Into the Abyss

"Into the Abyss"
Candela Obscura episode
"Into the Abyss" (CO4x03) thumbnail featuring Liam O'Brien, Alexander Ward, and Imari Williams.
Episode no.Chapter 4, Episode 3
AirdateApril 25, 2024 19:00 PT
Running time5:33:47
Links and related articles
Episode chronology
Previous
"The Gilded Graveyard" (CO4x02)
Next
Candela Obscura

"Into the Abyss" (CO4x03) is the third and final episode of the fourth chapter of Candela Obscura, following the Circle of the Crimson Mirror. Something primordial stirs within the depths of Oldfaire, as the Circle of the Crimson Mirror searches for missing allies.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Part I[edit | edit source]

There is a red sky and sun over a vast, proud city with arches and gleaming roads. An old man with sallow skin stands on a peak above the walls of the city and calls out in an unknown language, holding a staff. Huge numbers of troops muster below. From the perspective of the vision, one soars up and dives down towards the troops, and the warriors below begin bleeding from their eyes. Their organs liquify. A different voice calls out and stops the massacre of the soldiers, and the sky becomes dark.

Malcolm Trills wakes up in his room in the Fourth Pharos, uneasy from nightmares and his worries about his family obligations, as well as his desire to keep the party safe. He has not been sleeping well, and is unsure if it's just the worry and exhaustion, or something else. Atia Griffia's remains have been confirmed to be complete and are now in the Pharos's vault, but the first few days of the Circle of the Crimson Mirror's time after fleeing from the Sacred Ascension Cemetery were difficult. Grimoria, initially bedridden, remembered seeing her mother's body after the destruction of Westecklyn, and thinks about how she developed her powers and how that was what initially brought her to Candela Obscura. She still does not have answers for many of her questions, and as a result of the scar she took, she is now having much more intense flashbacks. She feels unmoored from the present and is worried that she might encounter the souls of her dead parents in her experiences.

Edgar Lycoris worked with Hector Aguilar to help Grimoria and Leo Amicus in their recovery. He gave the wallet of the man he killed with a brick to Zora Manning to help ID him, but has been dwelling on how he has twice had to kill people despite his profession to save people who are not his family. He continues to think of Elizabeth's disappearance and how he killed the man who might have had answers about what happened to her, and is not sleeping. Leo, meanwhile, had been unresponsive for the first several days. The clock used in the ritual had been a birthday gift from his sister from a curiosity shop. When he finally comes back to himself, he still feels disoriented and as if he is crumbling.

Zora is able to identify the man Edgar killed as Duncan Webb, using the pseudonym William Criswell. Webb is linked to EONS as well as the Halen special forces, and Malcolm recognizes the serial number on the glove as belonging to the conventions of his family's munition's factories. He finds the glove's functioning to be similar to how the rest of his squadron disappeared. All of the circle other than Leo find themselves awkwardly absent from their professions again.

The circle advances and uses their final resources.

On a trip out from the Fourth Pharos while the others are recovering, Malcolm decides to seek out his family. They have very carefully connected themselves to other powerful families through a number of politically advantageous marriages. Malcolm recognizes his father won't be welcoming, but his sister or mother might be kinder, despite his effective excommunication, and decides to send a message to his mother. In the meanwhile, he has begun to feel somewhat unwell, with a burning sensation behind his eyes and inner ears, and has been on edge. His mother agrees to meet him on a bench in a corner of Regent Park. When the two meet, she tells him that he looks like he hasn't been taking care of himself and mentions the encounter he had with Desmond at the auction. When Malcolm questions her about the auction, she only says it was an investment. Malcolm mentions that there were lives lost in the events of the auction and a strange phenomenon occurred, and also mentions the R&D equipment and alludes to the glove. In response, his mother tells him to come back to the family so that she can tell him, but he tells her that he can't; while she and his sister Adonia would welcome him, his father and Desmond would not. He offers to provide her with information in exchange, but she tells him to consider her offer for a few days instead.

