Seeking Serenity

"Seeking Serenity"
Candela Obscura episode
"Seeking Serenity" (CO4x01) thumbnail featuring Liam O'Brien, Alexander Ward, Imari Williams, Aimee Carrero, and Taliesin Jaffe.
Episode no.Chapter 4, Episode 1
AirdateFebruary 29, 2024 19:00 PT
Running time4:54:30
Links and related articles
Episode chronology
"Candles in the Dark" (CO3x03)
"The Gilded Graveyard" (CO4x02)
Candela Obscura

"Seeking Serenity" (CO4x01) is the first episode of Candela Obscura: Chapter 4, following the Circle of the Crimson Mirror.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Part I[edit | edit source]

There are endless footsteps in a similarly endless sea of pinks and reds, that carry with them guilt and fear as they speed up. The unknown person suddenly stops running, out of breath in the void, and a massive face appears, staring in horror at a growing blue and black mass with veins and tendrils that seems to be pulsing or breathing. It has grown into the shape of a huge winged angel, who nods and bows at the waist before becoming amorphous and liquid like rain.

Rain also falls on the SS Dandridge, a tramp steamer in the Glass Sea, near the Vastchasm, in a heavy storm at night. The Circle of the Crimson Mirror are aboard on an assignment from Lightkeeper Zora Manning, who has tasked them with the retrieval of an artifact from the Red Hand: the remains of Atia Griffia, an alchemist of Oldfaire whose bones radiate extensive bleed. The Candela Obscura circle has obtained Griffia's remains, and were on their return trip to Newfaire when they became caught in the storm. A number of steel barrels break free of their restraints and roll across the deck, crushing and impaling the leg of Sunny, one of the crew members. Malcolm Trills, a soldier and veteran of the Last Great War, works with Gabi, another crew member, to assist. Within the circle's cabin, Leo Amicus, a wealthy and well-dressed man in at least his 40s, opens the door so Malcolm and Gabi can bring Sunny in. Dr. Edgar Lycoris, a surgeon, is called from the helm where he had been nervously watching the captain navigate the waves so that he can tend to Sunny, who is bleeding profusely. Grimoria, the final member of the circle, is in the cargo hold with the golden chest in which Griffia's bones are sealed. She suggests to Heath, a sailor, they tie down the chest in the storm, but before he can respond a heavy wave hits and he is knocked unconscious when he stumbles.

Above decks, Leo and Edgar manage to avoid serious injury but Malcolm and Sunny both crash against the wall and Malcolm injures his arm. There is a call from outside the cabin that there is a man overboard. Gabi begins to panic, and Edgar tells her to shut up so he can focus before cauterizing Sunny's injuries. Leo pulls Gabi aside and tries to calm her down, and Malcolm runs out to help with the crew member who had fallen over. Another massive wave hits and Malcolm holds on, but another crew member falls overboard and the rope to the lifeboat he had thrown snaps. Leo and Edgar are both thrown against the walls of the cabin. The ship's secondary mast crashes to the deck, breaking open one of the battened hatches, and Grimoria is thrown against a post in the hold. The golden chest breaks open, and a wave of bleed emanates. Leo and Edgar can see the green light of the bleed and call to Malcolm, but Malcolm does not hear them and jumps overboard to rescue the two crew members. Leo throws a life preserver to Malcolm and he and Edgar both run towards the cargo hold, though Grimoria yells at them not to come down, having realized the seal of the chest has come undone. Malcolm meanwhile is able to reach both overboard crew members and begins swimming back to the ship.

When Leo and Edgar reach the hold, they see Heath's face being eaten away or dissolving in the presence of Griffia's bones. Grimoria, having looked through her notes, uses her abilities to summon the knowledge of an ancient Oldfairen priest so that she can understand how to re-seal the chest once they've put the bones back inside. Edgar begins to put the bones back, and Malcolm, having rescued the two crew members, joins the others and he and Leo close the chest once the bones are contained. Grimoria is able to lock the chest again, but takes a large amount of bleed and collapses, unconscious. Heath appears to be dead. The other members of the circle bring Grimoria up to their cabin so she can recover, as well as the body of Heath. The storm begins to subside.

