3 XP, 4 Vitriol
Lily drops off the throng, and they filter into the venue, a sub-basement beneath Caesar’s Palace. E was directed into a locker room, where he saw the other fighters, all of whom largely kept to themselves. The Stranger and Phil went to the ring, where they fell in with a group of bettors:
- L.C Burton, a boisterous Texan oilman
- Dr. Leo Jepsen, a research scientist for a company called Zosimos Kinetics
- Lin You, a wholesaler who’s new to La Riña, and very excitable
- Chelsea Orlando, a wealthy woman who takes no pains to hide her cruel enjoyment of the spectacle
Stefan Acevedo, lieutenant to the organizer Parilla, emcees the event. He lines up the prizefighters, introduces them, and parades them for the crowd. Bets start flying back and forth, and in a few minutes, the first match begins. The first loser was quivering mess before the bell rang, and a bloody pulp after. Chelsea identifies him as a “one of ours”, a bettor who got in over his head.
Then E’s match came up, and he fought against Quentin, a young and athletic frat boy, who manages to beat the Promethean by “points” alone. Fortunately, E and Phil bet against him, and win big on the wager.
Then, a match between two clear derelicts goes savage, and the winner, “Basement Vic”, tears a chunk of flesh from his opponent’s neck, leaving him bleeding on the floor. Vic runs wild into the staging areas, while Lilith re-emerges to collect the defeated victim. Blood is spurting everywhere, and she drags the patient out of sight.
Abuzz with the chaos of the last fight, bets start trading in the last match of the night, a brawl between yet another frat reject, and a heavily tattooed gangbanger named Gilberto. Phil notices that Gilberto’s tats match those of the “waitstaff”, and that he must be one of Parilla’s own. The bets heavily favor the Arlequino.
Then the flush of an Azothic Radiance is felt sharply, suddenly. A man with an impeccable air waltzes into the room. His disfigurement is a thin coat of a glassy varnish over his skin, but it’s not enough to hide his striking looks. He greets the throng, unsurprised to see them, tells them he’s here to see “an old friend”. He then whispers a warning: the fight is fixed, and Gilberto will throw it. HE then wanders off to another table, only to be trailed by the nicely dressed gangsters. Soon, Parilla himself makes an appearance, and an argument breaks out. The crowd starts turning ugly, as whispers of Malverde’s revelation start to spread, as well as Disquiet sharpening and spreading.
And there’s a creeping sense that Malverde is not alone: the increased Radiance is more than Malverde emits alone.
Finally, sensing a dangerous shift, one of the men challenges the other, the fight replacing the promised fix. Parilla and Malverde, as it dawns on the throng, prepare to duke it out. Bets again are placed. The bell rings, and Parilla throws a hard right into Malverde’s face, spiderwebbing the veneer on his cheek. Malverde staggers back, laughs, and launches himself into Parilla’s stomach. He wraps his arms around the jefe, and suddenly, everything begins to spark and arc. Lights flicker and fail for a few seconds, and when the Transmutation ceases, Parilla lies dead and smoking on the floor.
Confusion ensues. The Arlequinos confront Malverde as he leaves the ring, but the Created points to Acevedo as their new leader, who reluctantly stays their retribution. Some understanding must exist between the two, because Malverde departs, accompanied by two of the ‘bangers. E tries to follow, but is confronted by the Promethean’s tail. E then returns to the locker room, where he finds Acevedo doling out both prize and hush money. The fighters are then led out to the garage, by the same way Malverde left. Only E notices, but the blood of the slain fighter leads out this way, meaning this was where Lily had taken the wounded. When he does not find her or her van, and instead finds huge divots of concrete knocked out of the wall, he starts to worry.
He rejoins E in the lobby, while Phil reposes with his book. Worried, E calls Lily’s cellphone, only to have it answered by a gruff mail voice. Paraphrased, it goes a bit like this:
“What do you want with Lily?”
“I’m following up some loose ends.”
“They’re tied.” Click.
E takes this to mean that she’s dead, but the Stranger insists that she’s alive, and even if she isn’t, they owe her some attempt at rescue. They go to fetch Phil, only to find him gone, with only his unattended Book of Mormon to mark that he was ever there…