Day 11: Fallen World Chronicle Anthology

Mage: The Awakening, Sales

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Fallen WorldThe Nemean took his lead-heavy hand off my chest. I wept with the terror and joy you might feel after a numb year of living without a soul. The tragedy of Awakened life is that this wasn’t a metaphor. I shook off gray memories and stared at the pores on my palms. They were pointillist etchings on the universe, starkly distinct.

My confused feelings condensed into one of the oldest emotional shapes; the sharp awkwardness you feel when a terrible guy does you a solid.

“Garfield.”

The Nemean’s breath smelled like bloody steak and coffee grounds. He was my terrible guy; the Thyrsus Master who used to run Boston like it was a failed state populated by meth-heads. To be fair, this describes about a quarter of Consilia. Just replace fine Filipino shabu with grimoires and other dangerous trinkets. He played the warlord and took what he wanted until his Silver Ladder, noted believers in benevolent tyranny, knocked him out of power and locked him up in his dreams.

Idiots. Our souls are expert escape artists. It’s why we Awaken. We’re addicts running sorcerous narco-states. I’m a Mysterium Censor; the guy who takes your magical dope, locks up the brown acid and sells you the good stuff, if you can handle it. Or I was. I wondered how many iPhone versions separated today from my last memory.

I felt drool on my chin.

“Garfield?” He tapped the side of my head with one of his big, wrinkled hands. His nails were thick and either black with dirt, or some animal trait he’d fostered in himself.

“Call me Khonsu. Please.” I wiped my face with a shirt sleeve.

“Listen. I found you a durable soul, but it’s still new to you. Avoid sugary foods and existential crises. It’ll eventually feel like you were born with it.” He smiled, all big yellow teeth framed by a gray-red beard. His dreads swayed like willow branches. It wasn’t a hairstyle; I guess losing Hierarchy eliminated certain grooming demands he deemed superfluous.

“Sugary foods?”

“The previous owner had a sweet tooth. It’s a good idea to avoid anything he liked. Otherwise, bad things might happen.”

“What kind of bad things?” When I stood up, pink light cut across my chest in lines that snuck through the shutters. That’s the color of smog and sunset; we were in my LA office, where I pretended to be a private eye.

“The unspecified, ominous kind. The same kind that will definitely befall you if anyone finds out who found you a soul.”

“I get it. I don’t get why.” I felt a wordless, foreign longing for a Mars Bar.

“First, you owe me a favor now. Second, you’re an honorable man, so you won’t try to get out of it by telling anybody where to find me, will you?”

“No sir. What’s the third reason?” There’s always a third reason.

“You need to tell me why you’re dead.”

The “new” World of Darkness (as opposed to the “classic”) has almost no metaplot – we don’t make a habit of describing the characters living in a particular city in one book, then casually mentioning three books later that they’ve all been killed and that their murder was solved five books on. That’s in the game text, but in fiction it’s a different story. The Nemean, tyrant-Heirarch of Boston, was the first Storyteller character designed for Mage: The Awakening, and over the course of the first edition’s book-opening fictions he’s been deposed and imprisoned for crimes against his own Order. Those stories – and others about the Boston Storyteller characters – are the product of long-term Mage freelancer Malcolm Sheppard, who helped design the Boston setting to start with.

When I was putting together the Fallen World Anthology, I knew I wanted another chapter in the Nemean’s story, that acted as a “series finale” for the interconnected Boson stories, provided a springboard for the new edition, and gave new readers a look at Awakening’s setting through the lens of a weird mystery. I asked Malcolm, and his story “The Unmurdered Man” delivered in spades, as the Nemean recruits Khonsu (last seen losing his soul in Left Hand Path’s opening fiction) to discover why multiple dead Khonsus have been turning up all over the USA. The story weaves characters and situations from a dozen books’ opening and chapter fictions together in a celebration of first edition, seeing what old friends have been up to in the years since. I was hooked right from the cold open in this excerpt.

The line about sugary foods and existential crises. That’s Mage, in a nutshell.

The Fallen World Chronicle Anthology PDF is now available for 20% off TODAY ONLY!

  2 comments for “Day 11: Fallen World Chronicle Anthology

  1. Michael Stein
    October 11, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    This was a fantastic little ‘vertical slice’ story for me that touched on a lot of the setting without feeling heavy-handed with the name drops.

  2. NateD
    October 12, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    Damn, that was good! I was waiting for 2E to drop, but now I don’t think I can wait to pick the Anthology up, now… o.O

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