The Road

[Artemis V.O.] 2

Arizona: Day 1

Well, that could have gone worse.

I’m glad that it didn’t, I guess. But I’m also glad that it didn’t go better. I did fuck up. I had the chance to ground the Paradox out in my body, and I didn’t take it. So I have to pay the consequences, even if Marduk wishes I didn’t have to.

Oh, Marduk. You seem like such a nice guy. I’m sorry I hurt you. I wish I knew what that monster said to you. I wish I knew why you could be betrayed like that and just trust me so quickly. But I know you don’t want to talk about it, and if you want to pretend that we just met, I can try to do that. Maybe it will actually make things less awkward. That would be nice, because I hate awkwardness!

But I can worry about that later. There are Seers of the Throne I have to catch. It was nice of Marduk to offer to help me. Also, it was cute how weirded out he was by Fate. Thanks for the tip about the “strange lights,” Coyote Steve on Radio KJZZ! Tucson, here we come.

Arizona: Day 2

Marduk and I got a hotel room in Tucson. (Nothing happened. Yet.) I spent a couple hours aligning my fate with the investigation before we left. I asked around some diners and places, showing that picture we got. Someone said the guy looked familiar, and maybe he saw him near a factory? Sounds like some kind of drug deal? It sounds suspicious anyway, and I have a feeling that luck is on my side…!

I caught Marduk checking me out a couple of times today. He is so cute. Maybe tonight… no, I’m pretty tired. Maybe tomorrow…!

Arizona: Day 3

Ugh, today started pretty shitty. Our lead was a total red herring. Just some lab for crystal meth out in the desert. I called the police, who knows if they will even go there.

Marduk and I were in a shitty mood, so we went to sleep early. I don’t know why I didn’t expect Metron to show up in the middle of the night again, but he did. I had to stop them from fighting right in the hotel room! It was actually kind of sweet how Marduk tried to protect me.

But I had been planning for Metron to show up again. Buddy seemed to think the Moirai were pretty cruel and unpredictable by spirit standards, so I decided to take Metron’s offer. It might be dangerous, and it will probably be pretty thankless, but you never know. I had to explain my mission to him, and how I wanted to try to take the Seers alive. He talks a lot, wow.

Arizona: Day 4

Today was a good day! First, we found the gas station where the Seer’s picture was taken, so we have a search radius. But also, Marduk was a little less awkward today. He even told some jokes, it was nice. He is sooo cute, especially when he’s laughing. At one point I think I zoned out watching him talk. Mmm.

I had to suggest we go back to the hotel room early. He looked like he’d been hoping I’d ask. And… wow. I guess I didn’t expect it to be so powerful. Maybe I should have, I know he still has feelings for me. Maybe I took advantage of that and I shouldn’t have?

I should stop second-guessing. The point is, the sex was amazing. I decided not to remind him that Metron is around, watching, now. I wanted all of his attention on me. Mmm.

Arizona: Day 5

I’m so stupid! I can’t believe I didn’t think of just calling the radio station on the first day! I was probably too busy sneaking peeks at Marduk’s jeans to think clearly. But I sure got that out of my system, and suddenly I’m a genius!

Like I figured, the guy who saw the “lights” was kind of crazy, and paranoid, and he smelled a little weird, but he remembered where he saw them. I just know this is it. Just a few miles to search along the Tucson Mountains. I even got some free peyote out of the meeting, since he was too paranoid to sell any to me. I think Marduk was a little weirded out.

Actually, I know Marduk doesn’t want to see me go off alone now. He told me to call if I needed help, even though the Phoenix Consilium said I shouldn’t. I said I’d call. I mean… it’s… it’s probably a lie, and I feel bad, but if things go really badly I probably won’t have the chance to call. I have to do this on my own. Well, with Metron. But I’m pretty sure the Council doesn’t care if I do the shaman thing.

I’ll see you when I get back, Marduk. If I get back.

Arizona: Day 6

A quiet day, mostly. I found some tire tracks, probably from a truck. And I’m pretty sure I found a lookout post. There were some cigarette butts. Maybe they’ll be useful? Who knows. The point is, I’m close.

