Passages of the Great Library

Chapter 1 - To surrender dreams - this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness - and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be. - Don Quixote
Christmas Future in Cervantes' Spain

Cat had been walking around London minding his own business and began to notice something – it was Christmas, but people were short tempered, angry and… well… selfish as all hell. He started too, to notice that sometimes, he could see a sort of ghost image of the crueler people being nice… and it reminded him of the odd ghost cemetery he had seen a week before – so, he headed to the National Enquirer office to find his way into the Library – to see if this was related.

Meanwhile, Codex was looking after her books when she felt one get jostled and DROPPED. She rushed to see who had done such a crime and found a slightly translucent young woman floating about the shelves and tossing books here and there. Codex picked up her volume, saw that the spine had been bent – and SCREAMED

Cat arrived to find Coppelia telling a young boy that a 1st Edition “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens had gone missing from the Library. Harmonia Hook & Tim Dresden were also at the reference desk when there was a SCREAM from deeper in the Library. The group ran to investigate.

What they found was Codex (whom none had yet met) battling a small pale floating ghost child. Codex was shooting book pages from her hands and the pages were wrapping themselves around the evil looking elfin child ghost thing. It in turn, was screaming at her and trying to bite and claw her with sharp nails and teeth.

Q, Tim & Harmonia joined the frey, but the Cat (being a cat) did not. A second foe appeared out of the stacks – an 8 foot tall broad shouldered man in a worn velvet coat with rotting vegetables making up his beard. The floating elfin child tried her best to take refuge under large man’s robe – but Codex was too angry over the damaged book to let the little girl escape.

Cat, instead of fighting, camouflaged himself and snuck around behind the foul smelling warped version of the Ghost of Christmas Present – what he found in the stacks behind… was an open book.

The tide of the fight was starting to turn. Things were getting ugly….. and then…. the enemies just started to … fade away. Q, Harmonia, Tim & Codex were left with nothing but the view of the Cat – sitting on top of a closed book, flicking his tail and licking at his paw.

They investigated the area – and the Cat found a puddle of blood where the book should have been shelved. Tim, being a handy wizard type, did some woogie magic shit and created a compass that would lead them to the source of the blood. So, they all followed the wizard through the stacks into the darkness.

The book shelves started to look a bit different, and then when people hadn’t been paying attention, they seemed to be replaced with trees and the library gave way to a forest. When they tried to go back, the pathway they had come on was gone. So – through the forest they roamed – following the compass.

The Cat, being a long lived creature, looked around the forest and decided that it was… well…. old. Or rather…. the trees were from his memory – from the 1600’s to be precise. Harmonia, looked to the stars to figure out where they were. Oh, she couldn’t see the sky through the trees – no problem – she climbed a tree and tried again. Oh hey! Stars!

“Spain.” she declared. “We’re in Spain. In the damn middle of Spain.”
“In the 1600s” added the Cat…. not very helpfully.

They came to a clearing in the wood and saw in the clearing a large cemetery. The wizard’s compass started to go haywire pointing all over the place in an arc. As he stepped into the cemetery the arc got wider, and wider, and wider – until in the center of the graves, the compass did nothing but spin in circles. Tim claimed that such behavior from the spell was not normal.

There was some infighting in the group as accusations about bad spells got thrown around and the validity of magic in general…. but then it hit Tim. The blood was a blend – a sample that came from more than one source….. and those sources were now surrounding him – the blood was from ALL of these graves.

The realization seemed to unnerve some of the party and so they looked around with more alertness which is when they spotted the giant Reaper in the corner of the clearing.

Codex, went to try and talk with the Reaper – who seemed amenable to conversation…. albeit telepathically. While she “talked” to giant scary reaper dude, Q was made aware of another figure that had come out of the trees – a grave digger. Skinny, no, scrawny underfed, dirty, covered in blood and carrying a shovel.

So, with a creepy dude in opposite corners, they discovered that the gravedigger’s name was Cervantes – for some reason, lost to time and memory, Harmonia ended up using her sword to cut off one of Cervantes’ legs. He didn’t seem to mind the loss of this limb and continued to stand there staring with menace.

