The Road

[V.O. Alastor]
A "journal" of thoughts

The name’s Giovanni. Adrian Giovanni. You might’ve heard of the Giovanni crime family – yeah, that’s us.

These days, though, people call me Alastor. (Or “hey kid,” whatever.) I’m what they call a Warlock, on the Path of Scourging. A Mastigos. I dunno why they call us Warlocks, it sounds kind of stupid, but whatever floats their fuckin boats.

So what’s a Mastigos? My power comes from a Supernal Realm called Pandemonium. Yeah, that’s right, like where the devil lives. Only the devil is us. Warlocks. At first I didn’t get it. Why would awakening to a higher power mean drawing that power from Hell? What are we, the villains or something? Well, depends on how you look at it. Guys I’ve whacked, yeah, they probably thought I was a villain. But somebody’s gotta stand here in the darkness, push the Fallen World up from the gutter, and better me than a bunch of sleepers and legit guys like Caesar. I’m already a killer, already living the nightmare. I can handle it. They shouldn’t have to.

Learning magic ain’t always a walk in the park. Some things come easy – knowing where a mark is with my eyes closed, picking up on how people feel, knowing how a guy died. Could do that stuff from day one. Other things are harder. Like reading books for hours at a time, Jesus Christ. I got lucky in some ways, getting picked up by the Mensarius. He’s kind of a douche but he’s the kind of douche you don’t mind working for, cause he’s got a vision and he’s smart about it. But the reason I got lucky ain’t because he’s clever, practical and more megalomaniacal than any don I ever saw. It’s cause he teaches hands-on and doesn’t give a flying fuck about me writing any papers or nothin. Thank God.

Now when I say he’s hands-on what I really mean is he’s mind-on, I guess. He just gets into my head and walks me through it, no fuckin around with books. Then he asks me questions. If I get it, great. If I don’t, tough fuckin cookies, I gotta practice it later on my own. Took some getting used to, having him in my head like that. He always makes me try to resist him, too. Ain’t ever done it yet, but I think I’m getting closer. It feels a little bit like somebody’s pouring oil right in through my ear or something, and then his voice is there in my mind. Kind of like I’m being watched, but from inside myself. I know he can read what’s rattling around in there when he does it, so I’m learning to control what I think.

Then there’s Grim. Grimnir, I should say. The Mensarius is a master at Death, but he won’t teach it yet, figures Mind’s more important so he started there. So my buddy Grim’s been showing me the ropes instead. He says I got a knack for Death, real natural. Man was I shocked to hear that, let me tell you. It really shows you how fucked the Fallen World is, looking at everything through that lens. Shows you the nightmare up close and personal. Helps remind me why I do all this. Why I joined the Ladder. I figure if I get to know Death, I’ll understand better what my place is in this world, being a bringer of it. Like the Acanthus say, we’re all destined for something. So what does destiny want with a guy like me?

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[V.O. Alastor] 2

Met some Spanish chick today over at the Mysterium. Thyrsus. Calls herself Artemis. Like the hunter goddess, you know. Now from what I read, Artemis was supposed to be a frigid bitch, but this chick is definitely not that. I ever need to research anything else, I know who I’m calling. Damn.

She could use somebody like me around anyway, she’s got a Seer who’s good with Mind after her and as far as I know her mental defenses are zip. She’s holed up in the Library for now, warded and all, but they can’t stay down there forever and I don’t think she’s got a cabal. Something I can use to get more help out of her, just gotta make sure somebody else don’t get there first.

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[V.O. Alastor] 3

Rubrum. What a pretentious little prick. Good for something, though, and I don’t mean Skybox. He made me realize I’ve been so busy with everything else that I haven’t given any thought to my own ascension, my own path. Gotta work this shit out sometime, and like my Uncle Tony used to say, you put it off til tomorrow, you might as well be dead.

So I read up on ways to explore your Path and your awakening. Don’t think I’m ready yet to summon demons, seems like I oughta wait on that til I have some better questions…and more to offer in return for the answers. But there’s ways to get at the so-called “demons” in your soul, too, and I’d be willing to bet mine would have something to say. There’s this thing called a “daimon,” supposed to be like…your Oneiros counterpart, the guy that lives in your soul and judges you, forges your path through the Abyss when you wake up. If any part of me knows anything about the Iron Gauntlet it’s that guy. Think I’ll go meet him.

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[V.O. Alastor] 4

How the hell am I supposed to take on the whole New York Giovanni family alone? Sounds fuckin impossible if you ask me. ONE damn vampire almost killed me. But apparently something up there thinks I can do it. Maybe if I study Space with Caesar for a while, I can pick them off at a distance. Fuck, I should stop using phrases like that. Distance is an illusion, etc.

