Dresden Files: Twin Cities

Strange Smells Part 2
A Jack Hunter Story

Featured Investigators

The Story

Hunter didn’t have to wait long for a response. He got a quick text message from Moss, “Meet me at ”/wikis/augies-tavern-restraunt-and-lounge" class=“wiki-page-link”> Augie’s." Jack knew the place. It was an out of the way topless bar, but it pretty much served as a mob front for the Genovese Crime Syndicate. He was pretty sure he hadn’t done anything recently with his extra curricular activities that would piss them off, well aside from just being a cop.

Moss better have a good reason to meet me here.

Jack got to the place pretty quickly, one of the perks about being able to shape change into a hawk; you get the avoid traffic. He walked into the dimly lit, smoky lounge and was greeted by Augie’s Employee of the Month, Colin Patterson. Jack has had some run-ins with Colin and the best thing that anyone could say about the man is that he is an out an out sociopath. Luckily, Colin didn’t seem too interested in Jack, which suited Jack fine because he didn’t want to tangle with Pete Capra’s number one enforcer today.

“Would you like a seat at the bar or a booth?” Jack’s reverie was interrupted by a topless hostess. He didn’t really look. Whenever he looked at another woman, he thought about Kat.

Jack looks over the hostess’s bared shoulder, “I’m looking for someone,” he sees Moss sitting in a back corner booth, “excuse me.” He brushes by the waitress and makes his way to Moss.

Jack knew he could trust Moss with this, because Moss owed Kat big time. He got to the table and slid into the dingy booth. Moss was drinking and smiling with another fellow, Lucky Dan. Small time con for Clinton and known half-goblin, Jack waited for Moss to speak as he knew that Moss never did things without a plan.

Yeah, but they aren’t always good plans.

“Sooo, Jack, I got your call and I was already looking into something weird and I think it might be related,” Moss elbows a very drunk Lucky Dan, “and my new friend here has something he wants to tell ya.”

“My new friend has been buyin’ me drinks,” Dan shotguns a glass of beer, belches, “All DAY! Son, ALL DAY!”

A topless waitress leans across the table and takes Dan’s glass, depositing another. Moss and Lucky Dan observe a moment of silence as they take in the view, Hunter merely….smells…he notes an odd scent from the beer, almost as if he catches the faint whiff of iron.

What’s Moss’s game?

“Now, Danny boy meet Jack, Jack, my new, dumb friend Danny boy here,” Moss says in an affected British accent. Jack knows that Moss was born somewhere in North Dakota, but he has used that accent ever since Jack has known him. Moss Continues, “Danny here works for a certain black market dealer in magical artifacts, Clinton, and Danny here is going to tell me about some very LARGE purchases that were recently made,” Danny gets hard eyed at the words, Moss ignores the clenching fists, “because if Danny doesn’t tell me there is going to be pain, and he is going to regret the fourteen beers laced with iron he just drank.”

Danny suddenly looks sick, “I know nothing.”

Moss smiles evilly, “Danny, that isn’t a good answer if you don’t want your fingers broken…and I am the nice one here, Jack…well, lets just say he doesn’t stop at fingers.”

Lucky Dan shrinks back, “Ok, ok, ok, it’s not like it’s a big deal or summthin’, just some native chick came up to Duluth and started flashing around a bunch of cash. She wanted just stuff, you know, basic stuff, like Sandman Sand, you know sleeping powder, and other stuff. She paid in cash and we asked no questions…none.”

Jack growls, “A name, did she have a name?”

“I…I don’t know,” stammers Dan, “It was summthin’ like Kate or maybe it was after an animal, like Gerbil.”

Jack slams his fist atop Lucky Dan’s hand; there is a crunching sound as the iron infused goblin lets out a small scream. “It was Kat, oh god, it was Kat.”

Jack lets up the pressure and Lucky Dan scurries out of the booth clutching his shattered wrist. Moss looks at Jack, “I know that look and I can’t tell you what she did inside the Foshay Building without taking a peek, but I want you to know what you are asking. The last guy who broke in there, they tracked him down, they tied him up, starved him a little ya know. Made him nice and hungry, then they began to feed him a little morsel here and there. Then they gave him a video, all those fruit smoothies they fed him? Yeah, it was his family, his friends, his neighbors, hell a stray dog, they chopped them all up and fed them to him. They left him alive though, the poor bastard, I hear he is still in the psych ward at Regions. I mean I know, but if we do this. If we peak in there, we got to do this….careful like, ok?”

Before Hunter can assure his friend, Colin’s looming presence interrupts their conversation. “Mr. Capra wants a word with you,” the sociopathic thug says in an icy voice.

Hunter looks past him and sees that there are some other goons and while he is confident he could get out in one piece, Moss might not be that lucky. Hunter nods slightly to Moss. Moss gulps and takes a slug of beer, “Well, I suppose we should see what the King Pin of Organized Crime wants with the likes of us.”

Colin gestures, giving Hunter the opportunity to see the piece he is carrying. He briefly notes a native totem and realizes that someone has been doing their research. Research that he doesn’t like. They walk into an area at the back of the club and are shown to a private booth. The dim lights afford those seated here privacy while being able to see the rest of the bar. Seated in the booth, drinking a glass of scotch is Peter Capra. He smiles, showing his teeth which gleam like a lions or a sharks and gestures for the two men to sit. Moss shrugs and slides into the opposite side of the booth, with Hunter, sliding in next to Moss. Colin sits across from Hunter, his dead eyes staring at the suspended cop.

I never like feeling like prey.

Capra takes a second to speak, “My sources tell me that a certain crook and suspended officer of the law are thinking about breaking into a bank. And not just any bank, but one controlled by one of the ”/characters/carlos-ortega" class=“wiki-content-link”>most ruthless creatures in this city." He pauses for a moment, “One who has something that I want.”

Moss looks at Capra with innocence being reflected in his wide eyes, “I have no idea where you got that idea! I was just meeting a friend for a drink and some atmosphere.” Moss gestures towards one of the topless waitress slinky through the bar area, “besides a job like that is suicide…:”

Capra’s eyes go hard, his voice firms, “I know what you have been asking after, who you have been asking about, I know what you need.” Peter leans back taking a sip of scotch, the ice clinking against the glass, “And I can help you get in.”

Moss goes quiet, Hunter remains still.

Capra, stop playing with your game. I hate being the fucking mouse.

“I have the access codes for Ortega’s electronic security system.” Capra glances at Moss, “Someone of your rumored skill could do a number of the Foshay security systems with information like that. Now you are thinking that with that information, you could just break in electronically and get the account information.”

I was just thinking that.

“Ortega is….well old school…and those accounts. The accountings of…the ”/wikis/nevernever" class=“wiki-page-link”> Other World he keeps in a ledger hidden somewhere in his vault. Find that, you get your information. Now my password is not free."

Nothing ever is.

“I have two conditions. The first is I want that ledger. That is my price. The second, well, the second is a form of assistance. Colin will come with you.” Capra slaps Colin on the shoulder. The man doesn’t even shift his expression when he finds out he is going to be breaking into the criminal banking syndicate and lair of an ancient Red Court Vampire. “He has certain skills that you might need, plus he fucking hates Red Court Vampires.”

Moss sighs to himself and turns to Hunter, “I don’t like this, but, the impossible just changed to the improbable, are we in? Its your call.”

Peter snorts, “I didn’t realize I was making a request.”

Nothing is ever simple.

View
Heaven Kinda Sucks
A Bobby Chan Story

Featured Investigators

The Story

Bobby Chan sees Ivory Tower going back up the stairs to Witch’s Hat Tower with the Warden and the Wizard. They don’t really see him. He can make out the image of a warrior behind him, armed with a giant sword. Bobby has some questions, but the giant warrior doesn’t really seem like the talkative type.

Bobby sighs. Well he thinks he sighs, its hard to tell without having lungs and all. He thought there would be more clouds or something. Time passes. (Bobby assumes time passes, as there isn’t anything really pressing him at the moment.) When he sees a shadowy figure come down the stairwell.

Crow Sings sneaks into the room, taking a sip of his hip flask. “I really didn’t want you to find out about this place. It has some bad juju here man.”

Bobby, not having any of the requisite parts one would need to make sound, much less speak, nods.

“Well, you’re stuck here, but I won’t forget you. They built a statue of you, you know? That young wizard with the stick up his ass, put up for it.” Crow Sings sits down and continues to drink from his flask, “It doesn’t make as good of weed as you did.”

Crow Sings finishes his whiskey and lights a joint taking a faint puff. Bobby really wishes he had the requisite parts to enjoy that too.

“What you did wasn’t for nothing, bad things are happening, and the other Wards,” Crow Sings points at them, “They’re Stupid,” Crow Sings taps his skull, “You’re Smart. You might actually help.”

He finishes the joint and stands, “Don’t worry, I’ll come visit. I’ll bring one of those portable DVD players or something, we can catch up on Breaking Bad or whatever.”

Crow Sings stands and Bobby watches him go. He sits down pondering the shaman’s words when he feels probing at the wards, something dark pressing on them. He sees flashes for a moment, visions of a Man in Embers….of a Fairy who got him in a ton of Fucking Trouble….Greedy Vampires…and others, so many others. They are feeling for weaknesses, searching for a way to sneak through.

Bobby quickly moves the energy in the Wards, directing it, pushing off each attack. He senses there are others here, surprised by what he does. Each Ward has a personality, has something behind it. As he moves actively to stop the probing, they lend their strength to his. Eventually the attacks fade away, but Bobby knows this won’t stop, but he’ll be ready. Hell, he doesn’t have anything else to do.

View
The Arcadian Buzzkill
From Craig's research notes.

Featured Investigators

The bullets Craig created with the use of Summer Magic to defeat the fetch in Helping Hand:

Arcadian_Buzzkill.jpg

View
Bobby Gets High in the Sky
Helping Hand, Conclusion


    Currently Airing: Hennepin County Medical Center has Freak Blackout     Helping Hands Shelter Destroyed by Dump Truck    Freak Storm at Witch’s Hat Tower, Damages Iconic Library    War Hero aids St. Mary’s with Homeless Outreach    Missing Wrestler Found Paralyzed, Recovering in Hospital – Minnesota Public Radio News    

Featured Investigators

The Story

Downtown Minneapolis, Minneapolis

Bobby and Crow Sings follow the wandering spectres through the city streets. Crow Sings continues to take pulls of whiskey as Bobby follows him. “Jacobs, yep, he is doing something in the morgue at HCMC, Bobby, you’ll know what to do.”

Spectres

The only thing that Bobby dislikes more than having to stop a burgeoning Necromancer is having to live next to a law breaking Necromancer, so he straightens his potion satchel and follows Crow Sings down the street towards HCMC.

Once arriving at the hospital, Bobby already senses strong magic in the works. The power is out and it appears even emergency generators have gone dark. He sees patients being wheeled out and loaded into ambulances to be transported to another hospital. Crow Sings’s path takes them away from the pandemonium and towards an alleyway near the hospital. The drunken shaman continues to mumble to himself and stumbles to an open doorway. Bobby notices that some strong evocation was used to rip the metal door from its hinges.

Crow Sings

Crow Sings points down the interior Hallway and takes another pull of whiskey, “He’s down there. Its bad mojo, I can feel it in the air.”

Bobby can too and he steps into the hallway, the air is cold and lifeless, infected by gathering necromantic energy. While the lights are out, Jacobs’s path is easy to find as because someone broke glow tubes and left lighted crumbs to follow. Bobby also notices an outline of runes in the light that someone drew with marker. He realizes that Jacobs crafted a ward of some kind. He holds out a hand and stops Crow Sings from going forward. Bobby takes out his own piece of chalk and quickly draws a circle on the ground; he channels some energy, using the hallway as his link to the ward and slams into the wall with spiritual energy. It doesn’t take long, but Bobby thinks with the power he put behind the blast he should have broken through.

“So, you got this, right, my whiskey is gone, so I can just go wait by the bar, ok?” Crow Sings asks, sobering slightly as he shuffles backward.

Bobby sighs inward, he is not going to deal with this alone, “Wait man, I got something for you,” Bobby slides a Bad Ass potion from his satchel and tosses it to Crow Sings, “The high from this man, is like, unbelievable!”

Crow Sings takes a swig and suddenly he straightens up. He puffs his chest out and tidies his clothes. He snaps the leg of a shelf off and holds it in one hand like a club. “Let’s get moving Bobby, I have to show this moron that there is only one Ghost Whisperer in this town.”

Bobby hurries after Crow Sings as he begins to yell challenges down the hallway slamming his make shift club on the floor. Bobby can hear the sound of a low base coming from a side room. Inside he sees that an autopsy room has been dimly lit with a gurney slid into the center. Bobby notices the beginning of a ritual spell, one that would be used to create zombies. He sees a map of the Twin Cities spread out on the gurney with a small replica of Witch’s Hat Tower sitting in the appropriate spot on the map. With what appears to be red marker, Bobby hopes it’s a red marker, is a ritual circle drawn on the map around the tower.

“GET OUT OF HERE; I HAVE TO SAVE THE CITY!” Jacobs roars at Crow Sings and Bobby, “I….I don’t want to have to hurt you.”

Jacobs

Crow Sings is nonplussed by the Sorcerer dressed in formal military gear. Bobby can see the haunted look in Jacobs’s eyes and realizes the young man is not all there, that powerful emotions are driving him to desperate measures. Crow Sings swings his club, smashing some vials on a shelf, “Listen here, I talk to the ghosts here ME! I don’t turn them into some freaks.” Crow Sings points his club at Jacobs, drunk on magical bad ass-itude, “If you don’t back off, I am going to make one more ghost and we can talk about poor life choices after that!”

Jacobs seems a little taken aback, not wanting to face the anger that Crow Sings is venting.

“None of you get it, the devil; he is going to break this city. He is going to shatter those Wards and bring the Dragon. The Man in Embers told me so, in the desert. He showed me what would happen. I have to stop it.” Jacobs draws strength from his words and possibly from some of his derangement, “and, you can’t stop me, I won’t let you do it. I won’t let others die again.”

