Ripped From the Headlines: A Very Esoterror Christmas

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When the so-called holy thorn tree of Glastonbury is destroyed by vandals, the hallmarks of an Esoterror operation are apparent to the greenest of Ordo Veritatis analysts. In its apparent senselessness, the small event causes widespread public distress, both in the devout and in respecters of tradition. Heightening the cognitive anxieties generated by the story is a connection to the global finance crisis: the tree stood on the property of a prominent executive now under arrest after the collapse of his currency exchange firm. The December timing is also significant: each year the Queen is presented with a sprig from the tree as part of a longstanding Christmas tradition.

Public fears thin the membrane between this world and the horrors of the Outer Dark. Media misreporting reinforces the effect. Many news stories baldly restate the claim that the tree was planted 2,000 years ago by Joseph of Arimathea, a figure from the gospels who in Medieval legend is said to bring Christianity to Britain, and to serve as protector of the Holy Grail. In fact, the vandalized tree is one of many holy thorn trees in the Glastonbury area, and was planted in 1951.

Readings reveal that until the vandalism, the membrane around the area, including the mysterious archaeological site known as Glastonbury Tor, was unusually strong. Now it is badly weakened. The Ordo Veritatis dispatches the player characters to the area to identify and neutralize the Esoterror cell responsible for the operation. Their concern: fragmentary documents suggest that the 1951 planting of the tree took place in order to seal something in—probably inside the Tor itself. Whatever it is, it can’t be allowed to get out. The countdown to the solstice has begun…

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