[White Wolf] Phil’s Journal

This was written after the 11 June game.

Mei Ling kept talking about the “puppy pile”, and how it would make me feel better. I have to admit that she was right. I was moping in my room in the house, wondering if they’d order me to strip when they came in (and gearing up to get all petulant about it, honestly) when there was a soft knock on the door.

They were polite. They didn’t push me. They were there to listen. They were patient, waiting for me to open up in my own time. Despite being the one that did most of the talking, I feel like I am infinitely closer to these two than I intended to be.

I was worried that I was going to lose Ling after I told her about the Quiet. Instead, she came back with an entire Cabal that she wanted me involved in. There’s so much that we’ve all talked about… I can’t write it all down…

[There’s a darker spot on the paper, and some smeared ink. The text starts again below that.]

Rapid-fire. This is how it was in the Quiet, or in that time that I remember as Quiet. Revelations and understandings would come in spurts, and so fast that I could only react for fear of drowning. My fortune in a year’s time is to be in California, fighting what seems to be Nephandi. If I still have no avatar, I will still fight. If I do have an avatar, then I will have succeeded where others have failed, if they have even tried.

The Weaver’s Song. The Dragon’s Song. An avatar that is of the Weaver, but not mad. One who serves balance.

Weaver affiliate Phil is off to The Well, somewhere in China, to meet his fate. See you soon.

[White Wolf] Phil’s Journal

This was written after the 28 May 2005 game.

I am unable to express the relief that’s come from finally being free of the Quiet.  The madness that had been slowly growing since my time in Lansing is terrifying to me now, as it must have always been to those who looked up to me.  I am finally secure in my past and able to move on.

The phrase that repeats over and over in my mind is “Move forward, not backward, and not sideways.”  Mei Ling may be right in her guesses that a spirit has done me some great favor in rearranging the Tellurian so that my mind could be set to rest.  Her grandmother may be right that the Quiet may have damaged my memory in a significant way.  Any of these may be truth.  They all may be truth.  The truth of the past is not the truth that I am bound and determined to protect.  Unlike other Dreamspeakers, The truth that I must watch over is that of the future.

I will pause, for just a moment, to speak of the past.  I only do this because it is important to Mei Ling.  She disappeared from Berkley in California about 3 and a half months ago.  Apparently, she has knowledge of Spirit and Time that her ordeal has closed off to her.  Her avatar has accused her of trying to quash it.  If she believed that the umbral realm that made up her “past” was real, that quashing may have been required to keep her alive.  I do wonder why I, or a reflection of me, was there, in her umbral dream, but for once this curiosity does not rule me.

I worry for her.  My feelings are beyond any memory or Quiet.  Returning to California with her grandmother may be best for her, but I am still incredibly jealous of this male stripper apprentice of hers.  Apparently, they dated, and she guided him through his awakening.  Midas says that this experience, feeling the jealousy, is good.  I don’t disagree with him.  Ah, the rollercoaster of dating an Ecstatic.  If he can show her that her identity doesn’t stand on her past as its only foundation, then I will thank him.

That said, I once again look forward.  I once again think about teaching.  The simple and miraculous act of being there for someone, of nudging them in the right direction, of showing them the glories of the Umbra and of their own spirit, this is what I think of.  I will follow both Mei Ling and Will’s leads.  There is a neo-pagan group on U of M’s campus, and I intend to attend their meeting this week, and begin a search for those with minds open to all spirits, natural and tech.  I think that this would be a step forward.

If my old apprentice lives, and are paths are to cross, the spirits will bring her to me again.  I do miss her.  I think that of all people that I may have hurt unintentionally in my Quiet, she was the first.  But I move forward.

The Archmage Hermetic (what is his name, anyway?) has lost it for good.  It seems that he has had his lucid moments, but had never discovered the death of his wife during one of these.  Harry, after discussing ways to repair or re-make the ward, let on that she had died.  Not only that, but that Victor had been present.  I’m not sure if he got that last bit from Harry or Mei Ling.  God damn, but that girl has steel ovaries.  He totally flipped out, summoning Victor and his wife, and then set his Horizon realm on fire.

