The Death of the Dragon
It's 1998 in Vegas, and the mysterious shadow-broker and balance in the city, the Dragon, has passed on. Various powers jockey to claim his legacy and his power, and among them, an unlikely alliance:
Agent Able - An aging Federal Agent employed by a black-budget agency.
Erwin - Hobo.
Max -- Black tux, with a glittery collar. Huge top hat. Rose in his breast pocket, white gloves. Clean-cut, square jaw. Dark hair, pencil moustache. Subtlety isn't Max's middle name, obviously.
Dana - Slight-looking civilian, mousey brown hair. Eyes darting all over. She's holding her hand like it's used to holding a pencil. I'm not sure why she's here, but that'll come later.
Pams - Looks like a gangly librarian. Dark hair with the Bride of Frankenstein streak. Glasses. Babyfaced dude.
The team heads off to investigate a house on the Strip.
We suspect we might be at the right place when it's square-cut slice of the American Dream, a piece of Surburbia on the Vegas Strip. You can practically feel the statiscal 2.5 children.
Able pulls the car over further up the street, instead of right outside, like a chump.
Edwin peers at the house. The gate's open, but the front door isn't.
Max sees runes subtly carved all over the place; Pams is about to go open the door when he hears Max ask everyone to step behind him; he needs to Look for something.
Pams does so, and Max sees some shit.
Smoke rises from the runes in a spiral, curling up above the house. Necromancy. Someone faked a threshold out of human souls.
Max tells Pams, but he's skeptical of the whole human souls business, and steps up to the door anyway.
He feels an immense sense of dread as he puts his foot on the doorstep. He seems to hesitate slightly, but knocks thrice on the door anyway.
The latch clicks, and the door swings open.
"B- But the threshold," Max protests.
Pams literally hops inside and outside of the doorway.
Able steps forward to join him, but is similarly shaken.
"Age must be getting to me," he muttered.
Max was shaken, but Edwin doesn't feel it.
The team starts clearing rooms.
Edwin takes the first door, on the left. A sitting room with a window. Dusty, unused.
Able takes the second door, on the right. Same as the first, but with no window. He notes a small trail of space with no dust.
Pams finds yet another sitting room -- window, dusty. With a liqor cabinet. He takes two crystal decanters of brandy.
Edwin makes grabby hands, takes one, and drinks. He lowers it. "That's poisoned," he says, unaffected. "I wouldn't drink it."
Pams is dubious, and drinks from his decanter. Yep. He feels that.
"It's hemlock," Edwin says.
Able investigates the tracks he found; they lead to a patch of wall which has been poorly (ever so slightly) re-papered to hide runes.
"Max," Able said, calling the magician in.
Max was surprised that Able was able to see it, and deciphers the runes, figuring out that one must knock politely to open. He does so, and the door yields.
Beyond, steps stretch into darkness, dimly lit by mystery sources of light. They lead to a basement with an ivory bowl on a table, and a large, steel vault door.
Edwin makes to open it, but doesn't like the feel of the door. Able and Pams have a go.
Max checks out the bowl. It's carved with a series of diagrams. A hand offering a bowl to a man. The man drinking from the bowl, and glowing with a dark aura. The last image depicts him morphing into something dark, but the light flickers and it vanishes. The bowl is full of blood. It's always full of blood.
The Vault opens, and yields... basic survival gear. Most interesting things are mystery bottles and a book.
The book describes the bottles holding potions, and the ritual used to open the Case. We need a golden rod with a silver helix around.
Pams mentions the candles are still lit, and Able's reminded someone has to be around; the dust upstairs was undisturbed.
He finds a hidden tunnel leading outside.
The team heads to the next safehouse, located in Vegas' undercity.
Not far from the residence of Daniel Smith, Purveyor of Dreams.
We find the building relatively unguarded; there's no magic protecting it, nor is the door locked.
Inside is a house similar to the suburbia house -- similar layout, similar layers of dust.
We search it, and find an oversize key behind a false wall -- another part of the ritual. We also find another bowl of blood.
We head for the last safehouse; Edwin sets foot on earth, and a skellington springs forth from the earth.
Edwin doesn't fuck about and bisects it in a single slice.
He's so pissed, he cuts a chunk out of the ground and throws it through the door... and another hidden door beyond, revealing a bowl of blood that refuses to spill, and the rod with silver helix.
Pams dips a finger in the blood and tastes it. Tastes good.
He dips his finger in again. Tastes real good.
He picks up the bowl, and, big chug.
The team tries to stop Pams chugging, it's compelling him.
Max casts an illusion to make the bowl seem empty. Pams casts it aside, searching for more.
Edwin tries to stop him by force. Apparently all that force doesn't mean anything if Pams can suddenly teleport. He's superhumanly fast now all of a sudden.
Long story short, Pams is now marked by power... and he knows where we need to go next.
Pams' navigation leads us to a simple, suburban street. Doesn't seem like much.
There's a manhole cover, which is where we need to be going. I grab my shotgun from the car before we go in.
The ladder goes down... and down... and down. We decide to go back up again.
We emerge in a reality that doesn't seem to quite gel with what everyone else sees... the NeverNever.
We look and see the house we pulled up outside of; it's the only house here, everything else is a flat plain stretching into the distance. Sitting over the house is a dark dome of energy, and a dark dragon atop it.
Pams walks forward, and the Dragon doesn't stop him.
Able demands to be let through, and steps forward, unimpeded.
Max and Edwin aren't able to go in so easily; they feel weighed down and weak. They try asking the dragon for permission, which is granted.
The party steps up to the door and enters.
Pams vanishes from sight immediately. Everyone else sees a man in a hooded cloak.
The man in the cloak holds a sword, and asks who represents the party.
Max and Edwin are unsure. Able steps forward and declares himself the representative.
The cloaked being asks Able to nominate the contest.
Able picks "most terrifying thing they've seen."
Able's seen an echo of something unspeakable in a rift as he closed it.
The hooded figure compares it to a vision of some dark being wreathed in darkness. It's close... but Able isn't even shaken. Able wins.
The party is permitted to pass through the room and the door on the other side.
They rejoin Pams, who hasn't even noticed their absence.
Ahead of them lies a small table, and a long-awaited case. The Dragon's legacy.
Edwin asks the team to wait a moment, he has a plan. His orders are to return the Mantle to Vegas. His orders do not specify if they need to be unworn.
Able agrees. His orders are to return the bag, not necessarily what is in the bag.
The question is, who should take the Mantle?
After discussion, it's decided that Able will wear it; he doesn't fear what might happen as a result, and out of the party members present, is most able to bear it without any conflicts of interest.
Able reaches out to take the bag holding the Mantle... and grasps thin air.
An illusion... which means...!
They spin around and see Pams running for it.
Able opens up with his shotgun; hand-loaded with rocksalt and cold iron pellets. Peppers Pam good.
After a tense standoff, where everyone lays their objectives on the table, we realize there's a solution. Able only needs the bag. Edwin needs the mantle to return to Vegas. Pams, now a servant of the Dragon keeping this house in the nevernever, knows the mantle *can't* go back to reality without being worn/used. Someone needs to take it on.
Able steps up, and equips the Mantle, transcending what's left of his humanity to become the Locus of Vegas; it will he his job to foster despair and hope at the same time, maintaining a balancing act that keeps the darkness beneath Vegas sealed, and the world safe. As his knight, he nominates Pams.
The powers that be aren't impressed by this turn of events, but now that the Mantle has been used, there's not much they can do to Able or the rest of the party while they're in Vegas. The party has to part ways, and does so on good terms; Able promises Max and Edwin that they will always have a place in Vegas, no matter where or when.