Edgar goes to check on Leo's hand once Leo is no longer catatonic, and the two initially talk around what happened before Leo states that the room in which he injured his hand was the one in which he nearly died and in which his sister did die; his family did not cut him off in response but did "hush him away" while still providing for him. He thanks Edgar for saving them, and for taking actions he knows Edgar does not want to do, calling him a bad liar. Edgar in turn shares that he has also been trying to say goodbye to his sister, and shows Leo some of his scars, all burns in the shape of handprints. They are from Elizabeth trying to hold on to him, or at least are in the shape and size of her hands, though he doesn't remember it; he only woke up burned on the steps of his house and everyone assumed he was in shock at the time and disbelieved his story. Decklan had been the first person to believe him which brought him into Candela; Edgar tells Leo he believes he's ruined his chance to finally learn what happened. Leo jokes about madness before admitting he woke up from the incident with the clock institutionalized, and was also disbelieved when he shared his story. The two agree their situations aren't fair, and that they've both kept the stories behind the losses of their sisters largely to themselves for years; Leo has only told Grimoria the full story. Edgar makes a dark joke about Grimoria's potential death, and the two both note the likelihood of their own deaths.

Upon returning from the Pharos, Grimoria sends a note to the Foggs asking if she can come home, and stays with Leo in the meantime. After a day or so she receives a return message at The Endless Well that reads "where and when", which she finds confusing. Leo tells her she can take whatever time she needs; she does not need to work for them, and he he doesn't trust them. Grimoria recalls her happy childhood before the Last Great War and tearfully tells Leo she feels like she was forced to grow up very quickly and now feels like she's getting younger. Leo comforts her and tells her to recall her real parents and that they will figure something out. Edgar arrives in Leo's apartment soon after, and Malcolm after him. Edgar checks on all of them but admits he is untrained in their supernatural medical symptoms.

The Circle is summoned by Kahn, a Candela member, into the Fourth Pharos, and walks them through the vault, where they see several phenomena as well as the astrolabe, and finally leads them to a small room with tea where Zora is waiting. She appears to have been crying, and after asking them to take a seat, tells them that Decklan died in the night. She and Malcolm acknowledge that he may be affected by the same affliction. Zora also tells them that Decklan's circle, the Circle of the Wyrm, has still not returned. She explains that for years, Candela Obscura as well as treasure hunters had been chasing a legend about an ancient Oldfairen vault built by Calinus, and recently, a circle had found it. The Circle of the Wyrm had been tasked to go through the vault and had been reporting back regularly until recently, and Zora fears that they might be trapped, or worse. She composes herself and gives the Circle of the Crimson Mirror their assignment, to either find and rescue them, or learn what happened to them as well as, possibly, to Decklan. She tells them that one member of the circle, Professor Alessandra Gregory, is still in Newfaire researching at Briar Bank College and is their contact, and that she'd seen Decklan before he left for the Isle of Serenity. When Grimoria asks Zora if she has any of Decklan's effects that she can use to sense what happened to him, Zora gives her a necklace she'd once given to Decklan and which he had returned to her as a gift of their friendship. Grimoria is able to see a vision of Decklan in Hallowharbor, looking happy. The group discusses the powder that was blown at Malcolm, which Dr. Aguilar has confirmed is related to Decklan's condition and wonders if the source was Oldfaire or Serenity.

