You are Jake, and you have had enough of this ranting.
You realize Clayton is just as helpless against his own weaknesses as Rose was, and you didn't feel any danger with ESP in her poking around, so you let her and the blame is partially yours. This little tirade however is getting you nowhere, and you see the chance to pick up some extra XP. You quietly declare the use of card 21, which appears and seems to have The Dark Haired Girl with a halo and a knife behind her back smiling and listening to glasses guy. You put your hand on Clayton's shoulder and spend maximum energy on RESolve, using Compulsion as you say "Why don't you go outside and cool off?" The fates are with you; you manage a 27 on the check.
Even spending max energy, Clayton knows he can only roll a 25, so he is compelled to go outside and cool down for your rating minutes in the skill: which would be 2.
You are down to 48 energy, but you have gained 4 XP for taking control of the situation away from Clayton.
"Now," you say, using compulsion again, this time with only two energy, making your check HDL + 2, "You are going to tell me everything you know about this food situation." Van was going to anyway, just to get rid of you guys, so he doesn't spend energy, and rolls a 10 to resist. He starts talking.
"I don't know much. I was at Big Chain Restaurant a couple of nights ago eating dinner, when suddenly this girl seems to just die. Her head just flops backwards and blood starts spurting out all over. Naturally her date seemed visibly distressed, to say nothing of the poor girl, who started shouting and carrying on like she was dying or something. Well this kid, probably nine or ten years old starts laughing and laughing and runs out. The girl is screaming, her date makes his CONstitution check to stay conscious but he doesn't know what to do, everyone's yelling, it was a freaky scene."
"Rose?" I ask. Maybe if I ask her about this she'll calm down a little from what Clayton said to her.
"Well, Neptune spells can create illusions, you say she looked dead?"
"And she was fine again in a couple of minutes?"
Again, Van nods.
"Sounds like Mask of Death," Rose says, getting a 13 on her Magical Theory check. "I don't know it, but it's good for battlefields if you want to surprise someone. It makes you look like you're dead, but that's it. Seems like just a prank to me."
"Sure, but what would have happened if it had turned out to be cursed?"
"It might never have gone away, or made her see everyone else as being dead, it's hard to say. Depends on how creative the Narrator is feeling at the time."
"I guess. Did you see what the kid looked like?"
"Well, he was pretty average looking."
You glare at the Van.
"He was! I don't know. He was wearing a blue jacket with some guy with a sword on the back. I think I'd seen him there before, he must live in the area."
"Okay, it's a start," you say. "It could just be some random kid, or it could be he was there waiting to see what would happen. Either way, we'll check it out. Thanks."
"Sure, glad to help," said Van, who was more honestly just glad to be rid of us, I felt.
We went back outside, where Clayton was waiting for us. Jaden and Rose Petal stay opposite him, to my left, and we head back to the hotel to make further plans. Clayton apologizes for his behavior earlier, but both girls still glower at him. This'll take a while to sort out, you think.
"Our best bet at this point," you say, back in the lobby of the hotel, "Is to just walk the neighborhood, or fly, excuse me Rose, looking for this kid. I know it's a long shot, but maybe we'll get lucky. We are PCs after all."
"I don't mind invoking card 33," says Rose. "If we haven't had any action in a few days."
"That'll do it! You don't have any spells that'll help?"
"No, Jupiter is divination, and I don't know any Jupiter spells at all. Sorry."
"It's okay, you probably never needed them before. Well, I'll use my ESP but until we see him it's just going to be LUCk checks every day and wandering around. Stay near the Big Chain Restaurant near dinner time, otherwise just look at kids on bikes and stuff."
They all nod and we decide to call it quits tonight when it gets dark, and meet someplace for dinner. They all head out.
You feel the Narrator has rolled the party's LUCk checks and he actually rolled the maximum for you, a 15, so you think there's a good chance you'll find this kid before the night is through. You return that night empty handed.
"Your LUCk check was a 15 and even you didn't find him? What does the Narrator want us to do?"
"I'll tell you what I'm going to do," you say. "Who has the highest luck of all of us?"
You go around the table and find out only Rose has a slightly higher then average luck.
"Fine," you say. "Tomorrow I'll use card 34 on you, Rose, because I have the highest INSight, so it'll have the greatest impact. Let's save card 33 for a real emergency."
Jaden isn't talking much, she seems to still be mad at Clayton. Inner party conflict is a terrible thing, you think to yourself.
The next morning, you declare the use of card 34 on Rose, and it appears and shimmers like always. The picture is of Glasses Guy as you call him, and some dude in a trench coat pulling The Dark Haired Girl out of the ice. Now when Rose makes her LUCk check she'll add your INSight, a 7. You again split up, and tell Rose to tail him to wherever he lives, as it's a little hard for her to use a cell phone, they're bigger then she is!
