Dresden Files: Twin Cities

Cooling Off
Haunting Grounds, Chapter 9

Featured Investigators



Chapter 8

Basilica of Saint Mary, Minneapolis, 4:13pm:

Alek pulls his unmarked squad along side a low set of buildings not too far from the church, following Craig’s directions. They get out of the vehicle and make their way towards Sister Dark’s soup kitchen. (Unbeknownst to them, Hazard Pay takes this opportunity to slip away.) The nun smiles at their approach, “Brittnay how are the girls fairing?”

Basilica of St. Mary

Quite well with your training, Sister,” Brittnay smiles in response, she values the martial training that the former soldier turned nun provides. It takes some of the pressure off her.

Sister Dark

“How can I help?”

Craig sighs, “Sister, I am looking for Jacobs, I found a page of his,” he presents the piece of paper to the nun, “It brought me here, is he around?”

Sister Dark’s face clouds with concern, “Jacobs was doing well in helping the vets. Then, something happened, he got more withdrawn. I haven’t seen him in a couple of days. He was working out of a beat-up RV parked out back by the construction site; you are free to take a look.”

Bobby’s RV

Craig thanks the nun and starts down the alleyway to the back of the building, with Alek and Brittnay not far behind. They find Bobby’s old RV parked in the back, seemly abandoned. Slightly surprised, Brittney approaches the door. It is still badly dented from when it was punched by the troll and it takes her some effort to yank the door open. Craig peers through one of the windows and can see drawings of various runes and other journals matching the page he found. Suddenly the sky turns dark and shadowed, as a large object comes tumbling towards the three of them from the heavens; threatening to crush them all.

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Two World Extortion
Haunting Grounds, Chapter 8

Featured Investigators

Chapter 8

Sacred Grounds Too, Minneapolis, 1:43pm:

Brittney and Hazard duck in through the service entrance of Sacred Grounds Too and find disaster. They notice Grace comforting a sobbing barista, huddled behind the counter. The store itself was destroyed, with tables overturn, cookery shattered, walls defaced.

Sacred Grounds Too

“Brittney, I’m glad you here, Stacy called me when she couldn’t reach you at the other store,” Grace hugs Stacy closer,“ she said some thugs came in and suggested you read your mail and get out of the neighborhood.”

Grace

Grace hands Brittney a stack of letters where she sees one addressed from Reynard Loke. She groans and turns to Grace, “You didn’t see us here and when the police come, please make a full and detailed report,” she looks around, “a very detailed report.”

Grace nods firmly and returns to Stacy. Brittney grabs Hazard Pay by the arm and guides her to the back, stepping into the Way.

Sacred Grounds, Saint Paul, 2:12pm:

Alek pulls up in his unmarked squad, just as Craig and Bethany arrive and the coffee shop. Inside they find Brittney pacing back and forth, with Hazard sitting on a counter-top swinging her legs.

“Alek!” Brittney calls out, “Can you tell me why the police haven’t contacted me, my store was trashed and they were chasing us. I should’ve heard something by now.”

She hands Alek the envelop and describes what happened at the other coffee shop. Alek nods, “Everyone has a hand in Vincent’s pockets, the last thing that he would want is someone looking too closely into the mob’s business.

Brittney sighs and looks towards Craig, “Do you know where we’re going?”

“Yes, to the Basilica,” Craig turns to Bethany, “You should wait here, rest up, we can come back to you.”

Bethany sighs and takes a seat as the rest of the investigators leave.

A Bridge somewhere between Minneapolis and Saint Paul, 2:37pm:
Summer Troll

Alek pumps the breaks to a quick stop and a screech of tires when the green vined troll drops a hunk of concrete on the bridge, blocking passage. Before he can reverse he hears a deep voice bellow from behind, “The Wizard Hale and the Asgardian Officer of the Law, I demand justice for my slain brothers!”

Gruffs

Everyone looks out the back window and sees a set of Gruffs armed with high-powered assault rifles. Standing admist them is a giant one that Craig quickly identifies as an Elder Gruff. Alek goes to reverse, but notices that red laser lights are dotting the vehicle and him moving the vehicle could find everyone Swiss cheesed by bullets.