I guess what the daimon was getting at was, the family’s a distraction. Standing between me and enlightenment. First the Mensarius and now my own “higher self,” huh? Think somebody’s trying to tell me something? Cheese and fuckin crackers. But they’re not wrong, if today was any indication. Took me a whole hour just to get started meditating, couldn’t keep my mind off Luciano and all the rest. I’ll say this, though. If I do this, it’s gotta be fast. LA and Rome might steer clear if I do enough damage, but not if I take my fuckin time between hits. Gonna need a plan. And I’m sick of owing people so best if the plan involves nothing but me, magic and a couple of good weapons. I’m thinking ghouls are my ticket to success. Maybe I’ll start practicing telepathy more.

What the hell did he mean by “wake up” though? Can you be more awake than awake?

So I looked up “Asphodel.” It was from ancient Greek myth, the part of the underworld where people who were equal parts good and evil were supposed to go when they died, or people who were just nothing special. I must’ve read it somewhere once, maybe. Is it there because of me, or because of the sleepers that guy killed in there? What will be there when I get there? And what’s with that highway sign?

Nothin but more questions. I guess this is why they call them the Mysteries, huh?

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[V.O. Alastor] 5

Jesus Christ. Talk about going from the frying pan to the fire. More like from the frying pan to the goddamn pit of Hell. Though frankly I’d take that over this. There at least I know where I stand.

Knife wounds still hurt like a bitch, but I don’t mind. Reminds me of what I still got left to do. Vates in his boundless fuckin generosity had somebody play doctor with me, enough to make sure I wouldn’t bleed all over the town car on the way home. Better that way, though. Otherwise my story of getting attacked and escaping wouldn’t hold up so well.

What the hell am I gonna tell the Mensarius? He’s gotta hear the important stuff. Descriptions of Vates and his friends. Not that he needs them I guess. Their capabilities. That they know my name. That’ll go over real well I’m sure. Hope he doesn’t turn my brain into even more swiss cheese than it already is. Can’t believe I agreed to wipe my memory. Must have been important, at least, otherwise they wouldn’t have risked me deciding to say fuck their oath. Don’t know yet whether I will, but from what I remember I don’t think I want the Mensarius getting his hands on what’s in my head any more than Vates does. How’s that for scary.

Vates, that little cocksucker. Made sure to get that dig in about the Mensarius before he got to the good stuff, obviously wanted to make sure I’d want to keep the oath. Explains a lot though, don’t it? Why M’s so up in arms about the Seers all the time. Wants to wipe them out so there’s no more evidence, so they can’t tell anybody in the Pentacle. …fuck. What do I do when the Guardians come asking questions about loyalty? They find out he used to be a Seer, we’re screwed. They find out I got holes in my memory, I’m screwed. That’s if Vates wasn’t lying, though, and he might’ve been. Bastard’s hard to read. Then again, I don’t know squat about what went down in LA or why the Mensarius came here. I think it’s time to have a talk with Luciano. But I’ll wait til after they meet next week, see if I can get M to let me come with him. Might pick something up, fly on the wall style.

…oh yeah. One more thing. That goetic demon. I lost control of it. Offed a Sleeper. Just some guy, lived in a cabin, heard gunshots and came outside. The demon…whatever part of me this is…pushed me, and I just let go. Wanted the kill too much, didn’t care who it was. This is the kind of shit I wanted to take down the vampires for, Jesus. Preying on innocent Sleepers for no good fuckin reason? It’s one thing for criminals to kill criminals, we know what we’re getting into, but – well fuck, it’s not even that. I mean, that too, but it’s more about us us. The Ladder. Mages. We’re supposed to be waking people up. Like M could’ve killed me when I went after him, but he didn’t, because this is our job, god dammit.

Gotta get this under control. Next time, do better.

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[V. O. Alastor] 6

Would you look at that. First Cohort, now a cabal. Next stop, deacon. Ha ha.

Can’t argue much, working with two hot chicks. I only trust one of em, but nothing new there. Any watchdog they threw at me was gonna be like bringing a fuckin FBI agent to a gig, so I’ll just appreciate the view and take each day as it comes with her. Goes by Rhiannon. Blonde, sexy, seems like she comes from money. Might sound weird coming from me, but having an Obrimos around might not be such a bad thing, especially against that dickwad Plutus. And get this: she knows how to use a gun but doesn’t want to pull the trigger. Maybe if I watch her I can figure something out about the line between the nightmare and the dream. And stop her from toppling off the edge if it comes to that. Fallen angels, biggest fuckin tragedy of history, right? She don’t belong in the gutter.