Bobby feels his world stop, for just a moment. He has met the Man in Embers, The Prophet of Doom, only once. There is a reason that he forswears the Sight, because the first and only time he used it he saw the Man in Embers. He got a prophecy that night; that the next time he heard the Man in Embers name, Bobby was going to die. Bobby takes a deep breath, “Listen here man, like, there is another way, go to the tower, and like confront the devil yourself. This, this just breaks the city in another way man. I know the Man in Embers, man; he wants you to save the city!”

Man in Embers

Jacobs seems to relax a little, his eyes haggard and red rimmed. He has a glassy look, almost like he is sleeping standing up. He shakes his head, “You’ll go with me? Right? To Witch’s Hat Tower? We can face the devil together.”

Crow Sings roars, “I am ready to kick some Devil ass” and snaps his club over his knee.

Bobby slumps a little. “Alright man, let’s go man.”

Helping Hands Shelter, St. Paul

Brittany, Craig, and Sister Dark arrive at the outskirts of the Helping Hands Shelter in downtown St. Paul. Ripley, still torn up from her wounds, stayed behind to watch over Sacred Grounds to ensure it suffers from no further destruction. They already notice that the area feels out of place, homeless should be teaming about the shelter for dinner and to get a place to sleep, but it seems virtually deserted. The area should also be teaming with other people, but the crowds have largely disappeared.

Helping Hands

Craig notices a parked car that appears to have the door frame bent. He sees claw marks, “Uh guys, it looks like ghouls are active in the area and are scaring people away.”

Craig drives the car down the road, making a slow perimeter about the Shelter. They notice one truck idling in the loading dock with the driver slumbering in the front seat.

“I’ll go and check it out,” Brittany then slides out the car door, ghosting down the darkened alleyway.

“I’ll cover you from the building across the shelter,” Sister Dark whispers to Brittany’s fleeting form. She grabs her high powered rifle and disappears into the night.

Sister Dark

“I think I’ll guard the car,” Craig says to the universe and turns off the idling engine.

Brittany silently makes her way towards the truck. She notices on the pavement around the truck that empty containers for ground beef have been strewn about the cab, as if the driver had gorged himself on raw hamburger meat and fell asleep. She sees that he is wearing the garb of a Helping Hands Shelter worker and thinks that they have a sleeping ghoul. Brittany darts around to the back of the truck and finds that the door open. She notices that the bed of the truck has drag marks from something metal being slid across the floor. She takes a sniff and can smell human blood, sweat, and urine from inside the truck. Not liking this at all, she looks up towards the roof where Sister Dark said she would be and motions for her to shoot the driver.

Sister Dark lethally complies, a high powered rifle round shatters the windshield and explodes the slumbering ghoul’s head. Brittany hears voices suddenly rise from inside the building and the door in the loading bay opens with two Helping Hands Outreach workers stepping outside. Brittany leaps to the roof of the truck; her landing on the aluminum gives her presence away. One of the shelter workers calls to the people inside of the building as both of their forms elongate, their jaws growing sharp teeth.

Ghouls

Brittany prepares for the ghouls’s assault. As they attempt to leap atop the truck, she sweeps at them with her ghost axe preventing them from getting a handhold. Sister Dark unleashes another shot, exploding the head of a second ghoul. Brittany reaches down and grabs the other one around the throat, lifting him into the air. A second shot wings out from the night, blowing off the restrained ghoul’s leg. The creature howls in pain. Craig sees that the situation in the alleyway is well in hand and begins to saunter down. Brittany roars at the ghoul as it futilely tries to claw at her face. “If you want to live, demand that they release the girls from inside!”

“You’ll let me go?” The ghoul slavers as it kicks its remaining leg in the open air.

Brittany tightens the grip on her axe and jams the heated blade against the leg, her fury causing the blade to sear the creature’s flesh, “I will let you go.”

“Let the humans goooooOOOOOOo and come out!” The ghoul howls in pain.

A deep laughter echoes from inside the building. Brittany jumps off the truck landing on the ground as Craig walks up to the loading bay. The voice rumbles from inside the building, “Why would I do that?”

Brittany scoffs and yells to the open doorway, “Because if you don’t I will have my wizard huff and puff and blow your house down!”

Craig cocks an eyebrow at Brittany and she sheepishly shrugs in response. The loud voice calls out from in the building, “Perhaps I should just crush thatlittle girl’s head instead?”

Before Brittany can respond, Craig notices some odd flashes of suppressed gunfire coming from the roof. He realizes that Sister Dark is under assault. He focuses his energy and draws in a gust of wind around him, then throws himself up into the air. He lands atop the roof, catching the glimpse of Sister Dark spraying bullets with an Uzi, holding a small group of ghouls at bay.

Brittany curses a bit as she starts to contemplate plan B, when suddenly a black man leaps up onto the loading bay next to Brittany. She notices that he is dressed in black Kevlar and has a sheathed sword strapped to his back. “To the beast that huddles in fear, Aaron, I give you this opportunity to seek forgiveness.”

Aaron Douglas

The loud voice rumbles, “Kill them, kill them all!”

Brittany shrugs her shoulders, “I guess we charge in? Oh, I’m Brittany!” she shouts over her shoulder as she dashes into the building. The black man draws his sword; it glows in the dark light. Brittany recognizes it as a Sword of the Cross, “Excellent, and I am Sanya,” the Knight responds to her sprinting form.

Sanya

Sister Dark loads a clip and unleashes another spray of bullets. The ghouls make their way closer to the nun and Craig as they slip through the hail of gunfire. Craig stills his mind and draws on his frustration, the irritation at this interruption, and pulls the moisture from the air about the ghouls. He sucks it from their flesh as he chills the skin. Two ghouls howl in agony, the other two shatter to hunks of dried, frozen meat.

Brittany slides through the doorway of the shelter. In the main floor she sees a small group of ghouls in Helping Hand uniforms standing around a tall, hairy man in a flannel. She recognizes Aaron from the promotional pictures in the paper; he is Evan’s right hand man. The ghouls roar, their clawed feet scraping across the floor as they charge at Brittany, mobbing her. Aaron howls and he suddenly begins to bulge and ripple, ripping his clothes apart. He grows into a hulking creature that has the head of a bull, the torso of a man, and the body of a horse that has claws instead of hooves. This creature charges her, slamming his head into her gut, causing her to release a whoosh of air.

Brittany slams her hands against the side of the monster’s neck, causing it to stumble and crush one of the ghouls. Sanya jams his blade through a closed door, slicing it neatly as it carves into the side of the beast. “I gave you this chance Gog!” Gog roars in fury and pain.

Atop the roof, Sister Dark kneels and with her Uzi opens fire on one of the crippled ghouls. She shreds it quickly and thoroughly with a blast of bullets. Craig throws a fist out and sends a strong gust of air at the other. The cold wind shreds the desiccated creature, hurling it in pieces from the roof. Craig sags from the exertion and Sister Dark leans over to hold him up.

Gog grabs Brittany and hurls her out of the building. She flies across the alleyway and slams into the brick wall, causing it to spider web behind her. She slumps to the ground, weak in the knees from the blow. Sanya cuts into Gog again, the beast howls in pain. Brittany stands up, dazed when a dump truck suddenly barrels down the alleyway and past her. She briefly sees the image of Alek Erickson at the wheel as he slams the dump truck into the ghouls, Gog, and Sanya. There is a brief bellow and Gog pushes the dump truck back, before he charges off; running into the night.

Det. Alek Erikson

Witch’s Hat Tower, Minneapolis

Thomas follows the floating spectres towards Witch’s Hat Tower. While they appear aimless, he notices that they are all intent on getting to the tower. He narrowly avoids being hit by a speeding truck from the Helping Hands shelter. This is when he notices a change in the spectre’s behavior, they start to roar with fury and rush at the tower, almost as if some ghostly insanity was brought by the truck. In the distance Thomas can here bone chilling barks and forlorn wailing, he decides to pick up the pace.

Witch’s Hat Tower

Thomas crosses onto the grounds of the library and he witnesses nightmarish chaos. He first notices that it appears the doors of the library have been torn off their hinges. He thinks he hears conflict inside, but he is not sure. The grounds between the library and the tower are packed with enraged spectres mindlessly rushing towards the stairwell of the tower. In a circle about the tower stands a line of ghouls in Helping Hands outfits battling the spectres as they try to pass them. Thomas can smell the fumes of one truck as he sees that it is overturned in the parking lot. A second truck is inside the line of ghouls, the back doors thrown open. He can see ghouls pulling people from cells inside the truck and dragging them up the stairs.

Thomas calls on the iron in his blood, his hands suddenly gripping the hilt of an iron sword. The spectres run around him, pushing at him roughly, but Thomas stands against them like a stone in the sea. He approaches and then passes through the ghoul line with two quick swipes of his blade. The ghouls howl in agony, unable to prevent his passage. Quick, sure strides take him to the tower where he interposes himself between the ghouls at the truck and the entrance.

The ghouls unloading the truck howl with furry and rush forward, trying to tear Thomas limb from limb. Thomas shrugs off their blows, the iron stiffens his resolve. He lashes out with his sword easily crushing two of the monstrosities. More begin to pile in. Suddenly, in the tower behind him, a strong wind gusts forward, attempting to throw Thomas out of the way. He jams his blade into the stonework on the floor and holds his ground, the ghouls are not as lucky. The ones who were attacking him are hurled into the crowd of rioting spectres. The truck, now empty of ghouls, is left open and undefended. Thomas sees some, what appears to be homeless people, huddling to the back of the truck.

“Get out of here if you want to live!” Thomas doesn’t stop to see if they heed his words and pivots around his sword. He calls upon the living iron and transforms the blade into climbing hooks. Thomas pulls his way across the floor of the tower towards the stairwell, his strength pulling him through the strong gales. When Thomas reaches the stairs, the wind stops. He then charges up the stairs swiftly, following the path the ghouls took the other victims.

He reaches to the top of the tower and is greeted by the sight of homeless individuals chained at the ankle lining the top parapet of the tower. Thomas notices that they appear to be in some kind of slumber. On the ground of the top floor, Thomas sees an intricate circle carved into the stone. Standing in the center of a circle is a man who looks like the one he has seen in the newspapers, Evan St. Claire.

Evan St. Claire

There are some dramatic differences though. Thomas notices right away that he has two sets of eyes, one atop the other. Evan has his hands outstretched and there is a hint of silvery wings extended from his back. Thomas also notices another curiosity, in one of Evan’s hands is a glass vial that is glowing, much like the glow that Alison Harper had. Evan turns and smiles at Thomas, “Ah one of the pawns finally made it here. You were so helpful with clean-up on the Alison Harper thing. I mean, I stole some of her blood and I hoped you would just stop Magnus, you do that and get the girl KILLED, how precious!” Evan lets out a deep laugh, “And you don’t stop there, that fallen Valkyrie also thought she could stop me and you go and destroy the thing that could! In fact, you managed to do more damage to the Wards than I thought was possible.”

Thomas shrugs, as he frankly doesn’t care and the climbing claws in his hand turn into a sword blade. He slashes at Evan, who swiftly sidesteps the blow. Evan’s form changes as he moves. His body becomes more muscular, more….perfect. His coat vanishes and his hair changes from old and grey to flowing blond locks. His back sprouts white, vibrant wings and from his side he draws a silvery blade. Evan looks angelic, but where one expects kindness and mercy; there is only perversion, anger and hostility from the nimbus of light that surrounds him. His face twists in a visage of rage, his eyes are filled with a lust for destruction. The only hint at his humanity is the black goatee that remains on his face.

Evan stabs at Thomas, knocking him to the ground. Thomas lands next to some of the chained victims. He sees the metal links holding them in places and touches them with a hand. The living iron causes them to crumble away. With the links destroyed, the magic slumber dissipates, people begin to wake.

“The wailing of the innocent, while at times pleasant, I find to be distracting.” The gold nimbus about Evan flairs brightly for a moment. Thomas thinks he can hear the sound of a choir, but the noise is discordant, twisted and tears at his soul. Soon he and the other people atop the tower are bathed with a deep feeling of despair. He watches the other people lie down and curl up, paralyzed with sorrow.

Thomas is made of sterner stuff and the living iron would not let him rest, not now. He stands back up, holding his blade at the ready. Evan’s light flairs again, his wings tremble and a gust of wind slams into Thomas, blowing him off the top of the tower. The living iron quickly transmutes the blade in his hand to that of a grappling hook attached to a metal chain. As Thomas flies through the air he hurls it out, catching the parapet and taking a hold of the chain. He swings downwards, slamming into the stone wall of the tower, dangling in the air above the ghouls and rioting spectres below.

Bobby, sitting in the passenger seat of Jacobs’s jeep, gets the perfect view of Thomas’s flight and subsequent salvation as he arrives to the chaotic melee occurring outside the tower. Crow Sings decides to slump down and cower in the back of the seat, mumbling, “Fuck this.”

Jacobs steps out of his jeep. His eyes continue to be red rimmed with exhaustion and despair. He channels his fury and ignites the air in front of him before hurling a blast of fire towards the top of the tower. It shatters as it glances against a ward surrounding the peak. “You see what is coming, its happening up there! The Man in Embers told me!”

Bobby can see Jacobs gathering in more of his rage, his fear and despair. He slips a hand into his pouch and grabs his Ultimate Clarity potion. He uncorks it and takes a sip and suddenly time stops. It all becomes clear; Bobby doesn’t know how he could have missed all this. Jacobs, the Tower, the Wards, even the Man in Ember’s words. He knows what it all means. Witch’s Hat Tower is the fulcrum for the Wards that seal Fenrir in; it is the original location where the sealing ritual occurred. He realizes that it is not Fenrir that is sealed in though, no, he is just one of the Wards. Something worse is sealed in, something beyond the destruction of everything. He knows how a Ward is brought down. Someone atop the tower is using a ritual spell to funnel energy against the Wards. If he uses some related energy in his casting he can destroy the,. That is why someone of them failed when the Fear of a Fairy Queen was destroyed. It was “sucked” in. Whoever is up there must have another ingredient used in crafting the Wards. Bobby sees the universe, he sees through time and space and he now knows what he must do.

Bobby grabs Jacobs arm and in calm, confident voice states simply, “This isn’t the way man, I know what to do. Get me a path atop the tower.”

As Thomas begins to scale his way back up Witch’s Hat Tower and Bobby comes to understand the Mysteries of the Universe, Brittany, Craig, and Sanya drive towards the tower in Sanya’s old, rented Mercedes. She is determined to save Jane, Grace and everyone else who has been carted off to their doom. After Gog had ran off, she searched the shelter and found some homeless girls, poorly cared for. Alek and an injured Sister Dark offered to care for the children and decided to take them back Sacred Grounds.

