φCadeφ taps furiously away on his keyboard, eyes darting between two of the three monitors. After trolling the dark web for several days he has finally found some useful information on necromantic and dimensional magics. It wasn’t much, certainly less than what Ramirez has been showing him, but unlike those tutoring sessions, this was much more in line with his normal practices.

It wasn’t that Ramirez was a bad teacher per se, just that Euthanatoi philosophies and paradigms were quite a bit different than what Cade was used to. Though what he has just found doesn’t go into nearly the same depth, the equations, symbols, astrological charts and other Hermetic principles are familiar and much easier to work with. At the very least it gives him a basic framework to

build on. The most entertaining part is that, after looking it over several times, he sincerely doubts that whoever made this website is actually Awakened, or even a hedge wizard. Just the nature of the language used and the presentation struck him as a sleeper making who was trying to be ‘edgy’ and ‘dark’. If he was to guess, Cade thinks that they perhaps got their hands on a legitimate

grimoire and assumed it was just some sort of strange fictional book, or they simply lacked the awareness to make real use of its contents. What he really wants is to get in contact with whoever has posted this snippet. There is no way that it is the entirety of whatever text it came from, and Cade really wants to see the rest of it. On top of that, he is curious as to how this person

found it and why they found it interesting. Despite his intial assumptions about their personality and motivations, it does seem possible that this may actually be a fellow Mage who is making an effort to cover their identity. Even if it is a sleeper, perhaps with some guidance they could be led to the path of Awakening. Unfortunately, this being the dark web, it was going to be nearly

impossible to track down who made the post. Cade sighs and shakes his head. He hates lost opportunities, but at least these equations would help him make some progress, and they weren’t comprehensive enough to get any sleepers in trouble. Only someone like himself who has a working knowledge of Hermetic principles could put them to any real use. Cade taps out the final few commands to

compile and save all the useful parts and nods his head in satisfaction. “First errand of the day complete. Now for the sample retrieval…” He shudders and shakes his head. He really does not want to go back into the woods, especially not to the dead zones, but this is important. Sighing, he puts on his jacket and boots and heads down to grab tongs from the kitchen, as well as some

tupperware to keep the sample in. Obviously a magically prepared vessel of some kind would be better but he doesn’t have that kind of time or expertise, so he just has to be extra careful. “Hmm…probably ought to wait for one of the more…experienced people to come with me.” He nods to himself and acknowledges Hecatrix’s agreement. “Might as well study til then, right Hec?” He smiles

and heads back to his room, grabbing the ‘Principles of the Material Form and Spatial Relativity: A Guide to Conjuration.’ and his tablet, which now has the data he scraped from that site. With a satisfied sigh he plops down on a couch in one of the common areas and begins studying. If someone appropriate comes along he’ll ask them to accompany him. If not…well he wasn’t looking forward

to it anyways, it can be put off a few days.

<Erin Summers> comes downstairs from her room in the chantry , carrying a sketchbook and making her way to the kitchen for some tea. Then she settles in at the table in the diningroom to go through the sketches, just flipping through them slowly.

■► Cassian ◄■ heads to the door, after having walked from next door and checking out some wards out of curiosity to note some things. He’d knock on the door.

<Erin Summers> glances around and then gets up, checking the peehole carefully before opening up the door. She smiles when she sees Cassian and hugs him warmly before letting him inside. “Hey. Sorry if i seemed distant at the meeting… I didn’t want to draw too much attention.”

φCadeφ gives Erin a small wave as she walks by before returning his attention to the tome and computer in front of him.

■► Cassian ◄■ hugs her back and warmly smiles. “Hello, Erin. You were fine and I thought I’d come over to see you and ask how things are. Unfortunately, I think you will get attention no matter what you try to do. That seems to be a side effect of your change.”

φCadeφ looks up at the two a bit awkwardly. “Uh…do you guys want some privacy?”

<Erin Summers> nods her head and then walks back toward the table after double checking the door. She waves back to Cade now. “I am doing pretty good. Luckily we have a Verbena like right here with a baby of her own so I am well taken care of. And my own nature makes it hard for me to get sick and stuff.”

<Erin Summers> looks over at Cade and shakes her head. “No, you’re fine. Unless we are disturbing you.”

φCadeφ shakes his head and flips a page in the book. “All good on this end.”

■► Cassian ◄■ comes in and closes the door because hey, wards don’t work right when the door is open.. as has been formerly realized upon this very establishment.

■► Cassian ◄■ heads over to the table. “Greetings, Cade. How are you finding the territory?”

<Erin Summers> takes a seat and takes another sip of her tea. “So do you want to know if it’s a boy or girl or would you rather be surprised?”

