Dresden Files: Twin Cities

Exchanges on Faith
A Brittany Winter's Story

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The Story

Brittany,

You are truly….unique, my employer applauds your actions today as they were inventive. While you may no longer a pawn, you are still a piece on the board and you will need….allies, in your new position. You should still know that Patronage is available.

Windsor S. Pearce

Windsor,

While given my new position and standing within the community may lead to possible future alliances, I hold faith that any such dealings would be brief and tentative in nature. While your employer’s… opinion of my character is apt, one of the things that makes me so “unique,” is my fierce sense of independence. As such, any allegiances I choose to procure shall happen on my terms. Please inform your employer that at this time, I am disinclined to acquiesce to his offer of Patronage.

Ms. Winters

Ms. Winters,

“Independence” and “Free Will” are the conceit of the ignorant. Your steps have been set in stone since the day you picked up the ghostly ax that slew your parents. The sooner you except the constraints of your destiny, the sooner you can experience clarity and a true understanding of the nature of the universe. It is better to have a puppet master you know than the one you do not.

Windsor S. Pearce

Mr. Pearce,

“Free Will” as I’ve been made to understand it is one of the tenets upon which the White Council was founded… and as I’m have been made to understand, one of the things you yourself so vehemently upheld, before you threw in your lot for quick power under your current puppet master.

Putting that matter aside, I have difficulty putting any faith into this concept that my steps are set in stone. Were this the case, I can’t help but believe that you and your employer would have had some form of forewarning about my change of status in the supernatural community. Personally I feel this harassment being leveled towards me, is due to the fact that I not only took Alison Harper out of your grasp, but that I slipped your net as well.

Good Day,
Ms. Winters

Ms. Winters,

You successfully took Ms. Harper beyond everyone’s grasp, including her own. As to the tenets of the White Council, the Council is founded on a lie and perpetuates the rot it stands against. Your ignorance and desire for faith, are, quite frankly amusing. Ask your friend, Craig, about the Travesty at Archangel. Ask where Magnus got the knowledge to craft such a ritual as the one he partook the other night. You flounder Ms. Winders as you cling to your “faith,” you got a young girl killed as you clutch at your delusions. Hopefully, soon you will see clearly you will understand the truth of these things.

I apologize if my efforts in illumination and education were seen as harassment. Perhaps as you grow in wisdom you will learn better who to turn to for guidance. I hope your “faith” in free will doesn’t cost you something more dear to your heart.

Windsor S. Pearce

Mr. Pearce,

First off, let’s set the record straight, I helped deliver Ms. Harper to Accorded Neutral Ground where she was to decide her own fate. The consequences of that decision are out of my hands. Second, guilt is not a game you play well… I grew up the daughter of devout Catholic parents and carry around the ax that took their lives. I know guilt.

As for Magnus’ ritual… it’s been my experience that if someone is wanting to commit harm upon others, they will pursue that end until stopped by an outside force. Now, as for specifically where he gained the knowledge of the ritual… I don’t rightly care. Which probably works out in your employers favor as I believe the two where business partners for quite some time, if I am correct. Hmm.

Now to attend to your “Education and Illumination”… They are both unwarranted and unwanted. Beginning now, this conversation is concluded.

The Slayer

Indeed.

Well, “Slayer,” I had hoped you would not cling to your…limited experience, but alas you barely grasped the subtext of this conversation. Guilt, is such a small thing. If you will not seek education; well the World has a way of making up for those deficits.

I will consider this matter closed as well.

Windsor S. Pearce

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Homeward Hound
A Ripley Adventure

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The Story

Ripley is at death’s door after a run in with Malks; she is taken in by Brittany Winters when she is found unconscious on the steps of Sacred Grounds. While recuperating, Ripley snuck out to trail Brittany on patrol. She came to Brittney’s rescue when a Winter Troll would have ambushed and killed Brittney. Ripley has since taken Sacred Grounds as her home.

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In Which Bobby Learns of a Way Forward
A Bobby Chan Story

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The Story

“I am just calling to let you know that we have issues without how your comported yourself with our business deals and your actions have set us back in some of our investments. In time, we will come and…….Susana lets out a low, sultry evil laugh, “….collect. I will enjoy your fear.” followed by a click as the phone goes dead.

“Um, yeah, the, uh, number you have reached is like, no longer in service. If you feel like there’s been an error or something, check the, uh, number … "

A definitive click interrupted Bobby’s feeble attempt to mislead Susanna into believing he was already two steps ahead of them. Fucking vampires! Why did it have to be vampires? He was having flashbacks to Guatemala in the late 80’s, and the memory of the blood of all the children he couldn’t help blinded him.

He pulled the RV over and checked his stocks. Hemlock. Sulfur. Thanatos mushrooms. Fool’s gold. Heavy water. He had enough to mix up a potion that would fool even a adept of the Red Court into thinking he was already dead. Vampires won’t touch dead prey. As long as nobody actually buried him for 2 weeks, he might be able to live through it.

He began the potion, but the blood from his broken nose dripped into mix spoiling it.

