Isaac

You reach the cathedral in Queens after about just short of an hour of travel. Keeping the demon in the containment unit is a struggle but you can maintain it for now. If the field begins to lose integrity, theoretically, the warning light will go off.

The sun has gone down and the sky is cloudy so darkness falls quickly as you travel. Public transportation is spotty so you have to call up an ARM vehicle – right now they’re more reliable than taxis as well.

There’s a huge amount of traffic, all headed out of the city, but the ARM vehicle simply violates rules of the road, driving over curbs and scattering pedestrians and driving through empty oncoming lanes. No one complains. There seems to be a general breakdown in the city setting in.

You reach the cathedral and get out of the Escalade. The drivers say they’ll wait and start smoking and talking, looking around at a borough they don’t see much. Sylvia gives them some cash and they laugh quietly – but take it.

Reaching the doors of the cathedral you’re met with the first female disciple you’ve seen, dressed in the vague grey robes that Isaac normally wears – suggestive of some religious order but not specific to any of them. She ushers you inside silently and brings you to a classroom connected to the main sanctuary by an enclosed walkway.

Isaac is there, seated. Two disciples are depositing stacks of books on a table nearby. He’s…translucent. He looks older than he did, more worn thin. He greets you quietly but doesn’t get up. There are chairs arranged for the five of you.

(Presumably Sway first heals him. He’s cooperative with whatever it is that she does, and very likely seems familliar with what she is using as a rote)

He asks Sway only to help quicken his healing – help his body restore itself, but not in a way that would seem overtly unnatural. He’s willing to wait weeks or more to avoid paradox.

Once this is complete (Sway perceives that he’s already quickened his own healing, but doesn’t have the power to do much beyond dulling pain and bolstering his body) he relaxes, or slumps, slightly in the seat.

“I was happy to learn that you survived, and were found. You tell me you have…a demon of some sort. Tell me what you know about it.” One of his disciples is also in the room – the female one who greeted you. She has a quietly curious look on her face. All of the books arrayed near Isaac look like books on demonology – (Sylvia and Howard know enough to recognize Latin, German, Sanscrit and Arabic on their covers, and all look old).

21 thoughts on “Isaac

  1. Doug, does Isaac’s Avatar look healthy? Is it fully present or somewhat distant? If it is even slightly distant Alistair offers to help Isaac with that as well.Then, on to the matter at hand:“Right. Ever since I can remember, when things got tense or violent in my life, they quickly got out of hand. One perp in an alley became a gang brawl. One rapist in the park became an armed chase through crowds of bystanders. Etc… I had always thought this was some kind of curse. After my awakening I began to notice it in more concrete ways. Also, others began to tell me that they felt I was under the influence of some sort of ban, or possession – including yourself. I explored this in the privacy of my sanctum and identified some presence within me feeding off my actions. In fact, it seems that it has been with my avatar for a very very long time, through many incarnations. In each of these instances I was some sort of warrior either hero or villian, but always violent. Even when the actions I took were good or for the benefit of the innocent, the violence resulting from them seemed to feed this presence. I had visions of it growing from my side like a tumor and splitting off. Not just in myself but in many people. All over the world…I decided it was time to get rid of this demon. St. Columba prescribed penance for my sins of violence in this life. I added to this a list of sins from my many past incarnations and prayed it every morning and every night for two weeks. At the end of these two weeks I constructed a spiritual lash and mortified my soul until the demon was cast out of me. It manifested as an image of myself made up of roiling crows and fled the sanctum…Since then I have encountered it twice. Once in a hazy place my companions and I seem to go when we dream. There he was lord of my private little world punishing the people there with grotesque enforced penance and building an empire. The second time was just an hour ago. I asked sway to help me scry on my ex-wife to make sure she was okay following the destruction wrought by the Rogue Council. He was there, beguiling them in some fashion. I lept through the portal and tried to subdue him. He doubled himself and attacked us back in the Sanctum as well. At first I attempted to send him back to hell, but it seemed extraordinarily difficult and vulgar as though this was his natural home. I then resorted to force again, perhaps regretably, but I took him down (learning in the process that no weapon is capable of destroying him). I took him back to the sanctum. His double escaped, but Howard and I were able to contain him in this case and keep him there (with some effort)…St. Columba, of blessed memory, did not know how we might destroy such a fiend – he suggested starving it. So we come seeking your wisdom in this matter. I am convinced that this demon is foul to the core and it must have no place in this world or any other.”

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  2. Howard holds up the trap. “He’s, ah, in here.” He looks at the trap and looks troubled for a moment, trying to resolve the effect he accomplished with his scientific mindset. Then he remembers the wall, and the possibilities that lie beyond it, and his troubled expression fades. “I suspect that breaking it down into quintessential energy would increase the ease of storage, but I’m not sure exactly how feasible that would be. Or ethical.”