Codex’s conversation with the Reaper was a lot like talking to a zen master spitting koans at you. Which is to say, none of it really seemed to make all that much sense… .until later. Notable here however, is that as a sacrifice offered to the Reaper to talk and to pass by, she gave him one of the dead seeds from her dead forrest.

The group investigated the cemetery a bit more and found that all the graves were for women named Maria and that the oldest grave was for a Maria Ebeneza – they took this as a good sign that they were on the right track to finding the missing Dickens book. Harmonia pulled out her map and discovered that it was different than it had ever been – but it had an X on it, and a trail from the cemetery, to a tavern, to a windmill, to a knight, to the X – so, leaving the Reaper and Cervantes behind, they made their way onward.

After traveling through some very empty, desolate and VERY cold landscape, they came to a tavern. At the tavern they met Dulcinea the bar maid who told them that every Maria who had come to town in the last year or so had been killed and buried in the graveyard. They also learned that the very first Maria had lived up the road at the lending house by the crossroads.

The heroes left the tavern and headed up the road to where Dulcinea had directed them – coincidentally, the path was the same as the one on Hortencia’s map and thus it led them past a windmill. Since the windmill was on the treasure map, the group decided to go inside and check it out.

They found the mill to be abandoned and run down, yet inside it seemed that the mill stone HAD been put to recent use. Investigating more closely, they found that the mill stone had been used to grind human bones into flour. After making this discovery, they all decided it was time to leave the mill – though a sample was taken for further study. Ew.
Before leaving, Codex looked through the “flour” barrels and found that her seed offering was in the flour….. but was no longer a dead seed – but live and viable. Needless to say, she pocketed it right quick!

Further down the road they reached the house they had been directed to – which a sign on the door proclaimed as the “Marley lending house”. The downstairs was a cold and unfriendly business with frozen inkwells and dust collecting everywhere from the months of disuse. Upstairs, was an living space with two bedrooms. One of the bedrooms was clearly meant for a little girl – complete with a knight style rocking horse. In the adult bedroom, they found a series of personal journals that documented Maria Ebaneeza’s descent into madness from her despair over losing her young daughter Maria.

They searched so thoroughly, that under the floorboards of the child’s room, they found what appeared to be a book on how to summon demons. Tim, was able to decipher some of the script and rituals and learned that in this world, a summoned spirit feeds off of two types of energy – their primary energy, the energy that is offered in the summoning – and their secondary PREFERRED energy – that is, the type of energy that they actually want and will accept as a way to end their summoning. Often, these two energies are diametrically opposed.

By doing some comparison between the rituals in the book and the journals, the group learned that Maria had summoned a demon and offered it her sanity and regular feedings of blood. This meant that to banish said demon, they would likely have to offer it life or insanity.

Checking Hortencia’s map, they found that the house was not actually the final X marked on the map, so they continued along the map’s path and found a large stone circle – with one stone tipped over into the circle almost like a diving board. The X marked the center of the circle. Tim was hesitant to cross into the circle, but after some investigation was satisfied that it was not currently active.

Digging in the center of the circle they did in fact find treasure – the missing First Edition Dickens’ Christmas Carol from the Library!

Looking around, Tim realized that this circle was a portal type circle. In the demon summoning book, he found a ritual to open a circle – they’d found a way home! Or… at least… a way out of here. After some discussion, the heroes decided that wherever the portal went would be better than here. So fuck it – let’s do it.

First though, they returned to the bar to get some materials needed for the circle opening. In doing so, they realized that Dulcinea was in fact – bat shit crazy. She was ranting and raving to thin air. The heroes had an idea – bring the summoned demon to Dulcinea and offer it her insanity to banish it.

But wait – the Reaper hadn’t asked for blood OR sanity…. wasn’t he the summoned demon? They went back to the graveyard and talked again to the Reaper. No, he had not been summoned – he had been displaced from his own book by the summoned “demon.” All heads turned toward “Cervantes” who laughed like a madman. They offered HIM Duclinea’s insanity – and he jumped at the chance.

