In the charming, downtown mall of Charlottesville, Virginia sits a quiet occult bookstore named Lucky Cat Books. The proprietor is Tala, a middle-aged Filipino woman whose beauty is matched only by her knowledge of the occult. She has two employees who help her run the shop. Jade is a recent UVA grad who works at the Lucky Cat who spends her night building her burgeoning DJ career. Bella is a strange girl – a college drop out who got deep into witchcraft and never looked back. All three are mages, and all three are feeling ok about how life is going.
Until one day, when Tala hears of a new treasure-hunting reality show taking applications for teams of three. There are an assortment of prizes tempting would-be competitors, but Tala’s main interest is simply the chance to stand in the spotlight. And with the talents of her and her friends/employees, she figures they have a decent chance at winning. After talking it over, the three of them send in an application. They get in and just like that they get some friends to watch the shop and head to San Diego to find their 5 minutes of fame.
Tala, Jade, and Bella arrive in San Diego and are taken out to a ghost town in the dessert to wait with a massive crowd of would-be adventurers. Trying to stay cool, in the blistering heat, they idling check out their competitions. Among the families and groups of bros, their interest is vaguely peaked by a group of goths, trying harder than most to stay out of the sun. They also unfortunately spot Kyle, one of Jade’s ex’s from UVA. They try to avoid him, but an awkward reunion happens and Kyle wishes them luck before returning to his two frat brothers.
The group also tries to mingle with the production staff. They approach Sammy, a gangling young man with long, curly hair who pleasantly offers them some lemonade. Bella promptly declines by knocking it out of his hand. She then lays on the guilt, browbeating the poor young man about how horrifically hot it is and how terrible an experience this is for her and her friends. The caterer/aspiring actor is no match for Bella. He doesn’t know a lot, but does know that some other staff were out here earlier hiding things. He can’t tell them where they were, but…um…seeing as how you didn’t rink any lemonade, maybe you should pay close attention to the nearby small lake? You know, because you’re probably thirsty? So it might be a good place to head once things start. And then Sammy escapes.
Finally, the ostentatiously large flatscreen that dominates the central area comes to life and they’re all treated to a personal message from Richard Branson, billionaire and owner of this competition.
“Hello adventurers!” he says with a beaming smile. “In 15__, the conquistadors had driven last of the Incan people to the city of Vilicamba, in what is now Peru. Eventually, they tightened the noose and the Incan civilization was lost to time. Until now! I have in my possession the journal of Nikolas _________ a Spanish soldier who was there when Vilicamba fell. His journal recounts a harrowing tale as he and his men were ordered to pursue the last of the Incan royalty and priests into the Amazon rainforest. The Incans carried with them not only the treasures of their empire, but also their most holy artifacts – artifacts that Spain believe contained strange, magic powers.
“Nikolas and his men spent years hunting the Inca, always one step behind. Eventually, they caught up at a mythic city in the rain forest that they called Chaya. What happened there is not recounted in this journal – only that the city was wondrous and that most of Nikolas’ men died there. After their escape, Nikolas and the four other survivors split up the map, vowing never to see each other again or try to return to Chaya.
“That is where Nikolas’ story ends, and your’s begins! You have all gathered in ten cities around the world. At each location, we have hidden two boxes, each containing a fragment of Nikolas’ journal giving some hint as to where one of his companions may have traveled to after their parting. If your team can find one of those boxes and bring it back to the organizers you’ll have won yourselves a spot on the greatest show in history. You’ll be starting the adventure of your lives, with a chance to win a million dollars and a place in history, not only for your discoveries here, but also as the first human beings to step foot on a comet as next year Virgin Galactic will fly the winners to comet ____________ as it passes near earth in two year’s time. So exciting.
“And with that…begin!”
The crowd around the mages goes crazy, groups running this way and that, scrambling for advantage. Trying not to draw attention to themselves, they move over to the lake…more of a large pond really. They aren’t alone, as several other groups scoured the foliage along the shoreline. Out in the middle, the groups spots something floating, like a makeshift buoy. Something there? Jade volunteers to swim out to investigate. With her athleticism and some chill music to slow down her breathing and heart rate, she should be able to stay under the water and hidden most of the time.
As Jade heads out, the others notice another group grabbing a rowboat from the shore and planning to head out. This group is three very powerfully built, slightly older men with a military look to them. They’ve noticed the buoy too. Thinking quick, Tala attempts to lure them over by playing the pretty-woman-needs-help card. With an enviously stunning figure, heaps of charm, and flashy clothing it’s a card she excels at playing. Two of the men head out on the boat, but one of them comes over the help Tala, slowing their overall efforts. The one helping Tala is very polite and introduces himself as Hank, an ex-Navy guy. Tala claims that she saw the edge of a box under a fallen tree and Hank eagerly shows off by attempting to move the tree by himself. This will take a while.
