Session 11 – Transcendence

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 sex, sexual violence, non-consentual bedroom acts, and gore.

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The text on Jessy’s phone is clear. Carl wants to talk. Specifically, he wants to call her. With little time to prepare, Jessy grabs her headphones and sits down on the balcony in the cold afternoon. She’d rather not be overheard by Tan’s staff for any reason, and she doesn’t know if his camera surveillance also picks up sound. Better not take any chances. Carl and Jessy haven’t been talking, since his wife is apparently close to discovering his relationship with Jessy. Now, though, he is worried. Jessy has to explain to him how she got into the hospital and why she wasn’t registered as a student at the university. It’s all one big sob story, and one big lie. According to herself, she couldn’t keep her grades up and was forced to leave. Carl in turn tells her that he’s bought a place for her to stay, as he promised that he would. It’s up in Brampton, a bit far away, but at least she won’t have to stay with friends. Jessy isn’t nearly as excited about this as he would have expected, telling Carl that she’d rather not be alone right now. She explains it away with her wounds, which she still needs help tending to. Better to just stay with friends for the time being. Thanks anyway.

Done with her tiresome phone call, Jessy heads back in and ends up conversing with Carolina, one of Tan’s staff, while she’s cleaning the lounging area1. The older woman is curious about Jessy’s phone call, how she knows Tan, a whole lot of things. It seems any idle chit chat quickly turns to pointed questions from her. Jessy responds with lie after lie, comfortable with rehashing stories she’s told strangers and friends for the past two years. Jessy turns the conversation towards Carolina herself, but the woman seems to be the most uninteresting and bland person to have ever lived, to hear her tell it. She tells Jessy she’s worked for Tan for ten years, and that she’s really found herself while doing so. She reveals nothing else. While Carolina claims she loves to learn about other people to better help them, Jessy has yet to see the lady lift a finger if it wasn’t for her own work. Talk, she can do. Clearly, Jessy believes, the woman is just hungry to know things for whenever it might come in handy. 1 Eye For Detail
Partial Success
  • Why are you here?
  • What are you working on?

The rest of the day goes by in a haze, Jessy lazing about and posting updates to her socials. She takes care not to reveal anything identifiable in the backgrounds of her pictures, simple wallpapers is all her followers get for now. She reschedules with Andi and her friends, still eager to hear all the crazy stories that apparently cropped up when discussing Granger Fine Jewelry. Once Tan’s staff leaves her alone for the evening, and with Tan calling to tell her he won’t be back until morning, Jessy is given a perfect opportunity to find access to the surveillance records. She prances about the condo for a minute, imagining it all hers, before heading to the second floor and darting into Tan’s bedroom. She already has excuses ready in case he checks the camera footage.

Searching through Tan’s bedroom and closet, there is little discovered which Jessy didn’t already know or at least suspect. The room is decorated with strange, sexual art. The centerpiece above the bed, a naked woman screaming in either fear or agony, has eyes which seem to follow Jessy around the room. Sex toys, incense, candles, little statuettes of goats and goat-human hybrids, oils and salts and knives and whips. The most curious item she finds is a small syringe-like object with a handle of green, patinated copper and a needle as long as her thumb. It fits easily into Jessy’s hand. Her instinct tells her not to mess with it, and she quickly places it back in the drawer where she found it. The two phones beside Tan’s bed are locked, naturally, and she finds no sign of the key to the third floor. With nothing gained except a flavorful look at Tan’s personal life, Jessy leaves with the screaming portrait seeing her out.

She doesn’t particularly care if Tan finds out that she’s rummaged through her stuff, confident she can charm her way out of it. In Tan’s office, aside from the computer, are a few cabinets and bookshelves. It all seems well organized, and for the most part securely locked up. The computer certainly is. She does, however, notice the external hard drive attached to it. If there was a place to store extensive camera records, it would be on that. She doesn’t take it. Instead, she casually swipes a pen and paper and leaves to do some inoffensive video for her Instagram story. She promises herself to take the hard drive eventually so she can find out why Tan has such extensive surveillance. Her mystery friend on Instagram also receives an update with more images of the condo, and a message telling them that Jessy can’t find the key. She now believes Tan keeps it on him.