Back at the bar, Cervantes drank away the blissful pillow of Dulcinea’s insanity which banished him back to his book “The Murderous Ghosts of Christmas” and returned her to her sane state in which she again had to face the fact that she was Maria, her daughter was dead and she had killed dozens of people in order to forget that trauma.

The “heroes” left her like that – crying in the bar – awkwardly walking out into the cold towards the portal opening.

Returning to the stone circle, Tim used his occult expertise to cast the spell that summoned the portal. It shot from the ground and each hero jumped into it like a swimming pool – vanishing from that world. Tim was the last one to go – using the diving board rock to hang onto and while half in the portal wiped away the chalk glyphs on that rock to close the portal behind them.

poof

With a lurching snap of reality – they all found themselves back in the Library where they returned the missing book to Coppelia

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OOC - Prologues
What's the deal? Why so many Prologues?

For those of you reading our logs who may not be players in our campaign – I bet you are wondering why we have so many Prologues – well, let me explain.

As GM, I created a “prophecy” for each character made up of literary quotes. This prophecy was drawn via tarot cards that each had been assigned a different quote. Each character prophecy has 6 different quotes and each game session is meant to use one of those quotes as the guide for what will happen that adventure.

The first quote in each prophecy was not used for an entire game session – but instead to guide a one on one session with me and the one character whose prophecy the quote was from. These initial intro scenes are the 5 Prologues to the campaign – and after these 5 one on one scenes, we brought everyone together for our first group session – Chapter 1.

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Prologue 5 - Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line - "Princess Bride"
Save me from badly written YA Sci-Fi

Thomas Quick has been working for the World Book agency for quite a while now and is a successful agent whose specialty, unsurprisingly, is adventure novels. This is likely why Coppelia gave him the assignment in that terrible YA Sci-Fi.

The assignment – something is up in “They came from beyond the asteroid belt” the idiot invader aliens are actually accomplishing things. So, Q jumped in – heading for the alien headquarters to see what he could find out – but instead of landing in a space ship, he found himself in a rather Italian looking landscape.

Intrigued, he looked around and spied a villa in the distance – with no other goal, he headed for his new target. Travel in books being what it is, he ate up the vast distance quickly (because unless it’s a road trip book, the travel between places is just glossed over). As he drew nearer to the house, he discovered that it was on the cliff at the edge of the ocean. It hadn’t seemed like it was before…. but …. oh. Oh the author didn’t describe the place until it was the close up. How annoying.

He rang the door bell… and it… RESONATED through the building beyond the door. No other word fit the sound – which likely meant the author had used that word. A man? came to the door. We’ll use the word man loosely here because it was quite obvious to Q that this man was an alien whose skin suit didn’t fit him right.

Using his boyish charm to great effect, he slipped under skin suit man’s arm and into the house. He moved quickly and found his way into the main dining room of the villa where a strategy meeting was taking place. All of the “people” around the table had ill fitting skin suits, except one – the man at the head of the table dressed in renaissance-esque clothing. He was short, bald and every time one of the skin suit aliens told him of a some plan that hadn’t worked just right he used the expletive “INCONCEIVABLE!”

Q learned that The Sicilian was plotting a take over of more than just this book and was using the Russia chapter here to stage invasions into other volumes. But that was all he learned before he was found out.

A chase scene ensued – and Q knew what that meant when he escaped the villa – it meant that no matter what direction he headed in – he would end up at the edge of the cliff with the aliens behind him – it was just THAT kind of book.

Sure enough, he ended up at the edge of the cliff with the skin suit men closing in. He thought about taking the time to put on his rocket boots before jumping off the cliff – but then realized, in a book written this badly, he’d have a better chance getting the boots on if he jumped FIRST and THEN put the boots on.
He was right.
He jumped, and as he fell, he found it easy through dramatic appropriateness, to slip on his rocket boots, ignite them and then zoom up again past the cliff edge so that the aliens all stopped and stared in amazement as he flew up and away from them to escape.