Elder Gruff

Alek, Craig and Brittney step out of the car. Brittney leans against the vehicle, relieved that this doesn’t involve her.

Alek calls out to the Elder Gruff, “Be reasonable, it was a fair contest, fairly fought. They lost, you have no beef with us.”

The Elder Gruff snorts and Alek sees that he is being everything but reasonable, “If you are too much of a coward to face me, then name your champion!”

At this point Craig notices the veiled form of Puck standing atop a street light. He sighs and whispers to Alek, “We won’t be able to reason with him, not with Puck egging him on.”

Puck

Hazard peeks her head out of the car, “Puck, like in the stories,” she looks to the sky, “Hey, can I get an autograph?”

An impish voice calls out, “Why certainly!”

Puck appears beside Hazard with a sharp quill pen and grabs her arm. He draws up her sleeve and carves his name into her forearm drawing a gasp of pain.

Brittney glares at the Sidhe Lord, “We don’t have time for this. We have to get moving.”

Puck smiles, “But if I let you through, that is so very boring.”

Brittney flashes a smile, “Elder Gruff, we will accept your challenge and face you once our current obligations are dealt with at a neutral location. You will get your battle.”

The Elder Gruff stands and nods, with Puck making a little clap. The troll removes the barrier, allowing the investigators to go on their way.

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Interventions with Theft and Beheadings
Haunting Grounds, Chapter 7

Featured Investigators

Chapter 7

Downtown Minneapolis, 12:15pm:

Hazard Pay wasn’t able to get too far ahead of Alek before he called out to her. Hazard rolled her eyes and stopped as the harried investigator caught up to her. It wasn’t until she stopped moving that she noticed the office building’s interior was dark and cold. She could see her breath misting and felt the hair standing up on the back of her neck.

Downtown Minneapolis

Alek’s steps slowed then stopped. Sad memories began to flash through his mind. His wife and child, long since dead. Decades of debauchery began to mingle with dark thoughts. Hazard turned towards Alek, her eyes wide with fright. She knew this feeling, she saw what happened to those caught inside of it last night. She could see the forlorn, lost look in Alek’s eyes.

Hazard sees the Detective’s hand move towards his holster. The street artist moves fast and slips his pistol from his holster without his notice. She then snaps open the revolver and unloads the bullets. Before she can breathe a sigh of relief she notices that Alek also has an ankle holster.

Ghost

Goddam boy scouts always over prepared.

It isn’t long before Brittany comes running down the stairs, moving in a blur. Her Ghost Axe glowing with a bleary light, bathing the room in an eldritch green glow. The figure of a woman, with the back of her head blown-out is revealed standing behind Alek. Her arms wrapped around his body, guiding his arms downwards towards his ankle holster. The lips of her ruined face pressed against Alek’s ear, whispering in a ghastly, desperate voice, “I was murdered by drunken men, they will pay, they will die by violence, die, diediedieDIE!”

Alek tries to pull free, the sorrow holding him close making him sluggish. Hazard takes a bullet and flicks it towards Alek, catching his attention allowing him to turn his face. Brittney lets out a yell and spins with a savage grace. The Ghost Axe makes a vicious arc, swishing above Alek’s head and neatly decapitating the ghost behind him. The chill suddenly leaves the room and Alek lurches forward with a start, filled with a sudden vitality as the despair flees from him.

“That, that was the ghost from last night!” Hazard stammers.

Brittany causes the axe to vanish again, “Well, it shouldn’t be bothering anyone anymore.”

Alek glances out the window and mutters an oath, he can see his boss, Lt. Jack Vincent and some officers heading towards their building. One of them his hurriedly pointing to the floor they are on as he is speaking to Vincent.

Det. Lt. Vincent

Alek looks towards the other two, “They probably saw us in here acting like a bunch of idiots.”

Hazard and Brittney make a start and dash back up the stairs to the rooftop. They find that the doorway is covered in vines and mold. Hazard notices a fire escape which she and Brittney step onto. Atop the roof Craig and Bethany huddle close and Craig draws on his will, bending light and air around the two of them. He creates a veil, hiding him from the sight of the police and step onto the fire escape. They clomp past Brittany and Hazard as they look at the adjoining building.

