The red leaf Rad found was only the first of many. Within days, every leaf on every tree on Lud had shifted from the vibrant yellow that brought the Golden Fall it's name to a deep and unsettling red. For as long as anybody can remember, Lud's leaves were always yellow, so the people of the island naturally reacted to the color change with fear. Many called it an omen. Why else would such a strange phenomenon happen? No matter the reason for the change, people didn't take it well. Lud's warm, friendly atmosphere slowly drained away to a chaotic panic.
Many took advantage of the situation and the streets became filled with looters, burglars, and muggers. Lud was no longer a safe place to be. Leading the charge was Hade, who had somehow managed to create a following and promoted himself from petty thief to super villain. As a result of this, along with the dramatically increased crime rates, Kintaro became very overworked and almost impossible to find.
In the beginning stages of the downward spiral, Jodi visited Gog's workshop to issue a goodbye, telling them that she was again going into hiding with her child, but did not plan on letting anyone know where.
109 also met Gray, a disturbed violinist gifted who had the power to manipulate people's actions and emotions by playing his violin. Over the course of the last few months, Gray caused a bit of trouble for our heroes, merely adding to the unpleasantness of the situation. At one point, he even harmed Gasha with a knife when she got too close to touching his violin. In her panic, she ruined a whole city street while growing massive trees to protect herself.
To make matters worse, Renato (mafia guy from 109's past) revealed that he was on Lud. He invited Rad to a party in a swank apartment in one of Lud's taller buildings. When Rad arrived, Renato treated him as a guest of honor, claiming that none of it would have been possible without Rad. (To be honest, I think this happened before 109 went underground with Byra...) Later, after Rad had given Hera enough money to help her father, Renato invited Rad back to the apartment for another party. This time however, he revealed that Hera was one of his agents and had been giving him all of the money Rad had been saving for her. Humiliated and heartbroken, Rad left and began to plot against Renato. Gog had to interfere to stop Rad from setting fire to the apartment.
Eventually, Hera approached Rad and was able to explain that Renato is (of course) gifted and that he seemed to be able to control her to a certain degree. After spilling her heart out to Rad - and revealing that she was actually an orphan who had been 'broken out' by Renato - Rad forgave her and took her in to shelter at Gog's.
Adriana and Wade each had issues of their own. Adriana began to notice strange tattoo-like dark colorings appear on her arms, beginning with he fingertips. Ashamed and afraid, she resorted to covering them with gloves and long-sleeve shirts. Wade's arm also seemed to take advantage of the situation and began to mutate, briefly taking control of him, growing legs and the ability to create a swarm of locust-like bugs.
As time went on, things continued to get worse and worse, even after all of the red leaves had fallen and blown away and snow had begun to fall. Gog was even more downtrodden than usual. Byra had secluded herself in her room, going through the mountains of books she had. Corey and Jake's guardian was killed in a break-in, and the shock-struck twins took to living at Gog's shop with all the other gifted. even Gasha wasn't acting like her usual, innocent, gleeful self. The dark situation worsened, bringing down and affecting even 109 until finally, the unthinkable happened.
The Alon arrived.
Dun dun dunnnnn!
I struggled with this part while running the sessions. I was trying to create an unstable and uncomfortable feeling, while still making it enjoyable to my players. I feel that I succeeded on the former, but didn't on the latter. It wasn't until towards the end of the 'arc' that we actually had a really good session in which everybody was talking and trying to figure everything out. It was a good learning experience, though.
Another goal I had in mind was to try and stretch this part along as a sort of 'dark counterpart' filler to the first part of Lud where I introduced the entire cast. This led to the introduction to Gray. I needed an antagonist they could see and fight before the Alon.
I was very pleased with the whole bit with Rad, though. He reacted pretty much exactly like I expected, but got over it faster than I had prepared for. Hera ended up paying back all of the money she 'stole' and even plead her love to Rad - after he had forgiven her, so you know, kudos to James.
Easter Egg Theater!
Gray was pulled directly out of another RP! A while back, James ran a forum-based RP on gaiaonline.com called Trials of the Soul. In it, each character would be brought into a temple - one of light, and one of dark. Since Penny and I were the only two in the RP, he had Penny's character go to the light and my character, Gray, go to the dark. James did a masterful job of directing our characters towards each alignment, and before I realized what was happening, Gray had become a dark, emo, villain! I figured he was a perfect fit for the mood I was creating in Lud, so there he is!
I finally drew Byra! I'm really happy with how she turned out, despite the difficulties I had.