Tan is busy, but Jessy still looks for every opportunity to flirt with him. Yes, she may still be bandaged and have a skull that’s not quite intact, but that’s not going to stop her from sleeping with him. They find themselves alone one night, Tan inviting her to his own bedroom. Their idle, friendly chatter turns quickly to sex. It is fun enough, certainly, but Jessy knows she wants more and that Tan can give it to her. She thinks back on how fun it would have been to cut Evan. Her night with Tan at the hotel had been a miserable, painful failure, but tonight would be different. On this night, Jessy strives for a euphoric, painful success.

Tan does not take much convincing. While he studies her for a second, trying to gauge whether she is in physical condition for what he is intent on doing with her, it seems those worries are soon left behind as he orders Jessy to get up off the bed. There is idle smalltalk as he walks around the room, lighting candles and incense and humming some simple tune. Having already scoured through Tan’s belongings a day earlier, Jessy knows what he is reaching for before he even has it in his hands. She could not have been prepared for the contents of the heavy metal box, though. Tan carries it under his arm, drops it onto the bed, and then flips it open and pours its contents out onto the bed.

Needles. Long, sharp, needles. Thousands of them. He and Jessy make a few jokes, but it’s clear he is perfectly serious. He covers the king-size bed with these needles, spreading them with his hands and arms until they form an even coat and he has a hundred tiny pricks on his skin. Finally, with Jessy as ready as she could be, Tan lifts her and throws her onto the bed. The needles scrape against and stab through her skin, Jessy’s entire back immediately pierced and raked into a bloody mess. She screams in agony2, but avoids passing out for now. Tan gets onto the bed with her, unflinching as the needles burrow into his legs. It is not his first time. 2 Endure Injury
  • 1 Harm
Partial Success
  • Serious Wound

“Remember what I told you. Conflict is love, and love is conflict.” – Tan

He punches Jessy, unprompted. The pain blinds her, but she fights back with nails and fists as the room around them turns into a white and red blur. She barely considers Tan fucking her, fades away from her back turning into a bloody mess, and instead focuses entirely on hurting Tan. That, she can do. She fights him even as they make love, if it could ever be called that, forcing needles against his arms and chest, beating at every part of his body she can reach. She wrestles him on that bed of needles, both of them with the shining metal sticking painfully to their skin or sinking so deep as to barely be visible. They go on through it all, the pleasure and the pain, with Tan gaining the upper hand and dominating Jessy with harsh, violent treatment. This is his love. He brings his fist down against her head, and Jessy feels as though the wound in her skull cracks open again and floods the room with immaterial essence, everything turning to liquid as she falls through the bed and into the void.

The vision is impossibly vivid. She can smell the suppression and impotent frustrations. A pyramid of flesh, men and women standing on each other’s backs and shoulders and reaching ever higher until, at the top, there is only one. The rest of them are naked, sweaty and in pain, but he is clad in a red robe and wears a heavy golden crown. It rests easy on his brow, but its weight crooks the back and bends the knees of every man and woman beneath him. Below this living construction rages a machinery of bronze and iron, old cogs spinning eternally and patinated pendulums keeping their rhythm. Those humans who cannot bear the burden of their task fall, or throw themselves, into these pounding machines to be devoured, torn asunder entirely by the thrumming contraption. Body parts tumble around amongst the cogs and splatter them with blood. Their only option is to live for upholding the pyramid, or not to live at all. Jessy drifts towards this sight, feeling in her hand the shape of her goat mask.