I did chat with Metron a bit. I guess while Marduk and I were having sex Metron got this idea about getting me pregnant, since that can be a big event. I’m not planning to have a kid right now, Metron! Or even nine months from now. This is just not the time.

Maybe once all this war and stuff is over, though. I wonder what a kid would look like if it had me and Marduk as parents? Or me and Alastor? Who am I kidding, that conversation would be too weird for him and Rhiannon. Maybe Nagi knows a good witch boy…?

Arizona: Day 7

I won. I found their camp, I snuck up, Metron distracted them and I knocked them all out. All three Seers, taken to face justice alive. This is a really good feeling.

It was a less good feeling, watching their sentencing. I wanted to be present for the trials, but… soul destruction just seems wrong. I guess the Phoenix Consilium is just really harsh. They’re being nice to me now, I guess, and I’m glad, but it’s hard not to imagine those Seers left to fend for themselves without souls.

I’ll ask Marduk if there’s any good place to go celebrate our victory tonight. Maybe tomorrow I’ll go out into the desert for a while. Maybe I need to be away from civilization for a little more time.

[V.O. Alastor] 28

So let me get this straight. Of all the thearchs in the city, I’m the most legit? Damn, Ladder. That’s just fuckin sad.

…not gonna lie, though, it’s kinda nice to get asked to do something I wouldn’t have to keep from Rhi, if you know what I’m saying. Weird to think I’m the guy they called to do something by the book, ain’t it? Well, it’s like my Uncle Tony once said. You give me a job, I don’t fuck around. So if what the Pentacle needs is a Ladder diplomat to play ambassador to everybody who doesn’t have their head up the Scrivener’s ass, I’ll do it, and do it right.

Whaddya think, Pandemonium? Clawing my way up, huh?

Just remember what M said, Adrian. Keep your fuckin composure or you’re a dead man.

Easier said than done, though, sometimes. Face to face with that bitch Castle it was pretty fuckin difficult not to give her a taste of what they put Pierpont through. Blame it on the manifestation if you want, but those bastards deserve just as bad if not worse. At least being out of its damn mind is just in an Abyssal entity’s nature. Those Seer assholes choose to dick the world over, not to mention their own people. Yeah, I’m sure Castle had a nice story to tell about the Hegemony’s version of what happened with Pierpont but frankly I don’t give a rat’s ass what she has to say. Pierpont did right by us, I can’t say the same about any of these other pricks. Feel like justice needed to be done and instead we all just walked the fuck away. As Doorwarden though, think I made the right call. We don’t need another ministry on our backs, not now.

Medraut, that smug douchebag. If this is fate’s idea of a joke, I’m sure as hell not laughing. A choice between Asphodel and taking this fight to our enemies? The city or the world? Why the ever loving fuck would destiny ask that of me? What, did New York piss it off in another life or something? I can’t fuckin do this, you gotta be kidding me. Hermes gave me a place, he gave me a purpose, what am I supposed to do? Just say fuck it, I gotta go follow some vague-ass advice that may or may not accomplish jack shit? Is it “sentimental” to want to save millions of Sleepers who could wake up one day? This is the greatest fuckin city in the world, god dammit, if anywhere can become Hieraconis someday it’s here. Screw that, if it really comes down to it I’ll put a bullet in Caesar’s head and call it a fuckin day. I don’t need to survive. I just need to take that son of a bitch down with me.

…y’know, Rhi was talking about not being able to do the hard thing, but I can’t decide if it’s better or worse that I know I could. Big difference between can’t and won’t. So if I refuse to doom the city and the world takes its plunge into fuckin Apocalypse Junction, what’s that say about me? Come on, there’s gotta be a third option here. One we just can’t see yet. Boy, I’d sure be shocked if the aeon of goddamn Fate was fuckin with us. Like I said to Rhi, need to figure out how to use Time to get a handle on this shit. …guess I haven’t given myself the augury treatment yet, huh? Dunno, kinda felt like it’d be cheating, like I was supposed to figure out my destiny on my own. In retrospect that’s pretty fuckin brainless, Adrian, come on. This is your power, your personal connection to the Supernal. You forged a path into Arcadia with your own weird metaphysical hands. Use it, for chrissakes. Won’t give me all the answers, but at least I’ll know how bad I already fucked this up.