Then there’s Artemis, remember her? I got there first after all, she’s in for hunting Vates. Figured she would be, she was pretty ticked off. Still is, from the look of her thoughts. If she’s a Seer spy, I’m Doris fuckin Day. Feels kinda good to know that, you know? We still gotta hammer some stuff out, protocols, sigil, name – if I’m gonna do this I might as well do it right, cause I’m sure Vates did, one way or another.

Guess where he’s from. That’s right, LA. And the Guardians’ files think he used to be a hitman for a Mexican cartel. God I hate dealers. No fuckin class. Then he was a hitman for the Seers. Now I guess he’s infiltrating Pentacle cities looking for whoever he followed across the damn country. I don’t like how much we have in common, and I don’t like all these arrows pointing to LA. M’s gotta know something about all this, but obviously asking him is suicide. And frankly it’s better this way. Means that if I can connect these dots, I get to decide whether he needs to be exposed or whether I want to keep his secrets. Can’t fuckin wait to talk to Luciano. Gotta get out to Hoboken soon.

Turns out the Seers picked Mercury up as a convert from the Arrow up in Boston. Either he was a plant the whole time, or when his mentor was whacked – maybe their doing, maybe not – it put him in a place where they could turn him. Either way it means he’s Arrow-trained, which sucks for us. I’m gonna shove those shades right up his scrawny ass, I swear to God.

Ugh, this tux wasn’t cheap, dammit. Blood all over it, gonna have to ditch it the usual way. Unfortunately this time the blood’s mine. That bald Obrimos fuck, Remmy Odoya, shot me around cover, in the dark, through perception shielding. What is it with Seers and shaving their heads, huh? Maybe they got some kind of code or something. Anyway, taking the girls to a fancy gala was some swanky shit, but next time I’m going with “nightclub.” Whole damn thing was a train wreck, though to tell you the truth, after a week of doc’s orders for recuperation it felt good to see some action. Plus we got Pierpont and the Cipher out of it, thanks to MacKenzie and good old Nidhogg. Guy’s kind of a mook, but he’s okay in my book. Here’s hoping Pierpont wasn’t in the know about M. That’s a shitstorm waiting to happen if it’s true, and it’s probably coming one way or the other but I need more time.

Shot another Sleeper today. Wasn’t even thinking about it. That’s how we always did things, guys with guns come after you and yours, you make sure you shoot first. They were after Artemis and they had hostages, had to act fast. In the moment you don’t have time to think, hey, ratfaced Seer lackey or not this guy could wake up someday, maybe just knock him out and round him up. Or at least, I don’t. And I guess that’s the point. Not my first instinct.

Should it be?

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Thaumaturgic Notes 1

OK, the spell records have not said anything. I think maybe I was the first to do this! I am reminded of a saying in Norway: “The naked woman learns to spin yarn.” I think I am using it right.

It is strange that nobody has considered this before. It seems so obvious. But maybe nobody else has had to pick out hay from a haystack in a gunfight.

Here is what I did:

Normal testing for correspondence involves examining a thing and seeing what its correspondence is with another thing. Like choosing a “string” and pulling it to test its strength.

I inverted this. Instead of choosing a string, I chose an endpoint and ran my awareness across the strings leading from everything I could see to that endpoint. Like playing a harp! The string with the strongest “tone” stood out.

I am not sure what to call this. Maybe the harp comparison would be good. Correspondence Harp! I kind of like it.

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[V.O. Alastor] 7

Holy shit, what a night.

Feel like my mind’s finally clear. Dunno what the Abyss did to me but I think I made it mad. Could feel it looking at me the whole time. It’s gone now though, pretty sure. God damn, I did it. Tough as balls but I did it. Summoned a demon from Pandemonium and got it to agree to help. Crashing pretty hard from the fuckin roller coaster I had to put myself through but man was it worth it. And this donut’s the best goddamn donut I’ve ever had in my life, I could kiss Pierpont.

Okay, not really. Cougars ain’t my thing.

Anyway, the demon showed up looking like Amadeo, and in the state I was in by then I just wanted to kill him all over again. Recreating Pandemonium was some scary shit, let me tell you. Felt like I was gonna have a heart attack right there in the mud. Which by the way doesn’t wash out of khaki too good so there’s another piece of clothing ruined on this mission. I swear to God I’m gonna make a list and give it to the Mensarius at the end for damages.

I guess I was too on edge to think straight by the time the demon showed up. Fuck, I wanted to put my fist straight through his head. In some ways he did me a favor though. See, I’d been wondering, what the fuck does a demon care whether I kill or not? The more I think about it, the more I think he was trying to tell me something about my Path to ascension. They’re watching me, just like they watch all us Mastigos. And what he said sounded familiar, like what M says all the time, about rising above what he calls “animal concerns.” They’re right, I suck at denying myself what I want. Seems like if I keep giving in, I’ll never make it up the ladder.

