Session 14 – Sol

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 elder abuse.

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The pendulum of the old clock punctuates Jessy’s every step, the ticktocking of its exact machinery guiding the pace of all things in this place. She is guided down a hallway of closed doors, no names, titles or signs of life other than her and the withered receptionist. At the end, a heavy wooden door states with a gold plate: SOL. The door is opened for Jessy by the receptionist’s starved remains, and she is quick to step inside and confront whoever has orchestrated all of this. The man waiting in the room, tall and broad in a checked suit of brown, greets Jessy with a heavy handshake. He has a sturdy figure and small beady eyes. At the far end of the sizable office stands a desk of dark wood, a massive piece of furniture that looks completely immovable. Behind it, just above the exquisite leather chair, hangs a map of Toronto and all its boroughs. Every road, alleyway and tiny walking path is a thin line on the map, lines which continue past the black, narrow frame and out onto the wallpaper. The entirety of the room’s walls swarm with a myriad of lines, an endless city surrounding Canada’s finest metropolis.

Jessy has questions, of course. Why was he communicating over Instagram? What does he want from her? Most importantly, though: What can he offer for it?1 Sol explains that secrecy and anonymity were necessary, and he found no better way than to reach out to her in the way he did. They both had to be certain that they could trust one another before this meeting could take place. Jessy is in a unique position to provide insight into the dealings of Tanver Farooq, his hubris and his blindness. She must tell him everything she knows. For it, she will be rewarded with a life of luxury. If she helps Sol with this one problem, Jessy will effortlessly receive fame and fortune. The world will be at her fingertips. Travel anywhere, meet anyone. Be on the frontpage of every website and magazine, or disappear forever to live in a solitary paradise for the rest of her days2. Sol means every word of it. 1 Read A Person
Full Success

2 Greedy
Partial Success

Jessy compliments Sol on the offer. He is much better at this than Tan. She will take it, no use lying about that, but she would like to ensure her own safety. Sol smiles, offering a comfortable seat in front of his large desk to Jessy as he takes his own. Beside him is a glass case. Within it, three large white feathers mounted on little stands. The name of Ellis O’Donovan is brought up, a lady whom he knows has taken an intensely personal interest in Jessy. Sol assures her with a nod that the police officer is already taken care of. He clasps his hands together and rests them on the desk, waiting for Jessy to formally accept his offer. If she says yes, all her trouble evaporates.

Impressed with Sol’s no-nonsense approach, Jessy tries to dig deeper. Is he even human? Sol claims so, that he is merely a capitalist of the old guard, but the eerie way his eyes flash like orbs of molten gold when he blinks makes Jessy’s gut churn. She realizes only then that she cannot tell when this man is lying. She can’t trust him, yet just as well she cannot doubt his words. Sol’s eyes see and his hands count every dollar going in and out of his city, beautiful Toronto. He tends to the city, nurtures it the only way proven to work: capital. Every skyscraper sprung up like a mushroom, the new businesses and the old, Sol has a hand in all of it. He is Toronto, and it is for that very reason Tanver gives him such trouble. Sol claims that Tan is attempting to subvert and circumvent this well oiled machine of growth and success. He deals with a destructive power, one he doesn’t understand and which may well bring the city to ruin. She recognizes these words, echoed by Artyom’s derisive opinion of Tan, and after this all she can do is tell Sol everything.

Before they proceed with Jessy detailing her knowledge of Tan to Sol, there is one thing left to do. Sol asks that Jessy give him her wallet. Once this meeting has concluded, she’ll no longer need it. The champagne pink accessory, overflowing with the credit cards of other men, is handed over to Sol. He takes it in his large, calloused hand and places it down on the desk. It instantly catches fire as his fingers leave it, intense white flames engulfing the wallet. The two watch it burn in silence, the light cast reflecting in the nameless streets surrounding them so that they pulse with a hungry glow. Within a minute, only a small pile of ash and a charred mark on the desk is left of Jessy’s wallet. Now she is Sol’s.