Damn, we’re really racking up the body count, ain’t we. M. Reis. Mnemosyne. Fuckin Nidhogg, jesus christ. …even Ma. What kind of fuckin world is this where assholes like me and Grimnir are still breathing while the injustice just piles up, higher than I got time to even think about redressing? Well, that’s about to change. Tomorrow, I find those sick, twisted, cocksucking bastard Hunters and I let the family give them what they’ve been asking for since the day they even thought about setting foot in my town.

I want blood. And they got an awful lot of it.

[V.O. Alastor] 27

Lately, there’s only three things that make me feel like I’m not fucking something up. Hermes, Rhiannon, and walking the city. The night Harpocrates, or his ghost or his projection or whatever the fuck, came to talk to me was the first time since I worked for M that I felt…I dunno, like I was doing something right. Like I used to feel when I nailed a job and the family took me out for a drink. Yeah, I get what Pierpont was talking about when she said the Seers made her feel like she was worth it. Got it then, too, but I took it for granted then.

…yeah, you heard me, I didn’t break it off with Rhi after all. Not after she looked me in the eye, told me she loved me and said she couldn’t live with herself if she let me slog through the dark alone. Why doesn’t she get it? How come she doesn’t see how far above all this shit she is, how much she’d lose if she followed me into hell? What kind of hope could I possibly be giving her? Kinda reminds me of that prophecy. About how I’m supposed to be a light in the darkness. Still think Vates might’ve gotten his wires crossed, or else I screwed this up somewhere along the way. Either way though it doesn’t matter. After all that bullshit Artemis said, I gotta fix this. All of this. Put myself back on the path to destiny, listen to my daimon, figure out what went wrong somewhere in my head and beat the shit out of it until it straightens itself the fuck up. Jesus, imagine if I summoned a demon now. No fuckin way would I be walking away from that without some serious bloodshed, its or mine or both.

Just…dunno what else I’m supposed to do when somebody deserves justice and nobody else cares. I can’t leave Boston alone, that was a grade A douchebag move and these assholes need to be punished for it. It felt good when I shot that Charlatan bastard and not just because of the rush. It felt right, dammit, he had to pay up. But it also felt like there should’ve been some other way to do it, and I just couldn’t see it. Hell, I still can’t see it. I just feel it, like…some distant memory or something, like the Supernal trying to remind me, like…Medraut in Vates’ mind looking me in the eye. There’s supposed to be another way and I need to find it without letting these twisted fucks keep screwing the world over. But if I don’t play the same game this piece of shit Fallen World is playing, it’ll chew up everything I care about and spit it out. So where’s the line?

Speaking of…can’t believe I took the Tribune at his fuckin word. So goddamn obvious in retrospect. He knew I’d turn him down if he tried to recruit me outright so he made himself the enemy I’d have no choice but to turn to anyway. Some Mastigos, huh? They say you can’t lie to a Warlock who’s on top of his game, so I gotta start figuring out how to think a step ahead even without magic. Not sure what to think about what Hermes said. On the one hand he’s right, the opportunity to get a guy inside here is once-in-a-lifetime and hey, we let Grim do it to us, I got plenty of reason to do it right back. On the other, the girls’d have a fit and I’d pretty much have to ditch them to pull this off, at least until the tables got turned. But dammit, we need a way to get inside info without having to screw with Bel’s soul so we can stop this crazy world war shit that makes me just want to kick a guy right in the sack every time I think about it. I know I told Artemis I’d quit taking the fall for everybody but isn’t that better than ripping out a mage’s soul? Come on. It’s like a no-brainer when I put it like that. Ugh…guess I could see what Rhi thinks.