The good news is that the church node can be re-opened, and its trigger is the Life sphere.  Not only that, but the old ward can be re-asserted, or we can create a new one.  Those who do re-create it can pick and choose who may enter and who may not.  If Ann Arbor is to become a haven for mages, as Midas wants, this may be the only way.  It’s either that or we all learn to defend ourselves from all other suprnaturals, and to guard the Labyrinth from any Nephandi that may enter.

I hope that the ritual for re-creating the ward exists somewhere besides in the Archmage’s head.

Raven has challenged me to a contest of riddles.  I must best him, and solve his riddles, before he will re-teach me the art of opening the doorways in the gauntlet.  His riddles are incredibly complex, and he has guessed all of mine up to this point.  I am lucky that he has patience.  I am stuck puzzling out a five-minute long beast about shadow and light.  I have a feeling that the shadow and light represent the Umbra and the physical worlds, but there is a key in the riddle that will bring sense to it.  I will meditate on the answer in between work, visiting the young neo-pagans, and spending time with The House.

I hope that Mei Ling returns from California soon, so we can spend time together again.  Geh.  Roller coaster.

Nero was hanging around outside the house.  He left me a note.  Terry spoke to him.  I wonder if I should ask The House if it is okay for him to come in.  I feel wary, and I don’t know how much I can trust him.  Though I suppose that the Fae on campus must feel the same way about me.  “Thanks for all the books.”

I need to get an internet connection inside the house.  I wonder how Vinnie and Backspace connected.  I wonder if any of their equipment is still around the house.

[White Wolf] Phil’s Journal

This was written after the 15 May 2005 game and the 18 May 2005 downtime session.

I’ve been filled with pity for myself since I left my apartment, went to my friend’s funeral, and found out he’d gone Nephandus.  It wasn’t mourning, like I told Midas.  It was pity.

Once again, I turn to a pen and these sheets of paper.  My need for organizing my thoughts is more pervasive than I’d thought.  Okay, breathe in, breathe out.  Re-visit old topics, add new info and discoveries, then move on.

– The ley lines, the sigil, the ritual, and the ward.

Harry is still translating.  We may figure this out on our own before Harry finishes translating.  This isn’t a slight against Harry; I’m sure French is a bitch.  Re-erecting the ward may now be a moot point.  The new Deacons have decided to be a safe haven in the newly-dangerous Ann Arbor.  Of course, this decision is made just before I find out why the damn thing is failing.

To my knowledge, the ward was designed to feed from three nodes in Ann Arbor.  (So many for such a small area.)  The node inside of The House, the node in the Chorister’s church, and the node on U of M’s campus.  (Go green!  Go white!)  As far as I know, the shutdown of the church’s node is common knowledge.  So, there goes 1/3 of the power.  Apparently, even with 2/3 power, the ward should still be kickin’.

Am I the first one to wonder about the batshit Hermetic’s little Horizon Realm?  Its entrance is opened from the node room.  Every artificially-created umbral realm must be fed quintessence, or it will collapse upon itself.  With the church node asleep and the Horizon realm sucking power from The House’s node, no wonder the damn ward is failing.

I have yet to figure out how old Ulysses is.  However, I did find out that the ward has existed for one century, not two.  This makes the math more plausible.

Victor.  Mei Ling took it upon herself to speak with the construct, and we learned a bit about the Chorister because of it.  She took her own life in shutting down the node.  She prayed, she died, and the church became quiet.  Apparently, there is something about the building that mutes Victor’s “smell” of us reality deviants.  I think that if there is any hope for the Chorister’s ghost, the node in the church, or for the church itself, it lies in Kevin and his Templar buddies.  Yeah, I’m surprised to hear me say that, too.  I’ve yet to find out what Rory or Backspace knew about Victor, and I’m beginning to wonder if I should even pursue it.

– The vampires.