Jessy tries, as best she can, to explain to Sol the ritual which they’re due to perform in a few weeks time. Sol’s informants had already gathered that Tanver was planning something, but they do not have direct insight into his research. He holds most of his flock in a vice grip, and they are dangerously loyal to him despite knowing so little. Sol apparently recognizes the ritual as Jessy explains it, or at least understands it well enough to know what the end result will be. Tan has been deceived. There is no great wisdom to gain from the being they are to call upon. The entity whispering in Tanver’s ear, spreading its influence among the worshippers, is no god. It is a mimicry of a god, some wretched demon which holds no love for mankind and is using their little cult for its own ends. It holds power, certainly, but its goal is to devour, not share. When the summoning is complete, it will wreak havoc not only on those involved, but on all of Toronto. Sol speaks about this entity masquerading as a god with utter disdain. It has seeped into the cracks of an otherwise pristine city, and its summoning threatens to undo so much of the work Sol has put in to keep his home and domain safe and functioning.

Of course, he has a solution. Sol opens one of the drawers behind his desk, and the otherwise silent room echoes with a metallic clatter. He places on the desk a simple cloth bag and pushes it toward Jessy, which she takes and opens. Within she finds a collection of large golden coins clanking gently together. They are inscribed with glyphs she can’t read and look terribly old, their edges and inscriptions smooth and worn off. These coins will be key to stopping the demon Tan calls ‘The Twins’ from entering the world. Jessy’s instructions are to place one coin at each of the ritual’s focus points, something he seems to assume she knows about, hidden out of sight if possible. They must not be moved once placed. Finally, as the true name of the being is spoken, Jessy must take the final golden coin and swallow it. That and that alone will keep her safe from what’s to follow. She asks what will happen, but Sol’s simple response is that neither of them will have to worry about Tan, his cult, or his false god again.

Over a glass of dark red wine, Jessy and Sol discuss her personal situation. Now that her cards have all combusted, she needs a way to support herself. Sol smiles and passes across the desk a sleek, matte piece of plastic. Sized to fit in her pocket, it bears no identifying marks. He explains that this will serve as her credit card, her identification, and her membership to any exclusive club or organization she might want to visit. Jessy swipes it up and puts it away without even a moment’s hesitation. She understands, of course, that Sol is in control of the card and what she can gain from it. Still, the prospect of having a bottomless bank account with no accountability is too exciting for Jessy to consider an alternative. She’s already burned her old life away, either way. Sol offers much better rewards than Tan. He doesn’t make promises based on the will of a false god, but deals exclusively with money, the only thing in the world she’s seen work true miracles. Jessy is safe from the police, Sol has given her an offer she can’t refuse, and she has no qualms betraying Tan. There is only one thing left in her life that Jessy has to address.

What does Sol know about Granger Fine Jewelry? More than he lets on, Jessy suspects. Jeremiah Redwood is a dangerous man without a doubt. Sol knows about him, and that he like Tan deals with the filthy underbelly of creation. What they do harms the world. The evil and the supernatural shouldn’t be romanticized or approached, it should be fought and sealed away. Toronto stands proud not because of these fools, but in spite of them. Jessy informs Sol that, once she is done with Tan, Jeremiah is next. She needs answers from him. This is great news to Sol, who thanks Jessy for her continued cooperation.

Jessy doesn’t remember leaving Sol’s office, nor the path she took to get back to Tan’s place. A day has passed, and it seems a good time to call up Carl. When she sweetly asks for help moving into that wonderful new place he bought for her, Carl eagerly drops his work at Jessy’s whim. She brings most of her things from Tan’s apartment up to the small townhouse in Brampton, where she delights in watching Carl unpack for her and organize her things. Jessy flirts with and teases Carl, all in good fun. He truly is the best, helping her out so much. A lot of laughter, a lot of smiles, and Jessy taking note of the little things he compliments her on and the pictures Carl shows her from his daughter’s Instagram. The man is begging to be toyed with.

With her days finally slowing down to a managable pace after so much has happened, Jessy decides to visit the only person in the world she can speak her mind openly to: Agatha. This poor old lady and the caretakers at her hospice are still convinced that Jessy is her granddaughter, and thanks to her Alzheimer’s Agatha won’t ever be able to reveal any of Jessy’s secrets. Her visit begins on a downer, as one of the workers explains that Agatha has been getting much worse recently. She doesn’t speak much or react to others speaking, and her physical health is deteriorating fast. Jessy deflects questions about family and Agatha’s eventual passing, content to simply sit down next to the woman in her room and begin to talk.