Free of the chase scene, he headed for the Russia chapter to see what he could find there.

What he found – was a rip in the front page of the chapter – or, at least, it was a portal that looked like a page rip. Stepping through the rip, he passed shimmery celluloid holding a large tunnel to the back of the rip. The tunnel was white, smooth and had two pale blue vertical lines equidistant from each other. When Q stepped in, it was to find that the tunnel was plastic…. and looking down the length, it curved to the right at an accordion style bend…. Q began to wonder if he was in a giant bendy straw.

He followed the length of the straw and when he stepped out, he found himself hanging onto a cliff edge. It was straight down, and very far down – an insane way down. Dangling off the edge a little distance away was a giant oversized hemp rope. He thought about trying to reach for it – but then realized, he could just pull himself up.

On top of the cliff, he discovered an unconscious swordsman who claimed he had just participated in a very memorable duel. He demanded to know if Q had six fingers and then introduced himself as Inigo Montoya. Through questioning, Q realized that Inigo was starting to become self aware, and that awareness was due in part to the fact that Vizzini was missing from the book, causing a rift in the flow of the narrative that was especially effecting Inigo.

So, Q jumped the book to report his findings to Coppelia and turned over Inigo for questioning.

About to head away, Coppelia instead introduced him to Harmonia Hook, Tim Dresden, and a Cat saying that they were all working on an issue with escaped ghosts from “The murderous ghosts of Christmas”

That was about as far as she got in the explanation of things though because right then – there was a scream from further in the Library……

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Prologue 4 - Take what you have learned and move on - "Sandman"
Where the hell AM I??

Tim Dresden was minding his own business in his shop when a woman came in begging for his wizardly help. She claimed that a menacing grim reaper ghost was threatening her and she was convinced it was going to kill her soon.

Using some dust, Tim revealed the ghostly plane and indeed, there was a reaper there- looming over his hapless client. He assured the woman that it could not reach them – but just then it struck out at him and he could feel it! Something was wrong, it wasn’t limited only to the ghost plane!

So, he opened up a portal to the plane to rid the realms of the reaper. His amulet Harry warned him when the portal opened that it wasn’t quite right…. but because of the immediate danger, he used his magic to push the reaper through the portal anyway – but when he did…. he got sucked through as well!

Suddenly, his California shop was nowhere to be seen and instead, he found himself in Piccadilly Circus smack dab in the middle of London. In point of fact, he was standing in front of a book store advertising the newest Harry Dresden novel – which, of course, confused the hell out of him since Harry was a dolt not a wizard anymore and why would anyone….. his dietracked mind refocused when he saw the reaper flying in circles over the street – out in the open, in this realm…. but no one seemed to see it…. well… no one except that one woman over there with the weird steampunk looking glasses and the notebook….

He crossed over to her and confronted her about the reaper. She was surprised that he could see it but took some readings on him and then nodded in a sort of satisfaction.

After talking, he revealed that he had come through the same portal as the reaper and was trying to vanquish it for a client – she said she was working for an agency that was trying to do something similar and since he could see it without the aid of apparatus, she could use his help.

So it was that Tim gained entrance to the Great Library and met up with the rest of our heroes.

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Prologue 3 - The means by which we achieve victory are as important as the victory itself. - "Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings"_
Codex finds a new home

Codex began her evening quietly stalking her library – tending to the upkeep of the building and its books.

A strange sound a glowing green light made her aware that something had entered her library – and more to the point, had just taken one of her Phylactery editions off the shelf.

Codex quickly stalked to the location of the text that had been touched, and found a group of intruders standing before a green glowing portal in the process of removing several books from the shelves and moving them through said portal – she let out a horrid screech and accosted the group.

The intruders – World Book Agents, including Agents Resh and Tot – did not cease their work when Codex demanded it, spurring her to attack them with arcane magic. The Agents stood their ground and continued working even as one of them was badly injured by Codex’s assault.

With great care and through indicating the falling meteor through the skylights above, they convinced her that her library would perish in flames before the end of the night – and they were rescuing those books that could not be found elsewhere so as to preserve them.