Unknown to you, Rose gets one from minimum on her LUCk check, working out to be the same as you rolled, a 15! She hates to think you spent that card for nothing, so she spends one of her two XP to have the result re-rolled. The law of averages works out, this time she gets maximum, a 25, and almost without effort finds the kid with the jacket you are all looking for. She turns invisible, a fairy power costing her two energy, and tails him to an apartment building. He's carrying a backpack, so she just hitches a ride on the back until he get home. Lucky for her he seems to be heading home when she see him, so she doesn't get bored and fly off before she figures out his address. Once he goes inside the apartment she makes note of the number and flies off to meet with the others.
"Great job!" you exclaim when Rose tells you the kid's address. "What do you think, should we go right now before he has a chance to leave any other little surprises for people?"
"We can't just go into his house without a warrant," says Clayton. "Even we have to follow the rules. And we have no proof he did it, he just laughed at the situation and left. We'd have to talk to him, either get him to confess or tell us he had nothing to do with it."
"What if he was outside at the time?" asks Jaden.
"Yeah, we could wait for him to leave again, then ask him a few questions. If he runs, we have probable cause to grab him and question him further. If he doesn't, maybe he isn't involved at all."
"So we'll have to wait until tomorrow then?" you say, annoyed.
"Not exactly," says Jaden, looking at Rose, who is currently making a spoon float in the air with magic. "You could get him outside, couldn't you Rose?"
"He's not my type," says Rose, distracted.
"I meant with magic, silly!"
"Oh! You mean with the Tunnel spell. I guess I could."
"Let's go then!" says Clayton, getting up.
You all head over to the apartment complex, and Rose casts one end of Unicorn's Tunnel behind the place, so we can't be seen from the road.
"Get ready to grab him out of there," he says.
"Wait, we can't go in there, that's the point," says Clayton, exasperated. "It doesn't matter if we use the front door or magic to see the inside!"
"Oh, we don't have to set one foot inside the place," says Rose. "What do have this ESPer for, anyway?" She then flitters up to peek into his window and see if he's near a wall.
Clayton nods, he gets what Rose has in mind.
Rose has a 13 on a LUCk check, so he's not as close to a wall as she would like, but it'll have to do. She uses Subtle Casting to hide the effects of casting magic into the room, and speeds it up by 2 segments, giving her a total penalty of -4. She gets a 19 on the subtle casting, and the kid gets a 10 to notice it, so he doesn't. She puts an extra 4 energy into the spell to compensate for the penalty, and gets a 20 to open the tunnel. Through the window she can see the street below, and the kid's head whips around as a hole opens in his wall.
You are waiting on the street next to this glowing section of wall, ready to throw your Telekinesis power through and grab the kid when you see him. Suddenly it opens, and you both make Initiative checks to see who goes first. You put two energy into REFlexes to try and get a better result, and you get a 16. The Narrator doesn't allow him to do so, given he's been taken by surprise, so he can't roll higher then a 15, and you go first. You make a TK check and spend another two energy to activate the power, grabbing him and hauling him through the hole. You don't realize he spends two energy to try and grab onto the bed when he's yanked, but your 17 beats his 16 anyway, and he comes sailing out through the hole. Rose, watching from above, ends the spell the moment he clears it, and flutters down to rejoin the party.
"Stay calm, we just want to talk to you," you say, spending 3 energy on RESolve and rolling Compulsion again. You get a 3, which is pathetic, he doesn't even have to roll to beat that. You resolve to start working on that skill group immediately when you get back. You rolled a 5, but as you're currently still holding him with TK, it's a -2 to every other power you try to use.
"I'm not telling you anything," says the kid. "Now let me go!" He's currently floating in mid air, struggling like a fish on a line, but really he can't go anywhere.
"Look," says Clayton. "We just want to know where you got that Illusion spell from that poor girl ate. You tell us that, and we go on our way and forget we ever saw you. Don't cooperate, and we're taking a little trip down to the station on suspicion of Illegal Magic Usage, which is pretty serious, let me tell you."
"I got rights!"
"Sure you do, and you're young yet. You'll get put in Juvie rather then prison, I'm sure it'll be like a five star hotel for you."
"Watch out," says Rose, "He's a wizard himself."
"Is that so?" says Clayton, Quick Drawing a pistol from his inventory. He got an 18, meaning he reduced his Active Delay by 6, making it appear instantly. "I think my trigger finger is faster then his spell casting though."
"Don't hurt him!" says Rose, flying over and grabbing the gun, trying to pull it so it's not pointing at the kid anymore. She fails of course.
"I won't shoot him," says Clayton, making the kid look relieved. "Anywhere vital." He starts to look nervous again.
