27b: The Journeys of Master Yukio

(9/3/05 and 5/6-7/06)
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When It Happened (Chronicle Time): May-September, 2004

Who Was There: Yukio Ohta (Bob)

What It Was

Yukio departs New York for a visit to Greece, where, after a quick diversion to meet the Aces in Scotland, he journeys to Delphi and discovers the truth behind the Oracle

The Full Horror

Part One (May-July 2004)

Intent on having his own place of power, Yukio discovers a strong Essence aura around the Seaman-Drake Arch near Inwood Hill Park. Within days, he has a contract with McKendrick & Sloane to tear down the surrounding buildings, and replace them with a wall enclosing an elaborate garden and several new buildings.

Bruce had been awake for the two weeks preceding the battle for Tomnahurich, so he decides to get some rest. But first, he gathers Lilly's surviving remains, and then builds a cairn in which to burn them. After that, he finds a secluded place and falls asleep.

With the reconstruction underway, Yukio leaves New York for Greece, where he plans to stay for a month at the Katsoulakis estate on Plomari. Daria Zannakis is still there, having no wish to return home so soon after the savagery of 'Red Rain.' But she's delighted to welcome Yukio, and the two of them visit the country's most famous sites, with the notable exception of Delphi. Yukio finds some caches of mystical sea salt, and Daria shares a little of her research about the peasant magic of Lesvos, which she intends to turn into a book.

They also speak of Hecate. Daria speaks of the goddess with warmth and respect, but also suggests that George should be cautious in his dealings with her.

Meanwhile, Yukio studies the Katsoulakis estate, discovering many glyphs throughout the grounds, drawing protection from many traditions. They seem to have been in place for at least a century. Unfortunately, the estate's library has almost no books concerning the occult.

A Diversion to Britain

Thanks to the 'The Conversation' (Episode 27), Yukio knows the Aces have no intention of going back to New York, and little chance of repairing their poor relations with Ben-Nevis and Aglie. Fortunately, Aglie does not seem to bear a grudge against Yukio for what was said during his meeting with the Aces. Nonetheless, Yukio puts himself in debt to Aglie for the sake of his honor, and Aglie accepts this gift gracefully.

Yukio bids farewell to the Aces, but he also decides to backtrack their path through Britain. His first stop is Castle Glamis, where Aglie said the Douglas family kept a crystal skull that once belonged to the Templars. That night, Yukio wards his body, goes into a trance, and Death Projects his spirit--disguised as a Gilmore--into Glamis. A powerful ward prevents access to the basement, and he finds the dining hall set for a dinner at 1am. No plates, only goblets. As Yukio observes, twelve men and women--vampires all--come into the hall. Yukio overhears the names "Lady Helen" and "Lady Gwendolyn" before one of the men sees Yukio's disguised spirit and roars, "Gilmore!" With an, "Up yours, Douglas!", Yukio flees back to his body.

Now that he knows why Aglie argued against a violent, frontal assault against Glamis, Yukio returns by day to the castle Shielded and disguised as a tourist. With a camera he maps the ground floor, and with Death Sight he finds traces of past violence in every room, and evidence that the servants are being used as ghouls by their vampire employers. The tour concludes with one of the family, Paul Douglas, who carefully avoids direct sunlight.

Curious about Helen’s imprisonment by the Sleepers, Yukio's next stop is Gleeson House. He manages to summon several dead Sleepers, but they know nothing about the ancient Gilmore-Douglas feud. The Sleepers had been lucky, catching Helen at a moment of weakness, and imprisoning her behind solid, Crowley-inspired wards before she could recover. Later Sleepers simply obeyed their predecessors' command never to open the room. They never even knew who was kept there.

Yukio's last stop is Edinburgh and the basement of Morris House, where the Aces found the body of Terrance Gilmore and the entrance to a community of ghouls living beneath the city. The ghouls seems completely separate from the Gilmore-Douglas conflict, but Yukio considers returning some day to see if the ghouls have any secrets of necromancy to teach him. He also wonders if the ghouls might be persuaded somehow to go north and battle the Douglases.

Back to New York

By now, Yukio has been away from New York for several months, and is worried how the City is faring in the absence of the Aces. He visits the Marble Arch, his new home, to find its reconstruction proceeding on schedule, then makes a short stop at Ground Zero to see if it might serve as a gateway to the Twilight City of Geburah.