She bestows it on one of the men in the pyramid, and things then move very quickly. The man dons the goat mask, as do others around him, and together they begin to climb. From within and without the enormous human monument they crawl up, stomping on the faces of the unlucky. The structure becomes unstable, wavering and falling apart with a bloodbath beneath as bodies are smashed by pistons and ground up by cogwheels in the unfeeling machinery. As Jessy drifts over what’s left of the pyramid, she sees that those who disturbed its rigid structure have changed, now appearing as blood-soaked naked bodies with the heads of goats. They tear apart the red-robed man, ripping his limbs off of him and eating him whole. The golden crown falls from his head and clanks into the machinery around them. A screech, an ear-shattering explosion, and the rhythmic droning comes to a halt. All that’s left are the goat headed humans, now only fighting amongst themselves. They fuck, slash, punch and headbutt at each other. One of them has a gun, shooting with a braying laugh at whoever dares come near. Amongst them, not fighting but still celebrating the gleeful conflict, is Tan. He is also a goat, yet Jessy recognizes him at once. His whispers and gestures dictate and guide the violence surrounding him, assuring his own safety. 

When Jessy returns to consciousness, she is unsure how much time has passed but knows from Tan’s bleeding that not for one second did she stop her violent assault. Tan has already finished inside her, perhaps more than once, and the two bloodied lovers finally rise exhausted from their bed of needles. Tan offers a simple prayer, the metal pricks still hooked in his skin. The process of picking the needles from their bodies is a long one, yet they do it methodically and carefully. The air in the room is heavy with the smell of sex, blood and incense, and neither Jessy nor Tan feel up to breaking the quiet atmosphere with conversation. Tan helps Jessy bandage the worst spots on her back, and she does the same for him. With tired steps they make their way to the second floor lounge, and there find space to relax and soak in the pain amongst vulgar paintings and erotic busts.

It is dark outside, but the two sit up late in the dimly lit lounge to talk about what happened. Jessy explains her vision to Tan, as best she can but certainly not well. He listens and nods along, suggesting to Jessy that she may have received her insight directly from the Twins themselves. Indulging in sacred conflict through sex is the clearest path to speak with Dehu and Mil, the two goat heads which govern Tan’s faith. Jessy has been given a taste, and Tan argues she should no longer hesitate to join him and the rest in worship and celebration. The Twin God can give Jessy not just insights into the state of the world, but offer advice and material things. It is through this devout worship that Tan has found his success, and he doubts that Jessy would pass up on such an opportunity. She agrees, admitting that her worries about the weekend’s ceremony have vanished from her mind. She confides in Tan that she truly, above all else, enjoy inflicting pain onto others. That’s what brings her satisfaction. Tan chuckles at that and assures her that if that is the case, then she has a lot to look forward to. 

The day after, Jessy craves more. James, Tan’s hired cook who makes Jessy’s meals throughout the day, is preparing her a delicious lunch when she saunters into the kitchen. He immediately remarks on her new wounds, some dressed and others left to heal on their own, guessing correctly that she and Tan had a good night together. Nothing too shocking, to tell the truth. Jessy flirts with the cook for a bit, asking what he gets up to with Tan, since James shares the faith. James offers to show Jessy, once she’s eaten. He explains that in his sleep, he can reach the Twins and speak with them. This, along with Dehu and Mil’s teachings on sexual struggle and domination, allows him to experience the divine. It’s almost too perfect for Jessy. She eats her lunch quickly and waits for James to be ready.

James informs Jessy, slurring a little bit, that he just took some very powerful drugs to help him sleep, viagra ‘for her pleasure’, as well as something else to open his mind. He asks Jessy which bedroom she would like him in, and after that leaves her alone. She can do with him as she pleases, and she intends to. Once James is gone, Jessy wanders through the kitchen and picks out a few knives of varying sizes. Toys. She has no plan as she walks up the wide stairs carrying her tools. She simply wants to have the knives with her, just in case.

Just as he told her, James is asleep in the middle of the bed, spread out and fully dressed. Jessy closes the door behind her, locks it, and places the knives on the bedside table. All she can do it stare for a long time, trying to figure out what she wants to do. Her eyes drift from the knives to James’ chest, down to his obvious erection, back to the knives. Deep in thought, she takes herself back to her time in room 119, with Artyom and Simon. The memory consumes her thoughts3 until they coalesce in a single course of action, and Jessy tears James’ button-up shirt off of him to expose his muscular chest and abdomen. Her knives balance on his skin for a while, making slight marks but never truly cutting, so many possibilities running through her head. When she finally can’t bear it anymore, they slice as if through butter through the man’s skin. He lets out a few weak grunts in his sleep, but shows no signs of waking. 3 See Through The Illusion
Failure