Agatha in her wheelchair is a sad sight. Her cold blue eyes are fixed on an indeterminate point in the overcast day outside the window, she’s hooked up to several machines which monitor and maintain her life, and she doesn’t speak outside the occasional groan or wheeze. Jessy quietly tells Agatha about herself, all the madness and clarity. She thinks that she’s safe now, thanks to meeting someone new. She still likes Tan, but feels there’s no other option for her than to listen to Sol. Once in a while Agatha’s eyes shift over to Jessy, bright but without understanding. As the one-sided conversation continues, Agatha gets more animated, asking confused questions in her feeble, hoarse voice about who she is and why she needs to let Jessy in.

It escalates quickly. Her bony hand reaches out and tries to hold on to Jessy’s arm. Agatha is confused and stressed out, waking up from her drug-induced haze to demand answers from Jessy about things she has no right to know. Why does she have the ring? Why does Jessy need to let her in? Who is she? Agatha convulses and falls out of her wheelchair, wheezing and babbling as alarms start to beep around them. Jessy jumps away and takes a step back, paralyzed and confused until the nurses come running to help Agatha. Things move too fast for any sense to be made of the situation, and Jessy is told that it’s very likely Agatha won’t survive the night. New drugs, bed bound, forced to sleep. Jessy waits in the room as hours tick by, knowing in her gut that this is not the end. Her grandmother is close. Time slows to a crawl, nothing to do but watch the geriatric woman’s possibly last moments alive.

With so little time left and with Agatha apparently connected to her real grandmother in some way, Jessy takes the opportunity to get some answers. She takes off her ring, studies its lavish design, and leans close to the infirm old woman. Perhaps Jessy could put it on her. Agatha’s eyes open, or the eyes that once belonged to her, now golden brown and glaring at Jessy. It’s clear what she wants, she even reaches for it. She wants to come back, to be let in, to live. Not giving her what she wants, Jessy explains to her grandmother through Agatha that if she does not leave, she will destroy the ring. Something snaps in the old woman, and Angela who once was Agatha forcefully sits up and throws herself towards Jessy’s outstretched hand.3 An IV is ripped out, the breathing mask falls to the side along with everything else attached to the frail body. She drops to to the floor, and Jessy with her. Somehow the ring ends up in the elder’s hand, and on her finger. 3 Act Under Pressure
Failure
The lights go out with a zap. In the far distance, screams of agony as the tiny woman tangled in bed sheets stands up on wobbling legs and laughs. The machines which kept her alive beep rapidly as something large falls to the floor in the next room over. Jessy struggles to get up on her feet, flailing and trying to take the ring back before it’s too late. Angela catches Jessy’s hand in hers, the claw-like fingers digging into her wrist and bending her out of shape. As the distant scream intensifies and reality darkens, Jessy feels her hand melting under her grandmother’s will. All she can do is beg for her to stop.4 Angela cackles at Jessy’s vain hope for mercy, but does let go. Jessy collapses to the floor again, her hand intact after all, as Angela mocks her granddaughter’s embarrassing display. With a mad glint in her eyes, them and the ring the only truly vibrant lights in the otherwise dim room, she asks if Jessy would like to see her mother. She’s dead, yes, but nontheless Angela could take Jessy to her. Banging, screaming and crying for help from the rest of the hospice becomes unrecognizable background noise to Jessy. With an ecstatic grin, Angela steps forward to grab on to Jessy’s hair and pull her with to some unknown destination, but instead only rips off Jessy’s wig. 4 Perpetual Victim
Partial Success
A moment to respond, a moment Jessy takes5. She catches Angela’s ring hand and pulls her featherweight body down onto the floor. Bones snap under Jessy’s grasp, she’s ruthless in prying open the screaming woman’s fingers. The ring feels as if on fire when Jessy gets a hold of it. She rips and tears, Angela’s skin is fused to the ring but there’s no greater thought than to cause this old hag pain. With a wet sound, the finger is flayed completely and blood gushes out of the gruesome wound as Jessy kicks Angela away and puts the drenched ring back on her own finger6. 5 Engage In Combat
Full Success

6 See Through The Illusion
Failure
  • Oh no
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Session 12 – The Cult of Dehu and Mil

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 visual nudity, memory loss, sexual content and flagellation.