For creatures of stasis, they don’t sit around much.  The one that took Nero has been contacted by those from Grand Rapids.  He’s not exactly been leaving us alone.  Now that I’ve stepped down from being Deacon, there is a much less friendly atmosphere in The House when it comes to blood-suckers.  Both Harry and Midas are pushed by Terry’s convictions, and they are pushed to violence.

I have to admit, since Cole has already stepped down as “Prince” in Grand Rapids, his promise of protection seems to carry little weight, if any.  The new “Prince” is the one who delivered the ring to us, and while that should calm me, I feel more uneasy than ever before.

Kevin and his aforementioned Templar buddies are in Lansing to fight the Lasombra and their vampire cult.  After having seen them in action – just a little – my mind is eased about my old house.

– The ring.

We gave the ring to Senor Guano.  The deal is over and done with, but it doesn’t feel that way.  After finding out about the change in power in Grand Rapids and that Duncan was the one to pledge a lifetime of servitude, it feels far from over.

What the hell happened to Vinnie?  Did he take off with Backspace when he found out about Rory’s death?  Why am I getting paychecks from his company?

– Wife?

Oh, god.  I don’t want to hurt anybody.

For the first time in my life, I am not alone.  For the first time in my life, there is someone in my world that loves me without reservation or condition.  And the sex is mind-blowing.

I was alone in Ann Arbor, convinced of my insanity (welcome back to the asylum, Phil) rather than of my existence and willpower.  I did not examine my situation.  I blocked out everything save The House.  It was my charge, after all.  It was Why I Am Here.  And then, in the middle of Rory’s death, Harry’s sexual divergence, and my drunken stupor, Mei Ling simply appeared.

Together, we have supported each other in a time that neither of us are from.  We have discovered more about our situation than I had thought possible, and we have been ready to give our lives for each other.  Have I mentioned the sex?  Because the sex really deserves mentioning.  And revisiting.  Often.

She keeps talking about babies.  Children!  The time spirit said that I have no wives that are yet alive.  In the dream quest to the house with the rooms and the wives, every wife brought me safety, sanctity, and security.  Not to mention the sex.  But none of them brought me happiness.  In the end, I went out of the house.  I went to the garage, where Harley was.  I woke him once more, and I left that place.

The home that I created in Lansing was like this.  The House, when I would only see it and nothing else, was like this.  Mei Ling is like this.  It is not my destiny, nor my desire, to settle in one place or time.  It is my lot to wander, as I am shown.  I will not be in Ann Arbor forever.  I am not the one for Deacon nor father.  But what about husband?

The time spirit said that I have no wives that are yet alive.  My Avatar has shown me that my faith in the wedding band is an old pattern, condemning me to do this again and again and again.  He has finally spoken to me, and he has said that my relationship with Mei Ling prevents us both from moving forward.  She wishes me safety, sanctity, and security.  These are not in my destiny.  In a field alongside the highway, I sat across a fire from him, and listened to him tell me that my destiny is to remain forever alone.

I can’t get the image of that man’s face, splattered across the motel’s parking lot, out of my mind.  Yes, he tried to steal Harley.  Yes, he pulled a knife on me.  I see the images of the body and Ling’s bloody hands every time I close my eyes.

– Crazy or Enlightened?

When I was in the house in the dream quest, I was all of the me’s from all of the when’s.  When I woke up with my hands around Mei Ling’s neck, and ended up on the floor with a broken nose (I’m lucky she didn’t try to kill me), I swear that I felt more me than I am now.  The nose healed.  The ridiculous amount of my blood reversed its flow and went back into my body.  These are things that I cannot do, and I have been assured that no one else caused these things to happen.

I had a thought, before everything snapped, that maybe it was another me that had wanted to choke her.  Kind of the opposite of the me that married (will marry) her.  Maybe that caused the snap.  Maybe it’s the paradox.  Maybe it was waking up with my hands around her neck.  Whatever it was, Quiet came back to visit me for a time.  I went back into the asylum, and once more came out whole.  Ling didn’t.  Quiet is still with her, and her love for me has twisted into obsession.  She and I must be separated for a time.  I hope that Will’s training will do the trick.  Either way, I let sleeping memories lie.

