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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Jessy’s Story – The Return! Plus recap of Arc 1

Hello, Kultists! Last year on this blog, I presented session recaps of my ongoing Kult campaign titled Jessy’s Story. It got so far as eight sessions in, when I decided that a hiatus was in order to allow my wife and artist some time to move on to other projects and commissions. At long last (read: a bit overdue), Jessy’s Story is finally returning! The preliminary schedule will be to have one session posted every three weeks until the campaign is DONE! There is quite a ways to go, so there is lots of content to look forward to if you enjoy Jessy’s descent into madness (and eventual rise to power). However, I imagine there are those who either haven’t read all the first eight sessions, or have forgotten much of the details. Not to worry – below is a summary containing some of the major characters of the story, and what happened in each session.

Jessy’s Story – Session 9 will be posted on Friday, February 28th, some time in the evening (GMT -5)!

Characters

Jessy Button – Real name, Jessica Buckle. The deceitful homewrecker whose life this story follows. Sleuthing about for details about the strange ring she inherited from her mother, Jessy comes into contact with dark and alluring forces. Some are her enemies, with others it is not so easy to tell. Jessy’s greed, both for money and for knowledge, knows no bounds, and through stubbornness and an infinite stream of lies she always gets what she wants. No matter the cost.

Tan – A rich and incredibly charming man, interested in both Jessy’s ring and her body. He is deeply religious, worshipping a strange and obscure twin deity represented by a pair of goats. It seems to be in his and his religion’s nature to be socially and sexually dominating at every opportunity. 

Wilma – She appears in Jessy’s dreams, a vicious woman wearing gorgeous jewelry and an unchanging mask of anger and resentment. All she wants is Jessy’s ring, creating nightmarish visions to wear Jessy down until she finally gives in and hands it over.

Artyom – This emotionless Russian man, bald and clad in expensive suits, is what Tan refers to as a razide. Beyond Artyom’s human visage lurks a ragged shape of rusted metal and torn flesh. Jessy cannot help but pursue this enigmatic being who revels in causing others pain and suffering. Whatever his true purpose, he offers Jessy deep insights at the cost of her sanity.

Carl Hunt – An older man whose money Jessy has been taking in exchange for charming smalltalk and the occasional private picture on Instagram. Seems to have a fascination with Jessy and her likeness to his own daughter.

Jeremiah Redwood – Cofounder and senior designer for Granger Fine Jewelry, the business from which Jessy’s ring originated.

Abbas Ali – A former developer for Instagram, somehow involved with Granger Fine Jewelry and associated with Artyom. Appears ageless.

Session 1
At a party for developers and influencers of a recently launched app called MyGems, Jessy seeks out woman named Andi to discuss with her the design and history of her ring. Andi explains that similar rings, also from Granger Fine Jewelry, have been seen on the fingers of powerful people all over the world. This is also where she runs into Tan, dressed in a colorful suit, who she immediately takes an interest in. Her curiousity is reciprocated, and Tan invites her to a private room with the founder of MyGems, David Clap, and many other influential men and their dainty dates. Tan seems to know all of them, and after many drugs and celebrating with a drink which tasted suspiciously like blood, Jessy agrees to go to an afterparty with Tan. She doesn’t remember any of it the day after, waking up in her own bed with vomit-covered clothes and a strange goat mask in stone strapped to her face.

Session 2
The morning after, Jessy receives a message on Instagram from an anonymous and seemingly glitched account, asking her pointed questions about her night with Tan. The person on the other side offers up money for any information she can get on Tan, and encourages her to see him again. She spends the day with her friends, but when a snowstorm hits Toronto she’s forced to go down into the underground PATH to find her way to a hotel. Unwashed homeless people seem to stare her down, but she hurries along and tries to put them out of her mind. At the hotel, a young girl named Elise tries to hide in Jessy’s room before being dragged off by men who, according to Elise, intend to kill her. Hotel security does nothing. Jessy is beset by nightmares, concrete corridors and vast abysses guiding her into the deep.

Session 3
Jessy meets with Andi, who has some contacts which may prove valuable in finding out more about Granger Fine Jewelry and the tumultous crimes attributed to the company in the late 70s, right around the time Jessy’s ring is estimated to have been made. The nightmares continue, leaving Jessy sleepless and disoriented. At a breaking point, she descends again into the paths beneath Toronto in hopes of finding a clue as to why these dreams persist. Instead, she is lured deep down into maintenance tunnels and filth-caked corridors where she encounters a truly horrific beast. Lost for what feels like an eternity, she is eventually drawn back to reality by the sound of a subway train.

