[ASH] REPOST: ASH #121 - City of Night Part 2: Sub illa Umbra

Drew Nilium pwerdna at gmail.com
Tue Nov 2 22:13:58 PDT 2021

On 10/11/21 1:31 PM, Dave Van Domelen wrote:
>       [cover shows a group of people in winter clothing huddled around
>        a burning sofa against an absolutely dark night.  The harsh
>        shadows they cast on the alley walls are twisted into demonic
>        shapes that seem to be mocking their plight.]

Sweet visuals <3.<3

>       Giselle Schatten resisted the temptation to check the time on her
> gray-cell for the third time in as many heartbeats.  It was time, she could
> feel that in her soul more surely than any piece of technology could
> indicate.  She focused her goddess-granted power on the achingly distant dome
> of shadow.
>       The dome started to twist upwards in the middle, a tendril reaching up
> into the icy clear January sky.  Giselle felt a thrill up her spine as the
> shadow working exceeded anything she could have accomplished on her own, and
> resolved into the form of the goddess.  What happened next was not her doing,
> but she knew she'd played an important part.

ooooooooh, love viewpoint of the bad guys :D

>       The message repeated several times in various languages, and then the
> shadowy goddess astride the world evaporated into the wind as Giselle
> relaxed.  In many ways, it felt like she'd run a marathon while the power of
> an electric main surged through her, but it also felt like the best sex she'd
> ever had times a million.

X3 <3 <3 <3 Love it.

>       Much later, as night fell on the rest of Berlin, Giselle finally evaded
> the last of the thin-spread police and military patrols and touched the
> purity of the dome.  She expected it to soften and let her pass through, but
> it didn't yield to her touch, being harder than steel and as cold as ice.
>       "Did I displease you, my goddess?" she whispered forlornly to the night
> sky.  She stayed, moving only to avoid patrols, until the sky began to
> lighten with the dawn.  Dark tears staining her heavily kohled cheeks, she
> fled the coming of dawn lest she be discovered and add betrayal and discovery
> to whatever sins she had unknowingly committed.

Awwwww bby

>       A notable exception was the Khadamite representative, who decided a smug
> espression was called for.  True, his nation had been the first in the modern
> era to cause problems for Europe, but they'd also been instrumental in saving
> Monaco.  Sadi Pasteur (not his birth name) may have lacked the power to lobby
> for a position among the elite of the Conclave, but his thorough research
> background and scientific approach to magic had called its leader's attention
> to the young French-Algerian mage.  Glyph was always one to prefer the
> hermetic style to the wild mage.  He could barely light a candle with his own
> power, but since Glyph herself was unwelcome in the Eurasian Union, he was
> the best choice for this mission.

I like this bad guy too! :D <3

> "I believe that Lady
> Sable has altered the nature of the dome since making her announcement,
> likely a response to our attempts to use Anchors to weaken it.  I am too far
> away to directly sense as well as Poniente can, but I concur with her
> findings.  Where the dome had been semi-permeable before, it is now rigid.
> It no longer grows, neither does it shrink."

Ahhhhh, I see I see.

>       "Delaying tactic," Polla Hectrix, aka Terrastar, shrugged.  If there was
> anyone in the room that no one trusted, it was her rather than Sadi.

Oh fuck yeah Terrastar. :D :D :D

> "Whatever's blocking scrying is
> definitely above my ability to get past, which in itself says something.  It
> feels like trying to scry back past July 1998.  Maybe not as strong a block,
> but in the same ballpark."

Oooooh interesting

> Ebon never seemed to deviate from the Hermetic
> traditions.  He'd have launched something like this on the Solstice or
> Equinox, or near the date of an eclipse, for maximum symbolic resonance.  I
> suppose his birthday could be coming up, we don't know what day that was."

Happy DEATHday to you!!

>       Arc sighed and looked down at the table.  "I was hoping as much myself.
> Marshal Noire has been recalled from Venus and should be here soon to see if
> her shadow-melding will let her in, but for now we're out of ideas.  It's as
> if Lady Sable has found a new trick that's unknown to the mages of two
> worlds."
>       "Or a very, very OLD trick," Peregryn's image mused.

oooooh interesting

> The mages of this world had been reluctant
> to reveal much to her, knowing she had been counted among her old home's
> worst villains, but she did know that their gods did war against each other
> here as well.  That there were entire pantheons banished from history by the
> struggles of the mighty.

*Excellent* parallel.

