August 10th 2008

Resting in his hotel room, Oliver Wile looked up to see that the building was shifting slightly, moving as if they were being squeezed between two opposing planes. He went outside to get a better view, and watched for a while.

Ravencroft returned from Oakland, bringing with him almost every single second-hand amp he was able to find in that city. On his way back he too began to notice that the roads and buildings seemed to be shifting slightly. He stopped for a moment and texted Hito and Wile with his observations, also mentioning that he had seen someone "branding" the buildings and that they might be connected. He then continued on his way back to the hotel - something that required a fair bit of concentration. When he got there he went up and greeted Aggro who said his thanks and wandered down to the van with some roadies to take what he needed.

Meanwhile, Hito decided to see if Ravencroft's observations were correct and went out onto the street to see if the buildings were, indeed, shifting. They were. He then visited the local FBI building and spoke to the section chief, telling him that there had been a number of bomb threats made and that he wanted the lobby of the building to be cleared to allow him to check for any suspicious devices - adding that he didn't expect to find any there. The chief agreed and cleared the lobby, allowing Hito to communicate with the building's kami without fear of being disturbed. Hito arranged a careful offering of fruit and paperwork, and the kami appeared in the ceiling tiles, with flaming chandeliers for eyes. The kami told Hito that the shifting effect was due to a sort of "subsidence" as the overworld and underworld, lacking the support provided by mortal and physical lynchpins, was collapsing onto the mortal plane. The kami also mentioned that the brands created by the Frenchman Ravencroft had been speaking to earlier had been put in place to protect the buildings from such an occurrence, but that they had not been strong enough and had failed. Hito then contacted Aggro, Ravencroft, Wile, Chambers and Autumn and asked them all to meet at a cafe facing the golden gate bridge to discuss present events and future plans. He then spent some time before the meeting creating a short PowerPoint presentation, replete with animations showing the collapse of the overworld on to the mortal plane, to illustrate the serious nature of what was happening.

An hour later people met up at the cafe to discuss the problems. They listened to Hito and watched his presentation with interest (though everyone felt slightly patronised by it). They also listened as Wile outlined his theory regarding the thirteen masks of Odin and its connection to the Greek myth of Pandora’s box and Hope. Wile also described his trip to the underworld, his meeting with Sisyphus, the auction for the spirit of Hope, the other interested parties (Leibowitz, the Titan of darkness and the Poison Sun - a corrupted kami) and finally, the box he had given and the items he need in order to make a bid. The discussion was interrupted by a loud crash from the direction of the golden gate bridge. Ravencroft, Hito and Autum turned to see one car push another through the barriers of the bridge, causing it to spiral down into the waters below. Hito and Autumn leapt from their seats and dashed over to save the man in the car, with Hito relaying instructions to the Tengu to follow the offending car and giving the police a quick description of its driver (he had seen his face reflected in the car's rear-view mirror) on the way. Together they managed to drag the man from the car to the safety of the bank where Wile was able to diagnose him and aid the paramedics.

Once they had got back to the cafe and dried themselves off a little the discussion was resumed. A short time later Ravencroft and Hito noticed the Frenchman step through a wall and into the bar. Hito suggested that Ravencroft, having spoken to him before, invite him over to speak to the group. Ravencroft did so and the Frenchman joined them, telling them that he had tried to make the buildings more secure, but that he had failed. He also said that he had heard of similar occurrences in Babylon and Nineveh and that he had hoped to stop something similar from happening in San Francisco. He also implied once more that he had no knowledge of any divine parentage he might have, something that caused Autumn to give him a funny look and to track the eye of Ra in the air in front of him.

Having finished their discussion regarding the shifting of the buildings Autumn and the Frenchman left, with Autumn saying that they had "much to discuss". The rest of the group remained and, with the encouragement of Aggro began to plan their assault on the apartment building. The first phase of this involved some reconnaissance, and Aggro took Ravencroft for a short flight, giving Ravencroft a chance to use his superior visual abilities to examine the building and to check for defences and security. He was surprised to find that the building was protected by a squad of the griffin-riding black-ops squad they had previously encountered. Using information gathered from this reconnaissance, Chambers was able to create a three dimansional map that moved around. On it were icons representing the black ops and the griffin, several homeless people, a large black scaly coil in the elevator shaft and another icon, depicting a Cartheginian helmet wreathed in flames on the lowest level. Using this map, Chambers established that the black ops where not immediatly hostile to the group. It was decided to contact the squad to try to ensure that they wouldn't be working cross-purposes, or even to enlist aid. To this end it was decided that Aggro fly Wile up to the griffin and ask if the commander of the squad might be prepared to land and speak to the rest of the group.

The initial meeting almost ended in disaster as Aggro managed to set the commander on edge by refusing to surrender his weaponry. Wile stepped in, surrendering his and telling the officer that Aggro was only transport (with a concealed wink to Aggro). Talking to the commander, he attempted to uncover the black ops purpose, and to allow for access to the Corpus Kristi apartment building. Somehow the commander managed to resist Wiles divine charms, and became impatient - certain that the 'godchildren' would only make a bad situation worse. Hito called Wile's mobile to check on progress. The commander agreed to speak to the rest of the group, landing the griffin in a quiet park near the apartment building. Hito spoke to the commander and together they agreed to an exchange of information. It turned out that the squad had been put in place to quarantine the building and to stop a fragment of the titan of darkness (which had bound itself to a hydra) from escaping the building. Hito told him of the flaming Carthaginian helmet symbol that the group had seen on the Battle Map that Chambers had created, and established that the squad had no knowledge of who (or what) the symbol might represent. Hito also told the commander about Ravencroft's vision, explaining that it seemed to predict that the squad's containment efforts would fail. The commander then agreed to allow the group to enter the building, saying that his contract only specified that nothing should come out of the building, and warning the group that if they showed any sign of contamination they would be killed if they attempted to leave.

