**NOTE – Trigger warnings apply. Contains content, images, themes and concepts that may distress, trigger or offend. Reader discretion is advised.
Part IV – The Unforgiven (2015)
Part V - Progeny (2016)
Part VI - Seven Devils (2017)
Part VII - Welcome to the Dollhouse (2018)
Part VIII - The Illusion of Class (2019)
Part IX - Wonderground (2020)
Jasper Baelian Black (N. Ristovski)
Bella Jade Black / Betsy (‘Bella De Jac’)
Betty Dream-Black (‘Betty Blood’)
Bethany Belladonna Black (‘Pippy Scream’)
Jett Balthazar Black (‘Raven’)
Red (‘Jasper Jewel’)
Dunstan Kreutz (R. Crockett)
Jack Lad (P. Moder)
May Bea Sunshine, Jerald Black.
The Underground RPG Synopsis Part I - Let the Games Begin (2012)
In mid-2012, renowned local journalist Maybelle Beatrice (May Bea) Sunshine released the first in a series of exposés on the notorious ‘Black Family,’ the subjects of a ‘pet project’ she had been researching for most of her writing career. In it, she wrote about wayward billionaire Jasper Baelian Black, the mysterious eldest son and heir of merchant banker Jerald Malcolm Black, who had virtually ‘appeared out of nowhere’ upon his father’s death in 2001 just in time to claim the family fortune. Together with his younger brother Jett Balthazar Black and much to the dismay of their father’s partners, Jasper dissolved over 70% of his father’s businesses within 6 months of his passing, using some of his inheritance to purchase and open a sub-culture fetish club he called The Underground.
The exposé spoke of foul play, of strange whispers amongst ex-business associates and ‘friends’ that declared the Black Family’s involvement with everything from Italian, Thai and Russian Mafia, drug smuggling and satanic cults to sex-trafficking and international paedophile rings. It cited over 20 years of ‘confidential’ medical documents including leaked therapy transcripts and hospital records, many of which the journalist claimed to still possess. It speculated upon the death of Jerald Black and fuelled rumours of patricide, placing Jasper Black at the centre of the scandal. And it promised more…
Of course the publication never made it past first print – the Black Family lawyers claimed defamation and seized all research materials, discrediting Ms Sunshine and demanding her immediate dismissal from the reputable paper at which she had worked for over 15 years. Jobless and humiliated, May Bea nonetheless continued her crusade to study and report on the Black Family’s shenanigans and alleged crimes…turning to personal blogging and hack gossip columns for second rate magazines in order to spread the alleged ‘truths’ she knew.
Meanwhile, within the walls of the Underground, Ms Sunshine’s writings had stirred up a hornet’s nest of trouble. Jasper Black’s PR and media manager – his adopted daughter Bella Jade Black – insisted that the family try to keep a low profile until the dramatics of the exposé died down. Both she and Jett insisted that Jasper’s playboy antics and shameless and uninhibited flouting of society’s rules (not to mention the law) would only get them all into trouble. Accusing them of being afraid of the truths that they ‘all knew’ and claiming that he didn’t care if the whole house of cards fell down about their ears, Jasper instead contacted May Bea Sunshine, beginning a game of cat and mouse with the journalist and dangling half-truths in front of her, seemingly for his own amusement.
May Bea Sunshine was particularly interested in Jasper’s relationship with Bella Jade, whom she referred to as ‘Betsy.’ Jasper confirmed through drunken interviews (much to Bella’s dismay), that he had indeed ‘adopted’ the now 19 year old woman (who changed her name from Betsy to Bella at 16) when she was 8 years old from an unnamed prostitute and heroin addict after he had found the child playing in the streets of Melbourne’s red light district. According to Jasper, the woman had tried to palm her daughter’s virginity off to the billionaire, but was much happier to pocket $50,000 to ‘take the kid off her hands.’ When May Bea asked Jasper what had become of Betsy’s virginity, he’d simply laughed and said that he imagined it had disappeared at summer camp when she was 15. For all intents and purposes he claimed to never have touched the girl.
When May Bea pressed Jasper for information about his niece Bethany Belladonna Black and his alleged affair with his brother Jett’s wife, Betty Dream-Black, the playboy was a little less forthcoming with information. He said only that he and Betty enjoyed ‘quality time’ once a month and that his sister-in-law was teaching him how to bake blueberry muffins. About Bethany, he said nothing.
Bethany, of course, was unimpressed with her omission from Jasper’s initial interviews, throwing tantrums throughout the Underground and declaring that her ‘Uncle J’ was just denying his feelings for her and she knew that he loved and wanted her…he could lie to everyone else, she said, but she KNEW. Coyly she referred to ‘that night,' tormenting Jasper with less than subtle hints in front of the family that ‘something’ had happened between them and that if he wasn’t careful she would ‘do it again.’ Bella and Jett – if they thought anything of Bethany’s stories – chose to ignore her…only Betty seemed to notice how deeply her daughter’s taunts cut her brother-in-law, offering whispered words of comfort and affection and hinting at a deeper connection between the two of them.