Session 4
A elderly woman with alzheimers named Agatha serves as Jessy’s emotional dumping ground and fake grandmother. Her week of hellish nightmares is capped off by accompanying Tan to a luxurious party hosted by a man named Eduardo Sarmento. Here, Jessy meets Artyom. She recognizes him as one of the men who kidnapped the girl at the hotel, but after Tan aggrevates him she sees him for what he truly is – a monster. Jessy becomes absolutely fascinated with Artyom and can’t get the image of his tattered body out of her head. The evening ends in disaster as Eduardo dies a grisly and public death, though with nothing to go on and lab results inconclusive, the police eventually lets everyone go. Tan, seemingly unphased by the horrific fate of his acquaintance, offers Jessy to come stay at a hotel with him and not let the night end just yet.

Session 5
Alone with Tan at an upscale hotel, Jessy speaks with him at length about his worship of the Twin God. He lights candles, decorates the room with figurines of goat-headed men, and seduces Jessy with a promise of transcendental knowledge. Through harsh love, he intends to reveal higher truths to Jessy, but she is not ready and is hurt deeply both physically and emotionally. Once asleep, she is drawn deeper into her nightmares and finally meets Wilma, the woman behind Jessy’s sleeplessness. She demands the ring, threatens a defiant Jessy, and eventually shunts Jessy out of her short rest for yet another night of staring at the dark ceiling. Once she finally leaves for home, Jessy discovers that her apartment has been broken in to. Someone was hunting for her, and she recognizes the threat Wilma poses.

Session 6
Jessy speaks with Carl Hunt about her apartment being broken into, since he is the one who pays for it. They agree she should be staying with friends until he can sort something out, so Jessy drifts in and out of the homes of people she’s lured into her orbit online, boyfriends and girlfriends all. She also digs deeper into the dealings of Granger Fine Jewerly, discovering that the man Abbas Ali which she saw at Eduardo’s party apparently worked for them in the 70’s and looked no different then than he does now, as if he hasn’t aged a day. She gets into contact with Abbas, who in turn helps her reach out to Artyom for a private meeting. Jessy visits him at a rundown hotel in Etobicoke, where they discuss many things, including Tan’s foolishness in playing with powers far beyond his control. She is unexpectedly forced into performing torturous acts on a man named Simon. He seems to be enjoying the entire procedure, and Artyom allows Jessy to delve deep into the euphorias of causing others pain.

Session 7
Leaving her ‘boyfriend’ Ethan’s apartment to buy some food, Jessy is stalked and assaulted by two homeless people seemingly working for Wilma, but with pepper spray in hand she disables one and forces the other, Honey, to become her guide. She learns from him that Wilma abuses them through their nightmares and keeps them sleep deprived and tortured until they have to do her bidding, and that they’ve been hunting Jessy for at least a year. They descend beneath Toronto together, but after a skinless monstrosity attacks them Jessy kills it and unwittingly uses the magic of her ring to bring them much, much deeper. Now lost and fumbling in the dark, they stop to rest in an abandoned cathedral to some unknown god. In a dream, Wilma appears again before Jessy and the two exchange threats. Jessy is coming for her, not to deliver the ring but to put an end to this lunacy.

Session 8
With her arm wounded from the monster’s attack, a deranged, sleepless mind and filth covering her entire body, Jessy forces herself and Honey to press on. They don’t know where they are, but must continue to move until Honey might recognize their surroundings. Silence rules these parts of the world, only broken up by the strange beings which live in the dark. After a long while and with both of them hungry and thirsty, Honey finally sees a path he knows will lead to Wilma. They push onward and enter the bunker complex which she has made her lair, home to folks in tattered clothing and gruff looking squatters. Brought before her tormentor, Jessy sees that Wilma is in fact an old woman, decrepit and withering with a shrill voice, hard on the ears. She demands the ring, and with her servants keeping Jessy under close guard the situation seems hopeless until she manages to incite some doubt and dissent into their ranks. Chaos erupts, and Jessy leaps onto Wilma. Her knife is plunged deep into the hag’s body, but she has no time to celebrate before a hard object strikes her in the back of her head and the world goes black.

