December 21, 2011, New Orleans
After Odin/ Kringle left the bakery in the predawn morning of the 21st, the CCC decided to go to rescue Penelope (they think from Hell). They took a few hours to recoup and refresh, then met at the slaughterhouse. Gideon went there immediately and was waiting as the others arrived. After a few hours of cleaning up and resting from their deep-sea adventure the rest of the party convenes at the slaughterhouse, first Beaumont and Luther followed by Vic a few minutes later.
When Vic arrives, he was followed closely by a leather clad individual on a motorcycle. He dismounts and removes his helmet revealing an older man. He addresses Vic by name and asks if the others are inside. Vic tells him they are, and the man asks to be taken inside to speak with Gideon. When they get in Gideon introduces them to Bernie, his parole officer. Bernie asks if they are really going to go. He tells Gideon it is a trap; she has been gone for seven years. Gideon is will not be dissuaded from going and his companions are set on going with him.
Bernie lowers his head and ponders (prays?) for a moment then lifts his head up, looking at the Templar Knight. ‘Greater love hath no man than this… Go with God my friend. Just don’t forget the rings this time.’ He then turns to Luther and asks to see Gloria. Luther reluctantly retrieves his rifle and shows it to him. He asks if he may take it for a minute, but Luther holds on to it only allowing Bernie to touch it. Bernie runs his hands over the barrel of the rifle and words appear in it. Down the sides of it is written Psalms 82:3-4, ‘Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.’ H then pulls two other items from his backpack and gives a piece of old wood to Beaumont, and a blood red ruby in the shape of a drop of liquid to Vic. He explains that these artifacts will imbue their spells with holy power making them useful where they are planning to go. He then leaves disappearing into the night.
Luther goes outside and as fate would have it, he finds a child’s bicycle forgotten in some debris. He leaves some money and takes the bike back inside prepared to ride a pink girl’s bike unicorn stickers on the chain guard, complete with a banana seat and streamers off the handlebars. Gideon is anxious to be going and wonders out loud if he needs a wizard to open the portal or if he can drive on though on his own. Beaumont laughs and tells him to go ahead and try. He then opens a portal for them to travel through. And the Crescent City Cavaliers pass through the passage and into the Downbelow with Luther ringing the bell on his bike.
As they pass though it is not what they expect. Instead of hellfire and screams of agony they see blue sky and endless fields of white roses as far as the eye can see. They come through on a cobblestone highway winding off into the horizon towards a city on the horizon surrounded in an endless haze with a tall spire rising out of the center. There is a faint hint of brimstone or sulfur in the air. As they gain their bearings some notice the cobblestones in the road are brimstone and upon further investigation there is writing on them. Each one has a ‘good intention’ written on it. Who knew that there actually was a Highway to Hell and it was paved with good intentions?
They travel for what seems like hours, but don’t seem to be getting any closer to the city, some suggest they take off through the flowers and off the path to see id they cannot get there faster but Beaumont does not want to and thinks it is a bad idea. So, the party is at a stalemate when Luther throws his bike into the white flowers and … nothing happens -for a minute and then the ground erupts releasing a gigantic demonic (?) centipede and two spiders. They try fighting them but cannot make it past the hard carapaces. They soon decide that discretion is the better part of valor and hide under Vic’s glamor until the monsters go away. As they continue, they notice exit signs for turn offs – Helheim, Hades, Purgatory, Kur, Gehenna, and others. They also realize that if they do not look at the city on the horizon, they make progress on their journey.
As they approach the city, they notice a wide river that bends around the city and a ferry loading people for the trip across. They also meet a fellow traveler on the road – so far, they have not seen anyone else. He introduces himself as Gil, a fellow traveler, and asks if this is their first time here, because they obviously are not dead. They cautiously greet him and after several tests they decide to let him travel with them. He is excited about this prospect and eagerly offers to be their guide as they travel into the city.
As they approach the river and the docks they notice what can only be described as a subway entrance with stairs going down into the ground with the dulcet melody of a muzak version of ‘It’s a Small World’ coming from it. When they investigate, they find the uncommitted – those who in life took no sides; the opportunists who were for neither good nor evil, but instead were merely concerned with themselves, standing a long line queued up and waiting in line – to nowhere. Gil explains that when they get to the front of the line they have to go back and start all over again.