Everyone goes to see Decklan's body as he is put in the vault. Leo asks before they leave how common this is, and Zora tells him that it does happen, before taking a drink. Edgar inspects the body and sees Decklan's head has caved in somewhat, crusted over with white matter, which extends down to the chest; the destruction appears to be along the path of the respiratory tract. Dr. Aguilar brings him a mask and apron so he can take samples and the two discuss how rapid the decomposition is and worry about the possibility of more widespread contamination. Afterwards, Edgar pulls aside Grimoria, and tells her the powder could be affecting Malcolm and that if he begins behaving strangely, she should avoid him. The group then leaves the Fourth Pharos and takes a carriage from Leo's flat to the Varnish to a brownstone building. Alessandra, a woman in her early 40s, answers and invites them in. The circle notes a number of interesting sketches in the building. Alessandra tells them a little about her circle's work, and the Circle of the Crimson Mirror somewhat abruptly breaks the news of Decklan's death to her at which she rapidly excuses herself for a moment. As they wait, Grimoria notices a journal of Decklan's and tries to sense more. As Alessandra returns, Grimoria sees a picture fall out of the journal, showing their circle. Alessandra returns, composing herself, and updates the circle; she only saw Decklan briefly when he left for Serenity. The group had been taking breaks from the difficult work of going through the vault, and while he seemed a little anxious and worn out, he otherwise seemed normal and was just going home to recooperate for a bit. Grimoria continues to look at the journal, which mentions some of the artifacts and an injury Decklan incurred from one of them. Alessandra elaborates: they've been going slowly and carefully, but have also been fairly lucky, and when they ask her about the powder, she is unfamiliar. Leo believes Alessandra to be honest in this. She shows them a picture of her circle: their spiritually connected member is Alonzo Whitlock, and others include Nestor Ronquillo, Maryanne DeWitt, and Hilda Greenwald. She tells everyone that they have experienced delays or dangers before, but never one this long.

Edgar tells her there is no evidence Decklan's condition was from Oldfaire and not Serenity, and the group decides to get going, with Alessandra leading them as she has the supplies and is familiar with the terrain. Edgar briefly considers contacting his father, also a professor at Briar Bank, but decides against it. Alessandra leads them to the basement of the brownstone, where all the Circle of the Wyrm have been staying, where there is a pit with scaffolding around it and supplies in the staging area. Edgar and Leo gather provisions and medical supplies; Malcolm and Grimoria take rifles, and all take lanterns. Alessandra drops down into the pit and tells the group to follow her and not to go to the right. As they do, they see she has landed on a roof, and they can see some faint lights in the distance. They travel through the city of Oldfaire; at one point, while passing a fountain, Alessandra places a small toy on it fountain and ushers the others past, and Grimoria sees the ghost of a child take the toy. They continue, hearing the subway overhead, noticing landmarks such as the city square as well as a number of markers along the path Alessandra is taking. She stops and counts the arches in the square before leading them to The Endless Descent, a massive staircase with 20-foot-tall steps and a series of rope ladders leading down. Leo notices a beehive pattern and carvings of unfamiliar cities on the sixth step that look neither like anything modern nor like Oldfaire itself. They freeze briefly when they hear a distant clicking, then continue down more stairs. On the 36th stair they see an encampment with sealed tents that appear to be outdated in their construction by at least several decades; when they hold their lanterns, shadows of people appear in the tents and move strangely. The whispers in Grimoria's head pick up and ask her to stay; she is reminded of hiding during the destruction of Westecklyn and the shadows of vaporized people she saw after. Leo notices an old Steedwell logo on one of the packs; he begins to reach in but the sound of the clock ticks in his head and he pulls his hand out. Alessandra tells them she's unsure if they're a long-lost Candela circle or unaffiliated treasure hunters.

The group continues down more stairs until they reach a massive underground forest, and Alessandra tells them they are halfway to the vault, though the stairs continue. Leo uses his Bleed detector on Malcolm, and detects a faint amount of bleed. When the Leo asks what to do if this becomes a problem, Malcolm tells them they have rifles and he should do what he needs to do, though Leo is reluctant. They pass the forest and eventually come to a crevice in a stone wall. Alessandra tells them she's taking them on a shortcut, which was created possibly due to a shift in the city, natural or otherwise. Edgar asks who originally found the vault, and Alessandra is unsure. They continue into a low-ceilinged cave and reach a very tight space they have to drag themselves through on their stomachs. Alessandra goes first and tells them to stow their lanterns. Malcolm follows and the action aggravates the knife wound in his stomach, and is able to get through but not without some agitation. Grimoria is able to go through and as she does, recalls being told to hide in the cellar during the war and also becomes anxious. Leo similarly tears his clothes and hears the clock tick and flashes back, but manages to tell himself this isn't real and silences the sound of the clock. Edgar scrapes his burn scars and begins to panic, and Gregory is able to calm him. They continue to a slot canyon-like gap at which Gregory becomes worried; there is usually a rope there but the stake on their side has been ripped out. She gives Malcolm the rope and makes her way through, jamming her back against one side of the canyon and her feet on the other, and ties off the rope to a stake on the other side.