Before they left though, Alek had some weaponry in the back of his dump truck. He was ready for a fight as he hadn’t trusted the Helping Hands since the Alison Harper case and was staking them out. When he saw the battle on the loading dock, he couldn’t hold back. Brittany was able to grab a bullet proof vest, while Craig grabbed a ridiculously large assault rifle that he could barely lug around. Brittany turned her thoughts to the present, focusing instead of the rampaging Gog in front of them.

She watches Gog plow through a group of rampaging spectres as the beast charges towards the tower. She catches the glimpse of Thomas’s form as he almost makes it above the ramparts. She sees Bobby and a man in military garb begin to stride through the rioting spectres, undisturbed as they make their way to the tower. Brittany turns to Sanya, “Get the car alongside Gog!”

Sanya presses the gas pedal, driving his vehicle through a throng of roaring spectres. Brittany kicks open the door and leaps onto Gog’s back. The giant beast roars and thrashes as Brittany jams her axe into the back of his head. She steers him into a pack of ravening ghouls. Sanya jams on the breaks of the vehicle. He dashes out of the vehicle drawing his blade in a smooth motion. He shouts to Brittany and Craig, “I can sense a second Denarian here, Durien, he is atop the tower!”

Craig is distracted. The tower grounds are torn up, he can see that the doors of the library have been ripped open. “The White Council is going to kill me.” He gets out of the car and makes his way to the battle field to survey the damage inside.

Thomas pulls himself atop the tower to face a sneering Durien. He morphs the iron grappling hook back into the form of a sword. Before he can set himself, Durien lashes out with his blade, severing a strap of Thomas’s armor. They exchange a quick furry of blows and Thomas realizes that he is out matched in skill, strength and speed. Durien darts around him, slashing at Thomas, the air filling with the fallen angel’s mocking laughter.

At the base of the tower, Jacobs channels two walls of stones, parting a path between some of the ghouls and spectres. Bobby and he walk to the tower with confidence. Jacobs matches Bobby’s steps. Bobby looks to Jacobs and with the effects of his Clarity potion still lingering, he can see the ghostly image of a creature, of a Mara. Bobby knows of these dream stealing demons and pulls out a spray can labeled with the words Demon Be-Gone. He sprays the air behind Jacobs and hears a small shriek of pain and then senses that the Mara has vanished. As soon as it is gone, Jacobs’s eyes lose their haunted look. His vision clears and the invisible weight has left the haunted man’s shoulders.

The Mara

Gog slams his fists into Brittany’s side and her ribs begin to creak under the pressure. Sanya stabs his blade into Gog’s flank, drawing another furrow of blood. Brittany wrenches the axe and forces Gog to slam himself against the tower wall with a thundering crash. Gog lashes out with his clawed feat and hurls Sanya across the courtyard. His blade flies from his hand as he slams into the wall of the library. Blood sprays from his mouth as he lands in an unconscious slump on the ground.

Thomas knows this fight is desperate and he already feels the stings of the small cuts that Durien has inflicted on him. He hears the sound of combat below and hopes that help comes soon. Durien laughs at Thomas’s growing fatigue, “You’re doom comes soon, just lie down and accept it.”

Thomas straightens to retort when he sees a glint from the corner of his eye and watches a gleaming sword stab into the concrete floor of the tower right next to him. Thomas, an experienced smith, recognizes Esperacchius, the Sword of Hope. Durien’s face turns ashen and Thomas grabs the hilt. He feels the iron nail of the crucifixion dig into the palm of his hand as the sword slides free of the stone floor. Durien snarls and stabs at Thomas, the sword sings in his hand and blocks the blow. Thomas thinks to himself, “Two magical weapons in one day, talk about luck.”

Craig strides into the library. Inside he sees destruction. The shelves and books have been torn apart. Bethany’s desk and office has been ripped to shreds. He catches the smell of charred flesh and sees the remains of two ghouls burned to ash. He sees three more tearing a bookcase tipped across a hallway leading deeper into the library; it is acting as a barricade. The ghouls howl with frustration as they tear at it, slavering with hunger. Bethany’s voice echoes from behind the barricade, “You killed him, you will pay. I will destroy you!”

Bethany Tempest

Craig feels a fury building inside of him. These monsters destroyed his books and harmed his assistant. He gathers his will and summons a gust of wind, snagging at the torn pages and gathering them. He lashes out at the ghouls, slicing them to narrow ribbons with a flutter of furious pages, leaving behind a bloody mess. He sends a second blast of wind to knock aside a barricade.

Bethany screams and runs out. Her eyes are red with tears and fatigue. Her blouse is torn, electricity dances along her arms, and her hair is wild from the wind and the power of the current coursing through her. “You took Craig from me!” She screams…and then stops. Bethany sees Craig standing at the doorway, and the magic, the emotions and the fatigue finally catches up to her. She smiles and passes out.

Bobby and Jacobs stride up the stairway. Bobby, feeling more certain than any other time in his life, reaches into his pouch and draws out his Possession potion. Jacobs and he reach the top floor of the tower, just in time to hear Thomas, pulled by the power of a Sword of the Cross, demand Durien’s surrender. He laughs at Thomas and hurls fire his way. Jacobs reacts quickly and summons a shield of energy to protect Thomas as he shrugs the blow off. Thomas quickly stabs Durien and the fallen angel’s beautiful face contorts in agony. Bobby sees his opening; he knows that this moment is the best one, really the only one. He gulps down his Possession potion and transforms into a fine mist. He soars forward and pushes himself into Evan St. Clair’s body.

Gog roars with fury and charges through the entry to Witch’s Hat Tower, he attempts to slam Brittany into the arch of the doorway. She pulls back on her axe, forcing Gog to slam his body against the archway itself. They continue their odd wrestling match, bucking and slamming one another into the stone walls. Brittany feels her grip slipping as she struggles to remain conscious. Gog bellows in rage and fatigue as he bucks and twists, unable to get a grip or buck the nimble Brittany.

Craig places the remains of a cushion under Bethany’s head before leaving the library to check on his companions. He can see the magical energies being discharged atop the tower. He sees Brittany’s titanic struggle with Gog inside the tower. Craig looks to the heavens and calls upon the love and sacrifice that he feels from his friends, drawing in the spiritual energy. He taps into his very essence, into the vary nature of his being and pulls out a small part of his soul. He hurls the energy at Gog, disintegrating the monster in a spontaneous blast. His hope and passion drive the force behind his magic. Gog dissipates, leaving behind a crippled Aaron who falls unconscious to the stairwell floor. A silver coin bounces down the stairwell; Brittany spares it a brief glance before running to the roof of the tower.

Hope drives Thomas as well; he trades blows back and fourth with Durien. His strikes distract Durien as Bobby tears into Evan’s psychic defenses. He senses their ego, their greed, their rage and he pulls apart the man’s mental walls brick by brick. When nothings left he strikes, forcing the essence of Durien back and takes control of Evan’s body.

“Thomas man,” Bobby in the Evan suit calls out, “this is like, Bobby, the coin is in his chest, under the skin, pull it out!”

Bobby fights with Durien for control of Evan’s body, he forces the arms wide. Thomas sees the opening and reaches out with his hand grabbing at Evan’s bared chest. He feels the ridges of a coin and pulls back, stretching the skin of Evan’s chest like taffy. Durien’s rage pushes at Bobby’s psyche and the fallen angel gains control of Evan’s arms. Evan grabs Thomas’s hand in a vice like grip, which prevents Thomas from yanking the coin further.

Brittany charges to the top of the stairs, with Jacobs yelling, “We have to get the coin!” at her as she passes by. Brittany grips her ghost axe tighter and leaps in the air, sweeping the blade down. Her axe cuts through the stretched flesh, severing it neatly. Evan howls in pain, blood gushing from the wound as he steps back. Thomas’s hand turns to solid iron when he grasps Durien’s coin, shielding him momentarily from the corrupting influence. Thomas can feel the living iron battle with the power of the fallen angel.

Bobby stumbles inside his Evan suit, but is able to grab the glass vial containing the blood of the fallen star. He reflects on the Prophecy given to him by the Man in Embers, the nature of what he saw in the moment of Clarity. He calls on his life, Evan’s life and the blood of the star and pours it into the ritual spell. He knows the energy pours down the tower and into the Wards below. Instead of ripping at them, he finds the hole where the Seventh Ward was. He can do nothing about the Veil, but with his, and Evan’s final breath, he pours his energy into the ancient Wards below.

Evan, along with Bobby, vanish atop the tower, the glass vial falling to the ground, empty. The dark energy dissipates and one of the Wards below is restored.

Several Days Later, Witch’s Hat Tower, Minneapolis.

Craig stands on the library grounds beneath the shade of Witch’s Hat Tower. He watches the reconstruction with satisfaction. He likes where Bobby’s statue is going to go, his sacrifice saved lives, saved the city, probably the world. Craig goes through his mental checklist. Thomas gave Durien’s coin to Sanya (He could’ve sworn that he saw Brittany and the Knight out on a date last night), Aaron’s crippled body is at the hospital, and the Helping Hands Shelter is disbanded. Craig scowls to himself for a moment when he remembers that Gog’s coin is still missing. He then moves onto happier thoughts. Those girls, Jane and Grace, that Brittany wanted to save were found alive and well atop the tower. He heard they might have gotten jobs at Sacred Grounds, who knows. Jacobs seems none the worse for wear and those spectres vanished as soon as the ghouls scattered. He heard that he is helping Sister Dark with a veterans outreach program at St. Mary’s. Craig taps his chin thoughtfully, as there still is something about Jacobs that nags at him.

Grace
Jane Doe

Craig is unable to chase down that thought as he is interrupted by a terse cough behind him. He turns to see the severe Donald Morgan. That doesn’t surprise him; Morgan is always the dour thundercloud that rains on a Wizard’s sunny day. What surprises him is that Morgan is not alone, next to him, standing tall is Martha Liberty, a member of the Senior Council.

Donald Morgan
Martha Liberty

Craig gulps, thinking to himself, “They must be here because of that deal with the Winter Fairy. Shit, I knew that had to catch up with me.”

He walks towards them.

“…..don’t trust him, he’s too young.” Morgan whispers to Liberty
.
Liberty shrugs her shoulders, “It has to be him, logistics demand it, hell, fate demands it.”

When they notice his approach, Morgan scowls at him and Liberty turns to face him.

“Wizard Hale, follow me.”

Without waiting a response Martha strides through the tower entrance with Morgan behind her. Craig quickly follows. He watches the Senior Wizard pull a gold key from her pocket and she touches an interior wall of the tower where the stairwell ends. A small hole opens up, and she slides the key inside. With a small click, the stone wall swings open and Craig sees a winding stairway leading down.

Liberty and Morgan descend down the staircase. Craig pauses, examining the architecture. He never even knew about this staircase. He hurries up after them. After several flights of walking they reach the bottom. Craig follows the pair into an enormous cavern. He can feel magical energy in the air as he sees shimmering Wards preventing further access. He scans the ground and sees the evidence of six powerful Wards. It looks like one burned out.

He looks through the Wards, for a brief instant he thinks he sees the ghostly image of Bobby Chan floating by. Craig blinks his eyes and peers deeper. He sees an image of a man with an enormous sword deeper in the cavern, held back by some of the Wards. In the center he sees the shadow of a chair, a throne carved in stone.

Gleipnir

Liberty lets Craig take in the sights before speaking, “You know of Gleipnir. The Impossible Chains used to hold the beast Fenrir. The legends you have heard are a lie. They are used to hold something back, something worse than Fenrir, something worse than the end of the world.” Martha Liberty pauses briefly, “Fenrir is just the Final Ward, the Final Chain to seal off the World Chair, the Throne of All. You can barely see it in the middle of the room. If someone sits on that chair they become the master of reality….and in doing so, break it. The various powers made an agreement to hide this chair, to seal it…and then to forget about it.”

The World Chair

Martha sighs, “Unfortunately, forgetting about it is no longer an option,” she takes the golden key and presses it into Craig’s hand. She looks to Morgan and nods. Morgan hands Craig and a Grey Cloak.

“Wizard Craig Hale, by birthright, by art, and by law, the Senior Council calls upon you to act as the Guardian of these Wards,” Martha intones solemnly, “you are named Warden of Witch’s Hat Tower.”

Craig can hear Morgan mutter under his breath, “And may god have mercy on us all.”

Craig looks at the key and slips it into his pocket. He glances at the cloak. He heard that blood cannot stain it. He just wanted his research and his books. Craig looks at the other two wizards and slips the cloak on. A piece of fabric has never felt heavier.

Conclusion of Helping Hand

View
Spiritus Securis
A Brittany Winter's Story

Featured Investigators

The Story

I awake with a start, fumbling on my nightstand I find my cellphone and when my eyes finally adjust to the retina searing glare of the screen, a sigh escapes me when it reads 3am. This is the third time this week. Looking to my other hand, gripping what should be my blankets, I’m unphased to find the ax in my clammy fist.

Again, it’s the third time this week.

Slowly, I roll my legs over the edge of the bed, careful not to wake the mountain range of snoring dog that’s taken up vigil beside my bed. I quietly sneak downstairs, to where I keep my workout bag. With shaky hands, I change into my running clothes… the whispers from my dream still too vague for me to make out the words. Quickly downing the dregs of the shop’s last pot of coffee from the previous night, I head out into the drizzling predawn hours.

Picking a direction at random, I run full tilt for maybe 15 minutes before hearing the hissing whispers that woke me up. Slipping down a side street, the whispers start gaining substance, I’m hearing more consonants than “H’s” and “S’s”.

Slowing my pace, I find myself standing before a rundown two-story house near the old Landmark brewery. Hopefully when it becomes the Schmidt Artist Lofts the neighborhood will take an upswing.

Looking from the old brick towers to the house, my hand closes around empty air, the spectral ax firm in my grip. Concentrating on the shadows in the empty windows, the ax whispers for the last time.

“Jacob Phillips”

With a heavy breath to still my nerves, I start at the door with a run. A split second before my shoulder hits the door, the flat top of the ax’s head hits just to the center of the knob, obliterating the lock and the frame as my shoulder swings the door clear and I’m inside.

