This is a session recap for my current Kult: Divinity Lost roleplaying campaign. Jessy Button is played by my wife, who also does the art, and I am the game master.
This post contains violence and gore.
After texting Carl Hunt, her kind sugar daddy, about the break-in, Jessy quickly has to clean herself up and put on clothes that cover her bruises from the night before. He’s going to come over. They’ve never met before, but this is his apartment and he needs to survey the damage. Carl is quick to get comfortable with Jessy once he arrives, hugging her close and petting her head as she explains with some panic in her voice how she has no idea why this has happened, that she was studying at a friend’s place and came home to this.
Carl is worried. The police have not taken what happened to Jessy at the hotel seriously, assuming it a strange scam, and now this. Because nothing was stolen, he feels it may be viewed as a poor attempt at insurance fraud, and he would rather not get involved in that. It may reveal his relationship with Jessy to his family, which is the last thing he needs. Instead, he promises Jessy that he’ll get a private investigator on it, and eventually sort out a place for her to stay. Jessy makes him promise this will all be alright. For the moment, she’ll have to stay with friends. She is given a kiss goodbye when Carl leaves.
On Instagram, the mystery account offers money yet again, asking pointed questions about what happened to Eduardo Sarmento. Jessy shares the pictures taken at the party, confirms when asked that yes, Eduardo and Tan were alone at some point, and promises that she will deliver the names of any people that Tan associates with in private. Two thousand dollars are added to her PayPal. It will all soon be spent on shoes, no doubt.
Finally catching up on her emails, Jessy also notices that she finally has a response from the forum user she messaged last week about Granger Fine Jewelry. He provides her an information dump, which delivers some odd information even when you filter through some of the crazy claims. The poster argues that “puppeteers” control the world and that the raid on Granger Fine Jewelry was a counter attack because the puppeteers were scared of Abraham Granger’s powers. Records, either stolen or public ones, show that no police investigation came prior to the raid. A massive amount of materials were collected for ‘evidence’, but barely any of it is documented. Abraham Granger was briefly arrested on suspicion of high treason and conspiracy, but the charges were dropped in favor of financial crimes. The list of oddities goes on, but one linked picture in particular sticks out to Jessy. A picture of Jeremiah Redwood shaking hands with then-newcomer to the team, Abbas Ali.
Abbas Ali in the picture is identical to the Abbas she saw at Eduardo’s party. At most there is a year in difference, but it is undoubtedly the same person. The picture was taken in 1974. It is unnerving, but it does remind her of something that Artyom told her – that Abbas used to work for Instagram. After doing a bit of research, she finds his full name and manages to connect with the man through LinkedIn. His birth year is stated as 1982.
|Over the next few days, Jessy drifts in and out of homes1. Some guy who adores her private pictures, a woman she went on a date with, she has a network of people to use up. For the first two nights, she stays with a girl her age called Liz. The two bought a dog together, but Liz takes care of it. Really, Jessy doesn’t care for the mutt much at all, it’s too jumpy and poorly trained. She avoids any and all sexual advances, ensuring Liz that she’s just not in the right headspace, that it’s too traumatic for her to be able to. Later, she promises. Always later. Jessy does seem unwell – her nightmares get worse every night, and she either wakes up terrified or doesn’t sleep what so ever.||
After several days of messaging with Abbas, there’s finally a chance for Jessy to bring up Eduardo’s party, and Artyom. This is why she actually contacted him. For now. His connection to Granger Fine Jewelry still needs investigation, but Jessy can’t bring herself to focus on that for the moment. What she saw at the party demands all her focus. On a phone call, Abbas seems a little hesitant to tell Jessy how to find Artyom, but she insists. She needs to see him.
In a rundown brick building, next to the train tracks well west of Kipling Station, lies Silverpine Hotel. It is a sad place, with a breakfast and lunch café for old people and crackheads to get a stale sandwich. Jessy does as Abbas instructed her and asks the old lady at the reception for Artyom. She gives Jessy, in her chic designer clothes, a judging glance, but hands over a brass key with no room number to her. Jessy’s nicely manicured nails contrast against the woman’s fat fingers where no fingernails can be seen at all. Only raw, red flesh.
Down a set of stairs. Through the nondescript corridor, doors on either side labeled 101, 102, 103, and so on. Room 117, that’s what the receptionist said. Jessy knocks first, then unlocks the door, as she was told. The room is almost shockingly normal, an old flat-screen TV mounted on the wall and a neatly made double-size bed below a small window near the ceiling overlooking a parking lot and the train tracks. Two old, wobbly arm chairs and a side table finish off the room, along with its faint smell of dust and, hm, something else. There is a door leading into the next hotel room over.
Artyom, sitting in one of the chairs, was not expecting to see Jessy. He had been told that someone would come over, but not the goat fucker’s whore. He says as much, openly hostile towards Jessy because of her connection to Tan. However, Tan hasn’t talked to Jessy since the morning of her break-in, despite her repeatedly messaging him. She’s there alone, for herself. Jessy tells Artyom that she needs to understand what happened at the party, that Tan isn’t telling her everything he knows. If it is truth she wants, Artyom confirms, then he can tell her.
