Dec 21, 2012

Graves

Graves

After the ritual, there was a blinding flash and everything began to fade. “I’m dying”, Dr. Graves thought. There was a part of him that knew that the ritual was successful, they had completed what they had set out to do. For the first time since the nightmare had begun, he felt peace and let the blackness take him…

Dr. Graves opened his eyes. Disoriented and confused, he blinked his eyes and turned his head, trying to clear the think cobwebs from his mind. He was laying in an unfamiliar bed. Looking around the room, he found himself in what appeared to be in a cabin. His clothes were cleaned and folded neatly on a wooden chair next to the bed. He heard small noises of movement from the adjacent room, coming in through the open door way.

Sliding quietly out of bed, Dr. Graves picked up the only thing in the room that he could use as an improvised weapon: a medium sized ceramic wash basin from the nightstand. Clad in only his boxers shorts, Graves slid through the doorway, warily. Standing at a kitchen sink was a woman, her back turned to the archeologist. Her jet black hair was in a ponytail and she wore yoga pants and a sweatshirt. To Dr. Graves, her suburban-mom look seemed out of place in the rustic cabin.

“That’s an antique, and I’d kindly ask you to treat it with care, please.” She spoke without as much as a glance towards the doorway. Graves slowly lowered the bowl. “Besides, if I meant you harm, I’d not have spent so much time cleaning you up and tending to your injuries.” The woman turned and sized him up. “Well?” she asked.

“Ummm…” Dr. Graves was unsure what the question was, or how to answer. “Is this…you know…the afterlife…or Heaven…or whatever?” The woman laughed at this and said, “Heaven? No, I’m afraid not. You are on the rez, a guest of the Navajo Nation.”

“Where?”

“Well, I guess you probably have a lot of questions. I have a few of my own, as well. Let me get us some coffee and we’ll see what we can figure out.”

  • *************** *****************

Her name is Mara. She is 33 years old and a business intelligence analyst (whatever that was) before the end of the world. She had a family, but lost them during the first few days of The Event, as she calls it, but doesn’t seem willing to talk much about them. She returned to the reservation and has been living in the family cabin since the early days. At first she survived on the stash of food that she found. Later though her people’s sheep and small farms allowed them to take care of their own.

She explains that she found Dr. Graves battered and unconscious near Black Creek where she gets water from. There were no footprints, no sign of where you came from, she explains, like he just appeared from thin air.

Dr. Graves is hesitant to explain much at first but decides there is little risk in telling the truth. He tells her everything, from the first dangerous days in Tehachapi, the time spent at the ostrich farm, the deadly fight with Michael’s Army, the Rosicrucian’s and the knowledge that he gained from them, the Book, their tortuous captivity and Joanne’s death at the hands of the neo-Aztecs, and the final ritual. He related the battle with a giant bloated reptilian creature, all the while he, Voorman and Alejandro desperately tried to complete the ritual. Then a blinding flash, the release of an incredible amount of power…and then nothing. He explains that he doesn’t remember anything after the ritual and has no idea how he got from Felicity to the Window Rock on the Arizona-New Mexico border 500 miles away. To his surprise, she mentions that this area used to be known only by its ceremonial name Niʼ Ałníiʼgi which means “Center of the World”. During their conversations Dr. Graves also realizes that the date does not match up with what he remembers. Then the biggest shock – it is over three years after the ritual in Felicity. It is not clear whether he was flung into the future or passed the time in some sort of limbo.

Dr. Graves spends the next few months in the cabin, helping Mara with the daily work and slowly regaining his strength. During that time he was contacted via Sending by Christopher Voorman. His mentor and superior had a similar experience but found himself in Georgia. That was the first of many conversations with Voorman. Soon he was contacted by Imperator Gray, and George Cox the regent of the San Jose Grand Lodge. Among other things he learned that the Rosicrucians had promoted him and Alejandro to the rank of Equestrian posthumously. Voorman had been raised to Tribune. Voorman had been in contact with Alejandro and the remaining band members also, and he communicated with other members of the group.