None of this is gonna matter though if we don’t survive this Abyssal manifestation. First thing we gotta do is extract Pierpont, the doppelganger’s got an easy hostage to leverage and that’s an advantage we need to neutralize before we do anything else. Couldn’t find jack shit on this “Valkyrja” thing, it’s no military group the internet knows about. My guess is Seers, who else would want Pierpont? And who else would the paradox clone deal with to fuck over Artemis’ reputation? We know Paternoster, at least, has ties to the military, and I’d be floored if the Praetorians didn’t. I hate the feeling of going in blind but we gotta deal with this right fuckin now, there’s no time for a week of careful research or whatever the fuck. Gonna have to improvise. Artemis needs to get her head on straight about these spiders so we don’t lose her in the middle of the action, gonna need her to shield us from Fate bullshit so the fake her doesn’t screw us over like Mercury can. Wonder if she’d mind me calming her down a little.

How the hell am I supposed to protect the cabal from the Abyss?

[V.O. Alastor] 26

Y’know, it’s not til you see behind the curtain of the shit the Seers can pull off that you realize what a fuckin dog and pony show we’ve been all this time. They might be crazy assholes but there’s one thing you can say about the Seers, they got their shit together. I dunno how we ever intended to take them on. Taking out a couple Councilors threw the whole Pentacle into chaos. Taking out a major player on the Seer side did jack shit. Who the hell are we kidding? Even if we pull this off, whack Caesar, stop the Scelesti and get rid of the Scrivener, history’s just gonna repeat itself over and over until New York is a pile of fuckin nuclear waste. All we’re doing is screwing ourselves, getting rid of the only strong central leadership we’ve ever had, and that’s exactly what the Praetorians want.

No, if we’re gonna do this we do it right. No more squabbling over petty bullshit. These people we bring in on this, they’re gonna work together or so help me God I’m gonna strangle each and every last fuckin one of them myself. How long have I been telling people this? That if we kept bickering like little kids with our heads up our asses the Seers were gonna walk all over us? Nobody fuckin listened and look where we are now. This shit has gotta end and it ends right here, right now.

…I don’t know why I keep seeing the look on the Charlatan’s face when I shot him every time I close my eyes. This is fuckin ridiculous, the guy was street scum, he killed half the Boston Consilium for a couple soulstones, you had every reason to put a bullet between his eyes. Not to mention the dangerous as fuck retribution spirit that would’ve shown up to rip the whole cabal to bloody shreds, because come on, were the girls really gonna just sit around and let you die? Besides, it was quick and clean, like it’s supposed to be. Yeah, I hurt him, but I hurt him the right way. The way he should’ve been hurting. …the way I do every fuckin day. Something felt weird about it, like…like I was supposed to do it that way. Like that’s what destiny wanted. So why do I still feel like I let Rhiannon down?

Come on, Adrian, fuck her, she knew what was gonna happen here and you did the right thing, screwing with his emotions. There was no way this could end except with that twisted fuck’s death and she knows that. I just…don’t want to see her look at me with that look in her eyes, the one she gets when the shadows get too deep and she wants to be anywhere but there. I did what I had to do. She’ll either get that or she can take a hike, dammit. What did I say? I said you were gonna fuck this up eventually, I said you never should’ve started this with her. Who the hell do you think you are? What dumbass deluded corner of your mind made you think you could be anything for her but a lead fuckin weight? You’re gonna ruin her, you better end this. It’s gonna suck balls to watch her get upset but it’s better than turning her into anything like what you are. Man up and do right by her, you piece of shit.

I mean, really, Adrian, congrats. You came full fuckin circle. Started out as a lowlife thug, pretended for a while you were something better because the Mensarius said you could be, and then look what happens without him. You fall right back into the gutter so hard the Seers of the god damn Throne want to hire your gun. Funniest fuckin joke I ever heard. You’re the worst excuse for a thearch since Caesar. Who the hell do you think you’re gonna lead by example, huh? You’re supposed to be a judge and a leader for the willworkers of New York and you’re no better than the assholes that’ve been pretending at it this whole time. …I thought I could change that.