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Jessy sits in the bedroom, confused, and listens to James run down the stairs. Carolina and Daisy immediately go to check on him. Realizing this situation might get out of hand quickly, Jessy hurries to catch up to James. He is on the verge of tears, trying to give Daisy a rambled recollection of what happened. He was terrified, stuck with suffering and pain for an eternity. No joy, no passion. He sought his god, and found only torment. Carolina and Daisy are shocked, but Jessy approaches and tries to mend her now ruined relationship with James1. She didn’t mean him any harm, she only did what she thought he wanted. She cares about James and making this right, but right now he needs to calm down. Carolina has already called Tan, recognizing the weight of what’s unfolding, so perhaps they should just wait for him. Daisy leads the temporarily placated James to a chair in the lounge, and when he asks for his 3DS she gets it for him from the staff lounge. They all sit down and wait for Tan, with the cheery sounds of Animal Crossing as background noise. Jessy’s mind is running at full speed, trying to piece together an excuse or explanation Tan might listen to. 1 Influence Other
Partial Success
Daisy is soon to confront Jessy, demanding she explain what the hell she just did. James doesn’t act like this, so whatever Jessy did it must have been really fucked up. Jessy, of course, doesn’t feel the need to explain herself to an annoying teenager, and tells Daisy as much. The arguments continue, Daisy yelling at her to tell them where she went afterwards, since she came back to the apartment dressed like filth. Jessy claims she went to look for a pharmacy, but couldn’t find one. Daisy sees right through her bullshit2, since there’s a pharmacy in the lobby of the god damn building. There’s not even any blood! How did Jessy make any of this happen? More refusal to answer. Their argument escalates into insults hurled at one another, until Carolina steps in and tells them both that it’s probably better for everyone to be quiet and wait for Tan. Except for a few snide remarks, the girls quiet down at that. 2 Liar Hold spent

Two hours pass in silence, save for James’ game with its friendly music and happy chirps. James himself does not reflect the game’s mood, staring blankly at the screen and occasionally sobbing or shuddering. When Tan finally opens the door, he hollers a casual greeting and wanders with little urgency into the lounge. The smile on his face withers when he sees James and the large symbol carved into him, deep scars already healed but permanently staining his muscular chest. He drops his suitcase and marches over, giving James his full attention. What happened? James rambles for some time, telling Tan the same thing he told Daisy and Carolina. Jessy led him away from The Twins, pushed him into what he can only describe as hell. So much agony, uncountable horrors inflicted. His crying and panicked screaming builds in intensity as he tries to put words to what he saw in his sleep, until finally Tan leans in close and calms him in just a few whispered words, inaudible to the rest.

The warm disposition Tan usually displays is completely gone when he turns to Jessy. Explain this. With everyone’s eyes on her, Jessy at first refuses and asks for a more private discussion. Tan won’t let that happen. She has branded one of his flock with something clearly harmful that none of them recognize. Jessy tries to handwave it away, saying she doesn’t know what the symbol means, she doesn’t know anything, but that’s not good enough for Tan. He demands she tell him, tell them, in detail, exactly what went down.

Jessy’s story is full of convenient omissions and some outright lies. James offered her to help him find God, and she did what she thought he wanted her to. She made the symbol which, again, she has no idea what it is or what kind of demon or god it might represent. Tan pushes her on it, but Jessy has no idea. It simply came to her. Not once does she mention Artyom. The story gets a little muddled when she claims to have left the apartment, and eventually admits with some vitriol towards Daisy that no, she didn’t go to a pharmacy, she lied because she didn’t want to talk to Daisy about it. She keeps her focus on Tan, apologizing and trying to explain that she’s only trying to follow his teachings. She thought that she was doing something right but instead she hurt James, and she would never want to do that to him. In the end, Jessy can tell3 that Tan doesn’t believe her lies. Something in his eyes, cold but curious, reveals that he’s willing to put this aside for now despite it. Jessy is strong, a source of conflict, and maybe that’s all he actually wants. Tan suggests they all calm down for now, and invites James, Carolina and Daisy to stay late for a small ritual. Something to unite them again and pay their respects to the Twins. Jessy shoots off one last insult towards Daisy, muttered under her breath, and then leaves the lounge to take a few deep breaths alone. 3 Read A Person
Partial Success
  • How do you feel right now?
  • What do you wish I would do?

The mood is muted in the condo for the rest of the day, the sun long gone from the horizon line by the time Jessy knocks on Tan’s office door and invites herself in. He is warmer to her now, almost as if nothing happened. Jessy tries to apologize again, feigning a modicum of sincerity even though she knows Tan isn’t buying it. She explains again that she did it to try and follow Tan’s example, and that she feels terrible that everything went wrong. Jessy reveals that the ring must have had something to do with it, that it takes people places but she can’t understand why. Wilma wanted the ring to get to the city under the world, Honey was afraid of it because he couldn’t find his way around the city, and Jessy ended up alone in some strange hotel across Toronto after cutting the symbol into James. She was chased, too, someone or something calling out for her and trying to reach her. There’s so much she needs to tell him, and so much she still needs to keep hidden.

