36: A Mission to Castle Glamis

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When It Happened (Chronicle Time): July-August, 2006

Who Was There: Yukio Ohta(Bob), Bruce (Matt), Mark Donovin (Eric)

What It Was

The time has come. Plans are laid and alliances invoked, as Ace and Joker unite for the raid to liberate the Crystal Skull from the depths of Castle Glamis.

The Full Horror

Bruce gives Saint-Germain an update about his dinner with Katsoulakis and the Crystal Skull problem. The Comte is intrigued by the mention of Ghatanathoa in connection with the Black Serpents but tells Bruce to leave the problem of Katsoulakis' Speaking Machine to him. As for the Skull, the Comte gives his blessing should Bruce take possession of it. He very much doubts the vampires of Glamis possess the knowledge of Atlantean technology they would need to recover from its loss.

Back at the Marble Arch, Yukio and Bruce discuss options. Bruce insists he will need his droogs and Miranda as Anchors. Yukio doubts the droogs are up to this kind of challenge but has to agree Miranda would be a formidable asset. He is less pleased to hear Bruce is considering Unveiling in front of the Douglases.

Yukio calls the Renaissance to let Mark know they are coming over, but Mark is concerned about what effect the Orgone field might have on Bruce and that the meeting being scryed—possibly by Anne Salters, very likely by Katsoulakis-so they agree to meet instead in Mannahatta. 

At the arch in Inwood Hill Park, Yukio, Bruce, Mark, and Cassandra are met again by red-haired Terri McIntyre (who has more of the touch of Faerie about her than before). There are other young men and women there, but only the four Gifted receive the lightning-bug gel on their faces, and the young people are clearly envious. A blink later, and they are in Arcadia.

This time Maori's Court is a beautiful, warm, summer night by the ocean. The Queen greets them at her table, which overlooks the never-ending rave but is far enough away for quiet conversation. The rave is even larger now than in times past. Kaori is there too, dressed in the same silks of sea blue and green that the Queen wears. Maori welcomes the visitors to her Realm, and when asked, confirms that 'her sister' in Tomnahurich continues a slow but steady recovery. Yukio suspects the Dark Queen must still be dealing with grief, but Bruce's experience with the Mad Gods tells him her thoughts are more likely vengeance.

Maori has not heard about the TimeWave or 2012, and she is troubled to hear about them. But she also tells them the Dark Queen will likely grant them passage, provided they honor the higher standard of etiquette that is returning to Tomnahurich. She then has a courtier take them to a private table.

Once there, Yukio begins by saying if they are not able to get the Skull, it would be foolish to destroy it, but that would be better than to let the Black Serpents have it. He also wonders how badly Aglie desires the Skull after Tessa DiMarco's ill-fated attempt to steal it. If a Player like him ended up with the Skull, would that upset the balance of power in the Great Game?

Mark is concerned about Lady Helen Douglas' interest in him, and there is talk of contingency plans in case the Ace is turned during a fight. He also wonders whether the amulet he received from Tessa might give the Templars access to their plans. Yukio believes 'Aglie's people' should probably not be called Templars because it seems likely they were wiped out in the battle of 1913. He suspects Aglie's group hopes to take their place.

Bruce wonders if they might be the splinter group that was said to have been seduced by the head of Baphomet. They have no way knowing, but Bruce is all for stirring up the Players and seeing if that will attract the attention of this entity Ghatanathoa they have been hearing about. Mark worries if they do that, they may draw everyone else into the conflict and have another 1913 on their hands. Yukio wonders if Ghatanathoa is behind the predictions of 2012, and whether the Crystal Skulls were created to stop it. Mark does not like the idea of the Great Game, but suspects they might someday have to ally themselves with the 'bastard children' of the Players and unite them against a common enemy.

But getting the Skull out of Glamis is their first concern, and among the short list of viable options, Mannahatta seems the one place that could keep it safe from nearly everyone who desires it. Cassandra agrees to get the Skull there should things go badly wrong.

Slowly a plan emerges: Yukio will reconnoiter the castle again to see what might have changed since his last Death Projection. Mark will talk to Robert Gilmore and ask his family to join them in an attack on the Douglas vampires. While the Gilmores and Miranda create a distraction, the rest of the team will sneak in, recover the Skull, and escape. Mark, Bruce, and Yukio all worry the Gilmores may not be a powerful enough, but finally decide they cannot afford to go in without them. They certainly can not look to Ben-Nevis for help.

The next days are spent in final preparations, including some research about mystical Scotland by Yukio and Cassandra. Then Mark, Yukio, and Cassandra board a commercial flight (having assumed they are being scryed, making secrecy pointless), while Bruce, Miranda and a small team of 'droogs' smuggle themselves into the UK with the help of Bruce's criminal network. Mark's network, meanwhile, ensures the supplies for the raid are waiting when they arrive.

The drive to Inverness goes quietly, with a stop along the way in North Kessock, where they find a well Yukio had read about, dedicated to Brigit. It turns out to be a perfect place to rendezvous after the raid.

Tomnahurich Hill looks much better than when they last saw it. The Victorian-era graveyard, with its yew trees and stone statues, is at peace, though several Old World goblins watch the visitors from the shadows. As they step upon the hill, they once again hear the sound of music beneath their feet, but now it is achingly beautiful, if also a little sad. The stone door has been restored, but ten minutes of meditation by Cassandra are enough for it to open and allow them passage. They are met by two strong but courteous guards who guide them to the vast chamber where the Dark Queen awaits.

The Dark Queen is recovering, but her eyes bear small crows' feet, and there are other, subtle signs of her still-weakened condition. The Dark Queen's beauty, though equal to Maori's, is also more alien and exotic, and there is now a deeper shadow about it that may never go away. Much of that may have to do with the empty throne beside her, where her beloved, Thomas the Rhymer, once sat.

