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two more options for those looking to confine their foes
The Eternal Flame [2 significant charges]
Burn in Hell may be a common shout amongst the population, but in the underground, there are more than a few ways for people to make it actually happen. This ritual is one of them, popular in that while the victim is definitely ďsent awayĒ to somewhere, the ritualist gains a constant reminder that his foe still burns. To perform this ritual the duke needs to have (or at least access) a fire that has burned continuously for at least one full season, something that has been used to kill a demon, a nightingale housed in a cage made from incense sticks stolen from a clergyman, and lined with pages torn from pornography and a camera of some sort.
The ritualist must have the item that killed a demon touching his bare flesh, and it must stay touching him for the duration of the ritual. Additionally, once the ritual commences, the only words the ritualist may utter is the targetís name. If either of these conditions is broken, the ritual fails.
The ritualist must wait by the birdcage, until the nightingale is induced to sing. He must then light the incense cage from the fire, and allow himself to be covered in the smoke from the cage. The nightingale is not allowed to escape the cage alive; it must burn to death. Having been bathed in the smoke, the duke must find his target and take a photo of the target, who must know his photo is being taken. The duke must then take this photo and squeeze it tightly in one hand, while thrusting his other hand deep into the fire. The target spontaneously erupts into flame and quickly burns away, leaving barely any trace behind of his presence. Obviously a Polaroid camera is preferable for this ritual, but a regular camera works fine, it just means the ritual will take longer, as you have to get the picture developed. Itís also a good idea to have a first aid kit ready when you start this ritual, to bandage your burned hand.
From this point on, whenever the duke is near an open flame, anyone near the flame will be able to faintly hear the screams of pain and anguish of the target of this ritual, and see his face, contorted in pain, amongst the flames. The larger the flame, the louder the screams and more clear the image (as it gets louder some dukes have claimed to faintly hear the sound of a nightingale beneath the screams). The more time that has passed since the ritual was completed also increases the volume of the screams, till an old ritual near a large flame can be almost deafening.
Although this side effect of the ritual is well known, and even considered a benefit by more sadistic dukes, there is another less known side effect.
The duke who used this ritual becomes something of a fire magnet. Any flames flicker towards him slightly, as if the wind was blowing them in his direction. Like the screams, this effect also increases with time. If the duke is a smoker, heíll quickly have to quit, as his Zippo tends to flow down and burn his hand (not to mention the speed with which his cigarette will burn out). The pilot light in his oven will eventually begin flicking out, as it strains towards him and off the gas, and any other flame that gets in his immediate range, or spends a lot of time in close proximity to him will be a source of problems for the duke (best not try that firearm). Given enough years, this effect is going to become strong enough to be fatal, as the range and strength of the magnetism grows till it draws down a lethal flame.
If all that isnít bad enough the duke also gains one new fire related worry. If he ever touches a fire fuelled by feathers, he swiftly burns up just as the target of the ritual did, disappearing to wherever his target went, with a small bird, similar in appearance to a nightingale, but with a distinctly predatory demeanour left in his place. There may well be a way to block the side effects of this ritual, or recover someone sent to the eternal flame, but thus far such rituals remain hidden.
Rumours Ė the birds that escape the eternal flame when a duke succumbs to the torture he brought on others seem to be fairly intelligent. They seem to delight in leading people with violence on their mind towards the place their quarry hides, flying ahead singing loudly, and perching in a high watching place when the blood is spilled. But anyone who receives this assistance had best leave the corpse of their quarry for the bird to play with, or find their own enemies being lead to them.
Neopizo (the Prison of the Soul)
It pays to listen carefully when one is surfing the rumours of the occult underground. For example, an observant, and well connected occultist may notice that there are two rituals floating around, each claiming to do something fairly different, but with exceptionally similar requirements. The very well informed will notice that these rituals are in fact the same ritual, just with a slightly different PR. One claims to imprison your enemyís soul in torment, another claims to restore your fallen friends to life, by resurrecting them into someone elseís body. The ritual could potentially achieve either of these goals, or both, but what it really does is send the target into an otherspace that canít properly interact with the physicality of the current incarnation of the universe. Specialists in the otherspaces claim that Neopizo is a leftover shard of a previous incarnation of the universe, a tiny shred of fabric stuck to the soul of realityís boots. They say that in that world the spirit-body duality resolved differently, or didnít exist, being either truly unified or truly split, or a number of other wild ideas. Opinions on why differ, but the result is clear, when you go to Neopizo you donít get to take your body with you. Not that youíd notice, from the inside at least. When theyíre sent to Neopizo a personís body just collapses into some kind of stasis, a state resembling a coma, while the spirit sees itself, clothed in a body that is a near exact replica of its true body (usually) and standing in an otherspace unusual only in its absolute normality. Looking about, Neopizo seems to be a large 1920ís era prison, a fact accentuated to the duke by the fact that the common ritual of entry sends someone here as a prisoner (there is another ritual, that sends one here as a visitor, but it is virtually unknown to the underground).
