An Experiment in Immersive Storytelling
Behind the Scenes:
Absolution Synopsis

Amon Nagi, a graduate student at the University of Zurich, is working on translating recently discovered writings from Italy in the 17th century. He uncovers an old journal written by Giovanni Rosiello, a deacon of Santa Chiara in Naples. Intact journals of this type are so rare that Amon decides to seize the opportunity to shed light onto old family histories and searches for any descendants of the Rosiello family online. He discovers Zarina, a young woman living in Denver, Colorado, and fills her in on the journal and his translations of it thus far. Amon continues his translations, eventually finding an entry documenting a bizarre encounter late one evening between Giovanni and a foreign woman that attacks the deacon. More translations begin to uncover troubling and somewhat scary entries further into the journal, culminating in an all-consuming madness the deacon blames on the foreign woman. Abruptly, the strange and scary writings stop after Giovanni mentions in an entry that he woke up in a strange place and believes God is punishing him for a terrible sin he has committed. While Zarina and Amon share theories on the strange direction the journal took, Amon seeks out more information on the foreign woman.

Nagi scours the university archives but is unable to find any information about her. He begins to spread the word in scholarly circles around Zurich and soon receives a threatening message telling him to leave the woman’s history in the past. Shaken, but not deterred, he continues his efforts to find the mystery woman. He’s unable to find any leads or clues as to the mystery woman’s identity until Zarina receives an encoded message¹ that they decipher into the name “Ksenija Horvat”. Using this name, he’s able to find information in the university archives on the Horvat family of Slovenia and their troubled migration from Ljubljana to Naples in 1650. Amon continues digging into the university archives on both the Horvats and Rosiellos. He shares what he finds with Zarina and she spots a pattern of disappearances² coinciding with wild animal attacks wherever the Rosiellos reside. Following the discovery of this pattern, Amon is jumped, beaten, and thrown into the Limmat river to die.

Amon is rescued by the local authorities and is recovering in the hospital when Zarina receives a series of packages from a woman named Delilah. She claims to be from the Horvat family and asks Zarina to keep their communication a secret from everyone except Zarina's friend in Switzerland. Delilah shares a photocopy of a letter given to her by grandfather, Gregor Mendel Horvat, that instructs her to take an old family heirloom and bury it somewhere near Zarina’s house. Delilah shares stories about Ksenija’s journey and attack on Deacon Rosiello told to her by her uncle Robert. She also claims her grandfather took a hit out on Amon and profusely apologizes for her family’s brutality and her own involvement. She relays information on the werewolf curse she believes is a myth. Delilah also outlines the triggering conditions for the curse on a descendant of Giovanni as told to her by her uncle Robert. Unfortunately for Zarina, all of the necessary conditions for the curse have already been met.

Amon and Zarina, with their recent research on both families, think there is more truth than myth in Delilah’s stories. Delilah disagrees but, at the very least, knows her family is insane and believes the three of them are all in grave danger. Delilah, terrified of her own family but also wanting to help Zarina, decides to tell Zarina where the heirloom is buried and what to do with it in case there’s any truth to the old stories. Delilah calls Zarina but reaches her voicemail. She gives Zarina the name of an old ritual and starts to divulge the location of the heirloom³, but her grandfather Gregor breaks in, Delilah screams, and the phone connection drops.

The terrible and irreversible curse of the werewolf is supposed to take Zarina on the first full moon after her 25th birthday, just a few weeks away. Zarina races to find the heirloom while Amon pieces together the necessary ritual to control her cursed bloodline. Zarina finally uncovers the heirloom which is buried near her house. When she digs it up, she finds a crude effigy of a wolf. Meanwhile, Amon is able to piece together the old ritual based on the bits of information from Delilah’s voicemail but it requires an experienced and competent magical practitioner to pull it off. Zarina calls upon her friends to help on March 12th, 2017, the night of the first full moon after her 25th birthday, and they are able to complete the before her transformation. As the final part of the cleansing ritual, Zarina smashes the crude effigy of the wolf, and inside she discovers a single silver bullet. She takes the silver bullet and keeps it with her as a protective charm and as a keepsake to remember her adventure, Delilah’s sacrifice, and her friends stepping into the storm to help her in her time of need.

¹ Zarina must decrypt the message.

² Zarina must spot the relevant pattern.

³ Zarina must solve a riddle to find the location of the effigy.

This is part of the Behind the Scenes section of an immersive fiction story titled "Absolution" by J.A. Hernandez. If you're unfamiliar with the story, check out the Table of Contents for more information.