Meanwhile, Jade reaches the buoy unseen, dives, and discovers a box tied to the bottom. Seeing the boat arrive above her she quickly unties the box and replaces it with one of her shoes. With someone about to dive in on top of her, she takes her prize and presses herself against the bottom of the boat, hoping to remain undetected. The nazy guys find the shoe, much to their disappointment, and head back. Jade hitches a ride, trying her best to stay hidden and hold her breath. When they reach the shore, Jade is forced to show herself and stumbles to her feet, preparing herself to fight to keep the box. No fight happens though – the navy guys are courteous and frankly impressed that she swim that distance and held heard breath for so long. They make it quite clear that they regard her as a badass and wish her and her team the best of luck before heading off to look for one of the remaining prizes. Hank realizes that Tala duped him with her feminine wiles and feels sheepish about it, but also congratulates her.
The mages head back to the organizers tent and are greeted as the first victorious team. They’re shown to an air conditioned trailer and meet Tom, their guide. Guide goes through some of the details of the reality show:
- This is free-form and not staged. There won’t be games or anything like that. Every team gets $100,000 for travel and the first team to find Chaya wins.
- Team Lucky Cat is free to head out whenever they want.
- Tom will travel with them, but isn’t allowed to help. He’ll be recording, taking confessionals, and when absolutely necessary ensuring the team’s safety in dangerous parts of the world.
They learn that Tom is also ex-military and all around a pretty chill guy. They also choose to stay for a few minutes to see what other teams win in the San Diego group.
As they wait, they open their box and reveal:
(Nikolas’ note on Leandro)
So…Nepal? How exciting!
The next team to show up in a group of hope native americans, lead by an extremely gregarious young man named Ahote. Bella says hi, but is a bit thrown off by Ahote’s friendliness and the rest of his team’s wariness.
The third team is the goths! The mages don’t introduce themselves though – that group seems a little standoffish. At this point, there’s some commotion and they get Tom to tell them that there was an accident with the fourth box. Apparently a group of college kids found it, but were assaulted by another team. They were rescued by the navy guys Lucky Cat met earlier. Now the orgnaizers are trying to figure out what to do while the authorities look for the assaulting team. An ambulance rolls up and Jade has mixed emotions as they see Kyle taken away, with what looks like a few broken bones.
After things settle down, Tala does a Tarot reading to discover what the most auspicious day for travel is. It turns out it’s still a few days out, so the team takes a couple days to relax, shop for cold-weather gear, and research Spanish explorers.
—————————–WORK IN PROGRESS—————————-
Fly to Nepal. Taxi waiting to take them to Bratang. The village elder meets them, shows them to lodge. Shady Columbians. Prashanth. Friendly Canadians pushing their Tea. The Tea is definitely off. Next day they find a Sherpa and head out. Looooooooooooooong trip up the mountain. They realize they’re being tailed by another group and that groups has rifles (wtf) and no guide. Bella’s scrying. Tala tries to slow them down. They arrive at the burial site to find Xiaomei and her Guide. Tala investigates. Jade tries to steal Xiaomei’s hair for Bella, but gets kung-fu greeted. The Ukrainians arrive. Everyone jumps off the cliff and two Ukrainians follow. Tom helps Bella and Xiaomei helps Tala. One has “bad luck” and splats a tree. The other throws a grenade that Tala disables for a second, but then blows up to kill the Ukranian. Everyone makes it to the bottom. They find the journal. Bella translates. Xiaomei thanks them and goes on her way. The others return. Tala tells the Indian girl that Prashanth is a jerk. They make plans to head to Norway.
The locals are pissed. Everything is on lockdown. An african team was mauled by wolves. Block and Tackle are there. They meet Bridgette, who is icy. They meet Wallace the dog. The go to the pub and learn the Ballad of Leandro. They meet some other teams. Catty french girls. FBI, one of which is bald. People get drunk and crash. Next day, they go to the next town over to get on a chopper. Zorn follows them. Pepper trick. Mind meld. Werewolves! Bridgette! They don’t take a chopper. Instead they go find a shaman to help them with wolves and get a Sjoflut. Return to town. Talk to Bridgette. Organize moot in the mountains. Put Tom to sleep. Meet the Get. Bella agrees to a blood pact. She can summon two Get and they won’t kill her. They swear that when they find Caya that they seal it from the modern world. Block and Tackle ask for help – Lucky Cat tells them about the african clues and make plans for the Phillipines. Tell Tom about naked rituals.
They get inside info on the Phillipines from Tala’s distant relatives. They head there and things are bad on the plane. There’s a typhoon over Manila that should turn the plane back, but it doesn’t because the pilot fucked up and doesn’t have enough fuel. Things get bad quickly. Tala prays for luck, Jade slows time, and Bella mind controls the pilot into letting a WWII vet fly. Things work out. There, they find Prashanth again, continuing to be him. They take off for the devil’s mountain. They end up finding a cave where everyone was…but no one is. Time magic reveals what happened with Tango. The group finds the rift and decides to descend.