“Goddamn motherfucking son of bitch!” he exploded with rage, throwing the ruined remains of the potion against the back door. His injuries and exhaustion, the news of Allison Harper’s death, the belly dropping fear induced by Susanna’s phone call, and the failure of his own magic had pushed the mild-mannered alchemist nearly to the brink.

“Tut, tut, Bobby. What happened to the laid back seeker I met all those years ago?” Bobby turned around to see Puck lounging carelessly on a seat. “You know what will happen if you lose your temper again.”

Bobby finally noticed the touch of cold bronze on his wrists and looked down to see the faint outlines of fairy manacles binding him. He took several deep breaths to calm himself. The manacles faded into nothing.

“Now, of course, I have no interest in seeing you held in chains in ”/wikis/winter-court" class=“wiki-page-link”> Mab’s court. You’re much too amusing to be fettered like that. I can help you with your current predicament, but only if you listen very carefully and do exactly as I say."

“Why would you do that?” asked Bobby. “I don’t have anything left to trade you.”

“Suffice it to say that my own interests would be advanced considerably should you succeed.’ Puck continued “The Red Court is insatiable and even more indefatigable than Mab’s minions. If you wish to escape their attention, your only hope is to convince them to turn on each other and pray that you remain unnoticed in the fallout.”

Two vials appeared in Puck’s hands. “I have here two elixirs, one of which engenders the imbiber with overwhelming ambition, the other with hyper-aware suspicion. If you give the latter to Carlos Ortega and the former to his lovely consigliere Susanna, I’m sure you will find that the vicious nature of Red Court vampires will take its course.”

Bobby’s eyebrows raised skeptically and Puck erupted in laughter.

“Well, of course there’s a catch. In order to function, each elixir will need to be taken by a willing subject who is fully aware of its effects.”

“Oh, and this skulking, sneaky, back alley drug dealer vibe you have going on is just not going to cut it.” As Puck blew warm summer air into Bobby’s face, the alchemist found himself feeling more confident, aggressive even. “That ought to do the trick.” The babyfaced fairy pressed the bottles into Bobby’s hands “Now, my boy, you’ve got a job to do.”

Puck disappeared with a insouciant grin, once again both amazed and delighted at how easy it is to manipulate mortals.

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Video Killed the Real Star
Falling Star, Conclusion


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Guest Characters

The Story

Wabasha Street Caves, St. Paul, Shortly After Midnight.
Wabasha Street Caves

Bobby takes a quick tote to steady his nerves after releasing all the magic from Magnus’s ritual. The aforementioned sorcerer alternated between laughing madly and sobbing hysterically as Alek handcuffed him while reading his rights. Hunter watched his partner and the mad sorcerer carefully. Brittany scoffed at the effectiveness of holding a scion of a Frost Giant restrained with mundane cuffs as she dresses up in one of the remaining cultist robes to hide her nudity. Craig takes a moment to check on the slumbering Alison Harper, making sure she is resting easy. Thomas strides into the room, fresh from his duel with Erin Kirkpatrick.

Magnus

The group immediately begins discussion as to their next steps. Brittany wants to keep Alison free from the influence of Pearce, and by default, the dragon he represents. Alek and Craig thinks it to be a good idea to try separating the Star from the girl and maybe use its power to heal the failing ward or to barter it between the two Fairy Courts. Bobby just doesn’t want to get eaten by Vampires. While everyone is involved with discussions regarding how one can separate someone from this power; Thomas takes the opportunity to send a secret text message to the Man in the Horned Rimmed Glasses. Hunter, who has also sayed out of the conversation, takes notice and is able to see the messages with his heightened senses.

HRG

“I have the girl, just need to get her away; do you need her family too?”

“No, just the girl”

“With or without the power of the Star?”

“With the power of the Star.”

Thomas then interrupts the conversation and proposes that HRG might be best suited to help the girl as he is the only person who hasn’t shared any negative ends and just wants to hide her. Craig begins to ask about the possibility of hiding the parents when he realizes that if HRG is going to use magic to hide her, which is most likely, he is unable to hide at least Allen because of the broken promise he has with the Winter Court. They might as well have his True Name. It is at this moment that Alison stirs to wakefulness.

“I…I knew you would come” she says with a slurred voice, looking at Craig, “I knew you couldn’t do it alone and you would bring the others.” She takes in everyone with a glance, “I….I feel like things are opening up for me….I know more…I know I am a Star and I think….I think I am learning what that means….can you take me home now?”

Alison Harper

After a brief discussion, Alek and Craig summarize the situation and share the issue with Alison. They decide that she should make the decision over what happens next. Thomas attempts to sway Alison to going with HRG; Craig and Alek stress the danger that the falling ward presents to the City.

Alison takes this all in and states, “I’m….I’m sorry, losing my power, I feel would change ME too much and I don’t want to do that, I mean this is WHO I am,” She looks directly at Craig and he realizes that he agrees and can’t let her be separated form her power, “She looks at Alek and Thomas, I love my father and I can’t let something bad happen to him…I have to go to the Winter Court if that will save him, unless, is there any chance I could speak to this HRG person Thomas? I get why all the other people want me, I am just not sure why James Bond does.”