"Look, I'll talk, okay? Just don't hurt me!"
"What's going on down there?" shouts a voice from the window above, as the Narrator plays card 29 as a card 12, making things more interesting for the party. "Leave my son alone!" Again, the Narrator plays a card, number 18 this time, and the man at the window suddenly has a hunting rifle.
"Oh crap!" says Clayton, as everyone rolls initiative.
Rose goes first, she rolled really well, and gets her wand out of her inventory. She's right next to the kid, so she grabs onto him. Her delay goes up by 7.
Clayton holds, but brings his gun up and shouts "NCP-PS, sir, drop the weapon and put your hands where I can see them!" Remembering his vow to protect the fairy, he steps in front of the kid as a free action, if that guy shoots the bullet will have to go through him first.
Jaden is up next, and dodges a woman that runs up screaming "Get away from my son!" and swinging a sword seemingly made of ice. "We're NCP-PS ma'am, please put that sword away and let us explain."
You look between the sword wielding madwoman and the gun user and decide the gun user is the bigger threat, so you try to yank the gun out of his hand with TK, using your left hand to make a grabbing motion as your right hand is currently "holding up" the kid. With your -2 penalty you get an 18, and even spending 5 energy, the man only gets a 12 to hold onto it, so it goes flying out of his hands before he even gets a shot off. He glares angrily down at you. Your delay goes up by 8.
Jaden is up, and snaps a kick at the woman's hand, trying to make her lose her grip on the sword. As a called shot she suffers a -3 and gets a 16, the woman puts 5 energy into COOrdination to try and prevent her from hitting, and rolls a 23 with a smirk, easily getting the sword out of the way. Jaden follows it up with an off hand action, forcing the woman to twist her hand away again, and again roll a dodge. She doesn't spend energy this time, and rolls a 7, while Jaden rolls a 10 even with her -5 penalty (-2 for the off hand action, -3 for the called shot) and hits the hand. The woman now makes a STRength check to hold onto the sword, not rolling much better, an 8. The Narrator plays card 24 on her behalf and rolls again, this time getting a 15, so she holds onto the sword. Jaden's total delay for all that is a 12, while the woman on the defensive goes up by 8.
The kid is up, surprised to see the fairy jumping on him, and shouts "Mom, Dad, it's okay, they just want to talk!" He thinks better of casting something himself, the guy with the gun is still standing right there, and he doesn't want any misunderstandings. He holds.
The man at the window seems to have no problem with casting something though, a magic circle surrounding his son as he does so. His deferred delay is a 6, so he'll finish casting then.
However, Rose starts casting on the next segment, and she speeds it up, taking a -4 penalty to her check, but spending 6 energy to make sure she gets it, and getting a 14. The difficulty of Phase is 9, so she and the kid phase out, now unable to be interacted with on a physical level. He is still able to stand on the ground though, it is magic, after all. Her delay rises by 7, and her energy drops to 35.
You feel your Telekinesis on the kid go away, as you can no longer interact with him.
Clayton sees the magic circle around the kid and decides the man is no threat, so turns his attention to the woman. He gets his badge out and holds it up. "We are NPC-PS, put down the sword, right now." As he was holding, his delay is now reset and goes up by 7, his base for the action.
The man finishes casting his own Telekinesis spell, to try and raise his son away from the party, but he can no longer effect his son either, and the spell fizzles. Rose's instinct to protect the boy from physical harm is now working against you.
Rose shouts up to him, "I phased him so he wouldn't get hurt, not to keep him away from you, sorry!" but you aren't sure he hears, she has a tiny voice and he's probably not listening closely right now.
Without having to hold the kid up anymore, you turn your attention to the sword fight, and reach out with your right hand, trying to yank the sword away from the woman. You roll minimum, a 10, while the woman makes her STRength check again with an 11. AARG! You think.
Jaden again attacks, taking her -3 to hit the hand, and connects this time with a 17. The woman fails both her dodge and STRength checks this time, and the sword disappears.
With her weapon gone, she looks over at the badge held by Clayton and seems to register we are all in uniform. She puts her hands over her mouth.
"Oh, I'm so sorry, I didn't realize!"
"Hands on your head!" shouts Clayton.
"Okay, okay, I'm doing it," says the woman, as she does.
"That's more like it," says Clayton. "And what about you sir, any more trouble from your end?"
"No trouble!" he shouted down. "I don't even know what came over me, or where that gun came from."
"Narrator," says Clayton darkly. "Fine. We're coming up and we can straighten all this out." He puts his gun back in his inventory, and somehow fails to notice the rifle doesn't exist anymore.
We march the boy and his mother upstairs, and his father lets us in and introduces himself.