In the echo of the door’s destruction I’m creeping through the front hall and up the stairs, at the top I stop long enough to hear a rasping, inhaled sob. The owner’s throat too raw from wailing out it’s fear.

It’s coming from the bathroom. The hallway passes by in a blink of my jangled nerves, the ax in my hand is a length of barely contained violence. As I turn into the bathroom I see him there, curled into the same little ball the others were. Shoulders shaking with an unheard cry. Every time I see it I get a little sick inside.

My sneaker crunches on broken tile and the kid jerks, looking up at me, I put a finger to my lips as I make eye contact. Jesus, he can’t be more than 4 or 5 years old. He nods at me for a moment, before his eyes go wide.

Turning, I see her as she’s materializing into the hall. All dark, swirling hair, thin arms and fluttering, white skirt hems coming through the wall, her long fingernails aimed at my throat. As she screams, that silent scream that carries up the length of the ax to my ears, her mouth stretches to take up her entire face. I push into the hall ax first, surprising La Llarona as she finds she’s solid to my touch.

We push back and forth for a few tense seconds, each jockeying for the upper hand on the other. After a few swipes, she manages to rake her nails across my collarbone, a series of small gashes in my hoodie that quickly darken with the blood welling up beneath.

Thinking she has me on the ropes, she screams again as she rushes in to finish me, that’s when I bring the ax around in a whistling strike that takes her head from her shoulders. Both pieces remain there floating with her head spinning slowly from the remaining momentum of my swing, like there’s no gravity.

Dropping the ax, I step back into the bathroom. His terrified eyes look up to me as I hold out my hand to him, going down to a knee.

“C’mon baby… let’s get you back home.”

With a sob, he runs into my arms and we make our way back into the hall. Lifting his tear-wet face from my neck to look at the ghost, his rough voice whispers “What about her?”

“Don’t worry, when the sun comes up she’ll be gone.”

We get out of the house and take side streets to the police precinct where I’ll drop him off, carrying him the whole way. Setting him on his feet in the alley nearby, he looks at my hands as they go into the pockets of my hoodie, “Oh no, you left your ax!”

He won’t understand when I say “I wish”, so I just smile and say, “That’s ok, baby. You’re worth it,” and point to the door. “Alright Jacob, you’re going to go into that door with the police cars in front. They’re going to make a big fuss over you and get your parents here. Ok?”

He nods and gives my legs a quick hug before heading out of the alley. I watch until he goes in the door. Turning to head deeper into the alley, my hand closes around the ax shaft and slinging it over my shoulder I head home to open up shop.

I really hope there isn’t a fourth time this week.

View
You Break It You Buy It
Helping Hand, Part Two


    Currently Airing: Sacred Grounds Vandalized, Community Outraged    Homeless People Assaulting Community in Streets, Evan St. Claire Calls for More Outreach Assistance    Disaster on Eat Street, Rioting and Vandalism – Minnesota Public Radio News    

Featured Investigators

The Story

Trailing a Fetch Shaped Dragon Through the City, Minneapolis

Val turned up the gas, powering her motorcycle through city streets. Thomas clutched to the side seat, holding on for dear life. Behind them, Brittany struggled through the traffic to keep up, torn as to follow the dragon or to return to Sacred Grounds and see what is happening to Jane after her phone call cuts out. Ripley hangs her head out the window enjoying the wind in her face. Bobby hurriedly searches through his bag, searching for a special vial. He knows that the dragon is really a fetch, and fetches feed on fear. He finds a small tin, labeled “Chill Pill” and laughs to himself, knowing he has his secret weapon. Crow Sings also indulges in his “secret weapon,” taking a pull of whiskey. He looks at the bottle and mutters, “good shit” before he passes out. Craig and Sister Dark, still stuck under the glamour as ghouls, hop on Craig’s Indian Motorcycle and head towards the Como Park Conservatory to talk directly to the Winter Court in an attempt to cut to the heart of the matter. Craig and the nun agreed to meet with the rest at Sacred Grounds.

Val

The dragon shaped fetch continues to fly above the city, heading closer to downtown Minneapolis. The pursuit quickly adds a new layer of intensity, Thomas, looking at Val’s rear view mirror, and Ripley, with her head out the window, notice Hel’s Angels bikers, led by Tiny and Lobo, in hot pursuit of Val and Thomas. The bikers begin to pass by Brittany’s car, unaware that that vehicle is aiding Val and Thomas in their hunt.

Tiny
Lobo

Thomas yells up to Val, “I think your friends are following us again!”

Val looks in the mirror and lets out a curse, “Use the shotgun in the holster!”

While Thomas draws out the shotgun, Ripley growls in frustration that none of the passengers in her vehicle know a civilized tongue. She turns glowing eyes at the bikers and lets out a fearsome howl that echoes through the air around the vehicle. The effects are profound. Tiny nearly loses control of his bike as his heart thunders with sudden fear. Brittany, sitting next to Ripley, screams in surprise and shock. Bobby and, unfortunately, Lobo and other bikers demonstrate little fear towards the soul shattering howl.

The werewolf bikers let out a chorus of howls and open fire with sub machineguns and pistols. Thomas feels a flurry of bullets ping off his armor as Val swerves the bike back and forth dodging the hail of shells. Thomas looks at her shotgun and realizes it is too small for his hand. He levers his weight and attempts to swing around behind Val to act as a shield from the gun fire. His weight pushes on the side car and snaps it, sending it hurling behind him. Most of the pursuing motorcyclists are able to dodge it, but Tiny, already off balance because of his fear, slams into it and crashes.

Ripley, sensing that her vehicle is now included in the werewolf pack’s hunt, leaps out the passenger side window and tackles one of the bikers, knocking him off his motorcycle. Brittany, shocked at the eerie howl of her dog and then to have her suddenly leap from the vehicle to maul a biker, loses control of the car while slamming on the breaks. It swerves sideways, blocking off the road. This catches the pursuing motorcycle gang causing them to slam into the vehicle, flipping over the car or sliding across the pavement. The bikers turn their fury from Val and Thomas to the passengers of Brittany’s car.

Bobby sees that Val and Thomas are continuing to speed off towards the dragon; he calmly unbuckles his seat belt and steps out of the car. “Ok, now, like guys, lets just talking this over like the civilized individuals we are. So, let’s like get our license and insurance information.”

Bobby realizes that none of the bikers are buying it. Lobo and the others howl and bark with rage, tearing their leathers and transform into monstrous wolves. Further down the road, Ripley lands atop the biker she mauled and smashes him into the pavement. She sees the growing confrontation and knows the pack wants to hunt and feed. While they are distracted, she charges down the road and mauls another biker from behind. She savages him viciously, slamming him side to side repeatedly into the pavement.

The other bikers, now challenged by a new alpha close in and charge Ripley. The pack attempts to circle in and hamstring her; however she spins rapidly snapping her maw at any challengers. Lobo sees an opening and crashes atop Ripley raking a deep furrow down her back. She howls in anger and pain. Bobby yells out, “The wolves man, they follow the alpha, take down the leader and you break the pack!”

Brittany shakes off the terror she felt and kicks open her door. She draws her ghost axe and throws herself at Lobo from behind. His rage distracts him and she cuts him deeply along the side. He howls in pain and terror. Ripley gets in under his throat and bites savagely. Lobo bounds away and then dashes off down a side street whimpering as he runs. The other wolves break turn and follow after him.

On the way to the Como Park Conservatory, St. Paul.

“How does this help us find Jacobs?” Sister Dark asks, astride the back of Craig’s motorcycle.

Sister Dark

“If the Winter Court keeps interfering, it’s going to be too hard to get anything done! Besides, we have to get rid of this curse!”

As Craig revs the engine, Sister Dark taps Craig on the shoulder. “I got a message it looks to be from your assistant Bethany. She says that there are some odd homeless people assaulting the visitors, she says she closed the library, but things are getting weird and scary over there.”

Craig scowls and thinking about the information on Jacob’s map, decides that he needs to head to Witch’s Hat Tower instead to check on the library. Craig, with Sister Dark behind him, makes excellent time to the library. As he gets nearer, he notices people hurrying down the street from the area. Craig senses necromantic energy in the air. He feels a little uneasy when he sees his first homeless person walking listless down the road, staring intently at the Tower.

Witch’s Hat Tower

Craig drives closer and sees that the individual is a little translucent and realizes that he is dealing with spectres, ghosts twisted with necromantic energy. He sees more gathering about the base of the Tower, staring up at it. They appear docile and only interact with someone when they close, when that happens they turn on the person; showing all their rage, guilt and sorrow, driving the person away. This all changes as Craig and Sister Dark approach the Tower by motorcycle. When the spectres see Craig and Sister Dark, their docile nature changes into a more violent aspect. They suddenly roar with fury and charge at the two of them, their moans echoing with anger and despair.

Spectres

Craig yells for Sister Dark to hold on tight and channels a blast of wind. He hurls the motorcycle through the air over the grasping hands of the spectres. Craig loses control of the motorcycle and crashes on its side, slamming it against the wall of the library. Sister Dark pulls herself free and draws a large submachine gun, watching the spectres begin their run towards the two of them. Craig heads to the library doors and yanks them open, hoping to find shelter inside. Instead, he finds an irate Bethany Tempest.

Bethany Tempest

“Be gone foul creatures, your kind is not wanted here!” Bethany focuses her energy as she looks upon Craig and Sister Dark, rage in her eyes. She channels a blast of air. It whips out from in the library and through the open doors.

Craig remembers that the Glamour is still in effect and that Bethany is seeing them as ghouls and not as they are. He ducks behind the door, avoiding the blast of air. Sister Dark is not as lucky and turns towards the door. The gust of wind rips off some pieces of stone from the Library’s entry way and a rock strikes Sister Dark on the side of her face, leaving a giant bruise and knocking her off her feet.

Ghouls

Craig peers around the door and pulls out his dream journal, showing it to Bethany, yelling out, “It’s me Craig, let us in.”

Bethany’s rage filled eyes turn to sudden despair. Craig never really appreciated how much Bethany cared for him, and he can now see the loss on her face, he also realizes that she doesn’t see through the Glamour. Bethany’s voice echoes through the air, heavy with vengeance and pain, “You murdered him, you killed Craig!” Energy crackles and dark clouds gather above them, “I will DESTROY you!”

Thunder rolls as the sky fills with the power of Bethany’s love, of her pain, and her rage, lightning strikes, stabbing at the ground. Spectres crumble and turn to ash with each flash. Craig and Sister Dark get caught in the sudden storm. Craig focuses his energy and calls upon the charged air, creating rods of lightning to diffuse the energy. Bethany’s fury smashes through Craig’s desperation and lightning singes both he and Sister Dark, hurling them to the ground. Bethany escapes the brunt of her own onslaught by slamming the door shut.

Craig, Sister Dark and the Indian Motorcycle survive the storm, but all carry the injuries of Bethany’s vengeance. They can hear the continued moaning of spectres and Craig realizes that before he came to the tower they were docile. His presence is what is causing them to act out. He turns to Sister Dark and shouts, “Get on the motorcycle, we have to get out of here,” he glances back at the library, “and we have to get rid of these Glamours before they cause more trouble.”

He jumps onto the motorcycle with Sister Dark, and with a painful shudder of the motor he speeds off down the road towards the Como Park Conservatory.

Eat Street, Minneapolis

As Val continues charging after the dragon, Thomas slides the letter that has been sitting in his pocket all evening. He takes shelter from the wind as best he can and breaks open the seal, reading the letter addressed to him.

Erin Kirkpatrick


Thomas,

The Winter Court, angered by your interference regarding the Fallen Star, has marked you and some of your companions, the Viking Aleksander Erikson and the wizard Craig Hale, for death and destruction. A woman by the name of Val knows this and will use you to lure a creature from its slumber in an effort to destroy it. She is, in fact, after an object of power that this creature guards. I, and the Summer Court, provide you this warning as a gesture of thanks.

With Honor,
Erin Kirkpatrick

Thomas narrows his eyes for a moment at Val and slides the letter carefully back into his pocket. He then grabs his cell phone and makes a quick call to Sister Dark, in an effort to warn Craig. He unfortunately gets a disconnected signal. (Unbeknownst to Craig and Sister Dark, the nun’s cell phone burned out during their accident confrontation with Bethany.) Thomas then calls Bethany hoping that she might have a way to reach Craig. A very weepy voice answers the phone tentatively, “H..Hello? This is Bethany.”

“Bethany,” Thomas gruffly says, “I’m look for Hale, can you pass a message for me?”

Thomas jerks back from the phone at the sudden anguished wail, “Craig….Craig’s DEAD. He was eaten, by, by some Monster!”

Thomas thinks for a moment, “Hey, was it a ghoul? If it was, Craig’s been turned into a ghoul, I think, so it’s ok”

Bethany continues to cry uncontrollably and hangs up the phone. Thomas shrugs his shoulders; he was never good with the crying stuff anyways. He then makes a quick phone call to Alek giving him a warning that the Winter Court might be after him.

“Good thing I took my unpaid leave down in Florida,” Alek mutters, but then asks, “Hey, you’re friends with Brittany Winters?”

“Yeah”

“Well, I have heard some gossip from guys on the force that someone blew up Sacred Grounds, is she ok? I mean, that place has some killer donuts.”

“Well, I haven’t heard anything about that, but when last I saw her she looked fine. I will let you know, but, I got some things to take care of right now.”

Thomas then disconnects from the phone as Val slows down the motorcycle heading towards Nicollet Avenue. She shouts at Thomas, “I want you to take guard in the center street and lure the beast out into the open. I will then be able to charge it and we will end this foul creature.”

Val pulls into a now abandoned street. Normally it would be trafficked with people going in and out the various restaurants; instead Thomas sees several flattened cars and hears the whining sound of a police squad car being crushed. Val leaves him in the middle of the road and then speeds down the broad avenue, rapidly building up distance.

Thomas looks about and can see a restaurant that normally would be bustling with business, now appears to be quiet. It looks like a section of its roof has been peeled back and he can hear the crunching of jaws from a nearby alleyway between two larger buildings. Thomas scans the other stores and sees a flower shop. An idea suddenly strikes him.