He refuses Tan’s explanation as Artyom being a servant or a slave – he does what he does because he wants to, because it is his calling. Everyone who uses his services do so because they want what Artyom can give them. Jessy can take part in that, if she is willing to look at the truth of humanity without balking. Desperate to learn, she agrees, and she is shown into the other room, room 119. Artyom looms behind her, ensuring that once her foot steps over that boundary there is no return.
|Chained by his hands and feet to the bedframe standing in the middle of the room, a wiry black man named Simon greets her with a smile. He is naked, with tight curls of hair around his crotch and chin. The rest of the room is dark, cardboard taped over the window and boxes stacked in front of the door and with only a flickering lamp standing in a corner. Garbage bags are strewn about the sides, and the dark, green rug is covered in blood. Jessy is more than a little bit uneased2 by the stark contrast, stepping across the border from simple hotel room into this… whatever it is. Still, she has come so far. She has no choice but to dive deeper.||
Keep it Together
Artyom explains plainly that is Simon is there for the same reason Jessy is – to experience truth and pure humanity. It is pain, Artyom asserts, that is the final gospel, the only path to understand reality. When in pain, humans find their truest essence, and to give that to someone else is a euphoric experience in itself. Artyom gives Jessy the opportunity to give pain, to experience that most human feeling and welcome it into her life. On a small table beside the bed is a scalpel, a pair of scissors, metal pliers, and a large barbeque lighter. They will be her tools.
Jessy takes the opportunity. A pause, certainly, but she knows this is the way forward. Artyom places the scalpel in Jessy’s hand, then guides her through the first movement to place the blade against Simon’s stomach. She makes the first cut, realizing just how easy it is. Simon’s screams of agony and bliss fall upon deaf ears as Jessy cuts a deep wound down to his hip. She likes it. The feeling of control, the simplicity of it, the way blood gushes out of the wound, filling it up like a river.
She sees a reflection in the blood. Artyom, as he truly is, and some other place. Here, but somewhere else. The blood feels like a gate, Simon’s pulse welcoming her to the true depths of reality. Jessy places her hand over the wound, and when the blood gushes over her ring, it burns. Something screeches to a halt, far away, and Simon’s agonized crying becomes a choir of likeminded euphoric suffering. Jessy realizes in that moment that the garbage bags surrounding her are filled with body parts, that beyond the barricaded door lies not the hotel but some other place entirely. She can not see Artyom behind her, but she feels him. There is no disguise covering his broken and rebuilt body in this place.
Snapping back from her vision, her sweet sadism is interrupted when she realizes that Simon is hard, fully erect and begging for more. Disgusted by his display, she grabs hold of his manhood and slices it clean off. A spurt of blood explodes over her clothes and Simon’s cock deflates like a balloon in her hand before she throws it to the floor. With the distraction gone, she returns to methodically experimenting on his body.
With scalpel, scissors and pliers, she cuts off skin, drives deep wounds into his stomach, and attempts to cauterize some of the wounds by burning them into horribly charred scabs. She snaps several fingers, testing different methods to break Simon’s bones until she feels satisfied with the result. She smiles at the twisted Artyom-figure watching her, elated, and he finally decides that it is time to leave. Simon is left bleeding and wailing, chained to the bed, while Jessy and Artyom step back into the calm hotel room. The door to room 119 closes, and Simon’s screams disappear entirely.
Artyom, now again as a tall Russian man, sits back down in a chair. After her experience, Jessy can with ease see why he always looks so off. He doesn’t smile because the mask doesn’t let him. His walk is so twisted because the stakes driven through his legs can’t bend. The suit is ill-fitting because Artyom’s stomach is ripped and stretched. It seems so obvious.
The two discuss what happened. Jessy liked it, and she says she understands why others would too. How could anyone not enjoy that, if they let themselves free? She asks about Elise, saying that it didn’t seem like she wanted the pain. When Artyom asks if that would matter to Jessy now, knowing what she knows, Jessy concedes that it doesn’t. To give pain is what matters, and whether Elise wanted it or not seems to matter less the more Jessy thinks about it.
Artyom knows so much, and Jessy has so much she needs to learn. The woman in her nightmares can’t be stopped, she doesn’t know how to. She tries to explain the situation to Artyom. Nightmares, threats, panic. Jessy is brought so much pain, and Artyom has a simple solution for her. Bring pain to her. That piece of advice burrows deep into Jessy’s mind and sticks. Give her pain.
Finally, Jessy wants to know what Artyom dislikes so much about Tan. That is, other than Tan pointlessly trying to enslave Artyom. He responds that Tan is playing carelessly with powers he doesn’t understand, and it will not end well for him. Jessy asks whether Tan might die, but for Tan, death is only the beginning. She leaves soon after, in borrowed clothes to cover up the stains of Simon’s blood.
On her way back to the apartment she’s staying at, since this morning with a college guy called Evan, Jessy calls Tan. He hasn’t responded to any of her messages in several days, but he does pick up the phone. Seeming stressed and hurried, he apologizes for not responding, tells Jessy that things are crazy right now, and that he will call her soon. She is not given an opportunity to talk before he hangs up.