Unapologetic, Codex began assisting the Agents – not only seeking out the First Editions they were after, but also gathering her collection of Phylactery books. There was some overlap in these lists, and once Codex began assisting, the Agents were willing to acquire even the books that were not on their lists.

When the last of her books were pushed through the porta before herl, Codex found herself dizzied and weak with the terrible sensation that she had just been ripped away from herself – soon, unconsciousness took her.

She awoke in a bedroom, surrounded by unfamiliar books that all seemed to be on teh subject of King Arthur and the legends of his knights, love and quests.

As she explored, crossing through the Merlin hallway, and following the pull of the closest of Phylactery books. In doing so, she came to find it in the hands of Coppelia, who introduced herself and the Great Library.

Her most precious books safe and sound in a far more secure location, Codex agreed to stay, and began to make her home in the Great Library as the newest Agent and Guardian – using sticky notes to begin communications with the unseen maintenance staff.

The means by which we achieve victory are as important as the victory itself. – “Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings”

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Prologue 2 - You must want a special story - "Of Ducks and Dimes and Destinees
.... TALKING DUCKS???

Harmonia Hook burned down Neverland, then took the Jolly Roger and sailed it away into the dark. Her heading was “Straight into Orion’s crotch and stop at midnight”.

Fog covered everything, and then they were near land and in the shallows. The water and the land looked….. strange, and so Captain Harmonia took a dinghy to investigate.

Through the fog and on the strange shore, she discovered that the Jolly Roger was in a river. It was on this shore that she met three walking bushes that sprouted duck heads – and those duck heads began to talk. The heads left the bushes and she found that they were strange bipedal duck man creatures named Huey, Dewy & Louie. Just when she thought that she might kill them with her sword for being so unhelpful about this land she was in, they were instead turned into rubber ducks by the magic of Magica de Spell.

Magika, thinking that running into a pirate like Harmonia was good luck, turned the Jolly Roger into a ship in a bottle on Harmonia’s belt and blackmailed the pirate into helping her break into Scrooge McDuck’s money bin to steal his number one dime.

Hijinks ensued as Harmonia had to deal with cartoon logic and cartoon physics – but she managed to break in – but as she reached for the dime, she found Hermione Granger sitting on top of the gold instead. Hermione convinced her to leave the dime where it was and instead transported Harmonia to the library to meet Coppelia. The reference librarian explained that she had been in a comic book and gave her a brief run down of the World Book agency – after a week in the lagoon and a reunion with her crew (she found that putting the bottle in a lake made the ship and crew manifest large as life again, and touching the bottle to the ship made it go back into the bottle) Harmonia agreed to search the worlds for treasure and fight pixies and bad magic by working as a World Book agent.

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Prologue 1 - There is nothing like staying at home, for real comfort - "Emma"
A Christmas Murder

Cat was walking about in London on Christmas eve day when he came upon something strange – images wavering in and out of reality – a graveyard appearing out of nowhere and a college professor he had seen in a bookstore before getting her head chopped off by what seemed to be the Ghost of Christmas Future.

On the scene he met a woman who was surprised that he noticed her, more surprised that he had seen the scene of the graveyard and the ghost, and most surprised that he was… well…. a talking cat.

With tools and things that went beep and a strange pair of glasses, she took notes and readings and measurements – and then called in a clean up crew to get rid of the dead body in the middle of the riverside park.

Interested in this organization that was covering up a murder, he helped the woman track down the professor’s place of residence by visiting the bookshop he’d seen her at. Once at the house, they found her living room full of rotting vegetables and fruits. In her bedroom, which was aged about 50 years, they also found a book entitled “The Murderous Ghosts of Chirstmas”. The agent opened the book and three ghosts flew out of it and out the window.

To make her job easier, she escorted the cat to the National Enquirer office where he was allowed through the door to the Great Library. He met Coppelia and was offered a position as a World Book Agent.

During training he learned about the Library’s quest to round up first editions…… being a first edition himself….. he decided to keep an eye on them all from the inside.

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