Thomas shrugs his shoulders and begins dialing. Hunter grabs his wrist and says, “On speaker phone.”

Thomas pulls his hand roughly away and puts it on speaker, after a moment HRG voice echoes through the chamber, “Hello? Thomas? Wait, am I on speaker?”

Thomas speaks, “Yes, Alison wanted to speak to you.”

“Hi” Alison says cheerfully.

“Fine, in private, as her secrets are for her only.”

Thomas nods and hands Alison the phone switching it off of speaker. “Hello?”

Hunters’ hearing is able to pick out HRG’s words on the other end of the phone. “Alison, you know what you are. You are special and I need to protect something, something very important. You can help me do that, but first you need to learn how to use your powers and you need time to do that. I…I can hide you and get you training.”

“Can my parents come?”

HRG sighs, Hunter almost feels like he is rubbing the bridge of his nose when he speaks, “No. It is unfortunate, but he made promises to things he should not have and there is a cost for doing so. You don’t have to pay it.”

“I’m sorry Sir, I…I don’t want something bad to happen to my dad no matter what he did, I am going to have to go to the Winter Court. I hope you understand.”

“Sadly, I do, Good luck.”

Alison hands the phone back to Thomas as HRG hangs-up. Craig is uncomfortable with the idea that she go directly to the Winter Court, but his training in Lore helps him recall that Blackthorn is the High Adjudicator of the Accords in the Twin Cities.

“Alison, I think we might be able to protect you if we get Blackthorn involved, he doesn’t want the status quo changed too much and he is someone of influence in the supernatural world.”

The rest of the group and Alison are swayed by Craig’s logic and they decide to go to the Neutral Ground of Pig Eye’s Public House. They leave with Magnus in tow, heading out of the cave. As they are walking out, Bobby decides to come clean on another issue.

“So, uh, hey guys, there is like another, little problem. The Red Court, are like going to kill some woman, if they don’t like, get the girl by morning, and that is really not cool.”

No one likes the idea of a woman getting murdered by the Red Court and the investigators decide that Brittany and Hunter will help out Bobby by going after Rosalie. They begin to plan their moves as they walk out of the cave.

Outside the Wabasha Street Caves, St. Paul

The investigators are so engrossed in their conversation that only Craig notices that his breath is misting in the air. His arcane senses quickly attune and he feels the power of the Winter Court. Before he can call out a warning, the sound of a high power shell rips through the air. Thomas stumbles back as a bullet slams into his side, denting his ribs almost like a metal plate. He grimaces with pain as he realizes the shell is packed with salt and he feels it burning his iron infused flesh.

Everyone else finds themselves surrounded by maniac grins appearing out of the air and suddenly find themselves tackled by now visible malks. Craig manages to keep his wits about him and ducks under one particularly clumsy malk. Brittney turns the tables on the ambush and reacts with mystic strength, grabbing one and hurling it against the concrete. She knocks another malk off balance as the first one breaks apart under the fury of her onslaught.

Malks

Craig yells out, “Stop attacking, we are going to Blackthorn to bring the girl back to winter!” He hopes to appeal to the Accords for protection.

A second shot answers his yell, driving Thomas to his knees. Hunter transforms into a giant wolf and begins tearing at the malk that tackled him. Brittany slams into another one, giving Alek the opportunity to yell out, “Your aggression gains you nothing, us taking her to Blackthorn gets you what you want.”

There is a moment of silence as the malks suddenly prance away, disappearing into the night, leaving behind, for a brief moment, blood toothed smiles. Trick’s voice rings through the night, “Your promise is noted Detective Erikson.”

Trick

Alek realizes that he must go to Blackthorn with Alison, Craig and Thomas opts to go with her well. Brittany and Hunter decide to continue with the original plan and help Bobby rescue Rosalie.

“Bobby,” Alison asks, “where do you think they are hiding her?”

“Like, with the vampire’s man, just like at their lair.”

Alison looks to the night sky, focusing at the stars, “I think…she is at an old junkyard full of tires and there are a bunch of guys who look like they are in a gang lurking around. She will be there.”

Alison nods to herself and then at a call from Thomas goes with them as they being the walk to Pig’s Eye Public House. Brittany gets an idea, “Hey Bobby, do you have anything that can make me look like Alison?”

“Just like, give me a sec man, I got something around here,” Bobby begins to rustle in his satchel and pulls out a bottle for Brittany to drink.

Hunter grunts, “So, I take it we’re doing the ‘Chewbacca’ huh?” Brittany drinks the potion and through a shimmering veil suddenly looks like a disheveled Alison Harper, Hunter continues, “Based on the girl’s description of the place and known Latin Kings associates, it sounds like Jojo’s Tire Shop over in West Side. I will scout it from the air.”