Yukio's real objective, however, is the Renaissance, where he discovers Tamara is now in charge, with the support of Latrell and the other residents. Her progress on crafting an orgone gun worries him, but he is pleased to see Michel Borsavin has been continuing his studies and can now, at last, act safely as a medium. He gives Michel a supply of sea salt and warns Tamara that Jeff Bradshaw may have installed taps in the Renny. In fact, he has, and Latrell immediately starts dismantling the system.

When Latrell asks about Mark, Yukio confirms the Aces will be staying in Scotland, but also offers to talk to McKendrick & Sloane, and to Katsoulakis, about promoting Latrell and authorizing him to hire more guards. He gives Tamara and Michel his contact info, and then asks if they can put him in touch with Martin Murray, Jamal Rashid, and Thomas Cartwright.

Murray's number is on file, and Michel tells Yukio about the rat plague that led Jamal to ban Murray from Harlem. Tamara says she will try to contact Cartwright, though she can't guarantee his response. As for Jamal, he does stop by occasionally, but they have no way to contact him. They haven't had a need to because things have been extremely quiet. Tamara and Michel are worried by this, but Yukio knows the reason for it--the rise of Katsoulakis and the absence of the Aces. Michel has to agree when Yukio asks, "Don’t this the wrong way, but how many crazed killers are trying to kill you?

Before Yukio departs, he warns Tamara again to be cautious with her orgone studies, but she assures him there is nothing to worry about, especially if she stays in contact with the Reich Institute. Yukio heads back to the Arch, though having heard about the rat ring from Michel, he stops by the Kentaro apartment to retrieve it. He notices Kaori's room is now set aside for guests, confirming his guess that she is living full time now in Mannahatta.


To get Jamal's attention, Yukio visits James and Shauntell Robertson at the Abyssinian Baptist Church and donates to their soup kitchen. Delighted to have a player back in town, they tell Yukio if he visits the nearest Soul Nut Hole, Jamal will probably find him. Sure enough, not long after Yukio takes a seat, Jamal comes in through the door.

Jamal is not happy about the Aces prolonged absence, but he has a new arrangement with Katsoulakis that should keep the City safe. The Renny itself is even safer now that Ben-Nevis, TNI, and "the bishop" are no longer a threat. Yukio tells Jamal about his journeys, the Aces' experiences in Scotland, and the possible threat from obsidian creatures, like those encountered in Tokyo and in Tomnahurich. Jamal is impressed that Yukio has met four of the Players, and by the news that Tessa works for Aglie. Jamal has heard Aglie is hard to know but just in his actions.

Yukio also tells Jamal what he knows of the Aces' battle against Frank Woolworth and Winfield Hall. Jamal hasn't heard of Anne Salters, but when he accompanies Yukio to the Woolworth Building and views the onyx mirror there, he confirms that it's a gate to Winfield. He also notices a 'tap' placed on the gateway by Salters, and other taps by other mages, though he cannot tell where all of them go. Jamal accepts Yukio's thanks for his help, and tells him to visit a Soul Nut Hole if he wishes to meet again. If Jamal can come, he will, and while he cannot guarantee their meetings will not be detected by Players, they will secure be against anyone less than a Player.


After an excellent dinner, cigars and a bottle of Plomari ouzo, Yukio tells Katsoulakis what he knows about the Aces in Scotland, including their ill-fated meetings with Ben-Nevis and Aglie. Having already heard about Yukio's debt to Aglie, Katsoulakis asks him what he plans to do. Yukio says he does not wish to risk his standing with Katsoulakis by siding with Aglie. He will fulfill his debt but that is all. Katsoulakis nods, and says he is pleased to have Yukio, Jamal, and everyone at the Renny remain in the City.

As for the Aces, "They did fulfill their usefulness to me. Some mistakes can be forgiven, even serious mistakes. But some mistakes cannot. If they wish to be tavern owners in Scotland rather than remain in my service, I will not make an issue of it--provided they make no move against my interests."

Part Two (August-September 2004)

Katsoulakis grants Yukio access to his occult library, and while reading some of the books brought back from Gleeson House, Yukio notes Katsoulakis' syncretic approach to magic. Yukio can sense a gateway to Geburah within the Kempelen Speaking Machine but also the presence of uranur, which suggests it might have a connection to the serpents' dimension.


