeling name of ‘Emm’). As part of the formal process of mediation, we would cordially invite you to attend a semi-public get-together between the two parties this afternoon at four o’clock in the tea-house at the Aurora Gallery in Platinum Heights. If this time or location are not to your liking, please reply with any suitable alternatives.”

“The process of civil mediation is entirely voluntary and non-binding. We offer it in the religious belief that any form of intercourse is preferable to violence. Please give your response to any one of our daughters.
 
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