Alek shakes his head, cracks his neck, and then pops a breath mint before walking downstairs. He meets the officers and Vincent on the stairwell.

“Erikson,” the Lieutenant growls, “What the hell is going on up there?”

Alek smiles, “Nothing at all boss, just investigating the case. The roof offered a perfect view of the crime scene. I just thought it was interesting.”

Vincent meets Alek’s gaze, his burrow furrows, “Alek,” he says warningly, “just keep this simple.”

Alek makes a mocking little salute, “Will do chief,” before walking past the officers.

Agent Irons

Brittany and Hazard are having a little less luck. Special Agent Gregory Irons and Jack Hunter pull up to the crime scene. Agent Irons spots the two on the fire escape and begins to pull his radio from his belt. Hazard acts quickly and leaps from the fire escape to the next building. With a piece of wire and a flip of her wrist she unlatches the window and opens it. She then disappears into the next building. Brittany notices Hunter get out of the car and wink towards her. As Agent Irons begins to speak on the radio, Hunter fidgets with his and causes a loud squeal to interrupt his words.

Det. Hunter

Brittany takes the opportunity to leap into the next office building, disappearing into the maze of offices. Craig and Bethany, still under the cover of their veil, make it to the alleyway and dash off into the shadows. Alek makes his way to his unmarked squad car and drives off.

If I had to take a guess, I am betting that they are all going to head to Sacred Grounds.

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Craig Makes a Deal
Haunting Grounds, Chapter 6

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Chapter 6

Downtown Minneapolis, 11:30am:

Brittney and Hazard Pay peer down the busy street towards Mr. Chen’s. The Slayer grabs Hazard by the arm and pulls her back, “Careful, we don’t want legal attention.”

Downtown Minneapolis

Every time I take the Way to Sacred Grounds Too, it reminds me that I got Chrysophylax breathing down my back. At least I have a Great Dragon keeping the Fairies at bay.

As they ponder their next steps, a slightly inebriated Alek steps out from Augie’s, blinking his blurry eyes. Brittney waves him over and Alek briskly meets-up with the other two. Before they can continue their conversation, a blast of light momentarily erupts in the alleyway next to them and Craig Hale along with Bethany Tempest stumble into the street.

Bethany Tempest

The investigators quickly confer, sharing their experiences. They decide that they will check-out the nearby rooftop before moving forward with other issues. All of them had concerns about the appearance of various ghosts. Alek takes them towards the office building. With a smile and a flash of his badge he gains them entrance and guidance to the rooftop. Hazard elects to go another way and quickly bounds up the side of the building to hide in a shadow. The quick-eyed investigators are not taken in by Hazard’s antics and quickly begin to survey the building.

Craig, Alek and Brittney find the remains of a ritual circle that Craig identifies its use in summoning. They also stumble across a torn page from a journal and footprints from military boots. Craig recognizes the glyphs used and remembers thatJacobs used magic that looks similar. Alek also notices with interest that from the top of the roof he can see other buildings and all of them have been bought out by Loke.

Craig takes the journal and looks at Bethany for a second, “With this page I can locate the book, perhaps even the person who owns it.”

Both Alek and Brittany nod in agreement, while Hazard Pay makes a bored sigh.

Craig takes some supplies from Bethany and begins to draw out his divination ritual spell to locate the page. He quietly instructs Bethany on the crafting of circles. Hazard grows fidgety and while the others are distracted darts down into the office building. A not as distracted as he appears Alek, grunts, “I will be back, I can’t have her lurking around the building unattended.”

Craig, who is already channeling energy, and Brittany both nod. Bethany begins a small chant, hoping to aid Craig in his casting. Alek isn’t gone long, when Brittany suddenly hears frantic whispers from the Ghost Ax, the blade buries itself suddenly into the rooftop. She glances at Craig, “I have to go, there is danger close.”

Craig nods, waving for Brittany to leave. He picks up the pace of his divination, drawing in more energy, his brow furrows as he gathers his focus and concentrates, feeling the flow of magic. Craig gets a distinct feeling drawing him away from downtown. Looking from atop the roof his gaze settles on the Basilica of Saint Mary.