Mindful that they are asking for a favor, they offer the Dark Queen a gift in the form of a Death Poem, which Yukio has written in the style of Thomas and now recites. The Queen and her Court are moved by this gift of words, which have a healing power in the Court that seems almost physical. The Dark Queen thanks them for the gift and for the service they have rendered to her Realm. She also asks that Yukio return someday.

When they explain why they have come there, the Queen's expression darkens. The Lady Gwendolyn Douglas, she says, is a cold soul. Though she claims to remember nothing of her time under enslavement, clearly Bruce was right to say she harbors thoughts of vengeance.  She approves of their plan to steal the Skull, but suggests mortal power is not sufficient to keep it safe. When they share their intention to keep it in Mannahatta, though, she gives them her full support.

Then, after confirming that the Well of Brigit is the closest gate to the castle, she draws the audience to a close, bidding a courtier to guide the mortals to a passage leading to the Well.

When they talk to Robert Gilmore, they find the man ready to storm Glamis, provided his family is part of a plan with a reasonable chance of success. The Gilmores care nothing for the Skull, save that its theft will weaken their old enemies. Glamis is their only concern, and they will be glad to share their intimate knowledge of the castle's interior.

Yukio expected the meeting with Robert to be spied on, and has taken a quiet seat in the corner while the others talk to the Gilmore. Sure enough, he soon notices a young man trying to eavesdrop on the conversation. A signal is all it takes for Mark to MindRead the man while Bruce grabs him. Bruce then hauls the man outside and straight up the wall of the building. Fortunately, the deepening twilight covers the sight, but the young man faints before Bruce can question him. Robert takes custody of the man for some slapping around before the Gilmores let him go.

Of course, the Douglases probably know they are there now, so Mark leaves to scout the area between Brigit's Well and Castle Glamis, while Yukio prepare healing balms, and Bruce cases the castle itself. Cassandra scouts the countryside, looking for mystical areas of power. When she returns, she tells them all the vermin nearby are under the sway of the Douglases, but believes she can keep them at bay if necessary. Bruce has found that the castle is the only part of the region that does not appear rich in ambient Essence. A very clumsy attempt not to stand out.

The time has come for a visit with Ness, and when they journey to Urquhart Castle, they find the pool beneath it has enjoyed and even more dramatic recovery than Tomnahurich Hill.  When Ness rises from the pool, her voice is even more wondrous than before, and Cassandra has to raise a hand and shield her eyes from the dragon's brilliance. "You are welcome, children, to this place."  And with that, another round of Q&A begins:

Ness assures them that the Douglases are near defeat, but adds, "Take heed, children. The animal in the trap is often more dangerous than the one running free."

Yukio suggests they depart and give Cassandra a chance for private questions. She emerges twenty minutes later, stunned and solemn but also quietly joyous.

Yukio wonders if Ness' ability to see the Skull 'only dimly' means the Douglases have placed it behind a Shield (where a less powerful being could not detect it at all). Then there is the problem of the castle being full of tourists when they move in. They need something to even the odds, and Lady Helen might be just what they need to shake up the Douglases. Time to see how much Mark has captivated her. Early the next morning, just before dawn (so the Douglases have hardly any time to react), he calls out to her. The rest stand apart, invisibly Shielded, while Mark waits, with Yukio at his side, Shielded and carrying Mark's gun just in case. Suddenly, she is there. 

Yukio says the Douglases would lose some of their enemies if they gave up the Skull, but Lady Helen fears it might then fall into the hands of the Black Serpents (confirming this is everyone's worry). Yukio assures her they have no intention of letting that happen. With dawn nearing, she departs, and the Aces and Jokers make their final preparations for the raid.

The Gilmores have confirmed that the Warded basement area Yukio found is the most likely location for the Skull: set apart from the Crypt, and directly beneath the present-day ale cellars.

When the first large group of tourists enters the castle, Miranda and the droogs are among them. Yukio leaves his body, carefully hidden by Brigit's Well, and Death Projects into the ground level of the castle, while Mark, dressed as a groundsman, takes position on a small rise some distance away with a hunting rifle. Cassandra sits behind the wheel of a land rover for a fast escape. The Gilmores mill about, ready to rush the entrance when given the signal.

The plan executes flawlessly and within a matter of minutes. Bruce moves into the ground level, and a moment later, Miranda unleashes a blast of fire that scatters the tourists and throws the guards into disarray. Bruce puts an arm around Miranda and signals to the droogs to retreat to Brigit's Well, under cover fire from Mark. Bruce uses Negaphysics to make the flagstones above the Warded sub-basement collapse up and then down again—shattering the Ward and smashing against the basement floor below. Seconds later, Bruce is falling himself, his arm still around Miranda, and touches down safely as she unleashes gouts of flame alongside a broadside of Necromantic Bolts from Yukio. As chaos erupts, Bruce draws the Skull to him, and he rises back to the surface with it and Miranda. Yukio comes very close to taking Lady Gwendolyn down. 

The Gilmores, meanwhile, have jumped the gun, and are already pouring into the castle, beating the guards within an inch of their lives and closing fast on the sub-basement. The Aces and Jokers retreat, leaving the castle in their hands. No sooner have they reunited at the Well, then Cassandra opens the gate to Tomnahurich, and they pass through, on to Mannahatta, where none can follow. 

The turn over the Skull to Maori who, at their request, subjects it to Arcadian time, moving it forward to 2012, until such time as they ask her to undo the effect. And with that, they return triumphant to Manhattan.

Previous Recap | Next Recap | Updated 3/19/12, by the Croupier