It all started with Kristofe – 40-something hippy in a commune at a permanent music festival in the Shadow “Albion Dreaming”.
Rumours of a new drug called “Bliss” – excellent high – bringing back a blissful memory. His friend Finnella (40-something earth mother hippy) decided to take some and had a great trip – but weirdly, when Kristofe touched her, he got a flash of her hallucinations.
He doesn’t usually take drugs but was intrigued. Followed the dealers – mimes wearing theatrical happy-face masks. They were operating out of a marquee belonging to Madam Talia – fortune-teller.
He went in and met the young woman running the show. She started to give him a reading with cards that seemed similar to Trumps (cold) but she suggested it would be a better reading if he took a little Bliss. Despite his misgivings, Kristofe drank some and experienced heightened memories of his time walking the pattern – the moment of relief and joy when he made it to the middle.
Talia had leant forward and was touching his forehead (presumably to experience what he was dreaming). He tipped the chair over and tried to get away but she said “He is one of them” and then her mimes started to grab him. As he pulled out of the vivid dream, a blast of pattern-hallucination erupted from him, affecting the festival goers for about 100 yards around, sending them into a shuddering bliss fit. Only Talia and her mimes were unaffected. She clearly wanted to take him alive and after a tough fight (she pulled a knife but had to avoid killing him) the mimes beat him unconscious.
In the nearby Shadow of “Camelot Del Morte”.., the young Prince of Chaos – Merlin was heading to his rooms for a much-needed shower and sleep.
This high-tech version of the Round Table was far from restful since Guinevere had infected the Battle Armour of the Round Table Knights with a techno-organic virus, converting them to her service. They had just managed to stop Lancelot from breaking in and killing Prince Mordred.
Before he could reach his own chambers, he was disturbed to hear music – not the synth-harps of Camelot, but what sounded like a Beatles number. Out in the courtyard, a glittering crack (a few feet wide) had opened up in the grass and light and sound were coming through.
He ran out and was surprised to find the other inhabitants of the castle were unaware of it. It was a hole to another shadow but the bright light shining into the darkness of the stormy night made it hard to see the details.
He extruded Logrus Tendrils, one with an eye and sent it through the crack. A blinding pain as the Logrus Tendril touched the glittering side (it was filled with Pattern energy!). Carefully keeping the Tendril in the centre of the hole, he peered down at the field of writhing, moaning bodies below. They all seemed to be in a trance of ecstasy apart from four mimes carrying a rolled-up carpet.
The tendrils grabbed the carpet and began to lift it. The carpet swung off and Merlin was soon holding an unconscious man by the ankle, trying to reel him in. The Tendrils were transmitting pain as the stranger seemed to be infused with Pattern energy too. Kristofe awoke and at first tried to wriggle loose but then realised he was being lifted to safety, away from the mimes and Madam Talia. As he was pulled up through a hole in the air, he flopped gasping alongside his rescuer on the rain-sodden lawn and the crack between the shadows closed with a snap.
After thanks and introductions, they realised they had much in common. Kristofe half-intended to lie low for a while as Talia had proven to be a skilled combatant, but Merlin suggested they join forces to investigate. This ability to rupture the veil between shadows seemed very unusual. They agreed to return to Albion to confront Talia together.
On horseback, they made it back to Albion within a day, but found that time played tricks on them and 3 days had passed in Albion. Talia and her mimes had fled immediately after the “incident”. Police were called and were still investigating – some kind of hallucinogenic gas? Hundreds of festival goers were totally KO’d on Sunday afternoon. Finella and many of the other people who had taken Bliss were having a bad crash.
They posed as forensics guys to get access to the taped-off tent. Inside Kristofe found a hidden card, buried in the mud under the tent. The cards had been scattered when they fought and it seems Talia had had to flee quickly after the mass incident caused by Kristofe’s pattern-trip.
As well as the Trump Card (of Talia’s sister) they found evidence that the drug was mainly water, but containing a few drops of blood from Talia. There was also evidence that she painted her own cards.
Kristofe tried to make contact through the card and spoke with an unhappy-looking young woman in a tragedy mask, who asked “What have you done to my sister?” When Kristofe said she was in trouble, the woman told him to call again in a hour” then hung up.
The local police had tracked the mimes to a Transit Van painted with psychedelic colour swirls. They had video footage of the van heading over the downs but no footage of it arriving at the other end. They had searched every side road and farm out-building but the van seemed to have vanished without trace.
Kristofe tried calling back but found that “Tragedy” appeared to have been in touch with her sister and got the whole story. They spotted that she was simply trying to keep Kristofe talking long enough to draw a Trump Sketch of him. They cut the communication, hopefully in time.
Borrowing a Hillman Imp from one of Kristofe’s friends, they drove over the downs and looked for a Shadow Trail. They were able to track it across a few shadows and found themselves in Shadow Earth, on the edge of Coventry, England. Being modern times, they were able to track the mimes by searching for them on social media. They tracked the enemy down to a field (more carnival tents) near Baginton Airport. After a night in a Travel Lodge and a haircut for Kristofe, they reached the enemy camp and snuck around to listen through the canvas.
On the way Merlin had reached into nearby shadows to fetch weapons – a gun for himself and a taser for Kristofe.
They did some tendril scouting under the canvas and found Talia casting some spell on four of the mimes, just before they steped into the main chamber to perform. They broke in while the mimes were performing and learned just how difficult it was to subdue a trained swordswoman. The battle lasted a couple of minutes and there were plenty of mobile phone cameras to capture it – expecially at the end when Merlin transformed into his Demonic Form – 8 foot tall, black-chitonous skin – to take Talis hostage and escape. Kristofe limped away, nursing a twisted knee and a sprained ankle while Merlin ran off pursued by the press and carrying the unconscious and bound Talis over his shoulder. Merlin finally escaped into storm drains.