Thomas moves swiftly, clanking heavily towards the florist. He easily smashes through the front door and ignores the ring bell. He begins to grab handfuls of flowers and stuffing them in the open gaps of his iron suit. Thomas thinks to himself, “The Trappings of Summer” as he jams some roses in between his shoulder and forearm. Thomas’s actions have not gone unnoticed and the dragon roars with a sudden fury and punches a clawed hand through the glass wall attempting to crush Thomas in its grasp. Thomas dodges the clumsy blow and grabs a bag of seeds from the counter next to him. He then jams it into the dragon’s maw, causing it to choke on the bag.

Bobby, with an inebriated Crow Sings, speeds onto Nicollet with his borrowed Hel’s Angels motorcycle. Brittany and Ripley, in her mangled Solstice, follow behind. They come upon the Dragon tearing a florist shop apart. They can hear Thomas yelling taunts at it from inside. Ripley jumps out the window again and attempts to tear into the dragon’s tough hide. Unfortunately her teeth are unable to penetrate it. Brittany attempts to ram her car into the Dragon, thinking, hey it is a Solstice, but as it revs forward the engine coughs and shudders to a stop. Bobby reaches into his bag and pops a Chill Pill. He feels its calming effects quickly enough and goes to grab his headache potion, to traumatize the dragon. He then thinks, “Yeah man, in a minute, some of these flowers, are like, awesome” and literally stops to smell the roses.

Crow Sings

The dragon narrows its eyes and lets out an earth shattering roar. Its bellow fills the air and people who were cowering in windows previously suddenly start screaming, overcome with fear. Thomas, Brittany, and Ripley feel the hair stand up on their neck as the unnatural terror winds its way through them. Brittany becomes the most affected as she wets herself, feeling shear terror. Bobby simply giggles a little bit and puts a flower in his hair.
Val’s motorcycle roars from down the road and the inflicted terror is only short lived. Ripley leaps up and tears at the dragon’s eyes, bounding up its body and building, blinding one of its eyes with a rake of claws. Brittany grabs the now immobile car and hurls it at the dragon, it crumples against his body. Bobby focuses his attention and whips a Sticky potion through the air, shattering it on the ground. The vial explodes, coating the ground in a sticky substance. Thomas grabs the exposed gas tank from Brittany’s car and hurls it at the dragon. The dragon roars in pain and slams its fist against Thomas, his claws denting his iron arm suit.

Val continues her charge, the long spear held at the ready. Ripley jumps back down and howls with fury at the dragon, seeking to protect Brittany. Brittany grabs a lighter from her pocket, only to realize, with no small amount of disgust, that it has been “ruined.” Bobby though is able to light the gas fumes about the dragon and it roars in fury as it is set ablaze. It grabs the ruined vehicle that Thomas is standing upon, knocking him to the ground and hurls it at Val. Its aim is true and it knocks the motorcycle out from under Val, sending her hurling through the air. Val loses her grip on the spear and soars into a brick wall, slamming into it roughly.

Luckily, the spear landed at Thomas’s feet. He struggles to pull it from the ground; it was caught in the sticky substance that Bobby had laid out. Val yells, “Thomas, use the spear to kill the beast,” she then makes a quick chant throwing some rocks with runes at Thomas’s feet.

The dragon thrashes, but Thomas feels energy flow through him and he pulls the spear free. He stabs swiftly upwards gutting the dragon deeply. The great beast shudders and starts to slough off pieces of its skin as it dissolves into ectoplasm. The fetch shudders and then vanishes back into the Nevernever leaving behind a gold phylactery that falls towards the ground. Ripley is the first to act and dives through the air, seeking the vial for herself. She is able to snap on it with her great jaws, catching it perfectly. The delicate vial is not able to withstand the crushing might of the wolfhound’s jaws and it shatters.

Fetch

Como Park Conservatory, St. Paul

Craig’s motorcycle comes to a rattling halt in front of the closed gates. He slides gingerly off the bike. Sister Dark pulls out a small first aid kit and begins to dab at some of his burns. She now has an arm in a sling, bandaged from the burns she received from Bethany.
Sister Dark finishes and slides the first aid kit back into her habit, Craig sighs, “Alright, I am going in to talk with the Winter Court, we need to end this interference.”

Como Conservatory

“Fucking fairies,” the nun suddenly curses, then blushes slightly and makes the sign of the cross, “I trust none of them, I see a high point and I am going to cover you from there.” Sister Dark suddenly turns the white part of her habit around making it as dark as the rest of her frock. She then pulls out the pieces of a rifle and snaps them into place.

Craig steps back, a little startled, “Well, ok, just, don’t fire unless things get violent. I need to talk.”

Sister Dark nods and then dashes into the shadows, vanishing into the black night. Craig walks up to the gate which swings open untouched with a small grinding sound. He steps into the closed conservatory grounds and gets the feeling of eyes upon them. He thinks he can see the shapes of smaller pixies flitting in the trees. As he gets closer to the conservatory he feels a sudden drop in the temperature, his breath misting. He feels slightly comforted as he sees a red bead of light on the ground in front of him and he knows that he is under the militant nun’s watchful gaze.

The glass of the conservatory suddenly whitens from condensation and the elfin figure of Sylivia appears. She leans upon her bow, her hand on a hip, with a quiver of arrows resting on her thighs. Her severe eyes blaze with a blue energy as her blonde white hair settles about her.

Sylivia

“I have warned you once before wizard,” she spits out the last word like a curse, “you will cease your meddling or you will die!”

Craig holds out his hands, now covered in bandages, plaintively, “I come in peace to bargain, I ask that you call off your fetch and end your glamour.”

Sylivia arches a pale, blonde eyebrow, “Oh and to what end? You interfered with our matters and you come to bargain as if we are on equal footing.” Sylivia wrinkles her delicate nose, “besides, you stink of Summer.”

“Listen, Sylivia, the fetch is involving others in a conflict that has nothing to do with them,” Craig reasons, “lets not get this all tangled with the Accords and just have this conflict between us.”

The snow elf smiles mischievously, “There is a ritual to bind it,” she draws a circle for Craig to see, “Simply place a drop of your blood in the center and call upon the power of Winter.” She looks at Craig directly, “And the beast will turn to stone and resume its rest.”

Craig listens to Sylivia’s words and looks at the circle, his gut tells him not to trust the fairy, but he can find no evidence that Sylivia is deceiving him. He looks to her again, “Now about the Glamour?”

Sylivia laughs harshly, “You come as a beggar who already has a great debt. What do you offer? What do you have that equals the power of a star, that equals the power that which you denied us?”

Craig begins to sweat, he can sense that the winter fae’s patience is beginning to wear thinly, “I have something that I can offer, the Way Nexus of Witch’s Hat Tower. I am a Wizard of the White Council and I can allow the Winter Court free passage for a year. In return you cease your interference with my activities.”

Sylivia laughs, but suddenly her eyes blaze with a colder blue light. Her hair swirls wildly about her as she gazes intently at Craig. Her voice, now heavy with power, intones, “You ask for indefinite interference and give only a definite exchange? No, Wizard, that will not do,” Sylivia laughs, rich and powerful, but cold and cruel, “However, we will remove the glamour from you and the other. We will say that on the matter of Alison Harper that our accounts are balanced.”

Craig thinks for a moment, realizing that he is probably not going to get better, calls out, “Deal!”

Sylivia smiles and he feels the frost that was coating him earlier fade away. Then the world crashes. Everything lurches and Craig visibly stumbles forward, losing his footing. He gains his balance in time to see the look on Sylivia’s face turn from one of satisfaction to abject terror. She vanishes and with her the presence of Winter. The air warms around him the park falls silent. Craig extends his arcane senses, trying to understand what happened. He senses that the fragile ward about Fenrir has just collapsed. Not only that, but he finds that he can hold in his mind the idea of Fenrir’s cage and realizes that with the ward collapsing, something also caused the Veil to shatter.

Gleipnir

“I have to get to Sacred Grounds and meet up with the rest, there is something going on here that we are missing.”

Eat Street, Minneapolis

When the gold vial shattered in Ripley’s mouth a profound sense of emptiness had washed over the giant wolfhound. She becomes consumed by the feelings of the end of everything and overwhelmed by an unnatural feeling of terror from an unnatural creature. The entire world lurches and stops, then suddenly resumes. Ripley tumbles to the ground and everyone stumbles. A look of despair flits across Val’s face before being replaced by anger.
“Fah,” Val shouts, “you damnable beast, you have doomed us all. Thomas, my spear.” Val holds her hand out to Thomas. Thomas passes her the spear.

“Well you kept secrets, you should have been upfront with us,” Brittany screams back at Val.

“I have no time for you!” Val scowls at Brittany, looking her over, “I don’t even know who you are, with your wet pants, and mangy mongrel, but you destroyed the only thing that could have saved us, The Fear of a Fairy Queen. Bah, you are not worth my time.” Val turns her back to Brittney, a lost look on the biker’s face. She quickly smooths it over, but before she strides away, Thomas interrupts her.

“My payment?”

Val snorts and tosses a bag of gold to Thomas’s feet and strides to her motorcycle. She quickly stands it back up, starts the engine and rides off. The huff from motor echoes her disgust. Bobby, on the other hand, concerned at the sudden lurching of world also begins to mull over the sudden event with his arcane lore. He realizes that the weakened ward to Fenrir’s imprisonment has suddenly failed. The next ward, the Veil, has also shattered.
Brittany sighs and pets Ripley who whimpers, “I’m going back to Sacred Grounds to check on the girl and meet up with Craig, who’s coming with us?

Thomas shrugs in his arms, walks towards Brittany and then suddenly states, “Oh, yeah Brittany, I spoke to a cop who mentioned that someone bombed Sacred Grounds. I thought you should know.”

Bobby, on the other hand, notices that Crow Sings is waking up and still feeling a little chill still says, “Yeah, me and Crow Sings will, be like right behind you, we might like, you know get something to drink or something. We’ll catch up with you later!”

Brittany, concerned about her store, hurries with Ripley towards the light rail. Thomas decides to follow her and they leave Bobby and Crow Sings behind. Bobby and Crow Sings stumble into a nearby bar, when Crow Sings, a little more sober, mumbles, “I hope we don’t meet that Jacobs’s guy, he is doing weird things with ghosts over at HCMC.”

Bobby notices that some spectres milling in the city street, walking towards an unknown destination. Curiosity and maybe the spark of heroism gets the better of him, “Hey Crow Sings, why don’t we go like talk some sense into him, so we don’t have these ghosts bugging us when we are, like trying to chill.”

Crow Sings slugs down a beer real quick and agrees, following Bobby out the door and towards HCMC.

Sacred Grounds, St. Paul

Craig and Sister Dark arrive first to Sacred Grounds and find it surround by emergency personnel. The windows are shattered with smoke pouring out of broken windows. Craig channels a brief wind of air to blow the smoke out of the way, so that he can see inside. (He also, for the unfortunate emergency responders, shorts out their radios.) Shortly after Brittany, Ripley and Thomas arrive on foot. They see Craig and Sister Dark and confirm that they are no longer on the influence of the Glamour.

Sacred Grounds

“I need your help Craig; there was a girl that I saved from a pack of ghouls. I think she was taken by them, can you track her down?” Brittany asks Craig.

Craig nods, “I just need something of the girl’s. It should be no problem.”

Jane

Sister Dark sighs, “I….I need your help with my friend, but, if this girl is in the hands of ghouls, I can’t just abandoned her.”

Brittany approaches the crime scene, only to be stopped by law enforcement, concerned by her appearance. They direct her towards the paramedic.

“Can I go in and just get a change of clothes?”

The paramedic shakes his head, “I’m sorry Ma’am. It is just too dangerous in there. The structure isn’t sound.”

Thomas sees this argument and starts clanking towards the building, only to be stopped by a police officer. He gets into a brief argument and Brittany takes the moment to run into the building with Ripley. They look around as firemen shout at the two to leave the building, but Brittany finds some food that Jane was eating and snags the plate; while grabbing some other belongings. Eventually she is ushered back onto the street.

Brittany hands Craig the plate, “Will this work?” Craig nods and begins to channel energy about a ritual circle for a tracking spell.

Thomas bored at the ritual magic being cast and not really caring about what is going on, notices some odd people, most likely specters, not pausing to look at the destruction, but all wandering in the same direction. Curious he hefts his sword and walks off unnoticed by the rest to follow these ghostly figures.

Craig uses the journal they found at Jacobs and the plate at Sacred Grounds to get a sense where both of these people are. Jacobs, he finds is towards Minneapolis. Craig remembers the map he saw on Jacobs’s wall and thinks he is being directed to HCMC. The other, for the girl, he is being directed towards Downtown Saint Paul.

Brittany sees where Craig is pointing and says aloud, “ The Helping Hands Shelter. Let’s get going.”

To be continued

View
Lost Souls
Helping Hand, Part One


    Currently Airing: Homeless People are disappearing from streets of the Twin Cities    Evan St. Claire pledges that the Helping Hands Shelter is now safe with an influx of funds from Carlos Ortega    Movie Special Effects Mishap causes a Water Main to Burst – Minnesota Public Radio News    

Featured Investigators

The Story

Witch’s Hat Tower, Minneapolis
Witch’s Hat Tower

Craig searched the stacks of books in the arcane library with a frantic and hopeless energy.

“It’s hard to research anything about these seals when I am struggling to just simply remember their existence.” Craig mutters to himself, “I am not getting anywhere! I can’t find anything more about the ritual of Gleipnir.”

Gleipnir

Craig scowled to himself, brooding, as wizards are wont to do. He turned his gaze towards the admiring Bethany Tempest who interrupted his thoughts with a timid question, “Mr. Hale, Sir, there is a…a Nun here to see you.”

Bethany Tempest

“Send her away, I have no time for this,” Craig brushed off Bethany’s words with an irritated wave of his hands. One of the seals holding Fenrir at bay was weakening and he had to find a solution soon.

Bethany goes to send the nun on her way, when a voice echoes from the entry way of the library, “Mr. Hale, I am sorry to interrupt and I have heard something of your exploits. You are quite magnificent and I…I think you can help me with a problem that no one else can.”

Craig’s mood lifted as he turned to the nun, “Yes, Yes, I am rather magnificent. How can I help you…..?”

Sister Dark

Sister Dark, Sister Joanne Dark”

“Ah yes, Sister Dark, please go on.”