At the ferry ticket booth, they meet a man behind the counter, tall, elegant, and handsome, with chocolate-colored skin and bleached-blond hair, shaved military style. He wears tortoise-shell shades and a silk Italian suit that matched his hair. A black rose was pinned to his lapel, above a nametag with the name Charon. He is witty and urbane and loves nice Italian suits. He politely refuses them passage as they are not dead. After some fierce negotiations and Beaumont giving him a fine Italian suit in his pack, he agrees to let them cross. As they disembark on the far side, they see the gates of hell with the inscription ‘Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.’ With that Beaumont realizes that Gil is Virgil – the same who led Dante through hell. They also begin noticing similarities between this city and their city of New Orleans – in fact, it looks like a weird fun house mirror version of New Orleans. Gil mentions that this is New Orleans under New Orleans, hell looks like whatever city people come from.
The first ‘ward’ of this city is Limbo. Overcast and a ash as fine snow falling on a monochromatic, bland uniform cityscape. Everything is identical, and Gil gets lost. Everything looks the same every building looks the same. They eventually find their way through by tracking and survival skills and move on to the next ward. As they enter the second ward the surroundings change – now they are surrounded by brothels, strip clubs, and red-light districts. The wind picks up and blows the spirits here with an almost gale force wind, however it does not affect the heroes – they seem to be anchored by reality somehow. The Cavaliers meet a woman clad in snake motif leathers. She introduces herself as Asmodeus, the demon in charge of the second Ward of hell – Lust. She tries to seduce Vic and he manages to put her off with future promises of liaisons.
They move on to the third ward and the scenery changes with it. This time the surrounding change to a giant restaurant district, food, and big pharma as far as they see and a putrid slushy rain falling. The spirits here run to and fro trying to eat the delicious foods, but it always turns to the putrid slush as soon as it hits their mouth. They meet a handsome Asian man in dog or wolf motif biker leathers, who introduces himself as Beelzebub. As they try to make it past him, he turns into a gigantic 3 headed wolf. They realize they must pack the dog’s mouths with the slush to paralyze and pass by him – which they manage to do, moving on to the next ward. The scenery changes again as they enter this ward into banks, pay day loan offices, and rent to own establishments – anyplace where you can get something now and pay later. Here they meet Mammon, the Demon of Greed, who speaks to them in a language none of them understand. As they are confronted by him, they are overcome by his sheer will and they fall to the ground – mentally and physically unable to move. Beaumont, by sheer mental fortitude, only goes down to his knees. Only Gil is unaffected by this. He looks around and sees the party incapacitated and only then rebukes the demon in the same language that it spoke. A quiet power thrummed through the CCC and they were released from the demon’s power. As they leave this ward of the city Gill says, ‘Come we must hurry. They know where we are now. Hurry!’
They then travel to the ward of Wrath – more like a swamp made from the runoff of the putrid slush from Gluttony. Gil gives the party the advice ‘to avoid Wrath one must be quiet and humble’ and they slip quietly past the demon. And through the swamp of wrath and sullenness. They finally find themselves at the Great Wall surrounding the Inner Wards of Hell and the City of Dis. The walls look to have no foundations almost floating in the air and beyond that is a gigantic skyscraper of a tower. Gil explains that the rest of the wards are in the tower with the highest, or ninth ward, reserved for Lucifer himself. On and along the walls are hundreds of Hells Angels – the estimate of there being 666 seems about right – standing guard on the gate with a Demon and Cain in front of the gates itself.
The demon calls out laughing at Gil and the Cavaliers, ‘You have no place here old man, leave here like the pathetic creature you are or prepare to die’, as he shifts into his demonic form of a flaming skeleton. ‘I have stood in opposition to you for centuries and will do so now and in the future. Gressil, let us pass!’ When asked by Gideon how they could possibly fight this host of hell. Gil answers, ‘Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them’ and then winks a Gideon as he pulls out a gremlin bell from his tattered clothing and throws it into the air. As it travels it releases a stream of bubbles. Suddenly he is not Gil but Bernie – or Saint Bernard, patron saint of the Knights Templar and opposer of the demon Gressil.
The Saint makes the sign of the cross and with a ringing basso rumble shouts, ‘IN HOC SIGNO VINCES!’ The bubbles then begin popping, sounding like Bubble wrap, and portals start opening. He then quietly says to Gideon, ‘On your left.’ And a huge bubble then pops, as the Templar Knights come roaring through on their motorcycles with weapons alight with a gleaming silver – all the Templar Knights. As other portals pop into existence, Rikard, Einherjaren, and Valkyries come through. Other openings reveal the Irregulars, along with David, Betty, and Warden Luna. Silver white comets appear in the sky streaking down, as they hit with thundering concussions – Angels are standing all around the party.