To Do:
– Contact Backspace about Victor and Vinnie.
– Decide what to do about the wedding band.
– Find Raven and re-learn how to open the doorways in the Gauntlet.
– Tell Harry what I’ve figured out about the node and the Horizon Realm.

[White Wolf] Phil’s Journal

This was written after the 29 & 30 Apr 2005 games.

I’m no stranger to dichotomy.

I am, perhaps, a stranger to understanding.  The last few days have brought understanding in spades, and at this point, I can’t even bring myself to fear discorporation.  It’s not even death.  From my understanding(pah!), there are two major possibilities:  I will re-corporate as someone very close to myself, or I will begin a new cycle.

I’m beginning to become annoyed at people trying to come up with alternate explanations for Mei Ling and my timeline-hopping.  This was infinitely easier when I was sure that I was insane.  And after the last few nights, I’m certain that it would have been safer.  Maybe I can make more sense of it all if I lay it out on paper.

-The ley lines, the sigil, the ritual, and the ward

Losing Nero to the vampires has been a major blow.  Until Harry can finish translating his notes from French, we’re at a stand-still.  None of us truly realized how much Nero had done and was doing for the chantry.  Unraveling this mystery will hopefully tell us the ward’s purpose, and then we can judge for ourselves when it comes to strengthening or re-erecting the ward.

That brings me to those that erecting the ward.  The batshit Hermetic Archmage.  Aiko, the Ecstatic.  The Chorister – dead, whose voice is a thousand screams – who was wife to the Hermetic, mother to Ulysses, lover to Aiko, and who knows what else.  Ulysses was gone due to a father-son fight, when the – wait, no.  That’s impossible.  It’s been two hundred years since the ward went up.  Either he was born and raised inside the ward, or he has extended his own age.  I must find out how old Ulysses is.

Victor is related to these four in some way.  I will respect the deal that was made with us, and leave him alone.  I would bet, though, that Rory knew something.  Otherwise, Harry wouldn’t have flipped out when he heard that Victor was in the coffee shop.  The only others that might know are Backspace and that Arabic V.A..  I hate being so shitty with names.

– The vampires

Can it get any stranger than a war between the Mafia and a vampire?  Yes, yes it can.  But not by much.  The one in our own city has his deal.  We’ll leave him alone, if he leaves us alone.  He has Nero, and I believe his story about the oath to keep him alive.  I have to believe it, or I’d never sleep again.

We have allies in Grand Rapids.  Sure, they’re undead, but they don’t seem to suffer from Paradox.  Not a worthwhile trade-off from my side of the fence, but what are you going to do?  Oh, wait, I know.  We’ll free them from their curse, as Cole, the Prince (why not King?) asked us to do.  Ulysses said that attempts to do this have resulted in disaster.  Bah.  What’s a little disaster to Phillip Schuler?  Sheesh.  I have a feeling that the key to undoing the curse could be found in the rite used to give it to House Tremere.  Maybe Harry’s hard-on for destroying vampires can be turned to something constructive.

The cult in Flint and Lansing (FUCK FUCK FUCKITTY FUCK) may be as daunting an enemy as the Prince is an ally.  The one Lasombra has already tried to enter Ann Arbor, and will be able to as soon as the ward falls.  At the latest.  The horrors of the Abyss wrapped around them was eerie in its beauty.

At least we got the ring.

– The ring

Hermetic design.  Effects the spirit realm.  Specifically, the realm of the dead.  More specifically, the specters.  Are they evil ghosts?  Remnants of evil people, or changed by their post-death experiences?  What would have to happen to one’s soul to end up looking like the monster in the caverns?  Does it take a caul, or does humanity carry that horror within itself every day?

The ring brings irony after irony.  We took it from the vampires, but donning the ring induces a state like undeath.  We had to get it because the Archmage rescued Rory from the specters that the ring is designed to influence.