Later, Yukio asks Michel to come with him to Czernin's apartment, where he tells the landlord he plans to 'cleanse it' with the use of Feng Shui. The landlord quickly agrees--no one has stayed there more than a night since the night of the murder. When Czernin appears, his spirit seems old and tired--even more so after Yukio tells him how Abel met his end.

Lesek tells them that in the years between the death of Woolworth and the arrival of Katsoulakis, mystical New York was the home of mages such as Everett Rolston and Alistair Jameson. Most of them were steeped in the traditions of Britain and considered themselves heirs to the traditions of men such as Crowley and Dee. They studied psychic ability and, especially, rituals and invocations. But Rolston and Jameson died in 1999, which makes Yukio suspect they may have been victims of Katsoulakis' earliest arrival to New York.

Lesek asks Yukio if he would find out what really happened to Miranda. When Yukio agrees, Lesek describes a necklace which once belonged to her, and Yukio remembers it being among the articles recovered by the Aces. Lesek also describes an Essence matrix imbued to a brass key. Yukio finds them both in the Renny's basement and takes them with him to study.

Back to Greece

Next Yukio meets with Cassandra, showing her one of Jeff's videos which "proves" she was with the Aces in Tomnahurich. But she has no memory of having been there, and seeing herself in the video leaves her badly shaken. With no one else to ask, they go to see Maori, bearing a flower from Central Park as a gift. Maori is certain the "other" Cassandra must have been Hecate, joining the Aces to watch over them. And, she suspects, diverting George's gateway to Mannahatta so Maori could prevent the accidental deaths of George and the Dark Queen.

Annoyed the Aces did not notice the impersonation, and feeling bored in New York, Cassandra joins Yukio on his return to Greece. Yukio welcomes her company and hopes to encourage her to develop her life-affirming abilities as a complement to his necromancy. When he calls to ask permission to revisit the Plomari estate, Katsoulakis readily grants it, but then asks if Yukio also intends to visit Egypt. When Yukio says yes, Katsoulakis asks him to call when he arrives there so Katsoulakis can ask him to deal with a small matter. Yukio says he would be glad to do that.

Yukio arranges for a first-class flight, an intimate hotel (a romantic getaway sort of place), flowers waiting in the room adjoining their separate bedrooms, and a day each for sightseeing and shopping. By the second evening, Cassandra is beaming, not having been flattered like that since she lived in Chicago. As a widower, Yukio even knows how to be helpful while choosing clothes. Cassandra's taste is predictably earth-mothery, but she allows nicer touches to slip in here-and-there, and Yukio secretly buys for her the necklace she clearly liked but thought too expensive.

Their next stop is the Parthenon, where they find a glimmering of power, just like all sites associated with the Old Religion. Then on to the beach, where Yukio rents a cottage; dresses like a goofy old man; and chats up the bartender for local lore; while Cassie stuns all lookers in a skimpy bathing suit. By 11pm, Cassie has a big goofy stud in her room, by 4am he's gone, but the aura of contentment lingers in the suite for much longer.

Daria is still working on her book when she welcomes them back to Plomari. After hearing a full account of Scotland (minus the green serpents and Ben-Nevis), she is concerned that Hecate is taking such a direct interest in George. She greets the news that the Aces will remain in Scotland with relief. Cassandra, however, is surprised to hear Yukio add, "So I have decided to take up their responsibility myself." She hadn't realized what his real intentions were. Meanwhile, Daria enchants Cassandra's new necklace in return for Yukio's offer of an obligation.

Daria also notes how similar Yukio's description of Ness is to accounts of Python, the great dragon of Delphi. After the god Apollo penetrated the sacred precinct on Mount Parnassus, he slayed the dragon which lived in the Castalian Spring. Beside the spring , a priestess named the Pythia sat on her tripod, breathing in the spring's vapors, which gave her the ability to prophesy.

Perhaps the old legends linking great serpents to wisdom were more real than Daria thought.

Yukio asks Daria if she would like to go with them for a closer look at Delphi, but she declines. This is their journey. When he asks about Malta, she declines again, saying she has little interest in Templars, who had only been innocent knights who lost their lands to a rapacious king. Finally he suggests that, with Katsoulakis in charge, it would now be safe for her to return to New York, but Daria says she is still grieving for those lost. When Yukio tells her about his talk with Lesek's spirit, Daria hangs her head, and says she doubts Miranda could still be alive.