The circle of the Crimson Mirror links themselves with the rope and make their plans to cross, with Leo leading, then Grimoria, Malcolm, and Edgar, in the hopes that if Malcolm falls he won't drag the others down. Leo immediately falls, but everyone manages to hold and allow him to regain his footing. Grimoria and Malcolm are also able to cross, but Edgar struggles before injuring himself and passing out. They are able to pull him in. Malcolm uses some of Edgar's medical supplies to bring him back to consciousness, though he has a head wound, and Leo notes that Malcolm's Bleed seems slightly stronger. Alessandra helps Edgar along as they keep going; Grimoria senses danger. They reach a flat stone area they recognize as the vault and Alessandra tells them to look around. They don't notice any people, though there is a conch shell on a pedestal in one room that Alessandra tells them was the last place she saw the others. Leo looks for footprints and notices a number of them, and Malcolm activates the Bleed detector in his hand. Leo notices that there are five sets of tracks going deeper in and one set coming out; the one coming out looks older, and might be Decklan's. Alessandra is worried about how deep they're going on, and when Malcolm rests a hand on Leo's shoulder, Leo notes that it's tighter than it should be. Malcolm then takes the lead, despite feeling off.

The reach large golden doors that are cracked open, and they believe they can see a hand on the ground. Alessandra runs forward and begins sobbing, and as the others catch up, they find the entire Circle of the Wyrm dead in a bloody tableau. The room is round, with a large stone face in an Oldfairen style on the far wall. The circle is splayed around the room. Maryanne, whose body is full of puncture wounds, has a revolver that is pointed towards Alonzo, who has been shot in the back of his head. He is weaponless, but Hilda also has a bullet wound in her chest, and Nestor's throat is slit; Hilda is holding a knife. Grimora tries to sense Alonzo's soul or anything he has left, and he feels close, but also muted and strange compared to her usual experiences. As Alessandra joins her for a moment, Leo notices thin grooves in the wall by Hilda and Nestor. He also notices some white growth in a corner of the room and tells everyone to back up. They begin to, but they notice Alessandra looking blankly towards the statue. She puts her hand into its mouth at which point blood spurts out and the floor suddenly gives way, everyone falling into darkness.

Part II[edit | edit source]

Edgar is the first to come to, finding himself on an angled floor near a hallway with an arched roof, covered in the white fungus. He sees his three circle members in a heap at the bottom of the angled floor, as well as Alessandra, her face split on the stones, clearly dead. Leo is conscious and on top of the other two, and Edgar first makes his way to him and confirms he can still move - Leo is in pain, but not immobilized. Grimoria begins to come to as well; her arm is pinned under her body and likely broken, but she also is able to get up. Malcolm, on the bottom, wakes up last; his headache has worsened, and his shoulder is also injured. They are able to slowly all get up. Before they do, Leo, lying on the floor, notices there is a ladder built into the walls and ceiling, and also notices something seems to be moving down towards them along the ladder. The circle decides to take their chances through the hallway. It opens up into a giant cave even more full of the fungus, with a domed building covered in the white growth within it. They notice the sound behind them continue to draw closer, and Grimoria and Leo notice something the same color as the fungus moving from within it. Malcolm prepares to start burning it but Edgar cautions him against it. Suddenly, another fungus creature opens up, revealing a red interior, with a red tendril emerging, and it rushes them.