It was harder than he expected when he sat Mara down to explain that he would be leaving to return to the Rosicrucians in California. He asked her to come with him, but she politely declined, explaining that this was her home and she didn’t want to leave it. Dr. Graves was surprised at how hard it was to leave. He even considered staying with Mara, perhaps indefinitely, but the sense of duty to the Rosicrucians and a desire to see his friends and companions someday was too much to live with. With a final goodbye, Dr. Graves began the long journey to home. He traveled west and stayed some time in a Rosicrucian safe house in Las Vegas until there was a group to travel with the rest of the way to San Jose. Once he arrived at Rosicrucian Park, there were many questions for Graves, but very few answers.

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Death Goes On

Joanne

Joanne died again, and awoke again. Her companions remained at the pyramid complex, but she had a task to complete. The remaining members of Ximena’s army had a few minutes’ headstart on her, but that is not a problem when one does not have to eat, drink, or rest. Driven by wrathful instinct alone, she tracked each of them down over the next several days and destroyed them.

Single-minded in pursuing her vengeance, it was not until after she’d slit open the final child’s throat and watched him bleed out in the dirt beside his mother that she realized she had not seen another undead for some time. Had the Rosicrucians completed the ritual? She wondered briefly at her continued existence. In another life, she may have felt despair, but all that remained to her now was anger and the hatred that grew from it. There was more work to do. If she remained in this realm, there must be others.

This quest consumed her. A few walkers remained, lucky creatures that somehow shook off the dismissing ritual. The rest were intelligent enough to go into hiding, and undead can be far more creative at hiding than the living. Delving into dark places, it was inevitable that she encountered other undead — not just zombies, but vampires, ghosts, phantoms, and demons. So it was that she discovered the Fellowship of Judas and House of Thanatos. They sought her out and entreated her to join them.

She liked neither the mewling apologetics of the Iscariots of the Fellowship nor the puerile pretentiousness of House Thanatos, but she understood the value of having someone at your back — all the better if that someone is as predictable as the typical honorable zealot and jumps at the sound of an authoritative voice. The Fellowship’s goals aligned with her own — destroying supernatural creatures seeking power over the mortal world — and that was the only thing of importance. She joined the Iscariots with all the pomp and ceremony beloved by vampires, and immediately thought to recruit a group of like-minded undead to assist her in stamping out the last of the zombie population.

Instead Sensai Hiroshii took her as a student. She refused but he patiently insisted. She left but he was always there. Her Wrath took over and she struck but she was a child before him. Finally defeated she agreed thinking that she would leave soon, but he was an artful instructor and tempered her flaring emotions. He was tireless, always yelling at her, “you are the string, I am the needle”. He spoke of a coming fight. Week after week, month after month he prepared her. Everytime she growled that she was ready he retorted that she was a frog in a well that knew nothing of the sea. Then one day the ancient samurai gifted her a katana. It was a modern blade but one made by a master. She took it from his unliving hands and felt a spark of something in her dead heart. Was it gratitude? Whatever was coming she would be ready.

Membership also afforded her reliable news of the human world, where she could no longer tread without inciting fear and loathing. The growing worship of gods like Gozer, Ereshkigal, and Zuul troubled her. The true origin of the zombie plague was unknown; watching these cults grow in power and prestige, she speculated that what had been apocalyptic in reach and devastation for humanity was merely the first sortie of some divine power with greater goals in mind.

In another life, she would have mourned the prospect of further destruction, wondered what she had left to give in this war. Now, she thirsted for battle; a hunter is nothing without her prey, and she had been born for the hunt.

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Life Goes On

Marcel

Marcel left Felicity on a mission to find the street musician. He was accompanied by Millhouse and Trevor. In the ruins of New Orleans he found his quarry. The old jazz man was a powerful hougan and member of the Convenant of Legba. It seems the Loa wanted Marcel to follow in his footsteps. But first things first and Marcel acquired a fine wooden peg leg and new mannequin arm.

Maria (a.k.a. Apestosa)

What came first, desire for power or religion? For Maria, a middle daughter of a large family, the answer had always been the former, although her conscious mind would never admit it. Where so many of her truly pious sisters and brothers died on their knees in prayer, Maria had survived, clawing her way out of the ruins of Mexico City and outlasting a religious war to be present for the end of the zombie apocalypse that had destroyed so much.

Therefore, it was not difficult for Maria, seeing the errors of Catholicism, to take up a new creed — this time, that of Zoroastrianism. After all, Catholicism had deep roots in the ancient Persian religion, and her nun’s habit was not so different than the head-coverings worn by worshippers of Ahura Mazda. To those for whom the church is merely a vehicle to power, it matters little what kind of tires it has.