Python of Delphi

From the moment they reach Delphi, they can feel something tugging at them. They soon find themselves before a cleft filled with brambles--which then pull away, granting them access to stairs heading deep into the limestone. Three hundred feet down, Yukio and Cassandra emerge into a vast underground chamber, lit by indirect light coming through rifts in the steepest wall of the mountain. As they come in, a young woman wakes from slumber amid a small pile of blankets and pillows, shielding her from the chill air of the cavern.

A deep, dark pool, the true Castalian Spring, takes up most of the chamber, and Yukio can sense the vapors in the air making him slightly tipsy. The young woman rises, her slight white dress setting off her beautiful, classic Greek features. She bows her head to them, and walks over to a small altar where a brazier sits, waiting for her to light it. The smell of bay leaves and barley seeds join the vapors as she walks to a tripod beside the altar and prepares to sit.

Suddenly she looks up in surprise at Yukio, then turns to face the pool, as a row of bubbles appears in the middle of the spring. The bubbles approach the side where they stand, and then a great reptilian head rises slowly from the pool. Python. Very much alive.

“Yukio Ohta and Cassandra Moon, you are both welcome here. I sense one of you has questions for me. And that the other just has questions.” Cassandra frantically whispers, “I forgot my question! You didn’t tell me it would be like this!” Python and the Pythia are both amused, and the dragon answers twenty of Yukio's questions clearly and directly, as the legends claimed he would. At times Python turns to the Pythia and responds in a friendly way to questions she interjects. She is clearly much more than a passive vessel for his voice. And yet, Yukio and Cassandra definitely seem to be getting very special treatment.

Question 1: “How can I find St. Germaine?”

“One does not find the Ageless One. One makes oneself interesting to him, and then he will find you.”

Question 2: “What is the weakness of Demetrius Katsoulakis?”

“Demetrius Katsoulakis has his weaknesses. He is not invulnerable. But these weaknesses are probably not available to one such as yourself. His ultimate weakness lies in human generation itself.... I suspect you do not take my meaning in this, so allow me to add that it is not so much a question of wisdom as of knowledge. You must become a student of human creation, in all its forms.”

Question 3: “What is the goal of Vincent Aglie?”

“I detect a certain pattern in your questions, Yukio Ohta."

"The deliverance of humanity from the Son of Man and His tyranny over this world.”

Question 4: “What is Andrew Ben-Nevis?”

“A great sorcerer of the serpent race. Specifically, as you know them, of the Green faction. His goals are indeterminate because he has not made up his mind whether he seeks domination of the planet, or winning of the Great Game, or the creation of an enclave for his people within the planet. He is a being of great ambition but questionable judgment.”

Question 5: “Who was the Cassandra Moon who traveled with the Four Aces in Tomnahurich?”

Python gives one of the titles commonly ascribed to Hecate.

Question 6: “How can I best harness the power of orgone?”

“I do not know of such a substance by that name. Does it perhaps exist by another?”

Yukio says he is not sure, “But that gives me the answer I need.”

Question 7: “Who is this Cassandra Moon with me here?” Cassie looks at Yukio glaring, “Yukio!” The Pythia facepalms and the Python appears to chuckle.

“A student of the Witching Way; a loyal servant of her Goddess; a friend to all those of good intent; and a heroine who shows great promise in her future.” Cassandra turns beet-red.

Question 8: “How can I protect her from herself?”

Yukio asked this because he believes this is not a world for heroes, but Python replies, "Your question proceeds from a false assumption, Yukio Ohta. This is indeed a world for heroes, but not for those who foolishly seek to be such for their own selfish or ignorant purposes. There are higher causes to be fought for in this world but they demand deep understanding, perhaps deeper than those you have journeyed with until now have shown.”

Question 9: “How can I defeat Anne Salters?”

“Even the most powerful sorceress has her own nemesis.”

Question 10: “Can the rules of the Great Game be broken?”

“There are no rules as such. The rules are negotiated by the Players of the Game themselves. As such what 'rules' there are do change somewhat over time. They can be broken, but the more ill-advised the action one takes, the greater the consequences one will face for taking it. The answer to this question depends on who asks it. To one such as you, there are no rules. To those such as your former companions, there are rules of a kind.”

Question 11: “What brought the fae back to New York?”

“In truth, I am not entirely sure. I sense there was a crucial shift of some sort on the island of Mannahatta, I am not entirely certain what constituted this shift.”

Question 12: “Why is New York the center of the world?”

“It is not. But it has become a crucial battleground in the struggle between the Powers Artificial and the Powers Natural.”