Part II[edit | edit source]

Grimoria wakes up the next morning, and finds her sensitivity to spirits and voices, which she has had since she was orphaned in childhood, heightened. Meanwhile, Edgar checks on Sunny and cleans his wound with gin, and confirms he seems to be stable though in need of recovery. He is called to the radio room by the captain. Leo, writing in his journal outside the cabin, and Malcolm, drinking coffee and looking out to sea nearby, are also called. All of them notice Grimoria is awake and are glad to see her, and they all go to the radio room, where, after a moment, Doug, a crew member, tunes to the correct frequency. The voice on the other end is Lightkeeper Manning, and she asks them if they can do a favor for her regarding Decklan Murphy, an experienced Candela operative and mentor to all of them, formerly of their circle. He had gone to the Isle of Serenity, where he had grown up, but had since been out of contact and she had become concerned, and as Serenity is on their way back to the mainland, she asks if they can stop by and see if he is alright. The circle agrees, but after the transmission discuss their concerns, with Leo in particular being suspicious, though he still agrees to join the others.

As they travel to Serenity, Edgar dissects Heath and investigates the melted portions of flesh, taking a sample. Joan, a crew member, thanks Malcolm for saving the men who had fallen overboard as one of them, Burke, was her lover. After she leaves, Leo approaches Malcolm and advises he not put strangers before his closer associates, alluding to experiences involving Malcolm's brother. He then leaves, and Edgar also goes to speak to Malcolm, but only to look at Malcolm's prosthetic copper hand to ensure it's working properly. Leo, having gone back into the cabin, talks to Grimoria about her findings, and the two enjoy each other's company. The other man, not Joan's partner, who had gone overboard, finds Leo that evening and strikes up a conversation before inviting Leo to sleep with him. Leo gladly accepts.

The following morning they land on the Isle of Serenity and send away the ship for the day. The circle quickly finds the only pub and orders drinks in the hopes of gathering information; the bartender, Dermot, is friendly but slightly cagey, which Leo realizes. The other patrons in the pub include Beatrice, a very drunk elderly woman; and a young boy with her. Malcolm tries to talk to Beatrice, who is extremely intoxicated and unhelpful other than telling him that Gráinne Murphy, the eldest daughter of the family, is unpleasant. Grimoria goes outside and plays with jacks, and the boy eventually joins her. She speaks to him, and he responds and nods but does not speak at any point. Meanwhile, Malcolm and Edgar begin to walk into the town and encounter an older blind man, who makes a number of jokes about his blindness and introduces himself as Ned. Ned, like Dermot and Beatrice, indicates that strangers appear to be rare on the island, but is friendly; Malcolm gives him some money for his help. Grimoria and Leo eventually catch up, and the group keeps going. They notice a man and a woman, possibly a couple, in the distance, who grow very still and stare at them. When Leo waves, they briefly wave back, but keep staring. Another man leaves one of the cottages and stares briefly before continuing on; Edgar surmises they're all just surprised to see strangers. When Leo and Malcolm go to follow the couple, they turn away, so they stop and continue on towards the Murphy home, which is a couple of miles away.

When they continue on, they find an extremely old woman in black leaning against a tree. She is very surly and introduces herself as Rosheen when asked. Her answers to the party's questions are very brief and often repetitive, though she does tell them that her brother left for Newfaire some time ago. The circle keeps going and finally reaches the Murphy home, which is alone on a hill, with a fenced in area for animals and a tree in the backyard. When they knock on the door, Gráinne, recognizable by an unfriendly expression, answers and asks them what they want. They tell her they are looking for Decklan, and Grimoria pretends to be a student, but she is unhelpful. Her sister Nora then appears and, after telling the group that Decklan is currently out, invites them in. The house is small and old but in good condition, with a fire going. An older woman, Margaret, the mother of the family, is in a rocking chair by the fire. The third sister, Pegeen, also comes out and is welcoming and asks the circle if they would like tea while they wait for Decklan to return from his walk. Grimoria strikes up a conversation with Margaret, who tells her she is hungry and says Decklan has been gone for much of the day and has gone up by the fairy homes, but Pegeen dismisses her concerns. Gráinne is feeding the pigs while Nora prepares tea; Leo looks around the room and sees a portrait of Decklan and his three sisters. He offers to help cook, but Nora tells him she doesn't need it and offers biscuits. Margaret continues to be concerned and on edge, and Edgar apologizes for stopping by uninvited, but Nora tells him he's fine. The circle asks about the fairy houses, and Nora tells them they're older stone huts, and that Margaret is somewhat confused in her old age. However, Margaret continues to repeat "it's not right," until suddenly Pegeen, who was tending the fire, suddenly runs up and smashes the poker into Margaret's head, splitting it open. Gráinne runs in and blows powder at Malcolm. Grimoria drops one of her smoke bombs to obscure the room.