The chaos of newly-reborn civilization and vacuum of power in the American branch of the religion allowed her to climb quickly in the ranks. Those who feared her as a mere lunch lady would tremble when the same woman was able to exercise her will to its full potential. Scarred by the horrors of the apocalypse and seeing the rise of occult and paganistic religions, she exhorted the importance of an armed church, strong leadership, and zero tolerance for the violent cults that seeked to control the populace. Maria led by example; while she lacked the more powerful supernatural abilities of her fellows, she became famous for her skill with guns and feared for her intimidating persona.

As ever, Maria was determined to bestow divine peace by any means necessary.

Milhouse

Milhouse had never been alone. Born into a freakish but loving circle of human attractions and exhibits in a traveling circus, he’d fallen in with Dr. Graves, Marcel, Joanne and the rest of the company when his fellow showmen had fallen victim to a zombie attack. His warm heart and gentle nature attached to anyone who showed him the slightest kindness, and he loved them like family.

He still mourned Joanne, as he could not recognize the ravaged shell that now carried her swords and her name as the Joanne he knew, and Dr. Graves, who, for him, had disappeared without explanation. Even Deborah, the ghostly cat that he had loved for so long, had left him. When Marcel announced his decision to travel to New Orleans to seek out a fiddler he’d seen in a vision, Milhouse clung to this final member of his family and headed east to Louisiana.

Trevor

Trevor stayed with Marcel and drove him to New Orleans with Milhouse. He figured that was as good a place as any to seek out women and excitement. He doesn’t really know anyone besides Marcel and the others so sticking with them seems normal. He had no particular plans but crossed paths and was recruited by the CIA Special Activities Division. They had opportunities for a young man like him.

Xanthos

Xanthos went all in on the Knights Templar (or as he calls it, adding levels to his templar prestige class). He stayed in Felicity for some months learning about the order before the Knights came for him. They knew he was a weird one, but he had been there during the ritual that cleansed the Earth so ultimately they chose to train him for induction into the knighthood.

In his spare time Xanthos would try to reunite with Tragina, his beloved horse, and break the bad news to his fellow knights (Ser Broncanus, Captain Lazoid, etc) that they would have to find a new DM.

Additionally, Xanthos would work on compiling and publishing his experiences in the form of a new “gaming system”. This system/philosophy would expound upon his “games within a game” theory, which in his own words, “is kind of like a cross between Tron and Mormonism, but with less plot holes and totally ok with drinking Mountain Dew.”

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The End of the End of the World?

The heroes breathed a great sigh of relief. Unlike before, this ritual seemed to be the last. They did not have a plan for after. They recuperated as guests of Mayor Jacques Andre, a Knight Templar, and his charming and militant little wife. The end of the zombie apocalypse was quiet. They really had no idea if it even worked. Marcel’s Sight told them that almost all the spirits of the recently dead had departed the battlefield. But a few lost souls did remain. Milhouse’s ghost cat was gone also. But what about the rest of the world?

Fecalizer was the first to talk about leaving. Their leader and lead singer had of course disappeared with Voorman and Graves. They were occultists but not Rosicrucians. They had no more connection to Felicity. Marcel was the first to decide to leave. The crippled man seemed old beyond his years. He spoke of a need to return to Nawlins and find a trumpet player. Perhaps he was losing his mind. With Graves dead and Joanne missing but probably laid to rest by the ritual, Marcel was the last original. For that reason Milhouse joined him. The gentle giant had been considering returning to the animals at Isis Oasis but the pull of staying together was stronger. Trevor offered to do the driving. The bus had some damage but they had found the keys. Maybe with the three of them together Marcel’s quest wouldn’t be such an apparent suicide mission to find the meaning of his vision of the trumpet player. Xanthos was sad to see them go but was excited about this Knight Templar prestige class so he remained behind in Felicity. Bear Grylls and Jedd were both in the employ of the Rosicrucians so they found a working vehicle among those of Michael’s Army and left for California.

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The Final Ritual
Sept 16, Z-Day + 287

The next day they prepared for the ritual. Midnight was the appointed hour. While the Rosicrucians and band members planned the others collected equipment and burned the bodies. It was an all day job.