> The new world's information technology was at once familiar and
> strange, advanced and retrograde.  The new world lacked a number of things
> that had started to become familiar in the old, despite a seeming passage of
> nearly a generation, but more than compensated in other ways.

Yeah, legit. o3o

>       Syncretism.  Pieces of old faith buried under new.  The Western African
> ways of worship seemed to resonate with aspects of M'emba's own faith, but so
> much had been lost or altered by colonial powers.

Mmmmmm yeah @.@

>       The god who had ultimately rallied all other remaining gods against him,
> to empower the heroes to strike him down utterly.
>       She could not remember his name, but she did know he had been destroyed
> over a year before the end of the world.
>       Or had he?
>       Could the god of death truly die?

:D :D :D Weirdly, I just wrote a scene that touched on this kind of idea.

> Emergency backups were reserved for
> crucial services such as hospitals and maintaining the water system...people
> could at least turn the tap and get water, so they could starve to death
> rather than die of thirst.

What a powerful line.

>       One positive, Gerd mused, was that it forced people to come together.
> He'd learned more about his neighbors in the past few "days" than he had the
> entire time he'd lived in the building.

Well. >.>

>       Looking out the window, Gerd only saw the flickering lights in scattered
> windows, and a few buildings looming out of the darkness limned every so
> faintly by distant bonfires.  Sometimes the shadows moved in ways that a
> flickering flame couldn't explain, but he tried not to think about those....

Nice and creepy. <3

>       Sara Jane Howard, also known as NAC Marshal Noire, moved carefully
> through the darkened city.  None of the normal people moving about furtively
> from flame to flickering window could hope to see her, not with so many deep
> shadows in which to hide, but that voice in the back of her head was even
> more insistent now that she was on Earth and inside the Berlin dome.  It was
> more of a gabble of voices, an umbral parliament holding session ever closer
> to her presence.
>       She hadn't told anyone about the voices.  She was needed here, no one
> else could get into the dome, and she didn't want to be benched.
>       Now she wondered if that had been a bad idea.

Yeah maybe a little!! o3o;;;

>       And yet, amidst the cacophony of whispers there seemed to be a lone
> soothing tone, humming in the background and making her feel...not safe,
> maybe, but protected.

oooooooh fascinating.

>       She placed a shadowy hand against the surface, which felt far less
> yielding than it had from the outside.
>       Then she pushed hard against it...and fell into the welcoming darkness.

Ohboy. o.o

>       "Marshal Howard is still recovering, but the data she brought back at
> least confirms that people are alive inside the dome,"

Oh okay. @. at v

>       "So, this is a high security state secret thing," Hesse ventured.
> "Given that even STRAFE has been kept out of the loop on this."
>       "Highest security," Arc nodded.  "STRAFE knows in the persons of Dan
> Tracey and a few others, but it has been kept very compartmentalized.  My
> government had a similarly narrow vote on letting all the people in this room
> in on the secret, and we have notified the Chinese states as well.  We were
> recently made aware of the existence of a sort of interdimensional nexus, and
> we're confident Lady Sable doesn't know about it and can't block access to
> and from Berlin via this method.  So we could use it as a pathway into the
> dome.  But one danger is that our use of it might alert her to its presence,
> and if she gets into it it could be bad."
>       "I know the sound of a 'but wait, it's worse' when I hear one,"
> Terrastar quirked an eyebrow.
>       "I think I know what they're talking about," Rechtigkeit turned to face
> her.  "I've been there.  It has a sort of mind of its own, and it wants to
> suborn anyone who enters, make them work for it.  We've agreed to leave it
> alone and keep it secret, since the more people know about it, the more
> likely it is that someone," he turned to face Pasteur, "will think they can
> resist its power.

...oh oh OHHHH! :D

>       "The suspense is killing me," Pasteur deadpanned.  "What is this nexus
> of which you speak?  It sounds Qlippothic."  Qlippothic energy was a sort of
> anti-life, the mystical dark mirror of existence.
>       "Close," Solar Max nodded.  "It's the embodiment of bureaucracy
> throughout all realities, the Multiversal Office.  And there's a doorway into
> it in this very building."

FUCK YES :D :D :D <3 <# <3

>       What will happen next issue?  Even *I* don't know, as my entire outline
> for #123 isn't a whole lot more than "They go to the Office and there are
> Complications."  The anticipation is KILLING me.  (Hey, it's part 4 of 6 the
> point of most arcs where it all goes to hell, of course this wasn't going to
> Fix Everything.  I just need to figure out how much worse it makes things
> instead.)

I know that feeling. X3

Drew "fuck shit up" Nilium

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