“Bethany, let’s get downstairs and see what this danger is,” Craig shakes his head briefly, drawing his attention back to the present. Bethany goes to the door and gasps, as green vines spring from the ground and dark mold rapidly grows about the door frame, swelling it shut.

Puck

“Now that you are alone, Wizard Hale, we have the matter of a broken promise to discuss,” the jubilant voice of Puck bounces through the air. The mischief maker suddenly appears, balancing atop the ledge of the building.

Craig rubs his temples, “Puck, I don’t have time for this, there was nothing I could do, Chrysophylax was right there, besides it seems pretty safe in his possession.”

Puck waggles a finger, “All of that is immaterial, I do not have the Generosity of a Dragon and you broke your word. Of course you can make this all go away, one year as my servant and we can let bygones be bygones.”

Bethany glares at Puck, “You can’t take him away, we need him.”

The air about Bethany grows thick with anger, Craig places a restraining hand on Bethany’s shoulder. He turns to the impish fairy, “I could always go to the Winter Court, and they offered to settle the debt for another year with the Way Nexus. I’m inclined to accept.”

Puck’s sudden smile takes Craig back as the Sidhe Lord does a little skip and a twirl, “Done, excellent, even better than I thought!”

As suddenly as the Summer Lord appeared, he was gone, leaving the two alone on the roof. Craig scratches his head in confusion when he hears shouts from the street below. He sees police officers suddenly run into the office building.

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Two Drink Maximum
Haunting Grounds, Chapter 5

Featured Investigators

Chapter 5

Augie’s Tavern, Minneapolis, 10:30am:
Augie’s

Alek tapped the empty glass in front of him, signaling the topless bartender to give him another. She comes and quickly refills the glass as Alek smiles remembering days gone by. He takes a casual glance towards the back, it confirms everything he already knew. He sees both Peter Capra and Reynard Loke in deep conversation, a waitress passes by pleasantly distracting his view. Neither of them seem particularly happy. His view is distracted again, sadly not by another waitress, but instead a sweaty, sociopathic hit man.

Peter Capra
Reynard Loke

“Shouldn’t you be with the rest of the police solving a murder or two?” Colin Patterson asks.

Alek looks up and meets Colin’s shark black eyes, “Oh, I am, just getting a couple of questions answered. Your establishment is open at all hours. So did you hear any gunshots?”

Colin’s eyes flicker towards Alek’s half-filled glass, his voice dispassionate, “We didn’t hear anything, I think you’ve had enough, besides we’re close”

Colin Patterson

Alek slugs down the rest and slowly stands up, his eyes never leaving Colin, a smile crossing his face, “Those two seem awfully cozy, I suppose you aren’t kicking them out too,” Alek shrugs before Colin can answer, “It doesn’t matter where we answer these questions, it can be here or down town.”

Colin holds out an arm, directing Alek towards the door, “We are happy to answer any questions. We didn’t hear anything. We already made a statement, I suggest you read that.”

Alek drops some cash on the bar before leaving, giving Colin a jaunty wave as he steps back outside.

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Mister Brightside Makes His Introductions
Haunting Grounds, Chapter 4

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Chapter 4

Witch’s Hat Tower, Minneapolis, 9:12am:

Craig Hale looks up from his book, feeling intense heat behind him. He turns suddenly, seeing the Man in Embers standing in the room with him, fire begins to envelop the library.

Man in Embers

“The Coin,” The Prophet of Doom Rasps, “You MUST grasp the COIN!”

He reaches out and grabs Craig by the shoulders, he flinches at the intensity of the heat. He can feel fire and pain searing into him, his clothes begin to smolder-

Witch’s Hat Tower

-Craig snaps awake. He shoots up to his feet, the book he was reading knocked to the floor. He pats himself down, seeing no sign of injury. He does catch the smell of soot and sees the remains of two burned footprints on the floor. Before he can bend down to examine them closer, he hears the sound of Bethany laughing. Craig looks towards the entrance of the library, Bethany’s laughter has a desperate, almost manic quality to it.