φCadeφ gives Cassian a long blank look before sudden recognition flashes across his face. “Oh! Hi again. It’s been uh…quite a bit more exciting than I expected.”

■► Cassian ◄■ smiles brightly and nods. “I want to know which it is.”

<Erin Summers> smiles and nods, reaching over to put her hand over Cassian’s. “Well then you will be happy to know that we are having a little girl.”

■► Cassian ◄■ takes her hand in his and just looks at her, seemingly overwhelmed for a bit that this actually was happening. It wasn’t every day a vampire could be a parent..and he’d been around for a few hundred years and some. He then nodded. “I am happy for that. We should think of some names.”

<Erin Summers> smiles and nods. “We will. We have a few months yet.”, she squeezes his hand and then shifts gears a bit. “So, how goes this issue with the thing messing with the wards? I don’t think it has come over here. It must be focused on you guys.”

■► Cassian ◄■ “It’s focusing on us because it was a former Tremere who made the problem in the first place. It’s learning. It’s some spectre that has to do with this other demonic stuff, as far as I can discern at this point. There’s a curse over making vampires in the region, and one Tremere decided to test how/why in a ‘hands on’ approach. It went

poorly.”

φCadeφ looks up from his book as a message pops up on his view feed. “Oh okay. Thanks Hec.” He pulls the headphones down around his neck and looks over at Erin and Cassian. “Whoa whoa whoa…what now? You’re talking about the thing with the busted wards and the metaphysical dead spots right?”

<Erin Summers> “So maybe like a ghost it is drawn to things it finds important.”, she says and then looks over at Cade. “What?”

φCadeφ points off towards the woods. “You know, the trees covered in warding sigils that are all messed up and inside of them all the Quintessence is just…gone?”

■► Cassian ◄■ looks at Cade a moment and then nods to him. “Yes, the wards that are being removed sysematically are by this being likely. That is what I believe thus far, with what I’ve studied on the matter. It’s learning from the dead Tremere. I think if I can figure out what rituals that person knew, I can figure out what else the spectre might be

learning.. but at this point, I do not know that much of those who were here prior to me other than those still alive and kicking.”

<Erin Summers> looks thoughtful. “Perhaps it is not disrupting the wards on purpose and that is merely a side effect of its existance?”

■► Cassian ◄■ “What he is doing.. I know the ritual myself and this being is teaching itself.. and it’s a rather high up ritual. Not something initiates would really know. Unweaving rituals takes quite a bit of practice..and each ritual is different, even for wards so, I am pretty sure this is the creature we are trying to eliminate, that is out there now.

We have hunted for it a few times, but unfortunately, it is wily and has been left out there with no one really doing anything about it prior because the Tremere that remained didn’t know.”

■► Cassian ◄■ “You do have a legitimate thought there, Erin.. that it might not be doing it willfully, but its nature is causing it because it is a sort of anethema…not a natural thing.”

φCadeφ taps his chin thoughtfully. “If it is feeding on the quintessence somehow then that could also explain it. The wards would create concentrated areas of it that would be easy to detect.”

φCadeφ shrugs and shakes his head. “Hard to say for sure though. I was thinking about going and getting some samples to look at. See if I can figure out what exactly it did.”

■► Cassian ◄■ “I have pondered that it was feeding as well. These are all thoughts that merit attention, because at this point, we do not know. The spectre has control of the body and I do think it is learning things, either way.”

<Erin Summers> tilts her head, “Well, if it is a true thaumavore perhaps it could be lured out. Surely the Mages could produce soemthing… Tass is it called?”

■► Cassian ◄■ “Yes, tass would be useful. We have a group that wants to go in the day to hunt and us of the night will take over after, and presumably we will keep altering until we find the thing. Tass to lure it, might make our task faster.”

φCadeφ nods enthusiastically. “Oh yeah Tass would definitely do it. I can ask one of the better mages to get you guys some.”

<Erin Summers> smiles. “I am just happy I rememebred what it was called. It is also my understanding that the power source here produces it naturally over time… though that does make the thaumavore idea less viable, since it makes me wonder why it hasn’t tried to get in here for it.”

■► Cassian ◄■ nods. “It may be a naturally produced side effect but.. studying the wards, I’ve noticed they have begun unweaving.. which is why I think it is doing it consciously.”

<Erin Summers> nods, “Well you did saw it was smart… perhaps it has realized it can do this and is trying to use that to its advantage.”

φCadeφ drums his fingers on the book. “You mean a node? Yeah that’ll cough up plenty of Tass if you know what you’re doing. Sounds like you’ve got a pretty good handle on the nature of the thing.” He nods to Cassian. “I’ve only seen it’s handiwork once and I dunno jack about you guy’s magic so the heck if I know.” He gets a far-away look and then laughs. “No not you Hec. Sorry.”