You know what I don’t get? That Charlatan prick didn’t even fight back. He just stood there and took it. I mean yeah, I made him feel like shit, but feeling like shit’s about par for the fuckin course on this Path, it’s supposed to make you stronger. I guess I told my daimon I wasn’t gonna just give up because I still had stuff left to fix. Seems like he didn’t have anything to fix, or didn’t care enough to fix it.

You know what, Grim’s wrong, the Princeps was wrong. This world deserves to be saved. Thing is, turns out I was right the whole time. It’s too far gone to be saved without somebody getting their hands dirty to clean out the scum at the bottom. If I hadn’t shot that little shit, somebody else would’ve had to, somebody with more to lose and more to gain. If I hadn’t made that deal with Poena, nobody would ever have made things right for Boston. Nobody else cared but us, what was I supposed to do, just let it go? I can’t. Yeah, maybe Grim’s right about me taking everything that goes wrong personally but if I don’t who will? People like the girls are too naïve to see what’s really wrong and everybody else is neck deep in it themselves, because that’s the nature of the Lie. As soon as you see just how bad it can get it’s too late, it sucks you in. You have to fight fire with fire. I don’t have a choice, god dammit, not while there are still people like the Seers and Aleo around.

Now quit jacking off about this, get your cabal back, get out there and save Pierpont. The time for pussyfooting around afraid of your own shadow is over.

A letter to Daniela

(In Spanish.)

I’m so sorry that I shot you. You startled me, and you seemed so angry. Please forgive me.

Are you really my sister, Daniela? Is the Daniela I’ve met lately an impostor, or are there two of you somehow? I knew something was wrong, but not what or how.

When I said I was a witch, it was the truth. I had a terrifying and wonderful awakening, and I left Spain because I wanted to keep everyone safe because it was easier than trying to explain. And because I wanted to escape that house.

My magic breaks and is ruined when normal people see it, but whatever has happened to you, I think neither of us are normal any more. So I’m using magic to help this letter reach you and to explain that I’m sorry I shot you, I’m sorry I left you behind, and I wish I could find you. I think I was supposed to see you. I think Fate is telling me I shouldn’t have run away from my sister.

I don’t know how long we’re going to be in here. We’re hostages of the asshole mages who took us here, and they might take us away soon. They’re very dangerous, and if I fight them too much a lot of people may die, or worse.

Please come find me when you get this. Whatever has happened to you, I want to help. If we’re still in this prison, I will be awake, listening for you. If we are taken away, I will try to come back and find you. If we are both released, you can call me at [cell number].


P.S. Please destroy this note. It would be bad for the people who locked us up to learn our real names.

[V.O. Alastor] 25

God, I never thought I’d get to the point where the Princeps sounded like a guy with the right fuckin idea. But damn, the thought of watching the world burn and being the one to throw more gas on the fire is starting to sound pretty god damn appealing.

Can’t decide whether I love or hate the sanctum Rhi found. It’s amazing, just like her. Looking at it like a normal fuckin person I should have no complaints. But every time I walk in that door and I look out the window, it reminds me just how far from the sunrise we are. And everything I do only pushes us further away. After we got back from the future I thought, Adrian, you just found out what destiny wanted out of you, go do it, it’ll fix everything. But what do I got to show for that, huh? For all I know Vates is out of his fuckin mind and invented all this Road shit just cuz he wanted it so bad. It’s not tough for the mind to create solutions to unsolvable problems by taking an impossible desire and making it seem real. Hell, I’m pretty sure I could figure out how to force it with magic, because in the end that’s all the Mind arcanum is. Playing off shit the mind already does, just making it happen when and how you want. I could waltz into somebody’s Oneiros and screw around with the symbolism until their subconscious decided to believe whatever I felt like, and they’d think it was their own idea. I could drive people insane. I could fuck with somebody’s emotions so bad they’d think I was Jesus fucking Christ himself without a single god damned miracle.