Now, the demon also said goetia’s self-indulgent. But the way I see it, once I figure out how to beat the thing I summoned into my head last time, I’ll know how, and I won’t have to summon it anymore to keep that shit under control. And fuck Artemis and her so-called advice, man. She was pissed off about whatever got a bug up her ass, okay, but she don’t know jack shit about what I need to do and how I need to do it. At least we’re past the part where she might gut me in my sleep. Probably. Last night though, damn, expected it every five minutes. Couldn’t’ve slept if I tried.

Been thinking about this too. What is she so mad about? It’s not the killing, pretty sure. She talked a good game about saving lives but it wasn’t about that—she was angry, not outraged. Not scared enough. She doesn’t think I’m a monster, she just thinks I’m an asshole. I think she just didn’t like being in the dark, that’s what I think. Just like with the Consilium, she didn’t like having her little bubble burst. Now Rhiannon’s a question mark, if the girls have some kind of gossip slumber party or whatever. She’s Obrimos, so chalk one up for ‘righteous bullshit,’ but she’s a Guardian too so chalk one up for ‘necessary evils.’ I’ll have to see where the chips fall on that one. Hoping for the latter. Let me be the bad guy so long as we get this job done.

Time to go sleep in Pierpont’s weirdass truck sanctum. I kinda like it.

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[V.O. Alastor] 8

Surrounding myself with Obrimos chicks, I really must be a glutton for fuckin punishment.

MacKenzie’s great though. Even if she does move slower than a nun’s drawers. I don’t mind too much, she’s a blast. Oh yeah, she mentioned Nidhogg’s looking to put together an inter-order front-line cabal, asked if I’d ask around for him since he don’t know too many people outside the Arrow. Told her I’d do it, of course, I owe that guy a couple times now. He’s good people. Figure I’ll start with the Ladder initiates I know are still running around doing order errands and work out from there. They’ll be glad to get a piece of something bigger, I might get a favor or two out of it. Then maybe I’ll hit up Rubrum, see if he knows anybody in the Free Council militia who’s up for integrating with Diamond guys. Nidhogg’d shit himself if I found him somebody who could make magic guns.

You know, here’s the funny thing about destiny. Once you hear about it, it’s like you can’t stop hearing about it. Everything starts to look like signs and portents. That Acanthus, Vic Graham, did a tarot reading for me the other night. Sounds like a crock of bull, right, but it’s different when there’s a guy with Fate magic dealing the cards. Most of it was pretty familiar, kind of like looking into my Oneiros without having to go there, but some things caught my eye. Like that elevator comment, what the fuck did that mean? Straight out of my Awakening, which probably makes it important. Shit like that doesn’t just pop up, no such thing as coincidence with mages in the mix.

Anyway, so I go see these movies with MacKenzie and the whole time I’m thinking, damn this reminds me of those cards. Like the backwards Empress and that whole trip to China to become a ninja thing. Oh, and see this is why I don’t watch movies about mobs, every one of them ends up being dumber than bricks, it’s just insulting. What enforcer rushes an obviously competent brawler when he’s got a fuckin gun in his hand? Come on, who hired these mooks? Jesus. Though it’s not like we never hired people that dumb. Fuckin Petey Giordano, that guy. I’m surprised it took him as long as it did to end up facedown under a bulldozer, every bone in his body broken in five places. That was a closed casket service, you better believe.

Speaking of the family. I can admit that going to Rome to meet the Anziani scares me shitless. And the chances of the girls not hearing somebody call me by my name over there are probably slim to get the fuck outta here. But you never know, maybe I can take the opportunity to put a bug in the ear of an influential Giovanni vampire, change something, no matter how small. Just let’s not have a repeat performance of the Luciano incident, okay Adrian? You stupid fuck.

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Manhattan subway explosion kills two.
Sally Taggart, Penta News Corp.

Tremors shook midtown Manhattan last night as an underground gas explosion occured in an unused section of New York’s subway system adjacent to Times Square’s 42nd street station, killing two. The victims were not identified, however they seemed to be a part of New York’s homeless population. The cause of the explosion is unknown, however the NYPD has thus far ruled out arson or human error as the cause.

The Metropolitan Transit Agency reported the tremors, as well as a brief stoppage of service at approximately 8:45PM on Saturday, July 14th. However, after authorities made sure that there was no danger, service on the Broadway, Seventh Avenue and Flushing lines resumed.

-PNC

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