May Bea Sunshine continued to weave her web of gossip, uncovering more and more documentation about the Black Family and its history. She confirmed that Jasper had been home-schooled most of his life in both England and Australia after Jerald had migrated the family in 1988, and had spent the better part of 1996-98 in the psych ward of a place called the Oakleaf Retreat – a psychiatric and rehabilitation facility for the upper class and disgustingly rich. Jasper seemed rather angered and bewildered by May Bea’s claims, insisting that he’d been schooled at Oxford and that he knew nothing of this Oakleaf that she wrote of. Asking his brother Jett for confirmation of this, he was told only that ‘you disappeared to school for years and never bothered to write, how the hell would I know what you were doing or where you went?’
Life inside the Underground became more strained as Jasper continued to obsessively monitor May Bea’s writings and influence her columns with his own tidbits of truths. Both Jett and Bella tried to stop him, pleading with him that his ‘dance with the Devil’ could only hurt him…what was past was past and it did no one any favours to dredge up old memories – particularly not when they were then plastered in gossip columns about town. Despite them insisting that he should let the family lawyers handle it, Jasper would have none of it.
And the past, it seemed, would find them all whether they wanted it or not.
Into their world waltzed a young Southern gentleman that called himself Dunstan Kreutz, claiming to have been an old friend of Jasper’s since before Jerald Black’s death 11 years prior. He cited an ‘old score to settle’ as the reason for his return, though Bella suspected that there was far more to the story than either Dunstan or Jasper were telling her.
Of course the popular tale went that Dunstan and Jasper had become acquainted when the latter was 17 years old, after he had spurned the family fortune and ostensibly ‘run away from home.’ They had been involved in some drug trafficking and other such shenanigans, spending a wild few weeks in Vegas together. Aside from almost getting married and Dunstan allegedly thwarting a suicide attempt by Jasper (he was said to have tried to hang himself in their hotel room with Dunstan’s favourite tie), Kruetz claimed that he and one Mr Black had made a wager that involved the ’seduction’ of 5 key individuals – namely a police officer, a virgin, a clergyman or woman, a naval employee or sailor and one military personnel. The first to acquire all 5 conquests would be declared the winner, with the loser forced to be their submissive for a period of 12 months afterwards. Dunstan was at 4, he told Jasper, with the 5th on the way…and thought it the perfect time to come and visit the Black heir’s new little Underground world since he would be spending quite some time there in the future.
Naturally the family was less than impressed with Dunstan’s presence, much less Jasper’s insistence that he would honour the bet and the debt if he lost. Jasper’s own submissive, a young woman he called Red, became rather distraught at the idea of her ‘Master’ submitting to someone else and sought to cement his ties and dedication to her in any way that she could. Despite protests from both Bella and Bethany, she begged Jasper to give her a child…claiming that if he was to leave her alone and spend a year with Dunstan Kruetz then she at least wanted a baby to remember him by and ‘to hold a part of you always.’
Jasper refused her, claiming that he was the last person in the world that she should bear a child for…’I’m not good with babies,’ was all he would say, refusing to elaborate no matter how much Red cajoled him.
She needn’t have pressed him, for behind the scenes May Bea Sunshine was already uncovering all the information that she could about Jasper Black’s history with children…particularly one Bethany Black, whom Ms Sunshine concluded was in fact Jasper’s biological daughter, the result of a long-time affair with his brother’s wife Betty. That the entire family denied the fact meant nothing to May Bea, nor the scores of fans and avid readers who followed her blog and attended the Underground club every week in an attempt to rub shoulders with the notorious family. To them, the more ridiculous the scandal, the more likely it was they would believe it…and as the year drew to a close they began to circle like vultures waiting for the dead.
Meanwhile, Jasper’s mental health began to deteriorate. He’d always been a sickly child and a less than healthy adult, but the stress of the Underground and the new scrutiny on his personal life and that of his family was beginning to take its toll. Perhaps it was May Bea Sunshine’s claims about a past he barely remembered that began to mess with his psyche, for truly he recalled very little about his childhood and the years before his father’s death, save for a few memories prior to 8 years of age that he forcefully repressed and would speak of to no one. Initially only Bella Jade and Red noticed the change in him…the onslaught of nightmares and feverish dreams, the sudden fits of rage that could leave an entire room trashed within moments.
Where once he was charming and devil-may-care, he became increasingly sullen and brooding, drinking himself paralytic (more than usual) and spending copious amounts of his fortune on all manner of narcotics. Bella pleaded with him to pull himself together and see a therapist, or at least a doctor, but Jasper flatly refused. He said that he was perfectly fine and that although she was no longer his ‘daughter’ it didn’t mean that she could tell him what to do. Angered, Bella accused him of behaving like a child and insisted that if he didn’t curb his behaviour they would all suffer as a result. She also demanded that he cut all ties with May Bea Sunshine before she was ‘forced to do it’ for him. He threatened to cut her off if she interfered and insisted he would handle it.