Yeah, I could do all this shit, and I haven’t out of some sense of propriety or whatever. But who fuckin cares? Living with one foot in the darkness and one in the light’s not only gotten me nowhere, it’s made everything worse. If I’d just shot Grim when I had the chance, the Seers’d be one step further from destroying my city. If I’d given M the Cipher, he could’ve figured out Caesar was a nutjob right then and fixed all this before it went to hell. And what, all because some Acanthus with a couple magic cards said I should let the girls change me? Maybe it’s time the Mastigos started doing what Mastigos do best. Rhi doesn’t need to know. None of em need to know. What are you, Adrian, a mage or a Sleeper? This power’s yours for a reason. Why do you think you’re failing at everything you do? Maybe it’s cuz you won’t do what’s necessary. Take control of something in this piece of shit world. Silver Ladder Warlock, letting everybody and God walk all over him? You really are a pathetic excuse for a willworker. What would Dahhak think of you? Stop being such a fuckin wet blanket and start listening to M for once, huh?

…guess I almost did today. Pretty sure I was gearing up for goodbye with all that bullshit apologizing. Ten more seconds and I would’ve told Ma she could take her soulstone and shove it up the demon’s ass. I mean…one Sleeper could never save this world from itself. One Sleeper could never find the Road, or bring us closer to the Supernal. My personal feelings shouldn’t get in the way of that either. I gotta be able to let go for the greater good. Isn’t that what M always told you? Leave the past in the past where it belongs, it’s getting in your way.

…could always just turn the feelings off. Stop putting Rhi on a fuckin pedestal and it’d be a lot easier to lie to her. Not hard to change your own mind and you know it. Reach in there and flip a couple switches, same way you can with everybody else. You could convince her you’re still into her, easy. Could even flip the switches back on when you needed to. Something just don’t seem right about that though. Are you even a person, doing that all the time, or just some…vessel for power and thought? Where does control cross the line and make you a…a fuckin machine? Pretty sure my daimon wouldn’t like it. …holy shit. Think I just figured out how the Princeps’ Oneiros got to be such a fuckin mess. Of course, if you fuck with your own head enough the shit in there stops having the kind of meaning sane people can follow. That beach had some significance to the Princeps I can’t get because my mind still works right, but he was deranged. He must’ve followed this thought process all the way down when shit got bad enough. Can’t believe I’m starting to understand him, jesus. Doesn’t bode too well, does it?

Whatever, I don’t got time for all this. There’s only one thing that’s important and that’s the job. Just get it done. Charlatan first, then the Road and Caesar. Destiny only wants one thing outta you, you better get going before somebody puts a bullet in your back.

Hate to say it but I’m looking forward to meeting this Charlatan asshole. Could really use the excuse. Ha, Flare was right. Too eager for my own good. But what she don’t know is pretty soon, if it’s not him it’s gonna be somebody else who deserves it less, and I don’t want that.

[V.O. Alastor] 24
Atlantic City

…this is what happens when you dick around for too long. You weak, pathetic piece of shit.

Why do you even care? He was dangerous, he was hypocritical, he was megalomaniacal and probably a lying douchebag terrorist who used Sleeper souls to keep himself alive on top of it. He would’ve killed you in a heartbeat if he knew half of what you know. He barely acknowledged other people even existed. He wasn’t that much better than the vampires.

So why the fuck. Do you care.

Reality check, Adrian, what are you, blind? Caesar did you a goddamn favor. You can tell Mercury and his oath to shove it. You can decide what to do with the Cipher on your own terms. You have one less obstacle to making the Ladder something New York can look up to and be proud of. Cuz let’s face it, everybody hated him. Everybody.

Everybody but you, I guess. The hell’s wrong with you?

I keep taking out my phone and putting it back again, like I don’t want to talk to Hermes, like I’m…betraying his memory or some asinine bullshit. He wasn’t even your mentor anymore, you moron. He fuckin disowned you, what are you even doing? Just go do your job for Aleo, put a bullet through some asshole’s head, get whatever this is out of your system, huh?

Get the hell out of here and do something. Anything. Anything but this.