Sister Dark looked hesitant for a minute, glancing at Bethany. Craig waived Bethany away, sensing that the nun wanted some privacy. Bethany went back to the office and closed the door, but Craig noticed her peaking around a stack of library books listening in.

“It’s about my friend, John Jacobs, he,” Sister Dark breathes in for a second, “is a changed man after the war. We served a tour together, but something broke him, something bad. I have tried to help him, but, but he can do things….”

Sister Dark trails off as Craig nods thoughtfully. He has heard of John Wesley Jacobs III and has also heard rumors that he might have some ability with the magic arts. “If he has suffered trauma of some kind his magic could take him to dark places, this will require my personal attention.”

Craig looks towards Sister Dark, “Bethany, please take care of any library business! Now my dear Sister, please where can we find Jacobs?”

Sister Dark smiles, “He is usually at the Fort Snelling’s National Cemetery.”

Craig gestures for Sister Dark to follow him as he strides out of the library. Parked nearby is an old Indian Motorcycle. Craig comes from old money and it allows him to acquire some unique pieces of equipment, in this case an old motorcycle that resists the discharge of his magical energies. He gestures for Sister Dark to hop on, as the bicycle she has chained to the stand outside the library will not do. Once she settles in behind him, he roars off towards the Cemetery.

Thomas’s Garage, Minneapolis

Thomas just finished the grilled cheese sandwich he made for dinner as he listened to the radio. Evan St. Claire apparently is trying to galvanize the city in saving the less fortunate and to start looking into all the homeless that disappeared. Evan was quick to thank Carlos Ortega for his generous donation to the Helping Hands Shelter.

Thomas sighed; he hated hypocrisy almost as much as he hated the food of this century. It was too greasy with all of the calories and none of the filling. It tasted like shit. He contemplated making a second when a loud knock interrupts his musings. He tidies up and goes to the door made of sheet metal, pulling it roughly aside with a loud squeal.

Outside he sees the statuesque Val, dressed in biking leathers mixed with metal plates, almost giving her the look of a medieval knight crossed with a biker. She holds a leather satchel in her hand, filled with gold coins.

Val

“You are Thomas, no?” She asks in a rough Germanic accent, “The Monster Hunter?”

“I am.”

Val throws the sack at Thomas feet; inside he can see a pile of gold coins, “I have need of you to help me slay a Dragon. Half now, and half upon its death.”

Thomas picks up the gold, “I assume we start now,” Val nods and Thomas begins to strap himself into his iron plate armor. He notices an envelop sitting atop his breastplate that smells slightly of spring. He sees that his name is written on the front of the envelope by a delicate hand. He pockets it quickly and as he does so, the sound of motorcycles echoes through the alleyway. Val turns and clicks her tongue in irritation and disgust.

“Apparently my associates followed me,” Val says to Thomas, a steely resolve in her voice, “I am afraid we are going to have to dissuade them from this notion that they tell me what to do,” she glances at Thomas’s iron sword with a smile, “Try not to dissuade them TOO violently.”

With those words she turns and faces the oncoming motorcycles. Over her shoulder Thomas can make out a pack of Hel’s Angels dressed in leathers, their faces grim. He recognizes two of them as the gang members that assaulted Hunter, Brittany and himself back during the Alison Harper investigation. Thomas made a sour face, thinking about the promise he was forced to make to a faerie. It always left a bad taste in his mouth.

They stop short, the biker, whom Thomas recognized as the Ice Giant gets off his bike and confronts the tall biker woman, “Val, you gotta stop this, Hel, won’t like it.”

Tiny

Val chuckles, a hearty laugh that makes Thomas smile, “Tiny, since when do I care about Hel and her daddy issues, besides,” Val’s eyes narrow, “when have you started being able to tell me what to do!”

Val suddenly swings her metal plated motorcycle helmet up and slams it into Tiny’s face shattering his nose, he reels back roaring, “Fine, the hard way, Lobo get the other, I will put down this bitch!”

Tiny’s face turns bluish and he begins to grow in stature reaching up to the second story, taking on the powers of his giant blood. Lobo, the other biker who was involved in the Alison Harper case, gestures to the bikers behind him. They take on the appearance of giant wolves, teeth glistening and charge past Val and into Thomas’s garage, intent on taking down the Iron Blooded Monster Hunter.

Lobo

Tiny slams a giant fist into Val. She is able to block the blow with a cross of her arms, but the force still sends her sliding across the street, ripping up chunks of concrete as she does. She roars with fury, her eyes going white with rage. She grabs a nearby street sign and rips it from the ground. Her body coils and her arm pulls back then snaps forward. Val hurls the street sign like a steel javelin. She hits Tiny in side, spearing him through and pinning him against the concrete wall behind him.

Thomas stoically meets the charge of the ravening werewolf pack. His iron blade held before him. He finds himself quickly surrounded and harried on all sides; he is able to keep the pack from overwhelming him. Lobo takes the advantage when Thomas’s back is turned and rakes a deep furrow across Thomas’s forearm. Thomas reacts with rage, smashing the butt of his sword into Lobo’s skull and knocking the wolf aside. He charges out of the garage making his way towards Val. He slashes twice with his blade, laying aside two more wolves.

The rest of the Hel’s Angels see Lobo lying senseless and Tiny moaning in pain, pulling uselessly at the sign in his gut. They decide to hang back from Val and Thomas. “Now that is resolved, this way Thomas,” Val gestures for Thomas to follow her.

She takes him around the corner from his garage and leads him to one of the most wonderful machines he has ever seen. It is a motorcycle ornamented with that of a horse; a wide sidecar is mounted to it, with two leather satchels. One contains a shotgun; the other appears to be a spear in two parts. Val hops on and puts on her helmet. Thomas gazes at her and the motorcycle with a look that can only be love and clambers into the sidecar. Over the roar of the engine Thomas asks, “Where are we going?”

“Fort Snelling’s National Cemetery.”

Indian Mounds Park, St. Paul

Bobby mutters to himself in frustration, young girls dying and now a faerie wants him to kill two vampires. And not just anyone two vampires, Ortega and Susana, both of whom would see Bobby as just an appetizer. As he clanks around, hiding the elixir Puck gave him in his satchel, a frantic knocking at the door interrupts his musing.

Indian Mounds Park

“Bobby, open up, like now!” Crow Sings yells from outside as he continues pounding on the door.

“Chill man, alright, my RV like can’t keep taking hits like this,” Bobby sighs and looks at his slightly caved in cab, dented up from a troll’s fist. He then wrenches open the door and an excited Crow Sings brushes past him.

Crow Sings

Bobby looks at the nervous Crow Sings, his head dress and regalia knocked askew; his clothing appears to have been torn in multiple places. Crow Sings ask Bobby in a hurried, terse voice, “Do you have anything for nerves? I need to shut them up.”

Bobby points to a shelf, “Like sure man over there, what’s like going on?”

Crow Sings takes a swig of some fluid and a drag of something else. His eyes go all glassy, “The Dead usually just talk and talk and talk. They have never been this handsy before, and they are pissed. Oh, I would lock your door.” Crow Sings tumbles back in a slight stupor, falling against the wall and sliding to a sitting position in a lazy slump.

Bobby hears some moaning from outside and quickly closes the door, latching it with bits of an old coat hanger. He walks up to the cab and flicks on the head lights. Outside, he takes in an eerie sight. He sees translucent ghosts, their faces contorted with rage, fear and guilt. Their hands reach out.

“Shit man, spectres,” Bobby says aloud to himself. He starts to count them, but gives up when he reaches ten, “Let’s get out of here, Crow Sings, hold on!”

Spectres

Bobby cranks the key to the RV and jams on the gas, only to get a sputtering cough and a loud bark of exhaust. The RV then rattles to a halt, protesting its treatment from a couple of nights ago. Bobby pounds the steering wheel yelling, “Not cool man, like totally not cool.” Crow Sings unhelpfully giggles.

Outside the RV more spectres begin to encircle the vehicle. They begin to pound on sides with their fists, making small dents in the aluminum. Bobby winces as one rips off his side mirror. He looks to Crow Sings.

“It’s not going to start; we are like, going to have to make a run for it!” Bobby grabs Crow Sings and pulls him to his feet. He quickly kicks open his RV door, breaking his make shift latch and makes a run for it.

Bobby and Crow Sings quickly find themselves surrounded by the moaning ghosts, their hands grasping at both the running figures. Unable to push their way through, Bobby and Crow Sings are lifted into the air. They struggle to escape the ghostly mosh pit, but are drawn deeper into the park towards a glowing rune circle.

Bobby eyes the circle and realizes that it is a gateway to the Nevernever. He shouts a quick warning to Crow Sings as they are dumped onto it. Bobby hits the ground face first and instead of finding grass, he comes up covered in sand, spitting some from his mouth.

“Private Chan, on your feet!” a voice yells at him, causing Bobby to look up into the face of an Army Lieutenant. He eyes the uniform and sees the name Lt. Jacobs. Bobby himself is wearing army fatigues and carrying standard issue desert gear. He looks to the front of his uniform as he stands and sees the name Private Chan.

Lt Jacobs

“Fuck me man.” Bobby mutters to himself in the desert heat.

Downtown Saint Paul near Sacred Grounds, St. Paul

“Who’s a good girl?” Brittany asks in a playful voice as she ruffles Ripley’s head during their evening walk downtown. The giant wolfhound puts up with it good naturedly as they listen to the sounds of the city. They can hear Evan St. Claire’s voice from a passing radio, imploring the city to do more about the victimized homeless, while at the same time applauding Carlos Ortega for his recent donations to the Helping Hands Shelter.

“Yeah great job Evan,” Brittany says sarcastically to Ripley, “Ortega and his goons are probably snacking on them.” Ripley looks at Brittany and makes a large yawn, she can never be quite sure how much the great wolfhound understands, but she does know it is more than a normal dog.

Their evening stroll is interrupted by the sounds of shouts coming from down an alleyway. Brittany and Ripley dash down the alleyway; the great hound more pulling Brittany than being walked by her. Deeper inside they see a young girl running with almost a manic, frightened look on her face; behind her are two shelter workers from the Helping Hands. One calls out towards Brittany, “You gotta help us get her, she is hallucinating, she didn’t take her medication. She might hurt herself!”

Brittany looks to the girl, who is screaming soundlessly, running down the alleyway before she can respond though; Ripley jumps into action. The hound doesn’t like the smell of the two outreach workers and inside her wells an unnatural rage. She lunges forward teeth bared and plows into one of the outreach workers from behind knocking him to the ground. She immediately latches onto on his arms and savagely tears at him.

The other outreach worker looks at Brittany, his face white, “Get your dog off of him!”

Brittany is stunned; she quickly moves around the one worker and grabs the homeless girl, pulling her behind Brittany. She turns to Ripley, “Calm down! Oh my god.”

Ripley continues to rip at the outreach worker, her powerful jaws ripping at his arm. Brittany narrows her eyes as she starts to notice that the worker is easily able to fend off the powerful jaws. Most people would be bleeding or have their forearms snapped, however the worker just has a few minor scratches and his able to hold the great dog back without great effort. The other worker notices that Brittany is getting suspicious and suddenly roars, “fuck this.”

Both the outreach worker’s jaws lengthen their eyes hollow as they suddenly reveal ropey muscles. Brittany is staring at two ghouls. The pinned ghoul tears at Ripley’s throat, ripping a gash with its teeth along its skin. The other kicks Ripley savagely in the side. Ripley lets out a fierce snarl, and with a snap of her jaws crushes the throat of one of the ghouls.

Ghoul

The homeless girl lets out another yell and vanishes. Brittany then notices that a trashcan flies through the air and slams into the back of the other ghoul knocking him off balance. She reaches to her side and grips the cold ethereal air of the ghost axe, suddenly translucent and lunges at the remaining ghoul. She makes two savage swipes, the first severing its arm, the other its head.

The homeless girl reappears, her eyes wide, tears welling in them. Brittany checks on Ripley, who is licking at her wounds and sees that her animal companion is hurt with a deep wound by her throat. She turns towards the girl, “What was all this about?”

“P….pplease, you have to help me! They took my friend, my friend Grace and are going to kill her!” The homeless girl clutches at Brittany’s arm, “The people at the shelter, they have been taking my friends and they don’t come back, please, they took Grace and she isn’t going to come back.”

Grace

Brittany hugs the girl close and Ripley nudges her, but their comfort is short lived as they hear howls and growls coming from both ends of the alley and realize those weren’t the only ghouls hunting this night.

Fort Snelling’s National Cemetery, Minneapolis

Craig pulls up to the Cemetery with Sister Dark behind him and stops the motorcycle with a loud clatter. He looks into the cemetery and asks Sister Dark, “Where do you usually find Jacobs?”

National Cemetery

Sister Dark gestures to a small copse of trees, “Usually there in the shade of the trees, talking….well…to himself I guess. I at first thought he was praying, but, I am not so sure anymore.”

Craig nods and peers towards the trees, not wanting to startle Jacobs. He realizes that he is unable to get a good view and walks into the cemetery. He cautiously goes down the trail with Sister Dark behind him; Craig notices that a figure standing in the shadows. He whispers to Sister Dark, “Let me do the talking, if he has…magic…we don’t want to alarm him. A lot of people could get hurt.”

Craig steps into the light and his eyes widen in surprise. He sees Sylivia standing there instead of Jacobs. She rounds on him, her elfin eyes widening in a cold fury.

Sylivia

“You!” She snarls, pointing at him with a dainty finger capped with a blue nail, “The Winter Court will have no more interference from you in our affairs!”

As Sylivia speaks, a blast of cold air envelops Craig and Sister Dark, leaving a faint sheen of frost about them. Sister Dark pushes Craig roughly aside and reaches inside of her cassock drawing a large caliber revolver, cocking back the hammer and aiming it at the winter faerie. “Drop your witchery, foul creature; we will not be impeded by you.”

Sylivia draws herself up; unfazed by having a gun pointed at her and glares icily at Sister Dark. Before she can speak, Craig steps between the both of them. He puts his hand atop the barrel of the gun, pushing it down and locks eyes with Sylivia. “We come in peace and we go in peace. You have the chance to do the same.”

Sylivia scowls and then with a brief blaze of blue light in her dark eyes, vanishes on a blast of icy cold air that blows Craig back a step. He looks over himself and the nun, realizing that some kind of Unseelie powered enchantment has been placed upon them. “You can put that away now,” Craig mutters as he eyes the gun, “well then, do you know where else Jacobs could be?”