What association does Aiko have with the Specters, the Labyrinth of the underworld, that she can hold them at bay for those women that don’t bring men with them?  Would she do this for Mei Ling, and how horrible am I for even having the thought?

Whatever the consequence, we made the deal, so we must uphold it.  I will know who sacrificed their life to that madman.

– Wife?

Where in the shit do I start?  Is it even possible to have objective thought about this?  Hell, no.  The nightly romps don’t help, though by no means do they hurt.  Well, not in any bad way.  Argh!  See what I mean?

Okay, try again.  There was a time and place that I loved her.  It existed, and it w as truly me, acting, thinking, feeling as I do.  In a manner that I do.  Like the time spirit said, it was Phil.  It was me.  I don’t have the luxury of understanding the nuances that differentiate that version of me from, well, me.

When I heard that she’d jumped off of a fucking building, and could be dead, I was shaken.  No, I was devastated.  Back-to-back this was not.  Was it because I had assigned myself her protector (ha!) and translator for this brave new (old) reality?  I had an apprentice once, but this never happened with her.  I was far more of a father-figure.  Christ, I can’t even remember if the girl survived the Nephandi.

I put the ring on without hesitation.  The wedding band.  The chalk was gone and the ring was there.  She said I abandoned her.  Harley said I abandoned him.  He forgives me, but their memories agree and mine does not.  Maybe I am still crazy.  Wouldn’t it be funny if they were both figments of my delusional mind?  Hee!

– Crazy or Enlightened?

Two years in an instant.  The filing job with Mr. Schmidt.  The old house with Mei Ling.  Magic fading out of my life along with the danger and vibrancy.  The rightness of the day to day life.  I know that this was another test from my Avatar, and I know that I succeeded.  All those rooms, with all those wives, all those lives.  That house was MY house, I think.  The house that I always build, every cycle, trying to chase after a stability that I never really want.  I was all me’s that have been, I think, in all when’s that I have visited.

The Technocracy do not have Avatars; they have Eidolons.  The Technocracy are not Awakened, they are Enlightened.  Is it hubris to believe myself both Awake and Enlightened?  Does the crazy prevent the hubris?

Because I was all of me, everywhere and everywhen, I was able to find Harley.  In the dream, I awoke his spirit; this must have represented finding or reuniting with him.  Whatever the case, a missing companion – one that I remember – has returned, and for this I am happy.

Okay, this has helped.  Information I need to gather:
– How old is Ulysses?
– What did Rory and Backspace know about Victor?
– Can the rite that the Tremere used to become vampires be used to undo the curse?
– Who sacrificed their life to the Archmage?
– Am I falling in love with Ling, or am I just trying to be a white knight?

Okay, that last one is a bit more complex.  I need to convince Ling to physically train me – again – so that I am not so weak.  I need to get with both Harry and Ling, and probably Tim, to deliver the ring.  I need to re-learn how to open the doorways.  I need to try to forget the asylum.  I need to not think about why I left Ling and Harley.

Or maybe I do need to find that out.

[White Wolf] Phil’s Character History

Time to switch it up a little. This is the character history for Phillip Schuler, as he began his life in the current Mage game…

As Phil stared at the row of fraternity houses, he became quite sure that wherever he was, it was not home.

In his memory, this row of houses had been home to any number of people of mystical persuasions.  They had possessed a source of power, a node, and had been the only ones in the state, aside from the Technocracy, to officially have such a thing.  Now, these houses were dead to him.  Oh, they still housed fraternity members, but there was no longer any mystical or magical facet to them.

There was another thing.  The newspaper and his cell phone agreed that it was nearing the end of February in the year 2000.  Phil was certain that this was wrong.  It should be at least 2002.  God damn, if only his memory were less hazy.

He had been in Lansing.  He had stayed away from his fellow magic-workers for as long as was possible.  Something had drawn him back in, and it had caused him great pain.  Phil eyed the clothing stores in disdain as he walked past.  There had been a friend, and he had died.  That’s right!  Phil had met the others at a wake.