Marcel took some moments to make contact with his Patron. He completed the Vodou ritual but instead of Legba speaking through him, Marcel mumbled softly. When he roused, he had a strange story. He had a vision of a street corner where a man was playing a trombone. He had been told to come to New Orleans again and find the legendary horn player. That was his path.

When the hour arrived Voorman, Alejandro, and Graves entered the pyramid. They opened the doors and performed a Rosicrucian ritual to awaken the mystical vortex at the “Center of the World”. When they tapped the power of the vortex, things got weird. The inside of the pyramid seemed to grow in size and the vortex lit up with the blue-white energy of Essence. Also there was something else there with them.

The rest of the group holed themselves in the upstairs reception room and watched the pyramid from the windows. The Gifted among them sensed the change and also the new supernatural presence. Marcel began channeling energy and the others shifted their guns to the ready position.

Dr Graves was the first to spot the creature. It had been a small lizard once. Now it was bloated and deformed by magical energies. Perhaps it had become trapped in the vortex somehow and warped over time. Now it floated through the vortex at him and nipped at the man. It missed and Graves pulled his pistol. He squeezed the trigger. The deformed lizard jetted away but did not seem injured. The swirling vortex carried it to Voorman who motioned and launched a ball of energy at it. The lizard had already submerged into the energy field and Voorman’s attack missed.

In the upstairs room they heard the shot and began running out the door. The wounded were left behind with the other two band members to watch over them. Trevor and Milhouse quickly took the lead and led the pack to the pyramid. They found it hard to discern what was going on in the structure. The three people inside seemed faded and difficult to see. Alejandro was clearly struggling with the book and Voorman and Graves were looking in his direction.

Suddenly a deformed lizard materialized in the doorway and chomped down on the kid’s leg. It was torn open and it buckled under Trevor’s weight. He fell to the ground. From inside a far off sounding shot rang out the creature’s left leg was blown off. Then Milhouse stabbed it with his sword. Only it’s front half seemed substantial until it scurried the rest of the way out. Next is attacked Milhouse who stepped out of the way. The others arrived. Trevor pulled his gun into position from the ground and blasted the creature. That finished it off.

Bear Grylls began processing the animal while the others gathered around. Inside Alejandro began reciting the Sumerian words and was joined by Voorman and Graves. The Morturom Demonto jumped and bucked the in young Rosicrucian’s hands. The pages rapidly turned and flying skulls leapt from the book. The ten not-quite-human skulls had a pair of too-small bat wings and fangs. Ten streamed out and attacked the three men in the vortex. The Book continued to fight Alejandro. The cover had grown teeth.

Graves continued attacking with his 9mm pistol. Voorman began with an energy ball but when it missed and the skulls closed in he grew claws. Alejandro tried swatting them away with the Book. All three of them sported new injuries. Dr Graves, already gravely injured, wavered on the cusp of unconsciousness. He destroyed one with multiple shots and Voorman dusted the two on him. Milhouse had joined them inside and swung his sword unsuccessfuly at the pair flying around him.

Other skulls flew outside and were attacking Trevor, Jedd, Bear, and Gary. Trevor held them off but the others were not as successful. There sudden appearance and frightful appearance terrified the men. Both Jedd and Bear shit themselves. The skulls were darting back and forth attacking with wild abandon. They were quick and hard to hit, and hard to defend against. Still they managed to kill a skull before Gary went down in a spray of blood. Two skulls bit his waist. One tore through his back below the plate carrier and the other one bite into his belly. Gary dropped to the ground. Jedd reflexively fired his .30-06 hunting rifle but accidentally blew off Gary Busey’s right arm.

Voorman moved over to Alejandro to help. Milhouse and Graves finished off the remaining skulls near them. The fight was going their way but they heard the screams outside.

One skull burrowed into an unconscious Gary while the other attacked Jedd. The hunter lost him arm. It was attached but useless. He dropped the bolt action rifle and pulled a revolver from Gary’s holster. Another skull attacked Bear’s face and disfigured the man. Milhouse left the pyramid to assist Trevor who had been crawling away. Inside Graves shot the last skull and Voorman and Alejandro regained control of the Sumerian text.

Milhouse had cleaved another skull and still another attacking him and Trevor was shot by Graves from the pyramid doorway. On the ground Gary died as a skull bored through his body and began exiting the neck. Jedd took a badly aimed shot with the unfamiliar weapon and missed. Then Milhouse ran over and swung his sword through the creature. It split apart and the pieces flew through the air.