Tan suggests that perhaps the ring demands a sacrifice. He tries to explain that often, these things we cannot understand need something to fuel them, spiritual energy or a gift from a deity. The ring has power, but everything Jessy tells him points towards it requiring a sacrifice before it shares that power with Jessy. Tan admits in their conversation that while still tempted, he is not keen on buying the ring from Jessy anymore. It has put her into dangers he would rather not face, and Jessy has enemies whose eyes he does not want directly on himself. He’ll keep her safe, of course, but he cannot risk taking the ring for himself.

Once the conversation inevitably turns to flirtatious remarks, Tan waves Jessy off and tells her to wait for dinner. A simple meal is prepared by Carolina, in light of their regular cook’s current state. Tan comes downstairs and into the dining room wearing a black robe with a red, wide velvet slit down the center, religious garb Jessy doesn’t recognize. He sits at the head of the table, the other four along its long sides. While James is left alone in his own world, shaking and occasionally crying into the food, Tan remains warm and flirty with the rest of his guests. Once dinner is over, Daisy is asked to bring out the drinks, tall and dark red. The room is cast into darkness, save a few candles lit by Tan. He holds a sermon on the nature of Dehu and Mil, about understanding social and material hierarchy in order to cast it down and take through conflict what you desire. The sermon ends with well wishes to each person around the table, and then they drink the blood served them in the tall crystal glasses. Tan wishes for Jessy to allow him and the rest to guide her on the path towards The Twins.

Days pass, with Jessy spending most of her time indoors. Tan’s rough treatment and her still healing body from the attack weeks prior prevents her from being too active. The atmosphere around the condo is decisively icy between her and Daisy. James has not been cooking. She knows that her absence on Instagram and YouTube will become noticable soon, but she is in no condition to post new pictures or videos. She does venture outside to see her friends, but both her bandaged appearance and increasingly disturbing manner of speaking puts a damper even on that. 

Finally, the night of the ceremony. With Tan speaking so well of it, Jessy gets eager to participate as she makes herself up and dresses herself in some of her most beautiful clothes for the occasion. The condo gradually fills throughout the day and evening with faithful members of the elite, laughing over drinks and making candid smalltalk in the corners of both the first and second floor lounges. Some flirt and slip away to the several private rooms in Tan’s home, others seem content to wait for the ceremony to begin in proper. Tan is locked away on the third floor, preparing and praying. Jessy drifts through the lounge for a while, enjoying the warm and dense atmosphere of power and riches with a glass of white wine in her hand. After spotting David Clap, one of MyGems’ founders, receiving and packing away a bra soaked in dried blood, she approaches him for idle smalltalk. He does not recognize her at first, but seems happy to see a new face nontheless. Jessy receives similar comments from many others, always pleased when Tan finds more promising folks to take part in The Twins’ wisdom.

As the night proceeds and Jessy migrates upstairs with a woman called Tammy and some of her acquaintances, a distinct sense of unease builds within Jessy. The man one table over, sitting by the graphic orgy painting and receiving both a drink and more services from Daisy, looks familiar. A flash of recognition, like deja vu, hits Jessy like a bag of bricks but immediately fades. Even the person she’s speaking with, a mildly crazy art collector named Joe, gives her the same drastic feeling of familiarity, as if she’s seen this entire scene before. Jessy leaves to go downstairs, looking for a change of pace, but she turns back up the stairs the moment she enters the lounge and sees the dark shape out on the snowy balcony waiting for her. It stares at her with golden-brown eyes, a pale face she can’t recognize across the room. She rushes up to the locked third floor door to bang on it, but gets no response. She turns to leave, only to have the door shake in its hinges as something knocks back. Nothing after that. Jessy’s distress is mounting, and she rudely interrupts Daisy in her oral duties on the second floor to ask her how she might get in contact with Tan4. Daisy informs her, more than a bit annoyed by Jessy’s mere presence, that Tan is busy but she could always talk to Carolina. She has a key to the third floor. Jessy leaves Daisy with a harsh insult, all she deserves, and braves the downstairs. The presence on the balcony is gone, but Jessy’s paranoia remains. 4 Influence Other
Full Success