"I'm Kristopher Henrikson," says the man. He properly introduces his wife by saying "This is Debrah, my wife" rather then incorrectly saying "This is my wife, Debrah," putting the fact that she's his wife before the fact she's herself, like so many men would. Some people can be so inconsiderate, but not this guy, no sir! He further goes on to introduce his son as Marcos, and asks what this is all about.
You tell them why you came to New Mexico and ask Marcos what he knows about the spell that caused an entire restaurant to go into hysterics because they thought someone had died.
"I don't know what you're talking about man." he answers, rolling an untrained Deception skill and rolling maximum.
You're pretty sure if you declare a card usage against an NPC they won't notice, unlike the NPCs in the hotel earlier, so you declare card 27 and make a mind read check on the kid. You fail by one, you got a twelve, and he got a 13, but Clayton notices and declares the use of his card 2, giving you enough of a boost to succeed. He wants that information too.
The kid is thinking how hilarious the whole thing was, and can't wait to try another spell out sometime soon.
"Hey," he shouts, "Someone's reading my mind!"
That's the drawback to Mind Read, and why you've never bothered to pick it up until now, your "victim" can feel you probing around so it's really only good for one shot. This time though, it worked out. You speak up. "Yeah, I heard what you were thinking, we know you're guilty."
The parents don't look shocked, in fact they look angry.
"You told me you wouldn't do it any more!"
"Wait, you knew about this?" asks Jaden. She looks around to see where Rose has gone, and bored with the conversation already she's climbed into the large fish tank the couple have and seems to be talking to the fish. Jaden shakes her head.
"We knew he was messing around with Imbuing, his friends all got the idea it would be fun to play pranks on people that way. He told us it had stopped after we found out. I guess it didn't."
"I'll stop now, I promise, don't seal my magic away! It was just us joking around!"
"Joking around?" asks Clayton. "You know some people got cursed because of you botching the Imbuing, you know."
"What?" Marcos seems genuinely surprised, and you make an ESP check on him, getting an 11, but ties go to the defender, so you can't tell his emotions right now. "That must be the ones Hugo worked on. He would never take the extra time to make sure he did it right."
"I see," says Clayton. "Now what's this about sealing powers?" asks Clayton.
"We told him if it didn't stop, we would have his magic sealed until he was an adult and could handle the responsibility. I guess that's what we'll have to do."
"Please, no! I'll get so far behind in my studies!" whines Marcos.
"You should have thought about that before you broke your word," says Kristopher. "You can still practice casting spells, it's just nothing will happen. Your teachers will be able to tell if you did it right and learned the spell properly, so it's no big loss."
"What about his friends?" you ask.
"We'll talk to their parents, of course, or we can give you the names if you want."
"We'll take those names, NPC-PS may want to follow up with you, to make sure everything here is taken care of."
"Of course. I'm really sorry about all this. We tried to keep it from happening, we really did!" says Debrah.
You try an ESP check on her this time getting a 15 to her 9, so you can feel her sincerity. You nod to the others.
"Fine," says Clayton. "Let's have those names and we'll get out of your hair."
They give us the names and Rose dries herself off with magic, and we head back to the hotel, it being too late tonight to follow up with the other people.
"I never realized how boring fish are to talk to," Rose says to Jaden.
"I never tried it before."
"No, I mean why are they boring to talk to?"
"Would you be an interesting person if you were confined to one room and had a memory that lasted less then a minute?"
"I guess not."
The next day we set off to visit the parents of the other kids on the list and make sure they did something to stop this magical pranking, but Rose didn't come with us.
"I'm looking for a magic shop," she explained. "I might as well spend this extra cash while I have it! It'll disappear when we get back to base, so I better do it now. I'll see you all back at the hotel tonight."
So she fluttered off, and we visited the four people on the list and got them to at least promise to do something about their children's behavior. One wizard said an Impair Skill item, created by a PC with a high Saturn skill could guarantee they would always fail imbuing checks. Put into some kind of piercing it would be almost impossible to remove until they turned eighteen, solving the problem. Clayton said he didn't care how they solved it, as long as they did.
Rose came back wearing a tiny copper bracelet, pushed up on one arm, which didn't seem all that impressive to have bought with unlimited money granted her by a card.
"What did you get?" Jaden asked her.
Rose smiled. "Just a little something to help keep me alive. It was pretty expensive, but what did I care? This makes me Invulnerable as long as I wear it, so only magical effects can hurt me. He had to cast shrink on it to make it fit me, but it's perfect now."
"Nice," she says, impressed. "If I ever get that card I'll have to look into something like that."
We made our way back to base, and with the Wild as Disaster Strikes card that had been played on us, granting us an additional three XP, we received nine total, which was quite a bit for our first mission. Of course some got more because of other cards they had turned in before, but all in all, we were quite happy with how our first mission had turned out.