Grimoria channels Atia in order to guide them. Everyone notices more creatures coming and the sound behind them continuing to approach. As Atia tells her "We will not bind him; we will break him",[1] Grimoria notices the massive doors of the building. Malcolm and Leo begin to work on opening the doors as Edgar puts on the glove he had taken in the last fight, believing it to have one remaining charge. Malcolm and Leo are successful and the party enters; the building is also full of the white fungus as they find themselves in a large room with a number of doors, with various amounts of the growth on them. There is an oblong shaped object at an angle in the center, also coated in the white fungus. As Malcolm looks for an exit point, there is a sudden release of something sweet in the room that makes everyone's eyes burn. The room seems to shift and become warm, and everyone's vision swirls and they begin to see red.

Grimoria looks around and cannot see any of the others, only a red desert landscape. She tries to connect to Atia, and sees a dark shape that says, "He almost wiped us out once and now he will do it again."[2] Leo also finds himself alone, and does not feel any pain. He sees a giant creature before him, and realizes he is floating. He remembers the room with the clock and centers himself, reminding himself he has control over time. He is able to see a massive shape in the center of the room, and everyone else staring in different directions. He moves to Grimoria, and appears to her within her vision. Malcolm also manages to pull himself together after his initial vision of his body twisting and flowing in unnatural ways, and is able to see Leo and Grimoria standing together, and Edgar staring elsewhere. He decides to burn the shape in the middle of the room. Edgar, in his hallucination, sees hands coming from inside him and holding his chest. He tries to calm himself and shoot towards the center of the room. He finds it and readies his gun.

Grimoria and Atia reach out, and Leo touches her shoulder; they seem to merge into each other in this space. Malcolm moves over to the object and strikes it with his lantern, setting it on fire. Edgar goes to shoot but sees Elizabeth instead. He reaches for her despite knowing it's not real, and finds himself right in front of the object in the middle of the room, hallucinating the same giant fungal angel the others have seen. Malcolm, also at the center, tries to pull the glove off Edgar, but Edgar, in his reverie, pulls out his gun and shoots Malcolm. Malcolm feels no pain, and the horror of seeing himself shot in the gut without pain causes him to lose his grip on reality.[fn 1] Leo is able to tackle Malcolm, assisted by Grimoria and Atia. Edgar tells the angel that it does not exist, and he invites Elizabeth to join him as he fires the glove. He is successful, but the angel's giant hand begins to pull him into the wound it leaves. Edgar feels tingly but not in pain, and holds one of Elizabeth's hands as he melts into the angel. He pulls back, and holes begin to open in his body before wings emerge and he becomes an angel like it.

Leo tries to stop Malcolm and puts his hand inside the wound. An alien creature emerges from the object in the center - a chrysalis - and Atia whispers to Grimoria to take him. Grimoria feels all the lost souls in the room come into her, and while she takes considerable damage to herself, she realizes that the sources were a source of power, combined for the greater good, as Atia helps her channel them to destroy the creature. She hopes the souls are at peace. The hallucinations fade. Grimoria takes Edgar's hand as he dies, and she and Leo, who has been shot in the gut but is alive, bid farewell to Edgar and Malcolm. Over the course of four days they slowly make their way back out of Oldfaire, and emerge into the brownstone where the Circle of the Wyrm's headquarters had been. Leo gets them both a taxi to his flat, and falls asleep on the couch. Grimoria notices an envelope on the tray from the Fourth Pharos addressed to her and reads it; it was intended to be Leo's post-mortem letter to her, leaving her all of his assets.

Featured characters[edit | edit source]

Player characters[edit | edit source]

Returning[edit | edit source]

These characters previously appeared in Candela Obscura actual play series.

New[edit | edit source]

These characters have not previously appeared in Candela Obsucra, though they may have been previously mentioned.

  • Alessandra Gregory, member of the Circle of the Wrym
  • Malcolm's mother

Mentioned[edit | edit source]

Quotations[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Footnotes:

  1. Mechanically, in taking a scar under these conditions, the character of Malcolm falls under GM control.
  1. "Into the Abyss" (CO4x03) at 4:07:13.
  2. "Into the Abyss" (CO4x03) at 4:19:29.