Carolina is casually conversing with guests in between carrying trays of underwhelming food and apologizing for the state of the kitchen. James is working, but he is not feeling well. Jessy gets in her way and asks if they can speak in private. She guides Carolina to the empty dining room, where the older woman places her blue clutch purse on the table and asks Jessy what the matter is. She confesses to Carolina that she feels hesitant, unsure about the ceremony and what’s about to happen. She feigns upset about the trouble she caused James earlier in the week, and she doesn’t want to fuck things up. Jessy allows Carolina to calm her, telling her that all Jessy has to do is relax, listen to what Tan says and follow along. Dehu and Mil will reveal their truths to her.

The faith of the Twins seems to come so easy to the rest, and Jessy laments that she feels out of place. Carolina soothes her further, stroking Jessy’s cheek with her hand. She needs to allow it to come naturally, to listen to herself and hear Dehu and Mil’s voices in her own thoughts. The older woman guides Jessy to a chair, and Jessy allows the situation to escalate as she knew it would. Her dress is hitched up. With a strained grunt because of her bad back, Carolina carefully lowers herself to floor to put Jessy at ease. Playing along is easy, and soon Jessy is moaning loudly and running fingers through Carolina’s brown hair to distract from hearing Jessy fumble with the clasp of the clutch on the table5. She gets it open one-handed and carefully whisks the keyring out of there, hiding it in her scarf before closing the purse once more. Carolina seems none the wiser. Jessy feels good about her deception and, truth be told, the cunnilingus. 5 Act Under Pressure
Full Success

A few minutes of pleasure pass before Carolina looks up at Jessy with a smile, her round weathered face glistening. She asks for the purse, telling Jessy she has a surprise in there for her. Jessy, having seen the contents of the clutch, already knows of the sex toys kept in it. She is not keen on Carolina discovering the stolen keys, so she refuses to comply and instead grabs the thick dildo in there herself. Taking control of the situation, much to Carolina’s delight, Jessy shows what Tan must see in her by forcing the toy deep into Carolina’s throat. She holds it there until the older woman is nearly passed out, eyes wide and watering. When she collapses on the floor, Jessy laughs and makes herself presentable again. Still hiding the keys, she waits for Carolina to regain her composture and then leaves with a wide smile.

Done with her thieving, Jessy heads up to the third floor door when she pauses, hesitant to continue. It’s only at this point that she realizes that maybe Daisy and the others weren’t lying when they said Tan didn’t want to be disturbed. Something strange and bad is happening, but she’s already ruined James and doesn’t want to get on Tan’s bad side again so soon after. She stands by the third floor door, looking down at the keys in her hand, and turns to leave. She brings up her phone to text Tan a message about her visions and fragmented memories. It rings in her hand. Unknown caller. The crackling voice on the other side is begging to be let inside. The frightened screaming from the other end of the line sounds too familiar, as if it is Jessy’s own voice. She almost drops the phone and hurries downstairs and into her own room. She locks the door and stays there, hiding.

Jessy emerges once she hears Tan’s voice. He calls his flock upstairs, inviting them into the ceremony hall. He’s wearing the same black and red robe as during the dinner, smiling at each person as they enter the third floor. Again Jessy feels as though she’s done this before, and soon realizes why. The abstract paintings in black and red on the walls are the same as those few pictures she took at the MyGems afterparty, the night she couldn’t remember after she first met Tan. This is not her first time here. It’s a stressful realization, but there is no time to dwell on it. The cult of Dehu and Mil undresses, spreading out through the large conference hall. Kisses are exchanged and a large black cloth is unfolded below the dark stone throne towering at the far end of the room. Tan’s watchful eye guides every movement, directing his flock from his elevated seat of power and surrounded by truly grotesque, surreal art of a being with two goat heads breaking chains and violently penetrating its lessers.

Jessy stands in the nude, save for the bandages around her arms and legs from injuries new and old, and watches as Tan walks across the large black cloth in the center of the room. With white spray paint he creates a complex sigil on it, careful lines and curves. Around him, some are humming prayers or songs while others watch in silence. Many have their hands on themselves or each other, idle pleasure in preparation for the event. A woman with heavy breasts and a steady gaze, Jasmine, is brought forward by Tan to stand at the center of the symbol. She’s prepared herself for this all month, knowing she would play the centerpiece in the ceremony. Tan whispers to her and caresses her body, loving gestures formalized into beautiful ritual. The room falls silent, watching as Jasmine’s determined face softens, turns blank, and then begins to twitch. The rest of her body is soon overcome by spasms, and a monotone shriek escapes her as Tan finally pushes Jasmine to fall onto her back. Surrounded by his arcane art, Jasmine convulses feebly on the floor while her piercing howl continues without fail, as though her lungs contained all the air in the room.