The immediate danger was past. Everyone caught their breath. The Rosicrucians hurriedly bagan the Sumerian spell once more before anything else could happen. They chanted in unison. The gathering power was palpable. As the spell concluded their words reached a crescendo. The Essence had been woven into the proper matrix and released into the vortex. There was a flash only the Gifted could see. In that flash Milhouse saw an image of his ghost cat Deborah leaping into the arms of a cat headed woman. Marcel saw the restless spirits of the recently dead sucked away – at least most of them anyway.

Then it was quiet and dark and the pyramid was empty. Graves, Voorman, and Alejandro were gone.

As the minutes turned to hours, Marcel elicited help from Milhouse. He attempted to contact Papa Legba again. The Loa told them that the others were gone. He did not know where they were.

The survivors passed the night in exhausted slumber inside the house. Jacques Andre and Xanthos spoke late into the night.

In the morning there was still no sign of the missing Rosicrucians.

1 Warped Lizard Killed
10 Flying Demon Skulls Killed
1 PC Killed


Congratulations! Through your hard work and sacrifice and the sacrifice of so many others, the ancient spell was cast and the spirits of the dead were pushed from this existance. The zombie apocalypse as it was has ended. Though not every dead creature and spirit was forced into the Dead Realms, most were and the world could begin healing.

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Bloody Aftermath
Sept 15, Z-Day + 286

Joanne the Revenant picked up her skin and put it back on like a jumpsuit.

Xanthos and Milhouse had both come out of their obedient state and gave her a wide berth. They helped the unconscious and moved the crying baby to a safe spot.

The megaphone at the house was in use again. They soon discovered that it was the Mayor out of hiding. With his wife, the pair and cleared the house and finished off several more of the Santa Muerte Cult in the parking lot. There were evidentally a few women and children left. One was sent up to the room to retrieve the baby but as soon as Joanne saw the woman she cut her down.

The revenant descended the stairs looking for more Mexicans She headed to the parking lot the the Mayor and his wife cut her down in a hail of gunfire from the house.

Eventually trust was established Jacques told them that while they were hiding, they heard Ximena talking about the group of prisoners wanting to do a ritual to end the undead apocalypse. It was then the mayor realized they were on the same side.

He belonged to a group called the Knights Templar. They were an ancient mystical association and though it was true they were retired out here he had bought this land to keep an eye on the Vortex that he later built a pyramid around. If they could use it to stop the undead plague then he would help as best he could.

The spent the rest of the day treating their injuries and re-equipping themselves. Dr Graves had another special communique from the Rosicrucians. And soon reinforcments arrived from Yuma. The car contained Gary Busey, Bear Grylls, and Jedd from the Rosicrucian Park in San Jose. Even later Trevor returned. Later still Voorman arrived with the band Fecalizer.

They discussed the Book and their plans deep into the night.

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There will be Blood V
Sept 15, Z-Day + 286

Trevor’s Story

Trevor moved in a crouch through the gift shop. He passed the cashier’s stand and bullets whizzed through the air. He wasted no time getting to the opposite end of the building. It had been part museum. The windows were all broken and accessible and the broken door was ajar. Outside was their bus pockmarked with bullet holes.

He climbed out the window. Numerous bodies of Mexicans and Michael’s soldiers lay heaped. It was ugly.

He pulled a key chain out of one of the Mexican’s pockets then moved around the bus. He wanted keep as much between him and the shooters as possible. Michael’s army had many vehicles left here from the initial assault. That seemed so long ago but it wasn’t really.

He noticed that most of Michael’s soldiers were torn up. It looked like damage from a 50 cal. Hmmm. The only one that could have shot these people was the machine gun mounted on one of Michael’s humvees. There was even a half inch bullet hole in the hood of the bus that could have only come from the humvee. Then the kid recalled something mentioned by Michael’s spokesperson over the bullhorn. “Her tricks wouldn’t work on them a second time.” Had Ximena controlled his gunner and forced the soldier to gun down his buddies? It seemed so.

One of Michael’s vehicles was a green 4 door Chevy Blazer. All four doors were ajar. It looked like it had come to a screeching halt and everyone bailed out at the start of the fight. The keys were still in the ignition. He got inside and carefully closed the doors. He slipped into the driver’s seat and started it up. He spun the tires and peeled out of the parking lot headed west. It was the wrong direction but he wanted to put distance between him and the remaining active 50 cal machine gun.