<Erin Summers> glances backward toward the stairs for a moment, then back to the others. “Are we positive it is just a Spectre? It seems like there is power there that goes beyond what a ghost, even in a body, could do.”

■► Cassian ◄■ “It is based a lot on hermetic magick and well, blood.”

■► Cassian ◄■ shakes his head. “No, I am not absolutely positive it is just a spectre, but it gives off that sort of resonance by what I’ve been able to discern. One thing to note.. It is connected to the demon, I’m pretty sure. With how the curse works, a vampire trying to turn someone over would normally end up with the person dying. However, when I looked

further into it, it was that their souls were being taken away by these entities/spectres.”

■► Cassian ◄■ “Now it seems, whatever they are, they are also perhaps taking wraiths as well now.. and perhaps it has something to do with how Ramirez died as well.”

■► Cassian ◄■ “They aren’t ‘normal’ spectres, I guess is what I mean to say. We’d know more if we could capture this one.”

<Erin Summers> frowns as she nods, thinking that over. “An empty vampire body seems like a good place for something dark to go.”

φCadeφ raises his eyebrows. “Well that sounds bad. And I can double check that Resonance for you if you’d like. It’s one of the few tricks I know.”

■► Cassian ◄■ nods in agreement. “Yes.”

■► Cassian ◄■ “Cade, whatever you do, don’t do something alone. Take someone with you. Right now, you don’t want to go studying something that may be hunting.”

<Erin Summers> “Especially if it eats magic.”

φCadeφ laughs and holds up his hands. “No worries here man. I wasn’t going anywhere without an escort. Even if there wasn’t a vampire ghost demon out there. I don’t do ‘woods’. I’d get lost. At best.”

■► Cassian ◄■ “Well, yes, if you aren’t used to the nature out here, it is a good idea to take company anyway, but that thing is up to something clearly now and we have all of the supernatural groups out here looking for it, and I’m sure it knows it.”

■► Cassian ◄■ “We do not want it getting the upper hand on any of us.”

<Erin Summers> nods her head in agreement. “Yeah… we already mostly lost one person.”

φCadeφ nods in agreement as well. “Yeah I’m a house mouse. If I can hang back and just do research I’m all for that.” He turns a questioning gaze to Erin. “Wait, what happened now?”

<Erin Summers> looks around the room before looking back to Cade. “There is a ghost around here that used to be one of you.”

φCadeφ “Oh, you mean Amy? Yeah, I heard about her. I thought you meant the dem-ost-pire got someone.”

<Erin Summers> nods. “Yeah, well that wasn’t long ago. Would rather not lose someone to this thing.”

<Erin Summers> “Not everyone is as resiliant as the Euthanatos seem to be regarding death.”

■► Cassian ◄■ “Yes, just becacuse a euthanatos could stick around doesn’t mean everyone will have that chance.”

φCadeφ smiles and pats his chair. “Yeah I intend to help from the safety of this heavily enchanted Chantry. I’d probably be in the way out in the field anyways. Plus if I did somehow die I wouldn’t want to stick around anyways.”

■► Cassian ◄■ “i’m not saying to not go out there. I’m just saying I’d consider taking one of the shifters that lurks around here at least or someone you know has a handle on things.”

■► Cassian ◄■ “The shifters can rip most stuff apart. some of the mages here are pretty potent in what they can do.. some vampire that gets what they are doing. Just don’t go alone.”

<Erin Summers> nods her head at that. “And I am out of that straw drawing for a few months yet. While my life is protected to the point I would return, the same cannot be said of the child I am carrying.”

■► Cassian ◄■ nods. “Yeah, true.”

φCadeφ shrugs. “To be honest I’ve been trying to avoid it anyways.” He looks to Erin with a smile. “Oh you’re pregnant? Cool!”

<Erin Summers> nods. “Thanks. That is why I spend most of my time here, researching as well. It’s not safe for me right now. But after the baby is born I can be more active again.”

φCadeφ bobs his head. “Yeah that makes sense. Who’s the dad? If you don’t mind me asking, that is.”

φCadeφ frowns and holds up a finger. “And what is this about returning?”

■► Cassian ◄■ “Erin is a mummy, in layman’s terms. She will come back if she is killed.”

<Erin Summers> points over at Cassian. “Cassian is the father. It is… lets go with there was magic involved.”, she chuckles faintly. “And yes, what he said. I am technically immortal. I can reform my body even from ashes and come back.”

φCadeφ raises his eyebrows and looks Erin over. Then Cassian. “I am so lost.”

<Erin Summers> chuckles. “Well, this place is a hot bed of interesting encounters. Shifters, you Mages, myself, the ghost, the angel.”