It is at this point that Tan begins his sermon, his loud voice in harmony with Jasmine’s scream. Eleavated above the rest he speaks at length about pain, subservience and the ruthless nature which must be upheld to better serve ourselves and the reality around us. He produces a whip, a nasty thing with multiple gleaming metal tips, which he places at the feet of the shrieking woman they are all standing around. She exists in front of them as a creature of submission, a cowering whelp who expects nor deserves anything but contempt. Jasmine, or the thing she represents, is a vessel for others’ domination. With the whip, each cultist must display their power over this creature, feel themselves stand tall above it. After the whipping, they must also drink from Jasmine’s blood, which will weep from the wounds on her body to fill the jagged cup Tan holds in his hand. Each of them must do this, after which the adrenaline and divine inspiration of Dehu and Mil will set them free to do anything they like to each other.

Jessy’s turn, finally. Those who came before her have entirely descended into perverse pleasures among each other, filling the room with sounds of prayer and ecstasy. Eager members of Tan’s flock watch her walk up to the already bleeding Jasmine laying dutifully on the floor, waiting for their turn while celebrating hers. The whipping feels good. It feels easy. Jasmine’s pain is beautiful, the blood flowing feels like it anoints Jessy’s very soul. She is overcome by desire to give more, and more, and more. She keeps lashing6, the metallic tips of the whip slashing deep into Jasmine’s thighs and back as the rest of the room fades from Jessy’s consciousness. The black whip whirls in front of her, blurring her vision with each lash. One moment, she is sure that she can see Tan on his throne, comfortable and in control through the Twin God’s guidance. He is the last to blur out of sight, eventually leaving the room empty and silent. Not even her feverish lashes break the emptiness, and Jessy comes to realize that she is whipping the floor. Distant shadows are all that remain of the flock. 6 See Through The Illusion
Failure
The distant murmur of crying and howling only makes itself known once Jessy sees the woman marching towards her, golden brown eyes gleaming as bright as the little smile on her parched lips. Jessy knows her, recognizes the elder from childhood photographs. Her grandmother, Angela, a woman she’s never met, dead before Jessy was even born. She regards Jessy with an intimate and familiar hunger. She is fast, too fast, as though the room itself is contorting and shrinking with each step Angela takes towards Jessy. The ring, it has to do with the ring, it’s burning and Jessy’s grandmother begs, screams and demands to have it, to be let back into life. Bring her back, take her in, let her inside7. The whip strikes Angela Ericson across the face, but Jessy can’t stop her. They tumble onto the floor to the sound of tires screeching and Jessy’s head shatters from the impact. A car horn blares out across all of existence and leaves Jessy no choice but to drown into the golden sea of her grandmother’s eyes. 7 Keep It Together
Full Success

Once again a blackout. Jessy hates that she’s getting used to them. She wakes up in her room at Tan’s condo, still undressed from last night but with no recollection of how she got there. She’s disoriented and distracted by a splitting headache. The world at least feels stable. The walls aren’t moving, no one is hunting her. She relaxes in bed a while longer, and Carolina enters the room to check up on her. Jessy asks for Tan. She apparently acted quite disruptive last night, screaming about how her eyes were wrong and how Tan needed to get them out of her head. Luckily, panic attacks and similar upsetting behavior is not an uncommon occurence during their ceremonies. Most than once does at least one person crack under the weight of the divine. She was cared for, and the orgy continued in spectacular fashion without her. Tan is sorry to say she missed the best part of the ritual, but Jessy still remembers the whipping she’d given Jasmine and can’t imagine anything better than that. Her recollection of what she saw is confused, but Tan tries to comfort her with lighthearted jokes and assuring Jessy of her safety. As a servant of the Twin God, she need only follow the words of Dehu and Mil to guarantee success in life and the defeat of her adversaries. Tan makes no attempt to apologize for not telling Jessy that she’d been to his place before, nor does he tell her what happened on that night. He simply smiles, tells her she has no reason to know, and leaves.

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