Sister Dark quickly resumes a serene face and holsters the revolver inside her cassock. Craig notices that underneath she has a small arsenal of weapons, explosives, and even a Kevlar vest. Mass must be rough over at St. Mary’s. “Yes, yes, of course, he has a small house not to far away; I can lead you to it.”

Sister Dark walks down the street to a row of neat little houses, Craig follows closely behind. They stop at a small house in a quiet corner of the neighborhood; it looks a little less kept than the others, with a white picket fence going grey. They both approach the home when a haggard looking young man in a dress military uniform steps outside. His red rimmed eyes have a far away look, as if he is dreaming while awake. He quickly snaps to alertness when he sees the approach of Sister Dark and Craig. He raises a shaky hand and screams, “MONSTERS!” before running into the house and slamming the door behind him.

Fort Snelling’s National Cemetery, Minneapolis

Val pulls up to the Cemetery with her motorcycle. She takes a moment and unlimbers the spear held in the leather satchel on her bike, snapping it quickly together. Thomas notes that the spear, like the motorcycle, must have been made by a master craftsman as its blade appears to be honed to a sharp point like nothing he has ever seen. “So, is the dragon near here?” Thomas asks Val.

Val nods towards the mausoleum in the center of the cemetery, clapping the visor of her biker helmet down. Her voice is muffled and slightly echoed in her response, “Yes, we draw near, it is perched atop on yonder edifice,” she turns her head towards Thomas, “gird thyself for battle, I shall approach from the side, you shall take the main walkway towards it.”

Val, with spear in hand, takes off in a sprint, quickly jumps the fence and dashes easily around the tombstones. Thomas stands up, cracks his neck and walks steadily towards the mausoleum. The only dragon that Thomas can see is one carved atop the building, probably the size of a small semi-trailer, but definitely ornamentation.

“Well, whatever, her gold’s good.” Thomas continues to walk forward when he has a sudden realization. With a cracking sound the head of the dragon turns towards him, and opens its eyes, dust falling to the ground. Thomas finds himself held briefly by an intense blue gaze and feels the power of the Unseelie Court wash over him. He can sense the cold, feral hatred of the beast. This thing wants him dead. He draws his blade; the rest of the dragon begins to stir. It stands atop the mausoleum, shrugging stone off it as if it was dust. He can see Val ghosting recklessly up the side of the cemetery, her spear held ready to throw or stab.

Thomas strides forward and draws his blade, the dragon remains intent on his presence, almost to the exclusion of all else. His maw snaps wide and it lunges forward, a blast of intense cold air furrows about Thomas. His arm turns to ice against his skin offering little protection, but the iron in his blood reinforces his flesh, causing him to withstand the icy blast. He charges forward and slams his blade against the neck, only to see it shatter as the hide of the dragon is too strong for it to penetrate. The dragon roars ferociously and lashes out with a clawed hand, sending Thomas high up into the air.

As Thomas sails through the sky he can’t help but think that he wasn’t hired to kill the monster, but maybe to act as bait.

10 Miles outside of Fallujah, Iraq

Bobby stumbles a bit under the weight of his military gear. Next to him, he sees an equally confused Crow Sings, in military gear with the name Private Walker on his uniform. Crow Sings mutters about the symbols of oppression and authority as he plucks at his uniform. Bobby pats himself down and suddenly feels a flutter of panic as his alchemy bag is missing.

“Privates Chan and Walker, continue your patrol soldiers,” Lt. Jacobs gestures to a second soldier, “Private Johnson, assist them in their duties. We don’t have time for this there is a small village not far from here, rumored to be a base for insurgents, we have to clear it out gentlemen. Finish that patrol.” Lt. Jacobs stalks off shouting orders to other soldiers.

Bobby looks around and decides he is going to get out of here, something is not right. He feels at reality with his arcane senses and he doesn’t sense a Way into the Nevernever. It doesn’t add up. He gestures for Crow Sings to follow him. Private Johnson quickly moves in behind them as they walk around the military convoy.

Once they get some distance from the convoy, Bobby looks around and extends his will slightly. He notices that with the complete lack of connection to the Nevernever that he is most likely not in a desert in Iraq, but somewhere in the Nevernever, someone’s Demesne, and they are creating this illusion. Bobby thinks for the moment and Crow Sings mentions that Jacobs looks a lot like the scary vet that hangs around the Fort Snelling Cemetery. Bobby nods to himself as he also knows the rumors that dark magic follows the haunted looking man.

He looks at the hills of endless dunes and focuses his conviction a bit. He knows if this is the Nevernever he can perhaps test the will of the being controlling the area. He begins to channel energy and draws a ritual circle, hoping that perhaps he can get the convoy moving faster, so that he can get a sense of what the controlling creature of this place hopes to gain.

As he channels energy into the circle, he hears the loud retort of machine gun fire and watches Private Johnson suddenly explode in red pulp. Over the dunes he sees shrouded men, shouting in Arabic, with automatic rifles firing at them. He releases the energy and feels speed take him and Walker and they sprint back to the caravan.

Bobby crests the sand dune, leaving the insurgents behind he can see the swiftly moving Convoy, now enhanced with the speed from his magic. Bobby takes a moment and writes a message in the sand.

WHAT DO YOU WANT?

Bobby waits, and suddenly his words are blown out by a gust of wind, only to be replaced by another message.

TO FEED

Bobby shivers, why does he have to deal with all the monsters who have binging problems. He ponders for a moment, and writes, ON WHAT? Nothing happens and Crow Sings peers over Bobby’s shoulders. He then looks at Bobby and writes, CAN I HAVE SOME BOOZE? Crow Sings suddenly sees a canteen fall at his feet and he picks it up, unscrews the cap to take a sniff then shouts in glee, guzzling the liquid inside greedily down. “This is some good stuff Bobby!”

Bobby scowls at Crow Sings and then thinks that he might be trapped in someone’s dream or perhaps the demesne follows the same rules of a dream. He tries to force the reappearance of his alchemy bag and only gets a bloody nose for his efforts. He then refocuses asking for the button to a nuclear missile, with easy one appears in his hand. He can almost hear whispers on the wind urging him to push it.

“This is not good,” Bobby says to the increasingly drunk Crow Sings. He can see the Convoy approaching a small city.

Crow Sings with blurry eyes looks at Bobby, “Why don’t you just use one of your potions,” he points to the air next to Bobby.

Bobby gives Crow Sings an odd look, “Like, what man?”

“You’re potions,” he grabs at the air next to Bobby and mimes lifting a bag and then lets out a drunk belch.

“Why don’t you like, keep an eye on them for me, ok?” Bobby realizes that Crow Sings, when intoxicated, might be able to see things he can’t. They proceed down to the village.
It looks like all hell has broken out down below. The Convoy is under heavy fire. Bobby and Crow Sings dart between explosions and rifle fire as he hears people screaming in pain. He sees a stricken Lt. Jacobs, now alone, firing rapidly at enemy combatants. His helmet has been knocked off and blood is at his temple. More worrisome, Bobby feels the building of dark magic, malice in the air and he senses it coming from Jacobs. Someone is harnessing power for a large evocation.

“Hey, Crow Sings, can you like find the bottle marked with like Sleepy Time? Oh and dump it in your flask.”

Crow Sings digs into the invisible bag and pulls out some bottles, reading them; at least that is what Bobby thinks he is doing. He then takes one and pours it into the flask. Bobby then takes the flask and runs towards Jacobs.

“My god, I killed them all, I brought them to this place, and they are all going to die. I have to save them, my men are dead.” Jacob slumps behind a crumbling wall, horror on his face. Bobby can feel the dark energy building and he looks briefly behind him, suddenly seeing fire, with a will of its own racing through the streets. It burns and turns to ash anything it touches, and judging by the screams, it is hunting the living.

“Hey, uh, Lt. like drink this, it will make you feel better.” Bobby shoves the bottle into the stunned man’s mouth and makes him drink. As he watches Jacobs eyes close, the entire world turns white.

Alleyway, Downtown Saint Paul, Saint Paul

Brittany looks at the girl, “Can you do your vanishing trick again?” The howls get closer. The young girl closes her eyes tightly and clenches her hands into fists. After a moment she sighs and shakes her head, “I can only do things some of the time.”

Brittany nods and hears a small whimper from Ripley; she looks to the alleyway and sees a fire escape. Brittany and Ripley move quickly, Brittany shoves a dumpster near one of the fire escapes, allowing Ripley to hop up and reach the steel stair case. Brittany then grabs the homeless girl, “Ok….” And looks inquisitively at her.

Jane

Jane

“Ok, Jane, hold on tight we are going to run.”

Brittany and Ripley charge up the stairs moving at a sprint. Below them they can see a pack of hungry ghouls, some wearing the tattered clothes of Outreach Workers from the Helping Hands Shelter. They quickly get the scent and follow the Slayer and Great Hound up the fire escape.

Ripley is the first to make it atop the building and in the distance can see a small rooftop restaurant. She barks at Brittany and bounds across the roof leaping easily across the gaps. Brittany follows suit, weighed down by Jane who screams with fear. The ghouls charge, close on Brittany’s heals. She leaps across the first gap, while pulling down some ventilation behind her. A couple of the ghouls get tangled up into and fall with a resounding crunch down into the alley below.

Ripley makes it quickly across towards the restaurant and gives Brittany an impatient bark to follow. Brittany dodges an errant ghoul swipe before making another jump, with two over eager ghouls following after and falling short, slamming into the wall and sliding into the alley. As she stumbles into the lights of the outdoor restaurant the other ghouls shamble off.

Breathing deeply from exertion, Brittany lowers Jane and meets with Ripley. She swings herself onto the patio and lifts Jane up and on; Ripley slides beneath the patio railing and they walk into the restaurant, where they are immediately stopped by an irate member of the wait staff.

“Ma’am, you can’t come in that way, get out of here immediately.”

Brittany smiles with sarcastic sweetness, “Certainly, why don’t you call us a cab and we will be right on our way?”

Her sarcastic smile is answered back by another, “Oh certainly Ma’am, one is right on the way.”

With that Brittany can hear the distant sounds of sirens. Jane grabs Brittany’s hand and yells, “This way” dragging her towards the kitchen.

Brittany and Ripley follow, brushing by bustling kitchen staff. Ducking under pots and darting past hot stoves to a side door that Jane darts out of. Brittany catches up to the girl and grabs her arm, as they run down the stairs to the street below.

They exit onto a side street. Brittany notices that a detective with the Major Case Squad also came with the police. She looks down at Ripley and says, “I think we should take Jane with us to Sacred Grounds. I think I am going to give Craig a call.”

Jacob’s House, Fort Snelling’s National Cemetery, Minneapolis.

Sister Dark rushes to the door of the home, calling after Jacobs. Craig takes a breath and extends his senses. He quickly senses the gathering power for an evocation spell. With little time to waste, Craig also draws in his will and creates a shield of spirit energy in front of Sister Dark. As he does so, the door explodes outward, shattering on the shield, fire briefly envelops Sister Dark, but Craig’s shield keeps her from any serious harm.

Jacobs

Sister Dark falls quickly to the ground and rolls to take shelter against the wall. Craig senses more energy being gathered, this time for a ritual spell. Grabbing some chalk from his coat, he quickly draws a small circle. He draws on the water in the pipes below from the moisture in the sidewalks and causes them to burst and geyser in the home. Water explodes from the windows and doorway flooding out.

He looks to Sister Dark, pleased, “There that should ground out any magical energies inside.”

Sister Dark then draws her gun and walks into the home cautiously, calling out for Jacobs again. Craig follows behind, stepping across the doorway and surprised to find only a meager threshold. Inside the house is in shambles, exploded water has destroyed furniture, ripped apart walls, and papers. They search through the house and Craig feels that energy was used to enter into the Nevernever, and as there is no Jacobs, he most likely escaped there.

Sister Dark holds up soggy papers and makes a noise of disgust, the water having destroyed the interior of the home, “Great, now we have no idea what he was up to!”

Craig ponders for a moment and finds the remains of an old clock; he then draws another circle and concentrates his will. Using a puddle on the floor he peers back ten minutes through time, peering into the foggy past. He gets a vision of the home much more organized. In the living room he sees a map of the Twin Cities, and on the map he sees four red circles. One around Indian Mounds Park, another around the Fort Snelling’s National Cemetery, a third around the morgue at HCMC and the last, which sends chills down Craig’s spine, around Witch’s Hat Tower. He also sees that Jacobs referred to a journal that he kept up in his bedroom.

Craig snaps back suddenly to the present, lurching forward, his head splitting. He blinks his eyes as his vision catches up with the present. “Sister Dark, please follow me.”

Craig walks upstairs with a surprised Sister Dark walking up after him. He goes to Jacobs’s bedroom and quickly finds the now water torn journal that Jacobs seemed to value. Even soaked in water, Craig can sense the pain, the dark magic collecting about it. His reverie is interrupted when Sister Dark’s phone rings. As she answers, he catches their reflection in the mirror and stumbles back. He and Sister Dark have the look of ravening Ghouls, no wonder Jacobs was terrified. He now knows what the enchantment was that Sylivia casted earlier. He begins to examine the enchantment in the mirror and realizes that a major Winter power placed it and it is not going to be a simple thing to remove.

Inside a White Box, Most Likely the Nevernever

Bobby wakes up and finds himself more or less how he was prior to getting hijacked by specters. He looks to his side and sees a still drunk Crow Sings muttering to himself. He glances quickly around and sees that he is in a square room, with a pure white floor, ceiling and four walls. Out of the corner of his eye he sees a small shadow dart towards the wall and out an opening that briefly appears.

Bobby dives forward and sticks his hand out catching it before it closes. He looks through and can see a grey floor with another white wall in front of him. He extends his arcane senses and feels a Way back.

“Crow Sings, like, get ready man, we are going back!” Bobby focuses his energy in a quick ritual and opens the Way. He dives through and pulls Crow Sings with him, tumbling onto a sopping wet floor of what looks to be a bedroom. He sits up; Crow Sings rubs his head, groaning.