■► Cassian ◄■ nods. “Yes, someone gave me a gift, inadvertently, and I was able to spend it with those I care about. It was a short glimpse. a reminder what it was like to be mortal after so long and now I have something else terrific to look forward to.”

φCadeφ nods slowly. “Oh okay, that makes a little more sense.”

φCadeφ then cocks his eyebrow. “Wait wait wait, angel? What angel?”

<Erin Summers> nods her head a little bit. “Mmmhmm. Zo. He’s staying here too.”

■► Cassian ◄■ nods as well. “Zo has helped us and basically explained much of this scenario with the demon that we are fighting. As Erin said, he’s staying here too. You also have two Shifters here too, Daedalus and Ethan. A wraith who was a former mage, named Amy.. and then of course the Mages that reside here.”

φCadeφ ponders for a moment. “Yeah I knew about all the others, but not Zo. Thought angels were a myth. Like, sure, benevolent spirits of varying power are out there that could be called angels by those that don’t know better but…like a real angel?”

<Erin Summers> tilts her head. “Well, there are demonds so… why not?”

■► Cassian ◄■ “Yes, we’re fighting demons, so angels seems like the contrary factor, no? There are vampires and were-creatures, mages, mummies.. wraiths.. The world is a strange place.”

φCadeφ laughs and shakes his head. “Well…demon is often used as a catch all for a wide variety of quote unquote ‘malevolent’ entities, so just the fact that they exists doesn’t necessitate the existence of angels. I’ve read tales of demons that claimed to be fallen angels of course but…seemed like dark age Catholic propaganda to me. Guess I was wrong.”

■► Cassian ◄■ “Demons and angels predate Catholicism.”

<Erin Summers> nods a bit at that. “From what he says there are different types of demons. Only the rarest are actually angels… He refered to the one that is influencing this area as a First Fallen, which doesn’t sound good at all.”

■► Cassian ◄■ “Matter a fact.. all supernatural forces predate Christianity.”

φCadeφ nods in agreement to Cassian. “Of course. I didn’t think otherwise. Christianity just has a history of cultural appropriation and whatnot so I thought that’s what the fallen angel stuff was. Not sure how to feel about angels being a real thing. Lots of potential implications there.” He turns to Erin. “And I agree, this First Fallen business sounds really bad.”

■► Cassian ◄■ “Yes, that sounds like the dawn of demons stuff right there.”

<Erin Summers> nods her head. “Yeah… well, Cassian is trying to help him. And as anti-survival as that may seem, Zo doesn’t like blow them up or anything.”

φCadeφ frowns. “Doesn’t blow who up? Demons or vampires?”

<Erin Summers> “Vampires.”

φCadeφ “Oh well…that’s good.” He smiles but it seems a bit off. The idea of inherently, irredeemably evil demons has always bothered him, and he wonders if there isn’t a way to redeem them. Or at the very least get them to coexist peacefully.

<Erin Summers> nods her head a little bit. “Yeah… sort of. If you see him around he can probably explain more of it better.”

φCadeφ nods “I’ll have to see if I can’t find him some time then.”

■► Cassian ◄■ “I’m sure if you look around eventually he will appear.” He smirks.

φCadeφ shakes his head and scoffs. “Yeah, ’cause that’s not disconcerting in the least.” He giggles and sticks out his tongue at the two of them.

<Erin Summers> chuckles faintly. “Well, he got hurt pretty bad after a fight and this demon stole his energy. So he’s been looking into ways to get it … Hey, maybe that thing outside isn’t eating the energy but collecting it for sommething else?”

φCadeφ pauses and seems thoughtful for a long moment. “That’s possible. If for some reason this ‘something else’ either cannot leave its current location or otherwise incapable of gathering Quintessence on its own. Perhaps this ‘First Fallen’ creature?”

<Erin Summers> nods and then gets up, taking her book with her. “Well I am going to get some sleep. But it was nice seeing you, Doc. I hope this stuff gets worked out soon. Night, Cade, be careful and you have good ideas.”

φCadeφ smiles and gives Erin a small wave. “Thanks! You have a good night.”

■► Cassian ◄■ nods. “That is a thought too. I figured if it was stealing it, it was going to use it to do something, and I still wonder if it is intentionally disabling the wards. At any point, I have to get going too, to go look up some things and do work work work.” He would give Erin a hug goodbye. “See you later.” He’d then wave to cade.

“Good night. Remember what I said. Do not go alone.” ~

φCadeφ nods and gives Cassian a mock salute. “Yessir, will do. Or…will…not do? Whichever. You know what I mean.”

■► Cassian ◄■ nods and waggles his fingers of his left hand as he heads out the door. He opens it, heads through and closes it so securely. ~