Jojo’s Tire Shop and Scrap yard, West Side, St. Paul

Hunter transforms suddenly into his golden hawk form and takes flight, winging over the city towards West Side. Bobby and Brittany clamber into his beat-up RV. Bobby complains about the troll sized fist marks left in the side door as they ramble their way towards the tire shop. Hunter gets there first. He flies about the building and notices that the main shed has way too many lights on for this time of night. He can see members of the Latin Kings patrolling the fenced yard and he notices that old cars and other scrap are pile high against the fence forming a barricade. He spies a familiar face pacing outside the shed, a concerned Morgan Hernandez. Hunter then wings back to the approaching RV.

Morgan Hernandez

Hunter shifts for a moment between Bird and Human form, looking disjointed, “I didn’t see her, but she has to be there, I saw Morgan.”

Bobby, wide eyed, nods. Brittany turns to him, “I will be Alison Harper, and they will trade me for the girl, once she is safe in the RV, and get out of there.” She gives him a smile, “Don’t worry about me, I’m a Slayer.”

Hunter flies back, hovering above the junkyard waiting for the right moment to respond. Bobby pulls up and is stopped by two of the Latin Kings.

“You have to leave,” One says menacing towards Bobby as he approaches the driver’s side window.

“Hey man, I am like here for the girl, I got the…uh package, that Susana like wanted, so let’s just get this done ok?”

The two gang members look at each other, and the same one says again, “There was no mention of a delivery.”

“Hey, you can like, piss off Susana if you want to, but that doesn’t seem, like a good idea to me.”

The gang members look at each other again; one pulls out a cell phone and sends a quick text. He gets a quick response and turns to Bobby, “Drive forward.”

The gate opens and Bobby sighs with despair realizing that it is too tight to turn his RV around and he is going to have to back out at full speed if he wants to get somewhere. He pulls forward warily. Hunter flying above, sees Morgan leave the tin shack and start walking towards the oncoming RV. He circles around, watching for signs of danger.

Bobby stops and sees the grinning face of Morgan, “Look here, its our double dealing chemist,” he looks in the passenger seat and where Brittany sits, but just sees Alison, “and you have the girl, we can finally get this done.”

Before Bobby or Morgan can speak more, the door to the tin shack smashes open and a furious Richie Hernandez, his face swaddled in bandages, stands there. He moves with an inhuman speed, pushing Morgan aside. He rips off the door of the RV with one hand and yanks Bobby out with another.

Richie Hernandez

“I’m going to pop your head like a fucking pimple!” Richie’s hand tightens around Bobby’s neck and pins him to the side of the RV.

“Hey man, I had a deal with Susana, like,” Bobby is choked off as Richie tightens his grip, crushing at his throat, “I don’t care about any fucking deals, because I am going to rip you apart and drink your blood from your carved out skull.”

Morgan tugs on Richie’s arm and in Spanish, which Bobby also understands, says, “Make the trade, ok? We get the girl and then you kill him.”

Pig’s Eye Public House, St. Paul

Alek, Allison, Craig and Thomas arrive at the Public House grounds. They see a nice limo parked out front and Alek recognizes it as the one that Windsor Simon Pierce drives around the city in. They approach the door and, almost as if expected, are greeted by an elfin looking woman in an expensive dress.

Pig’s Eye Public House

“Blackthorn welcomes all to his Public House, but insists on proper manners,” She takes them all in, covered in blood and cave dust, their clothes tattered, “and he also insists on decorum. Please follow me and I can have you cleaned up and well suited for polite conversation.” She looks at Alison and gives a small sigh, “Oh you poor child that outfit will simply not do! I have the perfect thing for you.”

She hustles Alison to a side room marked for women, as an ogre of a man in a tux guides the other three to a room marked men. They take a moment to get cleaned up and refresh themselves. They then meet Alison in the Public House. The tavern is empty with the exception of some staff and two patrons. At a head table, they see Jarvis Blackthorn playing cards with Pearce.

Blackthorn

The elfin concierge guides them towards the table, “Blackthorn, Sir, your guests are here.”
Alek, deciding that he does not want Pearce to overhear this conversation as surely what Pearce knows Chrysophylax will as well, “Blackthorn, we have some business to discuss with you, in private. Pearce represents an interested party and I would hate for this conversation to be constrained by his presence.”

Pearce

Blackthorn bristles at the implication, “I can surely handle my own affairs and I do not need…”

Windsor gestures for Blackthorn to stop, “It doesn’t matter, I have some business to attend to, besides…” he shows his cards, revealing a full house, “I would have won this hand anyways.” Windsor stands and follows the concierge to a private room.

Blackthorn turns to his new guests and gestures for them to sit down, “This matter sounds simple enough, and I can easily facilitate a trade. I will contact the Winter Court, have them come, collect the girl and ensure no further interference from the Summer Court.”

Craig clears his throat, “This, this isn’t as simple as it sounds,” Craig, with his prestigious knowledge of arcane lore, begins a meandering account of various cases that set precedents that the original deal for Alison Harper is null and that honoring it would actually break the rules because the terms of the exchange invalidate themselves.