Leo notices Gráinne running outside away from the house, and in the obscuring smoke, Pegeen attacks Nora with the poker. Nora falls to the ground bleeding. Pegeen rushes Malcolm, who is able to dodge, though he falls. He attempts to put her into a chokehold but misses. Nora attacks Edgar with a knife, and stabs his thigh, but he is able to attack her with a scalpel and cause her to bleed heavily. Pegeen pushes the poker against Edgar's neck and pushes him to the ground, choking him, but Grimoria is able to rush Pegeen and knock the poker from her hands and pick it up. Meanwhile, Leo takes all the remaining knives from the kitchen. Malcolm's reaction to the powder increases and he finds himself struggling to breathe, and Nora stabs him with her knife, running him through. Grimoria misses with the poker, but Leo hits Nora with the knife and stabs her neck. The two of them stumble back into Pegeen, and Leo and Pegeen both fall towards the fire. Leo hits his head on the mantle but regains his footing, but Pegeen falls into the fire. Edgar cuts Nora's tendons from his position on the floor to immobilize her. Pegeen, badly burned, leaves the house. Leo and Grimoria follow her, and she soon after collapses and dies from her wounds. They drag her back into the house, where Edgar is trying to help Malcolm regain control of his breathing.

Nora, crawling and bleeding out, reaches for Leo. He attempts to question her about the fairy houses and asks where the Murphys are. She does not respond, and collapses. Edgar stabilizes Malcolm's injury as Grimoria and Leo discuss what to do. Grimoria realizes she does not sense any souls by the recently deceased bodies. Leo, looking through the house, finds the powder Gráinne had blown at Malcolm in a pouch in Nora's pocket. He detects that it is very faintly magickal. The group does not see Gráinne anywhere, and they decide to head out towards the fairy houses, which are up a hill behind the house. The hut is egg-shaped, and made of stone, and as they approach, Grimoria hears Decklan's voice among the spirit voices in her head. Leo's bleed detector glows brighter as they approach, and the group distributes the poker and knives he had taken among them. Malcolm takes out his gun. Edgar recognizes the house as coming from an ancient, non-Oldfairen culture, and the circle hears shuddering, uneven breathing. Edgar addresses the breathing and asks if it's Gráinne or Decklan. There is no answer, and Malcolm enters only for Gráinne, hiding just within the door, to swing an axe at him. He dodges it partially and she only hits him with the handle, not the blade. Leo threatens her, and Edgar attempts to attack her but misses and he falls. When he falls he sees Decklan cowering inside the structure, a large growth around his eye. Malcolm shoots Gráinne point blank in the back of the head, killing her, and Decklan runs out. In the sunlight they can see the growth over his eye is mottled and his face appears to be decaying slightly. He crashes into Grimoria, and Leo pulls him off of her, but some of the pieces of the growth fall on her, causing her to take bleed; the circle realize that he is now a phenomenon. Decklan gets up and continues to run, but they are able to recapture him. Grimoria is able to sense that his soul is still present, but Decklan does not respond to any of Edgar's questions.

The circle realize they need to take him back to Newfaire to help him, and Edgar gives him ether to knock him unconscious. They decide to bring him onto the ship: they are able to avoid other islanders and steal a rowboat from the coast, and bring Decklan to the ship for their return to the city.

Featured characters[edit | edit source]

Player characters[edit | edit source]

Returning[edit | edit source]

These characters previously appeared in the Candela Obscura actual play series.

New[edit | edit source]

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

Mentioned[edit | edit source]

  • Aroha Tama-kai
  • Attia Griffia, alchemist of Oldfaire
  • Calinus

Quotations[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]