As the meeting finished Hito was struck by a vision of Yomi, and saw the walls of the ward that surrounded the Poison Sun explode outward, with thousands of cockroach-like creatures bursting out and devouring the spirits of the dead. He then checked the shard of the poison sun that he had been given and found that it had started to glow with a sickly green light. Hito then put the shard down on the ground and tried to talk to it, but it screamed as if in agony and then exploded with a fist-sized nuclear blast. Hito steadied himself and called the local police, telling them that there might be some radioactive contamination in the park area. He also called his FBI contacts and asked them if he might be able to get hold of some incendiary devices.

Meanwhile Ravencroft contacted his guide, Hildr, asking her if there was any aid or advice she might be able to give that would help when facing a hydra. She suggested that music had been known to have a soporific effect on the creatures and also said that she might be able to put together an anti-venom that might be able to help with the creature's poison. She also asked Ravencroft to check up on Hito, as she had recently found that a number of her Amatsukami contacts had been killed by what looked like blasts of nuclear fire.

Wile and Chambers also made what preparations they could to aid the group in the battle against the Hydra. Wile called his guide, Echo, and asked her to assist in making the effects of the music as powerful as possible - arranging with Aggro to fly her up to the top of the building so that, with her help, Aggro might use his musical abilities to the best effect. Chambers also put a call in to Lacy Devou, asking her to bring one of the Loreli to give the members of the group a kiss and shield them from the effects of poison.

Once all of these preparations were in place Aggro and Echo flew up to the top of the building to put the hydra to sleep, and hit off at once. Once the hydra was safely asleep they returned, and the group entered the apartment building. Once inside Chambers, Ravencroft, Aggro and Wile headed down to the basement (which was where Chamber's map seemed to indicate both the Hydra and the creature symbolised by the flaming Carthagininan helmet were) while Hito crept into the building's lift shaft and attempted to place charges on the Hydra as it slept. Unfortunatley his divine grace failed him and he woke the creature, entering into a desperate fight for his life.

As Ravencroft and the rest headed through the building Ravencroft activated Unlidded Eye and found that each of the floors of the building had been magically branded with what looked like a flaming handprint. When they got to the basement floor they also found that there were a large number of bodies of what looked like they had once been medusea lying on the ground, all charred almost beyond recognition. As they took all this in they heard the sound of people approaching, accompanied by the gentle sound of hissing. Aggro turned and smashed through the floor to the sub-basement to face the Cartheginian as Chambers, Ravencroft and Wile turned to face the medusea. Surprisingly the medusea seemed not to be interested in fighting, but instead begged the group not to release the creature bound below them. Hearing this Ravencroft leapt down after Aggro, shortly followed by Wile on a rope as Chambers talked to the HoboGorgon.

Meanwhile Aggro and Ravencroft and Wile were confronted by a large metal coffin which had on it runes that seemed to connect it to Surt. As they watched the creature inside the coffin began punching its way out of the coffin and attacked. Through Chambers interrogation of the HoboGorgon and the appearence of the Fire Giant, Wile established that the creature below them was one of the first titan spawn, that it had once been killed by the child of Hermes, and that it was once called Aurelius. Its face was covered by a large mask, and everyone made the obvious connection to the Masks.

Chambers charged the creature swinging wildly, and caught it several blows. Ravencroft and Aggro joined in with flawless teamwork. Wile, climbing out of the hole was attacked by the HoboGorgon, and pulled him down into the hole. The hobo, seeing he was unlikely to overcome either Aurelius or the Scions pleaded not to kill the creature, as killing it would release the spirit of the mask from its prison. Wile was able to persuade everyone, even the norse, not to deal lethal damage. Chambers attacked effectivly with his baton, while Ravencroft attacked using the flat of his blade, working in tandum with Aggro, who was wielding the metal coffin as a giant club. Wile noticed a piece of the titanspawn's mask had fallen from its face as a result of Chamber's initial attack, and managed to create a sympathetic link between the part of the mask and the creature itself. He stood and intoned:

"Surt of burning, Hateful ire,
Coolness is my Heart desire,
and met Aurelius a blade of valour just,
bends to my will as he surely must,
to quench his unearthly fire."

allowing him to use his abilities to render the creature unconscious.

Once this was done the group heard the sound of clapping behind them and saw a man step out of the darkness. He congratulated them on their achievement, telling them that they had set his efforts back by almost a week. He insulted the norse, with specific insults directed at Odin and His Scions. Ravencroft challenged him to a duel, and the figure created a ring of fire. The two of them began to fight, but it was clear from the beginning that Ravencroft would loose. Aggro joined in with a desperate attempt to save Ravencroft, his golfclub flying through the air and removing the bottom half of the stranger's jaw. Meanwhile Chambers, restricted by his code of honour, felt compelled to stand by and watch, while Wile was unable to move, helpless in the face of true terror. With a final suddeness, both Ravencroft's blade and the stranger's firey sword found their marks, and both collapsed, instantly dead.

Ravencroft's spirit met with a legion of spirits, bearing a bloody wound over their heart. Ravencroft tried to explain that he didn't know about the sword, and the spirits told him they didn't care. Their quarrel was with the gods. They offered Ravencroft a hand and, with some reservations, he took it, asking them to tell him more of their quarrel.