Blackthorn gives him a queer look, but Thomas notices that Blackthorn has a folded piece of paper in his pocket and while he cannot read it he recognizes HRG’s handwriting and wonders if his employer was making moves ahead of him. He takes a moment to remind Blackthorn of secret deals and other representatives that could help bring clarity to this situation.

Alison herself seems to glow for a moment, and pleads with Blackthorn, “I don’t want to go to the Winter Court, and I just want to save my father.” Surprisingly the Sidhe Lord appears to be slightly moved by these words.

Alek knows that Blackthorn can’t resist making deals, “I know the Accords are the Accords, but when you take this all in, you just have to think, what does it mean for Blackthorn if the Winter Court gets the power of the Star, what it would do to the balance here in the Twin Cities. I mean to your very position, it is better for you if she goes her own way.”

Blackthorn takes a sip of wine after listening to Alek, he touches the slip of paper and then looks towards Craig and Allison, “You convinced me that there is legal standing in the Accords to invalidate the deal, plus, I do not have interest in seeing unbalance between the Courts. I will render judgment in Alison’s favor and inform the Winter and Summer Courts of her status. She is considered her own person and will be able to enter into deals of her own accord. For now, she remains with me at the head table; feel free to take a seat in the bar to observe the proceedings.”

Relieved Alek, Craig, and Thomas head towards the bar and take a seat at the table, waiting for the Summer and Winter Court representatives to arrive.

Jojo’s Tire Shop and Junkyard, West Side, St. Paul

Brittany is taken by one of the Latin Kings from Bobby’s RV as he is being manhandled by Richie.

“Please, please don’t hurt me!” Brittany squeals, sounding like Alison and shirks back; however she underestimated her strength and when she pulls her arm away from the Red Court Vampire she accidentally sends him stumbling into a pile of tires. The yard grows silent as all the Latin Kings stare at her in surprise. Bobby rasps, “She’s got like the power of a star man.”

Brittany quickly begins to sob, and a second Latin King joins the first as they begin to escort her towards the tin building. They can see two more Latin Kings escorting a sobbing Rosalie towards the RV, as they pass each other; Richie grows tired of waiting and finally snaps.

Bobby feels him shift his grip and Richie goes to slam him into the turf, Bobby though is able to sneak his hand into his satchel, grab a sunshine potion and smash it against the side of Richie’s face. Richie screams in pain and is about to crush Bobby’s neck when he gets interrupted by Hunter. Hunter seeing the danger dive bombs Richie and in mid dive shifts with a blur from that of an eagle to a wolf. He slams into Richie’s back, causing him to drop Bobby as he is mauled by Hunter.

Pandemonium erupts; Brittany snaps to action and slams the two Red Court Vampires escorting her with a resounding crack, disorienting them both. She urges Rosalie to action, to fight and get to the RV. Rosalie reacts with surprising strength, as head butts one of the Latin Kings and sends him to the ground like a rag doll, his spine snapped.

Morgan slaps at Hunter, but isn’t able to get a hand on him as the giant wolf snaps its jaws in warning. Bobby grabs another vial of sunlight and smashes it on the ground, bathing the area in brief blast of sunlight, searing both Morgan and Richie. Richie howls in pain and stomps savagely on Bobby’s head with a booted foot. Bobby feels his skull being crushed. Morgan, feeling the pain of sunlight decides that discretion is the better part of valor and scurries off into the shadows. Hunter sees Bobby’s plight and while Richie is distracted guts him with a savage bite. Blood pours from Richie’s stomach as he howls again in pain. Bobby sees an opening and with his last vial of sunshine and slams it into Richie’s open stomach shattering it. Sunlight explodes from inside the Red Court Vampire as he rears his head roaring in pain, light and blood pouring from his orifices. He then explodes in chunky red pulp.

Brittany makes quick work of the two vampire gang members. They attempt to regain their hold on her, but she easily breaks their grasps. She then unleashes a fury of blows, breaking bones and snapping necks as they fall lifelessly beside her. A lifetime of Tai-boo work out videos seems to be paying off for Rosalie as she somehow blocks the street tough’s punch and counters with her own savage blow. The sunlight, blood explosion of Richie distracts them all for a moment, causing the last vampire to turn and run off into the shadows.

Rosalie, seeing Bobby covered in blood rushes over to thank him. Her breathing quickens as a hunger builds, Bobby seeing the look in her eyes, says, “Hey…like, yeah, why don’t you stay over there, I am not feeling tooo good ok and I don’t feel like being lunch, man.”

Rosalie shakes her head and bites her lower lip, quickly getting in control of her hunger. Hunter tried to track the remaining vampire, but in wolf form it would be too difficult for him to scramble up the cars. He decides that is efforts would be better spent helping the others link up with the rest of the group at Pig’s Eye Public House.

Pig’s Eye Public House, Saint Paul

Alek, Craig and Thomas feel a little relief wash over them. They feel like Blackthorn is setting a stage for the show that is about to begin. On one side of the Public House by a blue door set in a wall with a winter fresco, come strolling in Sylivia the Blue Eyed, a snow elf and Winter Court representative. On the other wall is a green door set in a wall with a summer fresco comes in Jenny of the River Stones and Water Nymph and a representative for the Summer Court. They exchange heated glances between each other as they take opposite seats to Blackthorn at the head table.