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  3. (Isaac’s Avatar does not look healthy – it looks distant, sort of like a tangle of people in various dress. He accepts your help and this can happen “off-screen”.)Isaac nods slightly while you speak. “It feeds on violence. It is related to crows in some way. It can separate itself, or at least appear to do so, and can be in many places at once perhaps. It escalates, and it is somehow…attached to everyone, or a great many people. It perverts repentence, perhaps. It can perhaps fool the mind or charm or control it. And, perhaps most importantly, it is not at home in Hell.”“I can think of many things that satisfy some of these…attributes, but one stands out among them as seeming to satisfy many of them. Have you heard of a Mastema? Or, perhaps, *the* Mastema?”

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  4. “Mastema. That sounds vaguely familiar. Was he the emissary of the Shadows in Babylon 5? … No, wait, that was Morden. Well, it starts with an ‘M,’ anyways.” He thinks for a minute. Abruptly, the spirit-trap sparks and hisses, and there’s a brief moment of panic as Howard rapidly recalibrates the device to once again polarize with the negatively charged energy of the spirit within. “Wow. Looks like our friend is getting a little, um, rambunctious, in there. Still, as long as I can adjust for the alterations in his ionization rate, it shouldn’t be too hard to keep him trapped.”

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  5. “I am not familiar with, um ‘Mastema’, or whatever. The attributes you describe are accurate though. I have had visions of it splitting off from hundreds, maybe thousands of people. It almost seems like too much…But I will make it my business to know this thing. To understand it. To end it. I feel that it has been entangled with me for thousands of lifespans. Now that I have freed myself, at least partially, I intend to finish the job.I am keeping this wound as a reminder until it is done.”

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  6. “The Mastema is a demon, or a class of demons. It comes from a Hebrew word that means things like hatred, or hostility, or enmity. In some stories, it is a servant of God, and in others, it is associated with Satan. Its grammatically related to Satan, but…I digress. It is sometimes a tempter, trying to encourage human beings to sin, and then accusing them before the throne of God.“One ancient story identified Mastema as one of the children of fallen angels and mortal women. When God decides to destroy these demons with the great flood, the Mastema speaks on behalf of a tenth of them, that they be allowed to remain. If it was granted, then this would be home for it, in a sense – though its lineage is certainly that of Hell.“Mastema is associated with plagues of birds, something perhaps like the crows you saw. It is also associated with the name Belial, thought by some to be the chief of all of the demons of Hell.“Mastema is thought of by some as the one who killed the firstborn on behalf of God in Egypt, and who also hardened the heart of the Pharaoh against Moses. He is thought of as the one who tried to kill Moses in the desert.Isaac looks thoughtful for a moment and closes his eyes.“The deaths in Egypt, of the firstborn and then the army which was driven after the Israelites, are attributed to the power of Mastema. You could also look at that as the power of hostility, or hatred, or emnity.“I can’t say whether this is the Mastema, or merely a Mastema, one of a class of demonic beings or the collective manifestation of all of them. Perhaps the difference isn’t meaningful.“Now, for your captured one. You will probably be able to destroy it now that it is captured, though of course be careful. It may or may not help you to do so…again, I can’t say. I have…glimpsed some beings like this seems to be, but never…met one. And in this area, your knowledge and power exceed mine.“As for the…ethics. If it is a demon, perhaps it is right to destroy it, especially if you cannot drive it away or contain it forever. If it is “hostility”, the spiritual reality of that…concept, or experience, or a belief in the power of hatred, then is destroying it even…meaningful?

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  7. “I have seen the results of this demons actions all too clearly and it certainly deserves to be removed from existence. However, as you say, it may not be meaningful to destroy it in the normal sense.“Have you any sense, in your wisdom, of a way to generate a concrete manifestation of its opposite – love?”

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  8. “Concrete? What do you mean? You can manifest love like anyone else. But something like this? I…I don’t know.“The world…is a dark place. There is little enough light in it. Demons are legion, and angels rare and strange, and decent human beings even more scarce. What lights there are, true lights, are…far off. Like stars.“Love is always…costly. Dealing with this thing, however you do it, will be costly as well. If no weapon can destroy it…does whatever you use to destroy it become a weapon? I suppose we must hope and pray that is not the case.“Can we think of this…allegorically? The Mastema, like any spiritual entity, requires sustenance of some kind. And it has a home, so to speak, in the world, in human beings, perhaps even before the throne of God. It…wants things, needs things.”Isaac closes his eyes again, this time for longer. Then, slowly,“If you were this Mastema, what would you fear? Perhaps there is an answer here somewhere.”

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  9. Howard is clearly confused by Isaac’s speech, but makes the effort to mentally translates it into something more decipherable to himself. “I suppose we could bombard it with particles of a specially prepared radioactive isotope in order to would permanently nullify its ectotheric charge. Or at least, slow its rate of ionization to something approaching zero. Or, we could project a Pattern-destabilization ray at it, breaking its subspace matrix down into the quintessential energy that gives it life.” He clearly doesn’t think much of ‘loving’ the creature to death. He says so, actually. “Look, I’m not an expert on ectotheric manifestations of extradimensional entities, but I know a fair amount, and I have to say, I can’t imagine that anything so prosaic as ‘love’ having any kind of measurable effect on its subspace matrix.” The image of a big monkey-Alistair hooting and grunting at a big monkey-Isaac appears in Howard’s mind for a moment, and he blanches, clearly distressed by the continued association. “But of course, if all things are possible, who’s to say that ‘love’ can’t…” he gets a dubious look on his face, “slay… demons?”

