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World of Darkness - Mage the Awakening - The Silver Ladder

World of Darkness - Mage the Awakening - The Silver Ladder

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Published by: Scrambled Words on Dec 27, 2012
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04/14/2014

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1
 
By Stephen DiPesa, Jess Hartley, John Newman, Alex Scokel, Malcolm Sheppard,Ethan Skemp and John Snead  
THe Silver
ladder
 
2
 
T
he
age
 
is 
 
The
ion 
’ 
h
earT
He dreams like a Master, in layers as deep and strongas the rings o an eon-old tree. Every part o him isdivided into wood-clad cells. Each one contains a vi-sion, a secret and a plan. His mind’s eye bores throughconcentric chambers with the ease o an impossiblysharp, white-hot steel drill, down to a rotten hollowin the pale heartwood o his mind. Behind the nallayer a brick road and sputtering streetlights rame ableeding young man who writhes on broken bones.Bright blotter paper crawls rom his let hand at thebehest o a sickly wind. Printed bears and skulls: LSD.It’s why the bikers beat him so badly, to what
should
 have been death, i not or magic.The wounded man also dreams. He was Mark Longwhen it all looked like this, in ’68. He is the Nemean,the Master, who crouches to inspect his younger sel’sace.They’re not alone.
• • •
“Fuck the Buddha.”In Cormant House, silence hits like a cleaver. Magesdodge its arc, away rom the meeting table, but droptheir conversations to listen in. At one end the monks,mages rom an obscure, well-heeled Asian Legacy,discipline their expressions, but a ew tics hit ater the Nemean’s insult. They shit their chairs and smooththeir robes to buy a bit o thinking time. One o thembreathes his way to a serene smile and opens his mouthto talk, but the Nemean chops the opportunity downwith one o his big hands.“Make no mistake; I’m not saying this in an ironic,mystical ‘kill the Buddha on the road’ vein. I want youto understand that I hate your religion.”The monk stops smiling.“When the Buddha Sakyamuni was born, a sageprophesied that he’d grow up either to be a great teacheror to rule the world as a ‘wheel-turning king,’” says the Nemean. “Priest or emperor? What a stupid question,to orce a man to make himsel a slave to win moralapproval. My answer to your proposal is no. You won’tbe allowed to set up your racket…”“Monastery!” blurts the interrupted monk.“Shut up. Ax, show them out. Drag them all theway back to China i you have to.”Anacaona de Xaragua helps the oldest monk tohis eet.Two guests slip away early. They trade rowns allthe way to the car. She traces a rune on her braceletbeore she gets in. He hits the gas, turns to her andsays, “That went well. I always wanted to make en-emies in Asia.”“They’re not our enemies. They’re
his
.”“He’s Hierarch.”“Not or long. We’ll meet at the Emerald Scroll. Ithink tonight was the last straw. He was
 pointlessly
rude.Did you talk to the Arhats? Scrolls, Artiacts, money –they’d share it all or the sake o a oothold here. Callthe committee. We’ve got to use this opportunity
now
 beore he bribes and threatens it away.”
• • •
“See him? See your rst and greatest vision, rippedrom the gods under the shadow o death? It’s an ancientcustom, to attain Awakening with a oot in the grave.The voice is bodiless and mufed. There’s a amiliarquality to it that irritates the Nemean.He looks around but can see nothing out o place.It was a cold night back in ’68 so he dreams himsel up a thick wool robe.“Grave or gutter, I guess,” he says. “This is yourthird visit, isn’t it? Good. There’s always a revelationthird time around. Like you said, it’s the custom. It’sthe way dreams work.”“Yeah, it’s about dreams. It’s time to revisit thisone: being Mark, helpless ater they hurt you, blindlyclimbing your Watchtower to escape and rebuildyoursel.”“‘Blindly?’ Sure. Add ‘stupidly.’ Mention ‘luck’ inthere. I didn’t earn Awakening. It just happened onits own. I searched, did the witchcrat trip. Mother Nature, ree love — it was all wrong.“That’s the trouble, Voice.” The Nemean rownsor want o a proper name. “I cast the Stymphalianrom Hierarchy and took his seat as easy as you please.I trapped a werewol chietain in the Empty House,even stole a scale rom the Aeon Snake. But it means
nothing 
; I didn’t win my Awakening with thought andwill. The drug-abusing, delusional hippie down therejust
 fell
into it, running rom his voices, rom theconsequences o dropping out. I can’t accept unearnedrewards any more than I can give them.”The voice laughs. “So that’s why you’re a terribleHierarch.”

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