Demon hiss and gnash their teeth as the mount their fiery motorcycles and charge toward them. Bernie turns to the Cavaliers, “‘Greater love hath no man than this…’. Go get to their clubhouse and find her! We will hold them here, go get Penelope. Come back here, we will keep a way open for you here.” Turning to the Knights he calls out to them, ‘Come brothers, let clear them a path to the gate!’ With that they ride out in a spear formation clearing a path for the heroes as they make their way across the field to the gate. As thy make their way through the gate the Cavaliers clash with three minor demons. Divine guidance through Gideon leads them to what looks like an automotive garage. As they carefully approach, they spot a hulking gigantic six-legged bear with ram’s horns on its head inside the garage bays. Gideon recognizes this as the demonic form of one of the Hells Angels as it charges toward them in a frenzy, attacking Luther with a vicious swipe of it’s claws from the left side of his face to his right hip. They attack an after a brief struggle the heroes make it past it and surveil the garage clubhouse. They see three more Hells Angels inside and an unconscious Penelope tied to a table or alter in a separate room. They devise a plan where they sabotage the Hells Angels motorcycles so they will get stranded when Gideon draws the demonic angels away from the clubhouse. The rest of the group sneak in and rescue Penelope.
The plan works just as they had planned, and they meet Gideon by the gates of the city with Penelope. It is a joyous tearful reunion as they are reunited. As they kiss, some members of the group notice that she has a skull ring on the finger. She flashes an evil smile over Gideon’s shoulder as her other hand transforms into a claw and she drives it into Gideon’s abdomen with an upward angle – almost as it she is trying to reach his heart. Her glamor drops at the same time to reveal a middle-aged woman with a wicked grin on her face. Beaumont recognizes her as Kelly Montague, mother of the girl the Hells Angels abducted a couple of months ago and the newest Hells Angel. After a brief but furious fight they take out Kelly and race back to the clubhouse to finish searching it before the Hells Angels return. They find the real Penelope in a backroom in a glass coffin and surrounded by Fomor looking implements and equipment. Gideon kisses her and awakes Penelope with True Love’s Kiss.
They race back to where their allies are hold a Way open for them. When they arrive, they witness a great battle with their allies evacuating injured back through the Way as they can. Several Einherjar and Valkyries are wounded or worse, almost all the Templar Knights are injured, some severely – none are dead. Several of the Irregulars are injured or exhausted as well – including Betty. They do see the wizards of the white council led by a The Warden of New Orleans providing cover fire and artillery for the group holding the Way. Whenever an enemy gets to close to them Luna’s blade always seemed strike out in a brilliant display of swordsmanship cutting the enemy down. As soon as the group sees the Cavaliers coming, their allies begin moving to retreat through the gate.
Besides the Angels, the Wizards of the White Council are the rearguard and make sure the rest make it through. Luna’s swordsmanship is truly amazing as his blade reaches out, almost with a mind of its own, striking at the enemy. You would not guess that he is over 200 years old, it is almost as if he is more energized in the heat of a battle. Then a gigantic ‘shadow’ appears and lashes out with multiple attacks with tentacles of shadow. The warden’s sword flashes brightly each time it blocks an attack, but one slips past his defenses and strikes him down. The other wizards cover as David drags his mentor through the portal unsure if he is alive or not. They all make it through, and as the portal closes, they witness the angels streak off into the sky as beams of silvery light.
Aftermath – December 24
After returning they soon realize that it is now December 24th and it is 9:30 pm. They had promised Reverend Lantern to attend Midnight Mass. They clean up, tend their wounds, and attend Mass. Even dragging Luther along with them. When the service is over Beaumont’s family invites them to Réveillon, the big family dinner celebration that is tradition after Midnight Mass. When they arrive, they each find presents from Kringle under their Tree.
Vic received a hot wheel car set that when rolled has actual racetrack noises.
Beaumont’s gift was a big bowl of steaming hot Jambalaya- that refills whenever he thinks of Christmases past and a plate of beignets.
Luther received a tin cup (like for camping) with a star of David on the side full of eggnog (also refills when Christmas – or Hanukah is remembered, with a sufganiyot (like a jelly donut) and a Dreidel.
Gideon gets a set of matching wedding rings, that are magically connected with each other.
The PCs also receive 1 skill point and one refresh for the adventure.