Of course he did none of these things…and by Christmastime of 2012 he was almost completely out of control, his personality seemingly having split between the incorrigible and charming young man who seduced with a wink and a smile and an almost psychotically unpredictable child with violently dangerous and inconsistently bipolar mood swings. In the same breath that he would publicly announce Bethany Black as his daughter – insisting that his brother and sister-in-law had blackmailed him into a cover-up- he would moments later deny it all, demanding a ‘paternity test’ to prove that it wasn’t true and calling May Bea Sunshine a lying whore. On Christmas Eve he gave Red a baby diary and promised her a child, declaring her that he loved her and that he would be happy to be the father of her spawn. Not an hour later he was drunkenly whispering to Bella that he was glad she was no longer his daughter because he had ‘feelings’ for her that were more than fatherly. To Dunstan, who had recently won their wager by seducing a young soldier recently returned from Afghanistan, he promised servitude beyond his wildest dreams, giving him a rather personal Christmas gift – a silk tie that was the exact replica of the one he had used to try to hang himself all those years ago. Dunstan was both touched and horrified, going to Bella and declaring that they ‘had a problem.’ Despite her misgivings about Dunstan, Bella had to agree.
As the annual Underground New Year’s Eve gathering drew closer, May Bea Sunshine took the opportunity to stir up the hive – declaring that Betty Black had been overheard confessing no love for her husband Jett, stating instead that she had only married him for the money despite Jasper begging her not to go through with it and offering her a bribe to the tune of $1 million to walk away. She also released excerpts from a classified Oakleaf medical document in which there were evidence of horrific child abuse and torture at the hands of ‘father,’ hinting that the records may have been connected to Jasper himself.
During the New Year festivities Dunstan confessed that Jasper was indeed the child in the Oakleaf Retreat documents, revealing that he had been the one employed by Jerald Black to ‘fetch’ Jasper from the psychiatric ward in 1998. He told the stunned billionaire that his orders had been to take Jasper back to his father’s estate immediately, but he had taken pity on the obviously terrified 17 year old and had instead treated him to a wild trip to Las Vegas and ‘anywhere else you wanted to go.’ He apologised for not telling Jasper the truth sooner, but maintained that the longer the young man had been away from the family home the more he seemed to forget and Dunstan had not wanted to be the one to bring up bad memories. He added that he’d decided to waive Jasper’s 12 months of servitude in exchange for being allowed to remain in the Underground as a guest at the Black Family estate ‘to keep an eye on things.’ ‘Besides,’ he added with a wink, trying to lighten the mood, ‘There’s never a dull moment with you.’
In the last hours of 2012, Jasper and Red announced that they were having a child…the ‘happy couple’ drinking a toast to ‘a bright and wonderful future with our family.’ Not long after midnight had come and gone, one of the Underground’s frequent guests, a slimy individual by the name of Jack Lad, declared that he had an announcement of his own. Gathering the friends and family, he claimed to have ‘acquired’ a copy of Bethany Black’s recent paternity test from Jasper’s office and was delighted to share the truth with them all.
With Jett, Betty and Bethany gathered together by the bar and Jasper and Bella trying to coax Jack off the stage, Bella hissing sharply that he ‘didn’t have to do this…’ Jack Lad threw up his hands and declared the true father of Bethany to be…Jasper Baelian Black.
A collective gasp rose from the crowd and all eyes turned from Jasper to Bethany…and then to Jett and Betty. Laughing and shaking his head, Jasper said nothing for a long moment before scowling and turning on his heel, stalking from the room with Red in tow. Bethany turned to her ‘father’ Jett, insisting that he tell her it wasn’t true. Jett of course told her what she wanted to hear, glaring at Jack Lad and saying that some people didn’t know what they were talking about. Betty merely gave a high pitched laugh and headed for the bar as Bella went to find Jasper, leaving the partygoers abuzz with the scandalous news.
Bella found Jasper alone in the atrium of the Underground they called the ‘Night Garden,’ laying on a mattress and staring up blankly at the lightening sky through the glass ceiling. With a sigh she slid down next to him, telling him that many of the guests and family were starting to leave. She curled into the arm that he silently offered, pressing her cheek against his as she asked if he was okay. He didn’t respond and Bella didn’t push him, instead resting her head on his chest and watching the stars disappear one by one.
"Don’t you wish we could stay here forever, just you and I and to hell with everyone else?" she asked him sleepily as the first birds of 2013 began to sing.
Surprised, Jasper merely gazed at her as she lifted her head and stared at him with tear-filled eyes.
"I won’t let them hurt you," she whispered to him, frowning before leaning in to press her lips to his. "Happy New Year Jasper Black," she murmured, kissing him again and pulling back sharply when he finally responded. For a moment neither spoke, then Jasper gave her a boyish smile.
"Happy New Year Bella," he replied, watching as she blushed and rose quickly, bidding him goodnight before leaving him alone with his thoughts.
Summary/synopsis of LARP experience The Underground. All characters and story lines remain the property of N.Ristovski and the Underground. All character writings within the Underground are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2015. Natalie Ristovski.