Sylivia
Jenny

As their legal discussion begins, Pearce takes a seat at the table with Alek, Craig and Thomas, smoking a cigar. Smoke curls around his face, lending a shadowed cast to it. His eyes flare green as he puffs, “I must thank you for taking care of this obstacle, as my employer was irritated at the idea of having to deal with them.” He gestures to the two fairies arguing with Blackthorn, Jenny seems gleeful and Sylivia seems consumed with an ice cold rage at his words, “But to business, Alek, I have a concern, my employer is interested in Brittany Winters and Alison Harper, I would like to discuss with you the opportunity for ensuring that my employer can provide patronage to at least one of them.”

Pearce’s “Employer”

Alek blinks for a second before responding, “So you are saying that you want us to trade Brittany Winters for Alison Harper?”

Craig sees this confusion and with disgust responds, “Alison is her own person now, and so is Brittany we don’t speak for any of them. Alison is capable of making her own decisions.”

Pearce looks surprised and takes a sip of scotch, “I apologize for taking your time, gentleman.”

He excuses himself and stands, Alek looks at Craig slightly surprised. They observe Pearce stop by the elfin concierge and give her a note before walking back to his private room.

Bobby, Brittany, Hunter and Rosalie pull up in Bobby’s beat-up RV. They two are stopped by Blackthorn’s people and asked to display proper decorum and take time to get cleaned up. Brittany takes the opportunity and asks the concierge if she may use a phone.

While she is changing, Brittany decides to make two calls. Brittany then steadies herself and makes the first call.

“Hello, Steve McCellan speaking.”

Steve McCellan

“Steve, do you have a moment, there is something I need to ask you.”

“One second Brittany,” she can hear him muffle the phone for a second and hears him asking an assortment of men and women to get dressed and give him a moment, “Sorry, I was in the middle of a late night snack, you need of something?”

Brittany steals her will, knowing that White Court Vampires can be a tricky, “Yes, I need you to vouch for me as a Freeholding Lord, you can do that right?”

“Oh yes, most definitely, I do represent White Court interests, I can do it, but the question is will I.” He pauses for a moment, “Which of course I will, for a price.”

Brittany sighs, “Which is?”

“I want one night, with you and for that night, you are mine.” The lust and menace cause Brittany’s heart to race and hackles to rise.

“Steve, no, but you can have one night where you have the opportunity to…’have’ me.”

Steve laughs, “Brittany dear, I already have that. No, but I can sense your hesitancy, how about a night where you guarantee that both Madison…..and Bethany are there as well for that “opportunity.” Then we can see how things go.”

Bethany Tempest

Brittany pauses for a second, “Deal.”

“Then I endorse your petition to become a Freeholding Lord.”

Brittany then makes the second call, to Madison

“Maddy, I need a favor, you represent the Gatekeeper right? And he is a part of the Accords, right?”

Madison
Gatekeeper

“Yes he is Brittany, so? I mean it’s late.”

“Could you vouch for me to be a Freeholding Lord, it would mean soo much. I mean I can get us into Steve’s club!”

“Really! Yeah, awesome, so, whatever Brit, you are a Freeholding Lord or whatever.”

“Thanks Maddy, you’re a dear, bye, bye!”

She gets changed and hands to the main floor of the Public House. She makes her way to Bobby and asks him, “So, can you endorse me as a Freeholding Lord?”

“No can do man, sorry, but like you might want to ask Ivy Tower over there.” Bobby nods his head to Craig sitting at the table watching the proceedings.

While everyone makes there way to the table that Alek, Craig and Thomas are sitting at; the meeting at Blackthorn’s table winds down. Jenny smiles and waves at the three onlookers before leaving the Public House; however the three become concerned when the concierge that they saw Pearce talking to walks over to Blackthorn and hands him a note. Blackthorn reads it and begins to lead Alison to a side room.

They are unsure about the young girl’s ability to handle the subtle nuances of a White Council trained Wizard infused by the Power of a Greater Dragon and quickly run to head off this private conversation. Sylivia, with her escort of bruisers, heads them off. Her eyes flashing with anger and she snaps at them, “How dare you interfere with Winter Court business, your actions will NOT be forgotten.”

Alek nods politely and with a smile, says, “Oh definitely yep, not forgotten,” and slides around Sylivia making a bee line to Blackthorn and Alison.

Thomas doesn’t even stop his iron infused flesh brushing against Sylivia’s escort which causes them to shirk back in terror. Craig takes Sylivia’s pointing finger to the chest as her tirade continues. He nods politely and resides himself to haranguing that he is about to receive.

“Blackthorn, wait!” Alek calls out

Blackthorn looks at Alek in annoyance, “Gentlemen it’s late, I am conducting my last bit of business, and whatever it is can wait for the morning.”

“Just one more thing Blackthorn, Thomas and I would like to go with Alison to this meeting.”

Blackthorn raises an eyebrow, “Why? It is a private meeting, it is her business, and we just established that she is independent.”