Bethany Tempest

He picks up his newly acquired Warden Sword that he had set carefully next to him and buckles it about his waist. Craig rests his hand on the worn hilt and strides into the room. He feels as comfortable with the blade as with being a Warden, which means not that much, but he figures the blade is better than nothing.

In the entryway he sees Bethany on her knees clutching at her throat, her face is red and eyes are beginning to bulge as she struggles for air. Her breathes are strangled off with frantic laughter, tears of pain pouring down her face. Standing above her his a tall man with odd proportions, his head is bald and gleams in the morning light. His eyes are wide open as if the skin on his skull his stretched tight, the same effect gives his big toothed grin a loathsome and monstrously large appearance.

The figure turns to Craig, “Ahhhhh Warden Hale, let me introduce myself, I am Mister Brightside and you have something I want,” the grinning monstrosity extends a long arm and holds out a massive hand palm up, “I need the gold key to the World Chair, please give it to me.”

Mister Brightside

Craig draws the sword, the blade lets out a clear ring of warning as it clears the scabbard. He places himself between the sorcerer and Bethany. Craig knows of Mister Brightside, he has heard of the sorcerer who lost his soul making contact with the Outside. “Leave her alone and I will not grant you the key. Submit yourself to the Judgment of the White Council.”

Mister Brightside giggles and suddenly lurches forward, his other hand makes a fist and slams it into Craig’s gut. Craig feels fire lace up his body as his ribs creak beneath the blow, he nearly drops to his knees. He lashes out with the blade scraping it up along Mister Brightside’s arm. He draws black blood, but as it flows out, the skin simply reknits, healing itself.

Mister Brightside gazes at Craig intently, he leans forward pressing his face against the young wizard’s. His rotting and sweet breath rolls across Hale, “Oooh, you have something else I could use, yes, yes, please give me the piece of iron on your person too.”

Craig realizing that he is outmatched, calls upon Way Nexus that lies at the heart of Witch’s Hat Tower, he creates an opening to the Nevernever.

Come on Winter Court, I have given you passage here, please someone be close enough to feel the presence of this being.

Malks

Mister Brightside launches another brutal punch against Craig, knocking the wizard to the floor. He lunges forward and grabs Bethany around the waist, pulling her tight towards him. Mister Brightside giggles and slaps at Craig again, the strength of his blow spinning the both of them around. A loud feral cat hiss arises around Mister Brightside as Malks suddenly appear tearing at him with razor sharp claws and teeth. Their efforts do about as much damage as the sword, but they force Mister Brightside back away from the portal. Craig gathers his strength and lurches through the gate, but not before Mister Brightside reaches out and grasps the Iron lodestone that Thomas had given him. The sorcerer rips it from Craig’s pocket as the Wizard and Apprentice escape into the Nevernever.

Trick

“You are an interesting man, wizard,” Trick says as he is flanked by two Winter Trolls standing in the Way Nexus that marks Witch’s Hat Tower in the Nevernever.

Craig closes his fist, causing the portal gate to close. Bethany falls to her knees, the laughter stopping and begins sucking in deep breathes of air.

“The Summer Court nearly beat us here, Wizard, I hear one in particular wants something from you,” Trick’s cold eyes look down momentarily to the gasping Bethany, “If you wish us to intercede on your behalf, the Winter Court would enjoy another year of accessing this Way Nexus.”

Winter Troll

Craig helps Bethany back to her feet and then nods towards the Winter Changling, “I will keep that in mind, but for now I think it is prudent if we leave from here.”

With that Craig and Bethany walk deeper into the Nevernever.

“Who was that? What are we going to do?” Bethany’s voice is still raw from her earlier bought of laughter, the rasp of it causes Craig to wince.

“To the first, that is a Sorcerer who goes by the name of Mister Brightside. He experimented in forbidden research and the White Council has no idea how may Laws of Magic he might of broken, but he is very dangerous,” Craig narrows his eyes and peers deeper into the Nevernever, “as to the rest, I need to talk to Blackthorn. I need Puck off my back if I am going to deal with any of this.”

Craig and Bethany find the Way to the Pig’s Eye Public House and begin to take the trip to Blackthorn’s. It isn’t long before they both feel a chill in the air. The land shifts from the plush green forest of the Wyldfae to that of the top of Witch’s Hat Tower. Craig and Bethany can feel a malevolent presence coalescing in front of them. The ground swells, sucking the two up to their knees, before solidifying in hard stone.