She carves, and cuts, and slices, the knives moving more on their own than by her hand. Inspiration floods her mind, a wordless guide for what to do. The sigil she draws in blood and flesh on James’ chest is something she’s never seen before, and it pulses with power to the beat of James’ heart. This is what she needs. When Jessy looks up from her work, she realizes that the room has changed, or perhaps is changing as she looks at it. Her eyes pass over the walls, which fold into themselves and offer dark, impossible passages where once was wallpaper and home decor. Reality is melting around her, Tan’s condo drifting in and out of her awareness as something else overtakes the room. Somewhere far away in the distance, a scream of pain echoes through her burning ring. A familiar suffering, echoed by more cries and whimpers from the endless, labyrinthine corridors surrounding Jessy. The only fixed point around her now is James, on the bed and still sleeping despite the blood pooling and sinking into the mattress.

There is a loud bang, and a clatter. Jessy’s mind maps it to the first floor of Tan’s condo, but when she leaves the room the very concept of Tan’s home becomes difficult to hold on to. The corridor continues endlessly upward, stone arches harboring darkness. The erotic paintings are falling off their hooks, revealing crawlspaces behind them which lead towards agonized murmurs in the distance. A voice calls out to Jessy, one she’s heard once before. It was distant before, but now it is right behind the door that should be downstairs, a woman’s voice calling her name and demanding to be let in. Jessy takes a few steps towards the banging sound, each careful stride pulling her further and further away from Tan’s home. A second voice cuts through the disorienting surroundings. Don’t get closer! Run! Jessy hears her mother4, that beautiful voice she’s not heard for years immediately seizing her by the heart and stopping her dead in her tracks. Her mother needs her to get away, but what’s away in this place? The door breaks apart somewhere below Jessy with a crash. She is lost and in danger. 4 Keep It Together
Full Success

Distant screaming and vague visions in the darkness guide Jessy, offering her a path towards something she can almost recognize. It is a room, but not one of Tan’s. Jessy sees a door before her, and knows before opening it what’s on the other side. She calls for Artyom as she shoulders her way in through what is not a door but a solid wall and stumbles into the filthy confines of room 119. The footsteps approaching behind her die out, the human choir of suffering at once falls in line with the train clattering by outside, and the walls finally feel solid again. Jessy, dressed in nothing but the pajamas she normally struts around Tan’s home in, knocks on the door to the adjoining room and waits for Artyom to open it. The tall Russian invites her into the hotel room as though he was expecting her. Despite knowing what he is, Jessy cannot help but feel safe near him.

Artyom immediately compliments Jessy on her work done on James. Through conversation, she comes to understand that the sigil she carved onto James’ torso was meant to communicate with Artyom. The razide explains that he refuses to come near the goat fucker’s domain, but that Jessy now knows how to reach him. The ring helps Jessy in her work of bringing pain, he muses. It offers her raw power, but she clearly has no idea of how to use it. He could give her that understanding, but in turn she must do something for him. In two weeks, he instructs Jessy, she will perform the same rite as she did with James. Artyom will come to her then, and tell her what must be done. Jessy tries to get more information about her ring from Artyom, but he claims not to know. Abbas Ali, though, who he knows that Jessy is aware of, he understands the ring well. Artyom suggests she speak with him.

Jessy leaves in a taxi, again in ragged lost and found-clothing from the Silverpine Hotel, and returns to Tan’s condo. Daisy mocks Jessy for the clothes she’s wearing, but for once Jessy doesn’t have the energy to get into an argument. She steals upstairs, and finds James still on the bed, sleeping. The symbol she carved has dried and scarred into his flesh, a brand. She sits with him for a long time, tracing her fingers over the lines she cut and admiring her own work. An hour passes before James finally stirs. A few shifting motions, and then a scream of terror. His eyes open wide and he throws himself out of the bed, completely without himself and screaming off the top of his lungs. When he can finally focus on Jessy, he stumbles towards the door and starts running away from her.

“What did you do? What the fuck did you do?!” – James

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