And, of course, don’t forget to check out my artist’s Instagram and Facebook pages, where she posts the art made for Beyond Elysium along with some of her other work. She also has a personal website with more projects and contact information.

Session 6: Sadism

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.

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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. 1 Impostor
Result: 10-14

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. 2 Keep it Together
Result: 10-14

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.

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Session 4: Let Loose, Have Fun

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 blood, gore, violence and sex.

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Friday morning, Jessy decides that she needs to talk to someone about all that’s happened to her. She doesn’t want to seem crazy to Tan, her friends wouldn’t understand, and she’s already putting so much on Carl. Luckily, she has another option. Jessy has for the past two years been tricking miss Agatha Dupont, a lady in her nineties who suffers from alzheimer’s, that Jessy is her granddaughter. The staff at the elderly care like Jessy, she visits once every month or two. As Agatha can’t remember conversations, Jessy feels safe confiding in her.

When she visits Agatha the tiny old lady is sitting in her bed and looking at the snowfall outside. She comments again and again how beautiful it is. She’s nothing but skin and bones, save her large blue eyes. Jessy speaks softly to her, trying to talk about Agatha’s past, nightmares, and that she thinks she saw a monster. Not quite able to keep up with the conversation, Agatha goes on about how her doctors are putting things in her medicines and how angry her dad got after Korea. It is a long conversation, the two talking past each other at different speeds. At least Agatha seems to be listening, a little. When she finally leaves, Jessy feels as though she has gotten a weight off her chest.

Her nightmares of jumping into an endless abyss to get away from hidden pursuers and Elise’s suffering keep Jessy up most of the night. She spends all morning preparing for the party she is to go to with Tan in the afternoon, her shaking hands firm only when she’s applying her makeup. She flirts a lot with Tan throughout the car ride up to the Bridle Path, and Tan tells Jessy about the host. He’s a film and show producer named Eduardo Sarmento, and the party is mostly a fun little get-together for TV personalities, actors, and some models Eduardo is fond of. Eduardo knows Tan through Cliq, a streaming platform they’re both invested in. When they roll up to the massive mansion and hurry through the snow to get inside, Jessy feels at least a little revitalized by sheer awe.

After brief introductions, Eduardo gives Jessy permission to take pictures and video of the pool, but the rest of the place he’d prefer to be a private space. The glassed-in pool area, with its ‘tribal’ decorations and lush plantlife, is plenty enough for the guests to sit around, swim, and hold private conversation without ever feeling crowded. A bar serves free alcohol, and the atmosphere is relaxed and joyful with nice ambient beats playing from a surround sound system. Jessy feels right at home. She takes plenty of pictures and video, keeping Tan visible in the background whenever possible, though for a while he is off somewhere else, most likely with Eduardo.

Skipping snow day for a tropical afternoon #JustJessy

Jessy drifts around the party in her bikini, drink in hand and chatting up anyone who looks interesting. She sits down for a conversation with an Instagram model, Sasha Giordano, when several men stomp the snow off their shoes in the entry hallway. They greet Eduardo with smiles and spread out to enjoy the party. Among them, a tall man in a black suit. Jessy has seen him before – he is one of the men who came into her hotel room at the Fairmont Hotel to take Elise away.

The man moves slowly, stiffly, and walks over to talk to Eduardo and Tan for a moment. Jessy overhears him presenting himself as Artyom Sokorov. When she looks around, noticing how some of the men in Artyom’s entourage immediately approach the girls by the pool, she realizes that Artyom is there for the same reason he was with Elise at the hotel1. Someone will disappear with these men tonight. Jessy feels a desperate need for another drink. 1 Eye for Detail
Result: <9

Jessy sits down with Tan once she spots him, eager for more attention. Tan suggest the two of them slip away somewhere more private to have some fun, and Jessy almost agrees. She points out Artyom to Tan, and remarks that he looks especially ‘spooky’. Tan finds him more interesting than anything, and invites him over for a talk. If the stone-faced Russian man in his strangely ill-fitting suit recognizes Jessy, he does not show it. They learn that Artyom is there as part of the friend group of a man called Abbas. Abbas, it turns out, is currently down by the pool flirting with Sasha. Asked about his own work, Artyom explains with his thick accent that he offers ‘personal, discreet experiences’ to the rich, allowing them to experience any of their desires. Tan acts interested, but without speaking in private Artyom does not seem willing to give details.