Evan St. Claire

Before them, the translucent shape of Evan St. Claire appears, his face twisted with fury and a desire for revenge. Craig can see the open gash in his chest that Brittany and Thomas created. The ghost reaches out and encircles his hands about Craig’s throat. Craig tries to push the ghost away, but feels an entropic energy pushing at him, giving the ghost power it shouldn’t have. Craig grasps Bethany’s hand tightly as he strains for breath. He channels a blast of power and yanks the two of them out of the Nevernever and back into the mortal world.

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Rude Interruptions
Haunting Grounds, Chapter 3

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Chapter 3

Sacred Grounds, St. Paul, 8:00am:

Grace stifles a yawn as Brittney ties on an apron.

Sacred Grounds

“It was a slow night,” Grace says with a stretch.

Grace

“I’m sure it was now, about-“ Brittney never gets to finish her statement when a bell rings signaling the opening of the Café door.

Brittney turns to greet her customers and sees a smiling Jack Hunter accompanied by a stern face man in a dark suit and sunglasses.

Jack Hunter

“Brittney,” Hunter states with a toothy grin, “I would like to introduce you to Special Agent Gregory Irons, he is the agent in charge of the Homeland Security Detail investigating the recent terrorist attack. He just has a couple of questions for you, nothing to worry about.”

Special Agent Irons

Agent Irons glances briefly at Hunter, before opening a file. He turn towards Brittney and states with a perfunctory voice, “I see you gave your account of events to the police already, I was wondering if you could go over your account with me again.”

Brittney offers an exasperated smile, “I was a guest to Pearce’s Gala when masked thugs suddenly broke in and began shooting up the place,” her voice hitches, holding back a sob, “it was horrible, I, I barely made it out with my life.”

Agent Irons makes a couple of notes, the quiet scratching of his pen filling up the silence in the room, “What is your relationship with Jacob Phillips?”

Brittney blinks, “Who?”

“Jacob Phillips, a small boy around or 4 or 5.”

Brittney shakes her head slowly, “I’m sorry, I don’t really remember who you are talking about.”

Agent Irons nods absently, leafing through his file. He then slides out a grainy photo and places it on the counter top. Brittany sees a picture of herself carrying a small child who is no more than 4 or 5 down the street towards the police station.

“What are you doing with this small child in the middle of the night carrying him through the city?”

Brittney looks down at the photo and looks up, flashing her best Minnesotan smile, “Oh, the missing kid? I always wondered what his name was, I heard him crying out when I was running one night and brought him to the nearest police station.”

“Running,” Irons restates flatly, “in the middle of the night?”

“What can I say, it’s hard to sleep some nights.”

“Why didn’t you file a police report?”

Brittney nods at Hunter, “I’m sure he told you I’ve had some run ins with the police before, I didn’t need another one. I knew he would be safe there.”

Hunter nods at Brittney, “As I told you, she turned over a new leaf.”

Irons pulls off his sunglasses and looks at Brittney with narrowed eyes, “I think you are being a little too-“

Irons’s words are cut off as the jingling of a bell signals a new arrival.

“Brittany!” A slurred voice hollers through the air, Crow Sings stumbles through the door. He is brandishing a near empty bottle of cough syrup in one hand, “The City needs the Slayer!”

Crow Sings

Brittany raises a hand to quiet Crow Sings. Irons’s voice cuts through the air, “What is the meaning of this, Hunter take care of this man.”

Brittany says softly, “Agent Irons, there is no need to get rough, I will fix this gentleman up some coffee and-“

The bell jingles again and the door slams wide open, a grimy and dirty Hazard Pay followed by Jane come running into the shop. Their faces are white and eyes are wide, Hazard stammers with panic in her voice, “Oh my God! Brittney! A ghost possessed some mobsters and made them shoot themselves, you gotta get your axe and come with us!”

Crow Sings eyes roll into the back of his head, he begins to make chants with a mumbling voice. The smell of liquor wafting about him.