But his friend had become corrupted.  Nephandus.  His soul had been turned inside-out, and even dead had sought corruption and descent.  He had fought the spirit of his old friend side by side with these orphaned and teacher-less mages.  And they had won.

Phil stopped for a moment in front of a chain costume and party store.  He frowned at a sudden memory of the smell of cotton candy.  His friend had not been the only one.  Other Nephandi had crept their way into Lansing, slowly creating a powerful Labyrinth.  One had smelled strongly of cotton candy.  It had worn a white suit.  Others had fought by his side.  Celican bin Thoth, of the Order of Hermes.  V of the Euthanatos.  Rebecca, an orphaned mage.  He remembered these clearly.

He remembered the baby.  The child who was the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.  They had protected the child, hoping for salvation.  No one had been saved.  Phil scowled and moved on.

Rebecca’s mentor had protected the child, and then she had.  That had left Phil and V to manage the unorganized and opinioned Tradition mages and just as many of the orphaned.  They had done pretty well, considering.

Considering what, you ask?  Considering the Nephandi opening a portal to some twisted spiritual world between here and where their masters churned in darkness.  Considering the surge in Technocracy presence in response.  Considering the regular death and dismemberment of those he was just beginning to call friends.  Considering the lupines and the fluctuations of the spirit world and its infinite layers.  Considering.

They had run a couple of successful raids on the Nephandi, with the Technocracy as allies.  Their devices for harming spirits had looked strange, to say the least.  Things got even more hazy here.  Phil sighed and slumped into a bench.  He watched the Ann Arbor traffic go past, and remembered his Harley.  Poor bastard.  Maybe it was time to let go of that.  Something across the street caught his attention.

He stood up, paused for a moment, and rushed to the street corner, trench coat flapping behind him.  After waiting impatiently for the light to change, he rushed across the street.  He forced himself to slow down as he approached the bum.

It was Arland!  He had been one of the orphaned in Lansing.  His arms were scarred from razor slashes, just as Phil remembered.  He was as bald as a cue ball, just as he remembered.  He was covered in tattoos, just as… wait.  There were less tattoos.  There were less cut scars.  Phil frowned for a moment.  He tapped his staff on the ground.  He shoved his hand into his trench’s pocket and held the marble sphere.  The worlds of spirit and energy leapt into sharp relief, and Phil saw Arland as he was before he had awoken to his power.

He approached the bum Arland, and handed him a ten-spot.  Arland mumbled a slurred reply, and Phil saw how dilated the man’s pupils were.  He scribbled his cell number on a piece of scrap paper and handed it to Arland.  The wind shifted, and Phil almost gagged.   “If you need to talk, or anything weird happens, give me a call.”

“Uh, sure.”  The bum took the paper and Phil walked briskly away.  This might not be the same world, but it was pretty damn close.  That raven.  That cursed ancestor spirit.  Fucking tricksters.

Sure, it couldn’t help, much less deny, its nature.  Phil had come to it, not the other way around.  He had finally come to terms with what had happened in the glass tunnel.  The quest for the spirit had focused him and let him mourn.  He had mourned all of his fallen comrades, most of whom he couldn’t remember.  He had mourned Crashing Boom-Boom and the Harley Davidson.  He had celebrated for the spirit of the house, which he had released.

Phil had cut all ties, because it had felt like the right thing to do.  Then, after questing for what seemed like an eternity, he had collapsed into the raven’s nest and fallen asleep.  When he had awoken, it was staring down its beak at him.  He had asked it for the path to understanding.  It had told him that for this gift, Phil would seek out and console a lonely friend of his.  The raven had said that he was qualified, because the spirit inhabited a house.  Phil had fallen back asleep, and then woken up in the Ann Arbor train station.

He stopped in front of a used theatrical costume shop.  He had spent a lot of time with the spirit, and it was time to let go of Harley.  Phil sighed, gripped his staff tightly, and walked in the store.

The bell over the door jingled.