World of the dead! All Incan, even though they’re in Asia. They’re chased by a spectral panther, heading for a bubble of light outside a city. They leave bread crumbs to find their way back. Approaching the bubble, they’re saved by Euthanatos. They’re welcomed by It-X guy. They explain what’s going on and the other supernaturals present. Bella scries Tango, Raphael, and the Umoi. It-X guy switches with his mech so she can help deal with Tango. Bella gets into one of Tango’s minds (through the comb) and gets him to run away, but the demon retrieves him. Then Bella gets him to screw up the ritual. Things go to shit. Euthanatos guy gets the Umoi to come with him, but is accosted by birthday monster. Indian girl, Euthanatos master, and mech ride out to face it. The demon assualts the bubble, killing It-X. What happens to her? Everything becomes terrible. The Indian girl comes back with the Unmoi. Mages lead the group back to the river and to escape. Tom has things explained to him. It-X manages the cleanup. Euthanatos takes the Indian girl.
Dar el Salam
Group heads to Tanzania. Mafia Island. They go to museum, meet creeper who gives them offer. They contact Xiaomei, who steered clear and is now in Skulsjord. They ask for Bridgitte. She doesn’t know much about africa, but recommends maybe looking for Ajaba? Travel to mainland. Contacted by Japanese team. Go on Safari (with great luck). Find a mokle, then the corax. Wereduck?! Learn that the african werecreatures have faught Father Night and now the new order. Learn more about Empty Men. Decide to try to trap the guy. Ask him to come to the mainland (better feng shui). Set trap in hotel. Japanese bodyguard is captured, but tracked through his hair. When they show, fire alarm is pulled while the mages go to their staging boat. They send in the werelions (watching through scrying). Lions kill one guard, but the other is a demon. Beats them up. Business Lion screams a lot. Jade slows time, helps Lion hold out until the shark shows up and devours the demon. They all run (especially cheetahs).
Rokea vomits up the demon into a devil’s trap on the beach. Business lion determines that the demon could break free of his controller with sufficient power, which will require a soul. (Was that his or Bella’s?) They decide to let the demon keep his other souls as a show of good faith. The demon explains about the prisoners. Offers to rejoin Severo and spy. Group wants to fly to Bolivia. Jacob wishes them luck. Ambushed at the airport, Jacob is shot. They run to their plane, tripping up their pursuers. Board plane, eat hair, take off. Weresnake intervenes, tears door open. Tom and Jade try to stop them. Snake spits at them. Grabs Jade and they tobble. Jacob dives after them. Bella sniffs venom, goes blind. But gets Nagah to let go of Jade. Jacob catches her and returns to plane. Groups goes to Boliva.
In Bolivia, things are locked (sort of). Go Lucky Cat! Safety protocols after Manila. Out on the town, the group is shot at! Seemingly aimed specifically at Bella. They escape. They learn about the gang, but decide not to pursue that. That night, Bella’s mind is invaded by ‘the surgeon.’ Drives him out with dinosaurs, like you do. Jacob returns, reports on Amazon. The next day, everyone is going to be flown into the Amazon in order of execution. They chill with Canadians. Link up with Xiao Mei (details). The next day, Xiao Mei’s plane explodes. They go anyways.
They land and start on the river. There’s a war on. They find a massacre. Fomori. Werewolves. They find an injured man (wolf). They appeal to the panther. (how did all of this work?) Panther wants help against the pursuers, Tala blesses him but they can’t do much else. Jacob stays behind to help. They dive into the cave, setting it up to collapse after them.
Traveling through the cave. They find evidence of both groups. They find Victor’s skull. They take the correct path. And then…a night club? Jade goes in, gets trapped. The others are outside. Severo approaches. Tom fires, but gets torn up. (Sjoflute gets destroyed) They retreat into the club. Kyle is there. Jade uses her celebrity to get backstage. Danger Mouse is on stage. Severo comes in and blows things up. Duel. Groups appears on stage. Demon is there, wrecking things. Demon turns on Severo, but is wrecked. Jade applies some harmony and they WUB WUB Severo out the back wall. He’ll be back. Danger Mouse retreats into a vinyl disc. The group takes the disc, puts the crowd to sleep, and retreats. They release the demon after getting his message.
They go through the door and find Chaya. A lush jungle! Part spain, part Inca, part carribean. They identify the focal points and resonance. First to Valencia. Asks Nikolas about Severo. Umoi takes over. Starts arming the populace – going to war. Sends them on a sloop to Protection. Vinyl disc is greeted by soldiers, taken to bed. Then they meet with the admiral. Admiral explain about how some of them left with Severo, never to return. Admiral goes to get curiosity (panther) and asks them to get angry Umoi. They do so, in helicopters. Then to comfort island on back of quetz. Battle plan. Lucky Cat shirt launcher. Umoi will assault, mages will flank.
They fly. Caught by Tango’s demon. (There’s a fight? Tom is misogynist) Keep going. Confront Severo and ngihtmare boy. He shoots them down by unweaving the Umoi magic. They’re caught by Xiao Mei. Big fight. Spectral raptors vs abomination. Raptor wins because of shirt launcher. Awesome ending fight sequence. Everyone wins.
Yes, seal vs new people. Bella wants to talk to Curiosity more. Tom will fake the cave collapse.