Ximena’s Story

Santisima Muerte slid her shiny knife through the soft flesh of the man’s belly. He screamed but that turned into a tortured shriek. As he drew in a ragged breath for another scream there was an unmistakable sound of a body hitting the ground.

A figure stood in the doorway. “Myyy skin. Give it to meeeee.” The words came through a lipless mouth.

Ximena didn’t understand the words but she recognized the speaker. The warrior woman’s spirit hadn’t departed it had in fact return to her body. She knew this meant unfinished business. Ximena directed her undead minions with a head nod and spoke a word of power commanding the corpse in the doorway to stop. The free willed undead resisted though and its twin wakizashi rose and fell carving up the second new aztec zombie. At least the revenant did not know the secret to their unlife. It did not know to destroy their hearts.

Her sacrifice on the table was struggling but the other prisoner was easily holding him down. Her mighty jaguar warrior was fighting for her now. He was alone. The dead woman had opened up the chest of her aztec zombie and seen the still beating heart. She had cut it out and ended him.

A wakizashi sliced through the jaguar warriors head. The little boy that had been helping screamed and ran out of the room. Now she was alone except for her compelled prisoners. She again commanded and again the undead woman resisted.

Undead Joanne rushed forward and with dual overhand chops sunk the blades into her shoulders. The plate carrier straps were severed and the armor protecting her own supernaturally beating heart clamshelled open. Ximena rolled under the table and came up on the other side of the restrained prisoner. She held her knife to his throat.

The flayed woman overturned the table and drove it into the wall pinning her and sending the one called Xanthos to the floor. Ximena worked left an got behind Milhouse. She commanded him to stop his former ally and then plunged her knife into the troublesome crippled black man. He keeled over as she ungracefully threw herself out the window.

Joanne dodged around Milhouse and launched herself out the window. She pinned Ximena to the ground with a sword but rolled away before Milhouse landed to her right. Ximena crawled between Milhouse’s legs and he began to parry Joanne’s swords. He could not block every stroke though and after numerous smaller cuts, Joanne finally destroyed her heart and released Ximena’s spirit.

1 Eagle Warrior Killed
0 Eagle Warriors Wounded
1 Undead Cultist Killed
0 Undead Eagle Warriors Controlled
0 PCs Killed
2 PCs stil Unconscious
3 PCs still Under Mental Control
1 PC still on the run


h2. Joanne’s Story

The gathered crowd, her friends among them, stared at her body.

Ximena stared at her. Even as the girl approached the place where Joanne’s body lay on sand blooded rusty and wet, Ximena was gazing up at Joanne’s spirit standing over it. Joanne could feel the supernaturalness of the girl and her undead priests. The younger woman smiled benevolently at Joanne, then lowered her eyes with holy bliss as she slid her knife beneath Joanne’s ribs; she was nothing if not sincere. Another cut and she clutched Joanne’s heart in her fist. When she bit into it, the blood ran down her beautiful mouth and her people screamed for her.

Joanne’s body was stripped of the remaining shreds of her armor and opened belly to neck by the warrior that had killed her. With practiced ease, he flayed her skin from her body and swung it over his shoulders, her blood still dripping onto the sand. A troubled expression drifted over Ximena’s triumphant face like a dark cloud over the sun when Joanne’s spirit followed her body into the shallow grave and remained standing over the crumpled form. Joanne felt the command behind Ximena’s eyes, a order to descend to the underworld. Joanne nearly succumbed; it was dark and cool there, and she’d been fighting for so long… But anger stoppered her exhaustion – anger at her mistakes, her weaknesses, her failures. Joanne remained.

Ximena held her gaze a second longer, and then turned away, ordering that the uauantin be buried with her weapons and the grave filled. When the first shovelful of dirt fell on her body, everything went blank.

——

Most revenants are victims of violent crimes, their deaths occurring while they are in a state of rage. This Wrath is so intense that it transforms the soul, altering it to the point that it is no longer subject to the cycle of life and death. It does not leave the physical world after death but instead re-enters its physical body, rises from the grave, and sets out to avenge its demise.

But anger alone does not a revenant make, else the world would be full of them. However, the proximity of a vortex of spiritual power, as well as the blood, tears, and prayers of more than a dozen innocent souls soaked into the soil of one’s grave… that may be enough to do it.