A lot of things happen quickly. Tan reaches forward and whispers to Artyom while holding his hand, that he is the Twins and that Artyom will kneel for him. As he begins to speak in some unknown language which Jessy doesn’t recognize and stroking Artyom’s face lovingly, the Russian stands up violently and in that commotion the Illusion concealing him crumbles to reveal what he truly is.

When Artyom stands up, Jessy realizes that he must be well past eight feet tall. A white plastic, expressionless mask has been crudely stapled onto his face with thick, metal clamps. The suit is ill-fitting: Artyom is much too tall, his flayed body stretched and ripped beyond any repair. Gangrene spreads from his head and down his neck, dried and cracked black tissue. Mid-thigh, his legs have been cut off and rusted metal stakes have been forced into his body and screwed into his legs with iron bolts and wires.

Knee-less, he stomps across the floor with an unnatural gait and punches Tan straight in the face to send him flying half-way across the room, landing against a small tree planted indoors. Jessy can do nothing but stare, unable to parse what she’s looking at but desperately craving more of it2. 2 Keep it Together
Result: 10-14
Obsessed

Artyom yells a threat to Tan and leaves, his entourage leaving with him. Sasha leaves with Abbas, as do two others from the pool. Tan seems to be okay, just a tad shaken. After feigning confusion as to why Artyom attacked him, he is offered some privacy in a small living room to recuperate. Jessy comes with him, sitting down next to Tan in a lounging couch. She has so many questions, especially since Tan seems so calm about this experience. He tries to explain to her that what she saw wasn’t human, that ‘Artyom’ was a guise. Tan knew that Artyom was something else, that’s why he wanted to get closer to him, but clearly that wasn’t a great idea. When Jessy asks about the words Tan spoke to him, he makes excuses about the inability of the English language in expressing what he was doing, but eventually settles on telling Jessy that he tried to make Artyom serve him.

Jessy still has concerns. Sasha was taken away by those people, after all. Tan shrugs and tells her that whatever Artyom and Abbas intend to do, it will need to happen. They can not stop it. Since Artyom plans to stay in Toronto until spring, it will probably happen again. Their conversation inevitably turns to flirting, which turns to making out, which faster than thought possible turns to sex. Tan takes the reigns, playfully dominating Jessy. Her mind stays on the vile creature that was Artyom, even as Tan ravishes her. Rather than frighten her, it only serves to turn her on more. Time disappears while the two make love, and once it is over Tan and Jessy slip back into the pool. They flirt more with each other, and with others in the pool. It is all a very good time, until a scream from the hallway puts the party at a standstill once more.

Eduardo is falling to pieces. Having come from his bedroom, his flesh seems to be ripping and falling off of his body in gory chunks. No amount of screaming, scratching or squeezing seems to help, and Eduardo helplessly tries to hold his flesh together as it shears off the bone like wet clay. Any attempt to help is in vain, and it is not long before Eduardo dies as a stinking, broken mess of blood and flesh on the floor3. 3 Keep it Together
Result: 10-14
Guilt-ridden

Police and medics arrive, and the corpse falls to yet more pieces even as they try to lift it up onto a gurney. A foot, half an arm and Eduardo’s entrails need to be carried off in a separate bag. The police investigate and interrogate all guests, holding everyone there until preliminary lab results return several hours later. They show nothing unusual. Jessy and Tan leave, speaking sincerely at first about the terrible death they witnessed. Tan has no explanation for it, but does not seem too torn up about it. Soon enough, the two return to jokes and flirting, and on Tan’s suggestion they take in to a nearby hotel. Jessy leaps at a chance to spend her night with Tan.

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Session 2: A Hotel Stay

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 abduction.

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Jessy spends a long while cleaning herself off, finding blood under her nails and vicious scratches on her arms. She tosses the mask in the garbage, turning it so she doesn’t have to deal with the enormous goat eyes staring at her. In her heap of new Instagram messages, she finds one of a hand holding a whole bundle of hundred dollar bills. This immediately piques her interest. The person who sent it to her, an empty account with a garbage name, asks immediately about Tan. Where did Jessy go with him? Who was there? A thousand dollars are offered for the information. Jessy tells the person that she’ll tell them next time she sees Tan. After hitting up some of her followers for easy money, selling personal photos to them, she gets ready to head outside.