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  10. Isaac watches Howard talk politely. Nods slightly at the end.“I think…I think the things you were talking about, just now…do those things boil down to weapons? Won’t those ultimately fail against it? I don’t doubt you know more about…ectoplasmic…beings than I do. But this seems to be a demon, and I know a great deal about those. Or…that class of…ectoplasmic…being.”

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  11. Howard seems taken aback. Those processes, weapons? “I, I suppose they could be interpreted that way. I prefer to think of them as useful processes – tools, if you will. Are you saying that *intent* has an affective relationship with the effectiveness of any countermeasures we may develop against this… extradimensional entity?”That idea troubles Howard. Intent. Well, there’s that, at least. “I certainly don’t intend to see my, um, colleagues, as possessing simian-level intelligence,” he murmurs quietly. Then, louder, “You’re good at this sort of thing, aren’t you, Isaac? You’re some kind of Rabbi Priest and a million other things. How do you respect each point of view equally, and not see any of them as inferior to…” he trails off. “Right. Not the time or the place. Stay focused, Howard. Mastema. If it… feeds on violence, then maybe, um, nonviolent resistance is the way to go?” He gives Alistair a sidelong glance. “Feel like playing ‘Ghandi,’ Alistair?”

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  12. “If I were this Mastema, what would I fear? Tough to say, it seems nearly invulnerable. I guess I might fear losing my power to drive people to violence. If no one listened to me or everyone around me was forgiving past injuries and resolving emnities…“Maybe a peace treaty or something. Or reconciliation of a broken relationship…“Problem is that if the Mastema is ancient and/or connected to thousands of people – how can I even effect it? I mean, surely at some point in one of my incarnations I made peace with someone. It doesn’t seem like enough…

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  13. To Howard:“Problem with acting all like Ghandi is that this thing is separate from me now and apparently quite willing to use violence on its own. That wouldn’t matter if it was only me, but I’m not about to let it hurt my family or sway or something.”

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  14. Howard nods. “I… guess that’s understandable. But, um, think about it logically. Clearly, violence isn’t doing much good… but you don’t necessarily have to use violent means to accomplish your goals. Maybe you could,” He thinks, then gets an idea, and snaps his fingers. “Match the resonating frequency of his subspace matrix with a catalyzing agent – possibly with a bombardment of etherically charged anti-neutrino particles brought into alignment with the Mastema’s Pattern. This process, if succesful, would result in…” Howard trails off. “You’re not following a word of this, are you?” He thinks for a moment, trying to put it into different terms. Finally, he looks directly at Alistair and says, “All that to say, why don’t you purify it? You’re quite proficient in the manipulation of extra-dimensional matter. I’m sure it’s not beyond you to, um, purify a demon?” He uses the words ‘purify’ and ‘demon’ with a somewhat dubious tone. “What I mean is, you tried whipping it out of you, but I don’t know if that’s really… well, if you take radioactive waste and ship it from the power planet off to a cave somewhere, you haven’t solved the problem, you’ve only moved it. You know?”

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  15. Sway fiddles with one of her trinkets,”Could we trap the demon in some part of the Dreaming where hostility and hatred don’t exist? Like Shangri-la or something? That would starve him in a sense. Or do you think he would just corrupt that place in turn? Is it even possible to keep entities from wandering in the Dreaming?”

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  16. “It might starve him for a time, but it may not be…a permanent solution. If there even is such a thing. But that might be a good start – trap it somewhere it can’t…sustain itself. “Still, having gotten it there, something would still have to be done.”

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  17. Sway briefly flashes one of her oh-so-charismatic smiles towards Alistair. She thinks back through her occult knowledge (*metagame die roll?*) trying to think of a place that might meet our needs..“Then once we get it there, and weaken it we…” a crazy idea comes to mind,”…okay hear me out: Everything in existance goes in cycles, and maybe Sylvia can back me up that even emotions go in cycles (the 5 stages of accepting death or things like that). SO, we lash the weakened demon to a water wheel, a-la-tarot wheel of fortune. He starts at the labeled point of hostility, then we pass him through the water back to the point where no hostility has yet accrued. I guess this is kind of my idea of purifying like Howard suggested. Sound at all viable?”

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  18. unexpectedly, Isaac developed into the only real mentor-character of the game. i thought this worked out relatively well.his goal was similar to Destiny’s, though he went about it quite differently. he had founded his own order of semi-official clergy based around his sect of the Choriters, the Monists. they’re essentially Unitarian Universalist mages. he hoped that his teachings would outlive him, and that his disciples would ulimately Awaken in their search for the Divine, just as he had.

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  19. the big hint that the “Technocratic” attack was actually the Rogue Council, or at least that something nefarious was afoot, was that all of the NPCs who supported the Technocracy or had technological paradigms were gone, and all the ones who supported the Rogue Council were safe and subsequently joined.

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