——

Joanne’s eyes snapped open like blades. She was laying on her back in darkness. The first thing she noticed was the pain, burning hot and deep. Then she felt the Wrath, icy and sharp. Buried alive? She fumbled in the loose soil pressed around her; it was wet, nearly mud. Another cold squeeze of rage pushed its way through the panic, and she remembered. Buried, yes.

Alive, no.

She could feel her body healing itself – the gash in her side closing up, her shattered leg mending, the blow to her head knitting together. No human could do this.

And the power. Even crushed beneath the soil, she could feel the growing power in her muscles – not only raw brute strength, but speed, dexterity, precision. No human could dream of this.

Something pulled at her. Someone. She knew Ximena was close. Her anger redoubled with a new sense of purpose: righteous vengeance. First on Ximena, but then on the hordes of undead, and everyone who got in her way, until every last one was destroyed. The world would bleed under her noble wrath.

Joanne felt around her until her hands closed on the leather grips of her swords, tossed carelessly into her grave as she was buried. Slowly, she broke the embrace of the earth and inched upward through the bloody soil and the dead flesh that lay above it. The man was dead before he noticed Joanne was behind him. His eyes and rifle had been trained on the gift shop. Above him in the second story of the nearest building, Joanne sensed Ximena. The kill was so easy; her sword slid through flesh and bone like a shark cutting through the water, the top half of his body sliding wetly to the earth as his legs folded. What a fool she had been for ever wishing for her old life, her unmutilated face, her useless honor.

She scaled the stairs of the building. One of Ximena’s undead warriors guarded the doorway, but he did not attack his kindred undead, although he would not allow her to pass. Inside the second floor room a man shrieked in agony. Hadn’t she known that voice once? Joanne brought one of her swords down in an overhand chop that parted the dead guard’s right collarbone and cleaved the ribs from the sternum and backbone. His right side peeled away and he joined the other bodies lying in the doorway.

The doorway clear, she entered the room to face Ximena. The young dead girl held a freshly bloodied knife. A large man wracked with pain quivered on a table while being held down by two others. She burned at the sight.

“Myyy skin. Give it to meeeee.” She hissed through a lipless mouth.

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There Will be Blood IV
Still Sept 15, Z-Day + 286 morning

Ximena and her remaining people consolidated themselves in the upper floor. There was nobody left fighting them. One had escaped but he could be dealt with later. She had people outside shooting at him even now.

She ordered her people to examine downed fighters. Those that were still alive would be her newest converts. She had lost almost everybody and needed to replenish the zombie ranks. Marcel, the magic man, was blindfolded with a bloody tee shirt and sleeves tied together behind his back, binding his one remaining arm.

The first to be sacrificed and zombified was one of her own. He was a mortally wounded and unconscious middle aged man. She opened his chest with her knife while praying and pulled out his weakly beating heart. She infused the heart with necromantic energy and replaced it in his chest. His body shook and he arose to do her bidding.

Next was the fat, critically wounded farmer that had been sitting motionless on the south landing. He staggered inside once the fighting was done. Ximena took one look at his condition and ordered Xanthos to grab him and lay him out on the table. After he did so, the Queen of Bones cut out his heart too and transformed him into a zombie like the other. She had her two newest minions guard the doors. She did not know what to make of the gunfight outside. Her people in the parking lot were engaging with someone. That was for sure.

She only had two more unconscious people to convert and her two enthralled servants. They wouldn’t stay in her service for much longer though. Better to convert them now than cut it too close and risk them turning against her. Then they could sacrifice the nun and the one they called the doctor. The black santero she had not made up her mind about. Probably safer to kill him but for now he could remain tied up.

She ordered Xanthos onto the makeshift sacrificial altar. He went willingly. Then she motioned to the Jaguar Warrior and to Milhouse. Milhouse and the Jaguar Warrior held Xanthos down. Xanthos’ mind screamed, “Bullshit! He should have gotten another save when she ordered him on the table. Or was that an opposed Charisma check? There has got to be a rule he can use! Think dammit!”

Ximena spoke a few words that didn’t sound like Spanish and positioned the knife under his ribs.

Milhouse knew that he shouldn’t be doing this, but it is what the Queen of the Dead wanted. He stiffly aided his new mistress.