Thomas looks to Alison, “This meeting might not be safe, it would be good to have allies around.”

Alison thinks for a moment, “Blackthorn, I would like them there please, or I won’t take the meeting.”

Blackthorn smooths out his silken coat, “Very well, we must get a move on, and time is precious.”

Ask Blackthorn takes Alek, Allison and Thomas into the back hallway, Brittany is able to pull Craig from the tongue lashing he is getting from Sylivia.

“Craig, this is important,” Brittany looks intently at the young White Council Wizard, “will you vouch for me as a Freeholding Lord?”

Craig shrugs his shoulders, “Sure, why not? Who cares what the Senior Council thinks.”

Brittany sighs and feels that she will be able to deal with Pearce now that she is on an equal footing. She has three signatories of the Accords to vouch for her to get Freeholding Status. If what she knows about the lore is correct, she just needs to share this information with someone like Blackthorn and the deal should be complete.

The televisions in the room suddenly flash a news bulletin. Everyone goes silent as they hear the announcement, "Allison Harper has been found dead this morning in a ravine outside of Saint Paul.” They take in the sight of her torn body in the dark ravine as paramedics are removing her. As they get lost in their thoughts, a white faced Alek and a furious looking Thomas step out from the side room.

Bobby, Brittany, Craig and Hunter all stammer out disjointed questions. Alek shakes his head, clearly unable to speak, Thomas just states, “Blackthorn has made me promise not to say.” Hunter nudges his partner, and Alek just nods, “Yes…she’s…she’s dead.”

Bobby explodes, “This is all bullshit man, just fucking bullshit. You were with her and you let her die, fuck you and fuck this.” He then leaves the bar in a furry.

Craig doesn’t know what to do, but he takes a distraught Rosalie and decides he will use his contacts to put her in the care of the Fellowship of St. Giles; they can at least help with their affliction.

Thomas looks at his phone and begins to speak when suddenly he makes a choking sound. Thomas gets a text message reads it and then stalks out of the pub. Alek and Hunter look at their cell phones as a text message comes through, they then look at each other realizing they both received the same information. That the APB on Brittany Winters has been dropped and that tomorrow is going to be the first day of their suspension. They call for a car and sigh, realizing that the best part of tomorrow IS going to be the paperwork they are going to have to fill out.

Brittany lost a bit in grief, asks one of the staff to speak to Blackthorn. They make a quick call and he appears from behind the bar.

“It is tragic, truly tragic that young Allison died. I told her not to leave, but she wouldn’t listen.”

Brittany sighs, “I don’t want to talk about that. I want you to acknowledge that I am a Freeholding Lord and Sacred Grounds is my fiefdom. I have vouching from the Gatekeeper, the White Court, and the White Council.”

Blackthorn stares into the distance and nods, “Welcome Lady Brittany, I will be sure that Windsor Simon Pearce hears of your change in status right away. You do know he will attempt to secure you in other ways, my dear?”

Brittany nods, “Yes, but at least he can’t just use mortal authorities to bully me. He will have to come at me more directly.”

Blackthorn smiles to himself, as Brittany leaves the pub.

The Conclusion of Falling Star

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Sky Full of Stars
Falling Star, Part 3


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The Story

Last Place on Earth, Downtown Duluth

Madison strolls into the seedy store, all eyes turning to her as her supermodel looks are in stark contrast to the usual seedy patrons that frequent Clinton’s mortal store.

Last Place on Earth

Brit, what are you doing up here?” Madison asks, not bother to mask the derision in her voice.

“Maddy, I am so glad you made it up here! I know, we just need to make a quick hop down to the Twin Cities, do you think you can help?”

Madison

“I don’t what you all did at the Bazaar, but sure, I guess, where is it you want to go?”

Brittany looks at Craig. Craig, well aware of Magnus’s lair, “We need to get to the Wabasha Street Caves, as quickly as possible.”

Maddison’s eyes widen, “What? No, I want nothing to do with my asshole of a father, I won’t take you there.”

Bobby takes a moment to calm Madison down, as Alek asks if they can go somewhere close by. Madison nods her head in ascent, “I…I can take you somewhere close, but the quickest way I have to go through either lands controlled by Vestele Darkwind or by Blackthorn in the Nevernever. What works best for you?”

Alek, Bobby, Brittany, Craig, Hunter, and Thomas take a moment to confer and decide to risk traveling the lands controlled by Blackthorn, wanting to stay out of the influence of the Winter Court as much as possible. Madison agrees and after taking a moment to concentrate, she finds a Way and opens a door leading into the Nevernever.

Blackthorn’s Garden Party, Nevernever

Madison leads them into the lush, wild wilderness of the Nevernever, quickly though, they find themselves in a manicure garden where the oddest party that they have ever seen is going on. An assortment of creatures, fairies, and other beings are sitting about tables and chairs that appear as if they were grown from the ground into the furniture. They see mortals playing music or wandering around serving food or drink. One thing these servers have in common, besides being beautiful, is they each have either a gold collar or anklet with a fine chain connected to a large band about the waist. Hunter’s sensitive ears pick up the sounds of bets being taken regarding the odds of the “Star” surviving.