[V.O. Alastor] 23

Yeah, it’s happening already. Dragging Rhi down into the darkness with me. Hasn’t even been a week. First she hits me with some Guardian mojo she cooked up to put on a new personality when shit gets rough, then I make her stand there and watch me agree to get in touch with my inner demon and painfully whack the scumbag that blew up the Boston Consilium. A hit is one thing but the family never told me to draw it out like that. Okay, so sometimes Uncle Tony said he wanted to see a guy cry like a little girl but that’s just shit you say, y’know? Can’t say the fucker doesn’t deserve it though, on top of pulling his terrorist act he did something to all the ghosts there, too. Rounded them up or something. Not that I got too much of a soft spot for ghosts usually, but meeting that guy in the Underworld makes me think there’s more to dead Awakened than we think, and who the fuck knows what that nancy-boy freak show’s gonna do with them? Maybe me and Artemis can find something in the library about it. I’d ask my mentor in Death but oh would you look at that, he’s a Seer psychopath trying to axe New York. You really know how to pick em, Adrian.

…then again…Grim’s just crazy enough he might help me out anyway. Especially since it’s looking more and more like Boston wasn’t Seers. Can’t believe I’m saying this but maybe I’ll give that dickwad a call.

Dammit, this Guardian thing Rhi’s doing don’t sit right with me. I want her to be stronger, yeah, but hiding behind somebody she’s not ain’t gonna teach her strength. And her new other self reminds me way too much of me. Using me as a role model’s about the worst idea I ever heard so I hope I’m wrong. Something else bugging me too…she said the other girl was a persona she invented. Another personality. Says she’s in control, and that’s fine for now, but I can’t shake the idea that there’s too much in common between whatever this is, and Legion. That was a Guardian schism. What if somehow this thing got out of control down there? What if one of these days she can’t turn it off? I can’t let that happen. Can’t let her fall, end up like Plutus. Whatever it takes.

Ugh, can’t believe I lost it like that in front of the girls. Rhi’s lucky I didn’t split her face open, jesus. Yeah, don’t think I didn’t pick up her thoughts about decking me. If she ever does it, the demon’ll be there and I need to know I can keep it in check. Dumb fuck that I am, I guess I figured Boston’d be the last hurdle, but all it gave me was more blood to spill. I feel like this is gnawing at me all the goddamn time. Was M on the other end of that call? Did he put that bastard up to it, or hire him or whatever? If not, who the fuck did and what made Vates think it was M? Was he lying just to drive a wedge between us or did he really believe it? I hope to God Mnemosyne comes through with Horus soon and I can figure out how to crack him open like an egg cuz that’s my last chance before I’m gonna need to give M the Cipher if I don’t have dirt to hold over him and proof to back it up. There’s nothing else I can do.

At least we got the Charlatan, the girls were right about that. Rhi’s gonna check government and Guardian files for his voice, I’m gonna put out feelers in the underground, see if anybody knows him. After all, if he’s legit I’m a monkey’s fuckin uncle, and I know all the creeps in this town. Hell, Aleo might know him, maybe I can change up my price for his job. Guy for a guy, seems fair. Pierpont’s leaving for Chicago soon anyway. Artemis can check Mysterium records, maybe do some weird Fate shit, and Flare can scout around her rave scene, she’s gotta know some freaky people. And I want to scry this asshole. Take a page outta Vates’ book. Let him know somebody’s got an eye on him, give him something to look over his shoulder about, watch him slip up. The Bogeyman’s comin for you, buddy.

Wonder what Hermes wants to talk about. Got a message from him this afternoon, said he wanted me to meet him, alone. Could be an opportunity but the question is, for what? Could mine him for info…maybe see if he knows anybody who’d be willing to teach me a rote or two. Thinking about setting up a sit-down with Liyongo, too – Mnemosyne screwed him over and there’s no way he don’t want some payback. The more of us in the Diamond that’ve got each other’s backs against her bullshit, the better.

[V.O. Alastor] 22

Guess the old guy was right, huh? Hermes, I mean. Day I met him, he told me we all fuck it up eventually. Never figured it was that hard to avoid, til tonight. I mean, you hear people talk about it all the time, you feel it sometimes when an Obrimos starts tossing celestial fire around, but it doesn’t really hit home til you’re standing in a factory full of Seer wackjobs with the fuckin Minister of Paternoster himself watching while the Abyss plays voyeur outside and places bets on your chances of survival.