Question 13: “I do not understand your answer. Perhaps it is due to my lack of knowledge. But I am curious whether Demetrius Katsoulakis is on one side or another.”

“Demetrius Katsoulakis stands apart from this struggle.”

Question 14: “Do other Players stand apart? These are, perhaps, not conscious things to them.”

“On the contrary, for some of them, their stance is very conscious indeed. Of those you have asked about, St Germain is an observer. Aglie is the staunchest advocate for the Powers Natural. Andrew Ben-Nevis thought to use the Powers Artificial for his own purpose, but this has proven less useful to him than he expected.”

Question 15: “Who are the other Players?”

“Given the causes you serve, Yukio Ohta, there are other players, but their use to you is inconsequential.”

Question 16: “Where are the other dragons?”

Python replies that there are about 24 of them scattered around the world. Each has different powers, though all of them have great knowledge of various kinds and great authority in their regions. But the Servants of Gaia is the term he uses for them.

Question 17: “Where do the serpent people come from?”

“They do not come from a Realm I can perceive, and this troubles me.”

Question 18: “What realms can you perceive?”

“Kether, the source of pan-sentient existence. Binah, the realm of the true Natural Powers, those which emerge partly from the dreams of humanity but also from that which lies beyond them. Chokmah, the home of the architects. Chesed, the realm of change. Geburah, the land of that which comes after. Tiphereth, the gateway of the cosmos. Netzach, the land of the Powers Artificial, those whom humanity in this time creates and whom they mistakenly think most powerful. Yesod, my realm, the land of the Fae. Hod, the land of dreams. And Da’at the portal to realms beyond, to which my Sight cannot take me.”

Question 19: “Why is Hecate interested in the Aces?”

“Because in these days, she receives so few entreaties, and the Powers Natural must find followers where they can, until better days return.”

Question 20: “How may I thank you for the knowledge you have given me?”

“You must become that which you believe cannot be. You must become a champion for the age to come and do your part to shepherd humanity to the destiny they deserve and yet which they believe unjustly they are not worthy to embrace.”

The dragon concludes, "I trust these answers respond to some of your deepest questions, Yukio Ohta. Your actions have been noted by Gaia, and the great service performed by your colleagues for her and her servants in Tomnahurich have earned you our gratitude, and our special regard."

“And you, Cassandra Moon, must return someday, to ask questions of your own. You both will always be welcome here. But I would ask you not to request audiences often, for it is dangerous in these days for the Servants of Gaia to manifest ourselves when our enemies are exultant. As my brother, Ness, discovered.”

They depart, thanking Python and the Pythia (Yukio gives her a nice pair of sunglasses). As Cassandra tries to take in what just happened, they have a picnic, and Yukio tells Cassandra the rest of the story about the Aces in Scotland. After which, she asks, “How could they have had an experience like this and then decide to go to sleep?”

Yukio replies, “I’ve thought about this a lot in the last few months. I tried to reason with them, and prod them but it does not work. I do not know if I have the will to try further. In Japan, when I was dealing with Mishima, I asked these questions once before, and my only answer to you is: 'a lack of moral courage.' Which is different from a lack of physical courage, which I had when I was young, and then spent so much of my second life undoing the damage I had done in my first. Now in my third life, I received the answer, to the last question, that I expected and feared. I have tried to sidestep this fate. But perhaps it is not a fate because it is not inevitable. This path. And now I must walk it because they will not. But I do not want to walk this path alone.”

Cassandra insists he will not, and Yukio replies, "I thought as much when I asked you to travel with me. We have to talk about our relationship.” When Cassandra suggests they cannot take on the responsibility alone, Yukio agrees, but insists they should have a more formal arrangement than the Aces ever had.

“I propose we become partners. The type of partnership the Aces don’t understand. A full partnership. I don’t believe either of us should speak with others about Python’s answers without the other’s consent. It is not clear who should be trusted with this knowledge. I’m sure you have hopes about who might not be found wanting, as do I, but hope is not knowledge.”

Cassandra agrees, and they decide to tell Daria that Python and the Servants of Gaia exist, and that it was Hecate impersonating Cassandra. But the rest of the answers they will keep to themselves. In Classical tradition, Daria presents the now-enchanted necklace to Cassandra, who accepts it in Wiccan tradition. Then come friendly farewells as Yukio and Cassandra depart for Cairo.

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