Irons attention refocuses on Brittney, a fury alighting in the normally placid gaze.

“See, nothing to worry about here, just a little coffee and-“ Brittney’s statement is cut-off as Crow Sings suddenly retches, vomit splattering over the back of Irons’s dark suit.

“Hunter!” Irons yells, “Arrest that man.”

Hunter quickly grabs the chanting Crow Sings and drags him from the building, a furious Irons following them both.

Brittney waits for the bell to jingle before turning towards Hazard Pay and Jane.

“I’ll clean up this mess and we will take the Way over to Sacred Grounds Too, Hazard you will show me where this whole thing took place.” Brittney grabbed the mop, the familiar whispers of the Ghost Axe begin to grow in her mind. Her knuckles tighten about the wood of the handle as she begins to clean.

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Left Overs
Haunting Grounds, Chapter 2

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Chapter 2

Major Case Squad HQ, Downtown Saint Paul, 6:15am:

Alek, get your ass in here!” Detective Lieutenant Jack Vincent bellows from his office.

Det. Lt. Jack Vincent

Alek sighs, pocketing his badge and newly acquired gun. His first day on the job since suspension and he knew it was already off to a bad start. Alek made his way to Vincent’s office.

“Alek, this should be an easy one,” Vincent tosses Alek a thin case file, “A bunch of Capra’s goons committed suicide with a local businessman over in Minneapolis. Just confirm the M.E.’s findings and close the case.” Vincent points sternly at Alek, “Don’t fuck this up like the Alison Harper thing, I don’t want another dead child plastered all over the media.”

Det. Jack Hunter

Alek gives the Lieutenant a jaunty wave before stepping out of the office. He makes his way through the office area towards his partner, Jack Hunter, before he can greet his friend, Hunter cuts him off, “Alek, I can’t go with you, I got assigned tourist detail.” He points a finger over to a somber looking man in a dark suit, “I get to be Special Agent In Charge Gregory Irons’s chauffer around the city.”

Agent Gregory Irons

Hunter rolls his eyes at Alek, before turning and waving merrily at the Special Agent and walking towards him. Alek rubs his eyes, he already smells a rat, he thumbs through the file and catches Vincent talking to someone on the phone in a hushed voice, “Yes, Mr. Pearce, I assigned him as you requested.”

Mr. Chen’s, Downtown Minneapolis, 7:12am:

Alek stood outside of Mr. Chen’s gazing forlornly into the shop. He kneels down to look at the last body, that of a broken nose mobster who definitely appeared to have ventilated the back of his head with the pistol on the floor next to him. Alek recognized the man as Mitchell, one of Capra’s usual enforcers and probably not a man prone to depression or mass suicide pacts.

Downtown Minneapolis

He opens one of the evidence bags and notices that with the wallet is the business card for a certain Reynard Loke.

I heard about him in the paper, he has been buying up local real estate at bargain prices. Rumor has it that he has been using the Capra family to pressure the last few holdouts to sell.

Alek carefully slides the card back into the bag. He takes a look around the shop and in the alleyway.

Just like the report said, each one of Capra’s men shot themselves in the temple. Poor Mr. Chen grabbed the shotgun behind the counter and really made a mess of things.

Alek pauses at the entrance of the Alleyway and flashes his light in the darkness. He can make out the shape of two sets of footprints, both from young girls.

Huh? Witnesses, this could be interesting.

Alek then turns around and catches a brief image, from the corner of his eye. He sees a young woman, all in white and hidden in shadow, gazing sadly down on the little shop from atop an office building across the way. When Alek turns his attention towards her, she looks at him and vanishes. Alek blinks his eyes and checks his watch.

Ghostly Woman

Odd. That rooftop also provides a perfect vantage point for what happened here.

Alek’s thoughts are interrupted by a squeak from the gurney being wheeled behind him. He can make out Mr. Chen’s hand peaking out from beneath the tarp.

I think though, I should stop by Augie’s and ask around. On days like this I could use a drink.

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Chinese Take-Out
Haunting Grounds, Chapter 1

Featured Investigators

Chapter 1

Mr. Chen’s, Downtown Minneapolis, 12:45am:

Hazard Pay flinched at the loud voices as she crept down the alleyway with Jane, heading towards the back of her favorite Chinese place.