Bobby turns and looks, leaping up, standing in the sopping wet room are two Ghouls, one of which is holding a book, the other a cell phone. “Shit man, this like, this is not going well.”
One of the ghouls grunts on the phone, Bobby hears what sounds like Brittany’s voice saying, “Hello, Sister Dark? Bethany gave me this number, said you were with Craig? Can you put him on?”

Bobby sticks a finger in his ear and cleans it out a bit; he then peers oddly at the ghouls who just slaver at him.

Crow Sings looks at Bobby, “Hey man, one them says he is Craig and this is like all an illusion.”

Outside the sounds of fire and police sirens fill the air. Craig’s earlier blast of magic has burst a water main causing the street and some of the houses to flood. Bobby peers at the two ghouls and looks at them sideways. He recognizes a powerful veil and when he squints a bit, he can see both Craig and what looks like a nun holding a really big gun.

“Like, hello Ivory Tower.”

In the air Above Fort Snelling’s National Cemetery, Minneapolis.

Thomas flies through the air and braces for impact. Below him, he catches the glimpse of water flooding the streets. He can see policemen and firemen scurrying around helping people from their flooded homes and off the street. Thomas curls his arm and legs in and cannonballs into the side of a house. He crashes into a water soaked bed, tearing through it and floor. His iron blooded body slams into the floor of the kitchen below, kicking up tiles as he tumbles into the refrigerator collapsing it beneath his weight.

Dazed he looks up and sees water draining from the bedroom through the hole he made onto the sopping kitchen floor. He also sees some weird shaman, Bobby, and two ghouls looking at him oddly.

Bobby calls down, “Thomas, are you like ok man! Oh don’t worry about the ghouls, that is just Ivory Tower and a nun. They’re cursed.”

One of the ghouls is holding a cell phone and Thomas can vaguely hear Brittany’s voice through the receiver, “Thomas is there too!? What’s going on?”

Further conversation is quickly curtailed when outside the fire engine siren suddenly grounds out with a pained squeal. Bobby, Crow Sings, Craig, and Sister Dark look outside only to see a giant dragon land atop the fire truck, crushing it its talons as it lets out a loud roar. Bobby grabs the cell phone.

“Uh, Brittany we are like, over by the Fort Snelling Cemetery, I would get here, like quickly man.”

“Where are you guys at?”

“Just look for, like the giant dragon,” Bobby closes the cell phone and hands it to Sister Dark. He takes a worried sigh and sees the stunned firemen and police beneath the dragon. Bobby dashes down the stairs and outside, calling to one of the police officers who look to be in charge.

“Like cut man, what are you doing here!? You are ruining the shot, get your people out of the way, you are, like wrecking our movie!”

Bobby can see the Police Officer’s thought process short circuiting in his eyes. The human brain is just not capable dealing with the reality of the dragon, “oh, so sorry, ok,” he turns to his radio, “officers, lets get out of here in an orderly fashion.

As Bobby cons the police, Thomas yells to Craig, “Weapons won’t hurt it!” Thomas then sits up and runs towards the garage. He notices a gas can with a lighter and quickly scoops them up. The dragon is able to follow Thomas movements with a supernatural sight and easily spies him in the garage. It picks up a squad car and with another whine of a dying siren hurls it at the house, ripping the door and the roof off. Thomas shrugs off the blow, keeping his ground. “Well at least I don’t have to waste time opening the door.”

Craig studies the dragon, senses the Unseelie Magic powering it and realizes that it is not a real dragon, but a fetch and if it is a creature Winter then it should be harmed by the power of Summer. He turns and asks Sister Dark, “Do you have anything that represents the season of summer, like a flower, something?”

Sister Dark, who had drawn her gun when the dragon landed, reaches into her habit and pulls out a small scarf with dandelions on it. Craig takes it with a smile and then asks Crow Sings to tell everyone to wait a moment he has an idea. Crow sings drunkenly shouts out Craig’s words as he hides behind a dresser drinking from his hip flask. Bobby, glad that the dragon doesn’t seem to care about him, continues to encourage the emergency personnel in their retreat. Thomas rushes outside, dodging another car hurled at him as the dragon roars with rage.

Craig gathers in energy from the scarf, seeking out the Nevernever, feeling for the power of the Seelie Court, he takes one of the bullets from Sister Dark’s gun and an iron shaving left behind from Thomas. He implores, muttering aloud, “Come on, Summer, Winter didn’t get the Star because of me, you owe me something.” Suddenly he feels the power of Summer flowing through him; he channels energy through the bullet and iron. The bullets in the area suddenly become imbued with the power of Summer, Thomas has vine and flowers budding around him, which subsequently brown and break when it touches his iron blood.

Craig yells, “Shoot, shoot the dragon now! Crow Sings, get the cops to shoot the dragon!” Crow Sings starts to yell as Sister Dark takes aim firing her revolver. The bullets whizz out as flight of angry bees, stinging at the dragon, it roars in pain.

Bobby turns to the Police Sergeant, “Hey man, fuck it, how would you like to be in a movie? Have your guys all shoot the dragon.” The Sergeant blinks at him and Bobby smiles, “Yeah man, open fire, yah know, the big closer! This movie is like Lord of the Rings meets Leaving Las Vegas, or some shit.”

Arcadian Buzzkill

The police officer, feeling a little deranged at this point, goes over the radio and orders his officers to fire. A volley of shotguns and rifles sound off, but, like Sister Dark’s gun, they echo with the flight of angry bees. The dragon continues to roar as it is strung from continued shots. Thomas runs up with the gas can and hurls it on the dragon; he flicks a lit lighter behind it. The gas can, infused by the power of the Seelie Court, goes up in flames setting the dragon alight.

On the way to Fort Snelling’s National Cemetery, Minneapolis

Brittany drives her old sedan with Ripley hanging her head out the window from the passenger side. Brittany glances at Ripley, “Jane will be fine in the coffee shop, she will be safe there. Its holy ground.” Ripley wags her tail.

Brittany suddenly sees brake lights and swerves out of the way of a stopped car. In the air above her, she sees a dragon, smoldering, flying towards the city. She is then passed by a woman on a motorcycle, holding her spear like a lance. She catches a brief glimpse of Thomas sitting in a side car.

She jumps when she sees Bobby pounding on the door. “Like let us in, oh don’t worry about the ghouls, its just Ivory Tower and a nun.” Brittany looks over her shoulder and sees two ghouls, looking slightly sheepish as one waves at her. Behind them, she sees a drunken shaman, wavering as he stands. She glances at Ripley and she doesn’t seem to care about these ghouls.

Brittany gruff says, “Get in; I assume we are going after the dragon?”

“Yeah man.” Bobby replies as the others pile in.

Brittany quickly turns the car around when she gets a call on her cell phone. She flips to speaker and hears Jane’s voice, “They’re here, oh my god, I don’t know how they found me, but they’re here.”

Brittany calmly states, “Jane, stay in the store, they won’t want to come on holy ground.”

Jane suddenly shrieks, “They’re going to kill me, Aaron is with them!” The line goes dead.

To be continued

View
Suit Up
A Thomas Owens Story

Featured Investigators

The Story

Thomas winced at the pain in his side. The damage done by the sniper’s rifle was healing, but not as quickly as it should. The salt contaminating the wound had delayed the Living Iron’s healing powers substantially.

A chime sounded from the other side of the garage, notifying Thomas that the blast furnace had reached full temperature. He set down the book he had been studying and made his way over to it. The furnace was crude, assembled mostly from salvaged materials, but fully functional. Like most of his possessions, Thomas had built it himself.

Carefully, Thomas began feeding iron stock into the furnace. Before long the molten metal glowed red hot, ready to be poured. Thomas quickly re-checked the molds he had already prepared; they were all in place and ready to begin. Taking great care to avoid burning down his home, Thomas quickly filled each of the molds with the rapidly cooling iron.

His work done for the moment, Thomas returned to his book; a thick volume on “archaic” metalworking techniques. Many of the techniques within were still in common use when he was a boy, but he was used to that by now. Thomas had found, so far at least, that older methods were generally more reliable in his line of work anyway.

After a few more hours studying the book (or, to be more honest, impatiently staring at the walls) the molds had cooled enough to open them. Thomas gingerly undid the clamps, knowing full well that caution made no difference at this point. The wooden bracing fell away and the sand within collapsed revealing a heavy iron plate, slightly curved.

One by one, Thomas opened the molds and placed their contents on the workbench. With each added piece, his new armor began taking shape. He hadn’t had enough space to do the entire set in one go; he would be preparing molds and casting iron for a few more days. Still, he was very happy with his progress so far.

Thomas had designed the armor himself, based partially on the steel plate armor worn by european knights. The plates were iron, however, and much thicker. The finished armor would be much too heavy for any normal person to wear in battle, but Thomas wasn’t worried. Between his unnatural strength and affinity for the metal he was sure it wouldn’t slow him down.

He spent a while longer admiring his work and brushing away the last bits of sand with an old paintbrush. Then he stretched, glanced at the clock, and decided he had better sleep soon. He was still injured and his next job could come at any time. He climbed the ladder up to the loft where his bed was tucked away from the workspace below.

As he lay dozing, Thomas could feel the dreams beginning. Ever since he had bonded with the Living Iron, he had the same type of dream every night; surreal visions of war in the never-never, fae warriors slain by the hundreds, and a terrible laughter that seemed to be his own.

View
Strange Smells Part 1
A Jack Hunter Story

Featured Investigators

The Story

The first day of suspension always sucks. There is just time and one can only twiddle their thumbs so long in anger while they waited. That was the least of it, there was another dead body and someone needed to pay. Hunter’s phone flashed an incoming text message, some unknown caller sent him a video file. He lazily opened it while plotting ways that he could destroy Jack Vincent. What he saw stilled his heart, because someone sent him a video of a ghost.

Hunter rewinds and watches the video again, for a third, then a fourth time. He shakes his head.

Think this through, this can’t be real, take in the details.

Hunter pours over the video, he notes that it is taken from a surveillance camera dated yesterday afternoon. The number is blocked and there are no identifiers from the file. Hunter considers calling his Homeland Security Contacts, but Jack might be watching.

The last thing I need is having that Asshole stick his nose into this.

Hunter taps into his animal instinct, he feels his visual acuity sharpening, taking into every little detail. First, he recognizes the bricks, it is the main entrance to the Foshay building. He can see the envelop she is carrying, it looks like a financial transaction took place. He nods to himself, that explains the weight of the bag. Someone made a large cash withdrawl from inside.

Carlos Ortega’s financial syndicate makes the Foshay Building its home. It has some significant banking operations on the first and second floors. Rumor has it that the whole place is locked down tight. This could be tricky.

Hunter searches the couple seconds of video again and acknowledges the easiest thing to identify in this whole video. The woman walking out of the bank is his dead wife, Katrinka.

Out of shear frustration at the loss of the girl, his wife and life, Jack took to the sky in order to gather his thoughts. Some people run to relieve stress but Jack flew. He had an idea but needed some time to deal with the shock of what appeared to be his dead wife making a large withdrawal at a known vampire’s lair and headquarters. It was strange getting used to flying and he still wasn’t as good at it as he would like. So he climbed, and climbed until he could hardly breath and then he dove. Eighty miles per hour and the wind rushed at him, tugging his wings, which were held close to his body. One hundred and twenty miles per hour and the wind shrieked in his head and the threatened to tear his wings from his side. He broke his own record at when he hit two hundred and twenty miles per hour. It was the fastest he had ever gone as he approached the Mississippi River, the speed was exhilarating and dangerous in a way that he never felt when he was human. Hunter spotted the bass from a thousand feet and swopped to intercept it.

Later, after a fish dinner, Jack made a call to his contact Moss. Moss was… unique. He was the sort of criminal that had honor of sorts. Moss had tipped Jack off in several cases including the Ripper case and had become a valued, and somewhat trusted ally, who had worked with both the Hunters from time to time. His specialty was breaking and entering, and video surveillance. Jack hadn’t talked to Moss in nearly a year, at Katrina’s wake. The phone rang once, twice, three, times and on the forth ring Jack got a message,“You know what to do at the beep. His voice shaking Jack said the following,”Moss, this is Hunter, call me…It’s about Kat." and hung up the phone.

To Be Continued

View
Craig the Magnificent
A Craig Hale Story

Featured Investigators

The Story

Craig hunched over a volume of lore in the archives of Witch’s Hat Tower, his finger trailing the flakey ink on the hand written pages. There had to be something here about the seven wards, and the cage of Fenrir. He caught a glimpse of other wizards hurrying by, sending icy looks his way. He willed himself to stay focused on his research. The White Council shouldn’t have sent someone with a conscience if they wanted to bargain someone into bondage. The supposed death of Alison Harper didn’t add up, nobody except Blackthorn and those he had sworn to secrecy witnessed the event, nobody took credit for it, and the parents had also disappeared without a trace. Craig was reasonably sure that Alison was alive, just not what her current fate was.

He had more pressing matters to attend to. The ward under the cave was in tatters and would fully fade within a matter of weeks. Mythology spoke of a binding, Gleipnir, which would hold the wolf of worlds end, and was forged from six impossible things. Could this tale have a factual root in this array of wards? Was the mythical Gleipnir really a complex series of spells that harnessed the power of paradox to contain an ancient beast? The list of impossible things the binding was made from seemed altogether too ridiculous. The breath of a fish certainly seemed impossible, but then, the sinew of a bear would be trivial to come by.

Bethany heaved another pile of books onto the table. “I found some more books about Asgardians!” she exclaimed. “Thanks Beth” he muttered, still focused on the books. She blurted: “You know, I don’t think you’re an embarrassment to the council at all”, her voice flattening from cheery encouragement to awkwardly completing the sentence as Craig raised a gloomy I-don’t-want-to-talk-about-it gaze to her.

Bethany pouted, then decided not to be deterred, took a deep breath and continued on: “You defeated a magician hundreds of years your senior, and you found a loophole in a deal made by Mab herself, and you defied the Council’s orders to help a little girl be with her family!” Craig let out a resigned sigh: “And what does that make me?” Bethany looked him unflinchingly in the eyes and declared: “It makes you… magnificent!” Her wide smile faded as Craig’s eyebrows became dangerously cocked. “Well, I thought it was pretty magnificent anyways…” she mumbled, hiding her hands behind her back. Her eyes darted across the room, looking for an escape, then Craig began to chuckle. “I guess I am rather magnificent.”

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.