Spending time with her friends Amanda and Tomiko, Jessy talks about the party she went to and about Tan. She confides in her friends that Tan seems to be into her, and they discuss ways for her to contact him again. After a nice manicure session, they go shopping as a snow storm hits Toronto. Amanda and Tomiko head out in a hurry, not wanting the snow storm to completely bury their car, and Jessy is left at the shopping center.

With Uber down, traffic at a standstill, and unwilling to take the PATH to her home, she calls Carl Hunt, her beloved sugar daddy with a family of his own. Carl organizes for her to stay a night at a hotel nearby1. 1 Impostor
Result: 10-14

Down in the PATH, heading to the hotel, Jessy spots two filthy homeless men staring and pointing at her. When she gets closer, they quickly open an unmarked door to a maintenance hallway and leave. Clutching her pepper spray, Jessy hurries onward to the hotel, where she gets a nice room to relax in. She flirts with Carl over text, sending him more and more risque photos even as he’s laying next to his wife in bed. A banging on her door interrupts it all, with a girl outside yelling for help. After some hesitation, Jessy does let the girl in, who in a panic tries to explain that she’s being chased.

The girl, Elise, is no more than seventeen and clad in pajamas. Through her tears and hyperventilating, she tells Jessy that the men who ran past her door soon after Elise was let in were planning to cut her into pieces. She was with them hoping to make some money by hanging around rich men and seeing where it took her. She warns Jessy not to call the police, because one of the men following her is a police officer. The men chasing Elise come back to their floor, banging on doors and arguing with other guests. Eventually they come to Jessy’s door, and Carl inconveniently calling her phone alerts them that someone is in there. They continue to hammer at the door, demanding to be let in.

Jessy calls security, who to her relief arrive quickly. Relief soon turns into panic, however, as the security officer unlocks the door for the men outside and let them in. Elise, crying and screaming and begging, is dragged out of the room, and Jessy lays into the security employees. She yells at them about how she’s going to get them fired, how she’s been filming their faces, and how she’ll ruin their lives. Nothing seems to bite: they leave, and eventually she is left alone with only blood stains on the corridor carpet to look at. Helpless, she calls Carl and explains the situation to him. She goes to bed, but the vivid image of Elise crying as her body is cut into a hundred pieces stays with her the entire night.

The day after and with the storm subsided, Jessy manages to get herself home. She relaxes, gets drunk, and gets into a call with Tan after a brief text conversation. They chat with lots of laughter, and Tan explains that the mask was from a party game they played after Jessy had gotten wasted and that she hadn’t wanted to take it off. He urges her not to throw it out, but to keep it around as she may grow to love it despite its strange looks. Finally, he invites her to a party for next week, and dinner after that.

She wakes up in a bare, concrete corridor, everything behind her covered in darkness. A loud scream of pain drives her forward, dressed only in her negligee as she runs down metal frame industrial stairs. A gut wrenching emptiness tugs at Jessy, and the entire world falls around her into an endless abyss. Jessy is left standing on the precipice of this emptiness, and something deep down urges her to jump. When she does, she wakes up to another message from the mysterious Instagram account. She’s asked about what she and Tan were talking about, which she answers to immediately. Another thousand dollars are added to her PayPal account, but she receives no answer to her question of how the person knew that she had talked to Tan, or who they are at all.

The only way out is down.
Jessy spends her morning researching Granger Fine Jewelry2. A company founded in 1941 by a French-Jewish refugee and apparently based in Toronto, it made a name for itself by hiring only the absolute top talent and producing their designs for high-end consumers. In the late 70s and early 80s, several criminal investigations lead not only to the original owner Abraham Granger’s death, but massive layoffs. 2 Investigate
Result: 10-14

Digging further, she discovers a self-proclaimed “well researched” poster on a forum claiming that Granger Fine Jewelry attacked and cursed the “puppeteers” that control the world, and that they sent the police to kill several employees of the company to stop them. Jessy, with no other leads, sends a message to the person on the forum. She also contacts Granger Fine Jewelry directly through a throw-away email account, inquiring about what to do about the ring she’s inherited. That night, another nightmare like the last one. The hobos she spotted down in the PATH break into her room, and as she attacks them the entire world falls apart and dives straight down into an endless swallowing emptiness before she wakes up.

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