Crimes of the Heart [3 minor charges]
This ritual is seen by some as a true and just punishment, for it can only be cast on someone who has wronged the caster. Specifically, the target must have caused the caster to fail a stress check (and the caster must still have the failed notch). The target must also have at least one hardened notch. The caster must gather newspaper headlines of terrible crimes, and carefully leach the ink from the pages using dew collected from lilies that grow above a grave (the grave of the one you intend to resurrect say those who think that is what this ritual is. In reality it makes no difference). The damp, blank pages should be carefully dried on a fire fuelled with some kind of alcohol (whiskey or vodka are traditional, but any flammable alcohol will suffice). The caster then takes the pages, and using mulberry ink writes down in detail, the wrongs the target has committed against the caster. He must then fold the pages in a precise origami pattern to resemble a pair of handcuffs. The caster must take these handcuffs, and touch the target with them, while declaring how long he should be punished for his crimes (resurrectionists tend to say eternity here, but anything longer than one month works). The targets soul then leaves the body, and appears in Neopizo. Needless to say, the resurrectionist theory of this ritual was spread by demons, who are eager at the prospect of soulless bodies just waiting for them. However if your friend has become a demon, or his soul is serving time in Neopizo this could well allow them a chance to take the new body up (see prison politicks, below).
Sent as a prisoner, a duke appears in prison greys, sitting on a bunk, in the cells. The body the soul manifests as here is based in some part on self-image, so is not always a perfect copy of the souls actual body (especially if he was just ejected from a body he wasnít born to). Most of the unoccupied cells are locked up, so unless the duke is unlucky enough to have a cellie, he will find himself locked in. Of course it wonít take long for one of the other prisoners to take notice of him, and come to unlock his cell, to invite him, for good or ill, into the prison population.
There are no guards in Neopizo, and the prisoners are free to walk about the prison as they wish, avoiding each other, fighting with each other, whatever. The only things that keep a prisoner in check here is fear of other prisoners, and the parole board. The faux bodies the prisoners have still feel the call of food and water, and next to the exercise yard is a large garden, and a pen with a small flock of sheep, tended to by the prisoners. Which prisoners tend the garden, which cook the meals, which clean the floors and which do every other job within the prison is the purview of the Parole Board, a big ornate wooden plaque, which near covers one of the walls of the exercise yard, and lists every last prisoner present, and what his assigned task is. When new prisoners arrive, or a prisoners duties are changed, the roster on the parole board changes, the words silently flowing into a new shape. Prisoners call this duty roster the parole board, because it seems to be the sole determinate for getting out before your sentence has expired.
By living as a model prisoner despite the lack of guards Ė doing your assigned tasks, staying in your own cell, lights out at lights out, not getting into fights, etc a duke can find himself let out early. Of course itís not quite so simple. More than a few prisoners havenít learned the lesson getting sent here was meant to teach; so avoiding trouble can be difficult. And a duke might find himself surprisingly unsuited to combat, as his wound points are based of his soul here instead of his body. Other prisoners are less violent, but are inclined to corrupt other prisoners, encouraging them towards gambling, prison hooch, and other activities sure to ruin an inmateís parole. For every full month in which a prisoner comports himself perfectly, he loses one hardened notch from the highest of his gauges. When a prisoner runs out of hardened notches, a small golden star appears next to his name on the parole board, and if he walks into the board, he reawakens in his body, assuming it still lives. If he finds himself dead, (a fact he will be aware of, as a faint strike through line appears on his name, the second his physical body dies) he has a fairly high likelihood of becoming a demon, and might well then try to return to the prison. Early escape can also be had if the person who sent the prisoner here truly forgives their misdeeds, or recovers from them (that is, they lose the failed notch the prisoner gave them) Those unwilling or unable to try the good behaviour exit, and who donít have a forgiving sentencer can just wait till their proclaimed punishment ends, to find the gold star next to their names, and the real world awaiting. But once again itís not actually that simple.