Made myself so focused on the job, getting in and out, keeping myself from pulling the trigger…just wasn’t thinking about it. Never really had to before. Nothing M taught me ever gets the Abyss’ attention, didn’t realize how fast it can sneak up on you, jesus. Well, I got the fuckin picture now, you better believe. Sure would love to know what the hell happened to the manifestation, it was gone by the time we got out to the parking lot. Odoya claims there’s no way this Weyland asshole would’ve done anything with it. Funny timing for being uninvolved, and you never know what an archmage’s gonna be capable of, but I dunno…something doesn’t sit quite right about it. Only people I know of who might know enough about the Abyss to just eat paradox like that are the Scelesti, so unless Paternoster’s got more problems than we even thought, it kinda seems like something else was going on there. …God, here’s hoping the deals with the Hollow haven’t started up already. I’d test it but it sounds like a fuckin stupid idea to stick your hand in front of the wolf’s jaws just to see if it’s gonna bite you, at least when the fabric of fuckin reality’s at stake.

Makes me sick to think about what they did to that kid. I cannot fuckin believe Artemis wants to keep that piece of shit artifact around. I don’t care if the Mysterium’s safehouse is on the goddamn moon, that thing is an abomination and the fewer of them there are in the world the better…but it might be worth giving it to her anyway. Think Rhi won’t be feeling too negotiable about it though. We’ll see what happens.

Anyway, I don’t know enough about master level bullshit yet to know for sure whether anything of that kid’s consciousness could’ve been recovered, but I doubt it. His mind was completely wiped. Just like that future Sleeper. Death was probably the best anybody could’ve given him. …I’m glad it wasn’t me though. Even the vampires never told me to whack a kid. If they had I think I would’ve done it, how fucked up is that. Don’t pat yourself on the back too hard, is what my daimon’s thinking right now, you think one decision makes up for everything else? What do you want, a cookie? Yeah yeah, don’t get your damn panties in a twist, I’m working on it. At least I don’t have to lie to Rhiannon when I tell her I didn’t shoot him.

I gotta start working on Mind again, when I got a minute to breathe. All this fuckin despicable mental atrocity we keep seeing…makes me want to put blood on my hands over it, but it’d be better to figure out how to fix it too. Besides, it sucks having to keep telling the girls there’s nothing I can do. Ha ha, too bad all the Mastigos mentors I ever had are crazy fucks who’ll want me dead any day now. I guess when you put people on the Path of Scourging eventually they either come out enlightened or they learn to be monsters, one or the other.

Artemis V.O. 1

What do you do when everyone thinks you’re silly and naive?

What if I am silly and naive?

I want to trust Shen, but Ariadne trusted him, and look where that got her. She looked like a fool. I want to trust my Order, but how many awful things have happened in history because some Mystagogue thought they could handle something they couldn’t handle? And is it even fair to ask Alastor to trust my Order when his is so awful?

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alone in my own cabal. Nobody else really cares about the Mysterium’s goals, and now Flare is part of everyone else. And now Alastor and Rhiannon are really together, and I’m happy for them, but it feels a little lonely, even if they’re not using it as an excuse to take each others’ sides.

And now I don’t even know if we can trust Giselle.

I remember when I was so certain that the shape of the government didn’t really matter as long as the Pentacle survived. Now, it seems so, so important. Is this me having my eyes opened about the way the world works? Is it me focusing on worldly concerns and losing the thread of enlightenment?

What do you do when you’re silly and naive?

You seek wisdom.

Fate doesn’t have any wisdom for me… or does it? If I need guidance… can Fate provide me with a guide? Or at least, a hint of where to find one I can trust? Maybe this is where I need to learn to trust destiny to put my feet on the right path.

It feels right.

I have a plan, that is not a plan, just like so much of Fate. But not tonight. Tonight I need to conserve my mana and try to get rested for tomorrow. I need to try not to worry too much about the photograph in one of my old textbooks, or the hundred questions I could ask.

Fortunately, Life means no more sleepless nights.


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