Marcel laid on the floor blind. Outwardly he looked calm, but is mind was in turmoil. He impotently raged against his traitorous muscles that obeyed another master now.

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1 Eagle Warrior Killed
0 Eagle Warriors Wounded
1 Undead Cultist Killed
0 Undead Eagle Warriors Controlled
0 PCs Killed
2 PCs stil Unconscious
3 PCs still Under Mental Control
1 PC still on the run


Meanwhile unexpected allies are on the move outside.

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There Will be Blood III
Sept 15, Z-Day + 286

The fight degenerated quickly. Now mutiple guns were firing at moving targets inside the room. Interspersed with the shooters was chaotic melee. It was hard to grasp everything that was happening. The fight was going against the defenders though. Then Sister Maria Magdalena Margarita Vargas de Arroyo Rodriguez moved over to intimidate another cultist, a child really, into submission. She succeeded but an dead eagle warrior cleaved through the nun’s torso and almost into Trevor. This began the accelerating decline of the heroes defense.

Outside Ximena herself was coming up the stairs with her bodyguard the Jaguar Warrior wearing Joanne’s skin as a cape.

Dr. Graved was forced back into a corner dodging blows. When he stepped in front of the open window one of the waiting shooters opened up with an AK-47. The doctor went down unconscious.

On the south side of the room the undead priest attempted to lock eyes with Milhouse. The hypnotism effect failed.

Now the Jaguar Warrior joined the fight and Ximena was right behind. She also had a different but also powerful ability to make others do as she commanded. The first was Xanthos. He knelt and offered her his sword.

Trevor tore his gaze away from the undead priest. Milhouse was not so lucky with Ximena however.

Marcel tried to control the dead again but failed. He was Ximena’s next mental victim.

The resistance crumbled! There was more shooting outside however. It sounded like a small gunfight had broken out in the parking lot on the Yuma side of the buildings. Trevor made a quick decision and dashed across the room and leapt out the window. He landed expertly and continued to the other building. He drew fire from a woman on the south side of the building and took a rifle round in the arm. He changed direction and ran inside the old gift shop. The woman kept shooting blindly into the building. The man responsible for shooting Dr Graves also shot several rounds after Trevor. None hit the concealed teen.

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1 Kid Intimidated
5 Cultists Killed or Dying
0 Eagle Warriors Killed
0 Eagle Warriors Wounded
7 Undead Eagle Warrior Killed
2 Undead Eagle Warriors Controlled
0 PCs Killed
2 PCs Unconscious
3 PCs Under Mental Control
1 PC Fled

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There Will be Blood II
Sept 15, Z-Day + 286

Outside the Mexicans take up positions to shoot into the windows and doors at targets of opportunity as others advanced on the stairs for a second assault. This time undead eagle warriors took the lead in the charge. The Aztecs pushed into the banquet room and the survivors began their last stand.

The defenders held the room until the arrival of the undead eagle warriors. The dead eagles charged up the stairs taking numerous gunshot wounds with little apparent effect. The wounds were gruesome but did not stop them.

Xanthos traded blows with the first one while Wigberto shot it. It moved further inside and kept swinging it’s machete. Xanthos blocked with his shield. Wigberto fired again. The bullets got it’s attention and the warrior sidestepped over to him. His machete rose and fell. Wigberto’s head rolled to the side and blood spurted across the carpet. Their new Mexican ally was dead.

At the other door, Graves was forced back because of gunfire and undead eagle warrior pushed back the table. Behind it was another. They entered the room. The fight intensified but Marcel was again able to control the first zombie and order it to attack anything that tried to come up the stairs. It jabbed it’s weapon through the chest of the next undead warrior and sent it toppling over the stucco wall on the landing.

Apestosa moved over to help Xanthos. A boy with a crowbar had gotten inside and tried to take out the man’s knee. She bellowed at him in Spanish and the kid ran back outside.

Wigberto’s killer moved past the nun and stabbed several times at Marcel laying on the ground. Marcel had had just commanded a second zombie. The zombie eagle warrior drew blood before an arm and leg were shattered by gunfire. It fell to the ground but roll over and locked eyes with the cajun.

1 Kid Intimidated
2 Cultists Killed
3 Eagle Warriors Killed
0 Eagle Warriors Wounded
1 Undead Eagle Warrior Killed
2 Undead Eagle Warriors Controlled
1 PCs Killed

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