The parole board is often swayable, when it comes to what jobs people get. By majority consent of the other prisoners on any particular duty, a prisoner can be moved to off any job (at least on the board). Majority vote from a particular duty can also get a willing prisoner voted onto it (Unanimous vote gets an unwilling one). A prisoner can also will himself off any particular duty roster (but a prisoner who wills himself off all jobs can not get early release). In each case the board changes the following morning (or stubbornly refuses to, despite prisoner consent, the board does seem to have some will of its own). This is also the time when the changes it makes the prisoners didnít choose happen. But who works what jobs on the board and who actually does them doesnít always match up. Since even a day of dereliction of duty ruins a prisonerís month streak for a good behaviour point, careful prisoners check the board daily before breakfast, just in case they need to make it. A prisoner who makes too many enemies, will find his duties changing daily, a difficult situation to be in, but thatís not the worst of it. Any demon who gets in here is as solid as everyone else, and only a few of them have come here with the intent to stay, their petty passions entirely met by the squalid conditions of the prison. What makes the demons, (and prisoners whose bodies have died, or who just arenít fond of their original bodies) so dangerous though, is ritual. Moving amongst the prisoners are as many proxy rituals as are known on the entire normal world (most of which only work within Neopizo). Prisoners routinely proxy each other, to leach their good behaviour time onto themselves, or to shaft their own bad behaviour onto others (kind of like tabo dumping and charge stealing). Such leached time doesnít remove hardened notches, but still counts in a prisoners favour. Two months worth of stolen good behaviour make one of a prisonerís hardened notches not count against them, when determining when they are released. Worse still anyone proxied to a prisoner when they earn parole has a chance of getting the parole instead, and returning to earth in the good prisonerís body. In such cases, the well behaved prisoners sentence becomes whatever the body thief had left, and his required good behaviour time becomes whatever the thief needed, before he is eligible for parole again (this time into the thiefís body, which may well be dead). Luckily for the friendlier prisoners, rituals to break proxy bonds also circulate in the prison, although they all require a prisoner know who is proxied to him to be effective.
Of course, if all you want is to steal someone elseís body you could just go to the prison as a visitor Ė
Eying the Bars [6 minor charges]
This entry ritual is much harder to find than Crimes of the Heart, but a bit simpler to cast. The ritualist only needs chocolate incense, a currently valid license of any sort (driverís, firearm, street performerís, etc) made out in his name and a souvenir from a former prison that has become a tourist trap. The ritualist needs only to burn the license, and use the last embers of it to light the incense, then tightly grip the souvenir, close his eyes and breathe the incense in deeply, reciting a list of penances he has suffered for his misdeeds as he exhales, and repeat this process until the incense runs out (its OK to repeat yourself in your penance list if you are a relatively sinless person). Simple right? Actually there is one additional catch. This ritual can only performed in a conjugal visit trailer, and it has to be in use when you are performing the ritual. On the upside, anyone else present whose licenceís you burn gets transported with you.
People using this second ritual appear in Neopizo walking out of the parole board, and are easily identifiable to the other prisoners as they probably arenít in prison greys, being dressed exactly as they were in the real world. Additionally pinned to their chest is a visitorís pass, which allows them to exit through the board whenever they want. Using this ritual would be tantamount to suicide, were it not for the fact that prisoners can not physically hurt someone wearing a visitorís pass in any way, and no one who isnít wearing a visitorís pass can take someoneís visitorís pass off. Prisoners will try to bribe or threaten a visitor into taking the pass off (since a visitor might not know the prisoners canít harm him), as if they can walk into the board wearing the visitor pass, they return to the real world, in the body of the visitor. Visitorís who suffer this fate are trapped here, as their name does not appear on the board, so they have no means to return to the real world, and their body is occupied even if they could. This method is the best route for body snatchers, who need only bring an unconscious person in with them, switch visitor passes, and then leave again.
Misc pickiness details Ė
What happens if you leave with two visitorís passes on?
ST choice- you get one of the bodies, and the other passes fall to the ground, for the first prisoner who sees them Ė you get your choice of body and the other passes disappear, but reappear in your pocket the next time you enter the prison - you wake up in multiple bodies Ė a separate independent copy of you (or shard of you) wakes up in each body, it could be any number of things.
Cal_Lous | profile | Jul 17, 06 | 12:02 am
suggestions, comments, scathing criticisms?
Cal_Lous | profile | Jul 17, 06 | 12:04 am
You've got the half of it - exactly half of it, in fact.
Antagonish | profile | Sep 06, 07 | 9:43 pm