Downtown Minneapolis

“You missed a payment,” a rough voice growled, “You know the boss doesn’t like that.”

Hazard Pay could make out Mr. Chen’s reedy voice in the night air, “I owned this store all my life, Peter can’t take it away from me!”

Jane

She knew Mr. Chen, he was always willing to give her a bite to eat on the street. The laughter of the thugs bounded down the alleyway, heavy with violence. Hazard Pay looked towards Jane and grabbed her hand, “C’mon we gotta do somethin’!”

She darts down the alleyway and through the front of the small Chinese Take-Out restaurant, with “Mr. Chen’s” illuminating the doorway in a red light. Hazard sees a small service bell on the counter and begins to ring it frantically, “Ordering! Ordering!”

There is a moment, but Mr. Chen’s beaming face eventually appears from the kitchen. Before he can speak, the door to the restaurant opens and three, dark suited men step into the establishment. They left the fourth at the door smoking a cigarette. It doesn’t take long for Hazard Pay to realize two facts, one that Jane is no longer with her, and two all of these men are armed.

The heavyset thug with the broken nose, nods to the other two and glances at the street urchin, before dismissing her, “Mr. Chen’s is closed, you better be going.”

Thug

Hazard Pay flashes a smile, “I don’t know it looks pretty open to me, besides I’m hungry.”

Broken nose pauses and snorts with irritation, he looks down at Hazard, “Little girl, you should go, you could get hurt.”

“Please, Kate, just go,” Mr. Chen whispers, his voice barely audible to Hazard.

Hazard felt anger rising up in her, she survived the street and was not about to be bullied by these thugs. “Too Late, Mister, your stink is so bad it should be charged with assault.”

One of the thug’s guffaws, broken noses face turns red and veins begin to bulge in his neck. The other thug suddenly screams and his eyes turn white as everyone looks at him in horror. He draws his gun, places it to his forehead and pulls the trigger, splattering his brain across the store shop window in a red splatter.

Everyone reels back; the other armed thug suddenly lets out a second yell, his eyes rolling back. His arms struggle and strain against some unseen force as he goes to draw his gun.

Broken nose starts yelling at the other mobster, with Mr. Chen crouching behind the counter. Jane’s voice cuts through the noise, “Hazard! Over hear, an open window, let’s get outta here!”

Hazard Pay can see a small window open and makes a dive for it rolling into the alleyway to where Jane is crouching in the shadows. As she dives, she hears a second gunshot, then a third ring out in restaurant behind her.

Ghostly Young Woman

The street artist struggles to her feet, the night air suddenly going cold. She can make-out two other translucent women in the alleyway. Both female, with one’s face, what’s left of it, contorted with rage, her head a hollow shell as if something was blown out the back of her skull. The other women is younger with long pale hair, she’s desperately trying to hold the enraged woman back, her body straining before losing her grip.

Jane yells at Hazard Pay, “Let’s get out of here!” Hazard nods and scrambles out into the city following Jane, trying to ignore the echo of a fourth and final gunshot.

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Destination Truth-ish
A Spencer Winfield Report

Featured Investigators

The Story

In the course of writing a story on Mexico City’s earthquakes uncovering Teotihuacán Ruins, Spencer decides to take a look at the supposedly haunted tourist location of “La Isla De Las Munecas” (The Island of Lost Dolls). Upon arriving, he’s surprised to find Joshua Gates and the crew of Destination Truth as they’re setting up for an overnight stay on the island. After a bit of conversation, Spencer is surprised (and pleased) to find out that Joshua reads his articles in the Southwestern Arcane and is asked if he’ll lend his experience to the investigation. As the crew goes about recording their experience on the island Spencer learns that while the island is not haunted, it is considered the territory of a nasty water-fae. Throughout the night, Spencer makes his way around the island setting up wards in order to protect himself and the crew from the creature, all the while attempting to hide his actions and intentions. Upon comparing notes in the morning, Spencer allows the crew to go on believing the island to be haunted… and doesn’t let on how he had to use a few of the dolls in his warding spell. Thankfully his actions kept him off the cameras.

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