Madison skips into the party as a giant tree reveals itself to be a Troll of Summer. “Hi Maddy,” it rumbles as she passes by, it turns to the rest of the travelers and goes, “Invitation please.”

Summer Troll

They all realize that the Troll appears to be a bit dim, Bobby slips into the background, while Thomas pretends to be a bodyguard, and Brit waves after Maddy like they are old friends. Hunter ignores the conversation and focuses on the conversations the patrons are having with his acute hearing. Alek weaves a quick tale about being friends of Madison and the troll lets them through and tells them, “If you wanna place a wager just ask one of the servants.”

Alek nods and the rest stroll on by, one of the servant greets them and leads them to a table. He offers them food or drink, but Craig quickly states, “While here, don’t drink or eat anything.” The rest nod. As they plan their next move, suddenly they hear a cough behind them and see a bemused Blackthorn standing there.

Blackthorn

Jack remains to the side, not really paying attention, but realizes the betting is about the likelihood of Alison Harper surviving. He notice they are gambling with things like a “baby’s first laugh” or a part of an artist’s soul. The longer he listens the more he hears that the odds are stacked against them. He whispers this to everyone else, as Blackthorn starts to speak.

“Well, uninvited guests, please have a drink, something to eat, you do present me something of a problem.” He spreads his arms wide, the colors of his fitted suit matching the natural background perfectly, with almost a chameleon like blend, “I am running an evening of gaming and well, having the principles here, adds a complication, it makes it seem like I might have insider information. Truly a problem that is in search of a solution.”

He flashes a smile at them. Solutions are offered, with Blackthorn sadly shaking his head to each, seeing a problem or a concern, until finally, Alek, offering a smile of his own, “Well, you probably want us out of here as soon as possible, as it is well known that Craig Hale, while not only being a principle and a Wizard of the White Council; also has the ability to see the future. The longer we are here, the more that we would cause a disruption to your evening festivities.”

Blackthorn strokes his chin, “You make an excellent point,” and with a flash of his hand he invokes the power of his demesne, muting Craig, “that solves that problem.”

Thomas, silent and stoic, suddenly speaks up, “Does it really? You have been talking to us for a while, keeping us here is just a losing proposition, sending us on our way is not that much aid and helps you tamp down that you are speaking to us; especially if you give us a minor obstacle.”

Blackthorn smiles brightens, "Good point, I shall send you on your way, it will just take a little longer than you hoped! The world turns bright around them and they find themselves ejected from the Nevernever.

Outside the Wabasha Street Caves, St. Paul, 10:00pm.

Suddenly they find themselves standing outside the boarded up entrance to the Wabasha Street Caves. Once a tourist destination, recent violence and assaults has resulted in the caves being closed off. They also notice that they lost most of the day. Bobby gets a sense of the ritual magic being utilized further into the cave.

Wabasha Street Caves

“We have until like Midnight man, then the ritual reaches it’s like climax, I think I can get to my like lab and brew up some potions to help us.”

Craig also gets a sense of the ritual magic involved and feels that some kind of giant ward is being constructed in the depths of the caverns, “Bobby, I can go with you and help you with the brewing.”

Brittany then offers to go with Bobby and Craig in case things do not go as smoothly. Hunter steps away from the rest and transforms into an eagle and flies through the open door to the caves to scout farther ahead. Alek decides to take a moment to scout the grounds and see what he can find; while Thomas, now left alone at the cave entrance decides to step inside and wait at the mouth of the cave.

Alek, now alone turns on his flashlight and begins to search the area, looking for signs of passage or defense. He finds the evidence of motorcycle tracks. He follows the trail and it leads back down to the cave entrance where he can see that the motorcycle stopped. He then makes out a set of footprints, most likely either that of a woman or a slender man, running from where the motorcycle stopped and into the caves. Alek turns off is flashlight and steps inside to pass this information along to Thomas.

Indian Mounds Park, St. Paul

Bobby, Brittany and Craig make their way to Bobby’s RV and lab. Brittany checks her watch and shares the time with Bobby. The alchemist and wizard realize that if they brew some potions while Brittany drives the RV back to the Wabasha Street Caves. Bobby and Craig clamber in back and start to gather ingredients as Brittany starts up the RV and begins to drive quickly back to the caves.

Indian Mounds Park

As they pass across the bridge leading across the Mississippi River, the RV suddenly lurches rolling to its side. Brittany pinned in the driver’s seat sees a giant wooded fist of a Summer Troll pounding on the door to the cab. She looks around quickly and sees a container of weed killer, she grabs, uncorks it and then hurls it at the troll. Brittany’s aim is true as the container explodes directly in the chest of the plant like troll. It lets out a bellow, frantically pulling at the passenger side door of the RV.

Bobby scrambles to pull together his potions supplies and realizes that he won’t be able to make all that he wanted to brew. Craig frantically pushes at the back door, trying to get away, but finds himself not strong enough to open it.

Bobby looks out the side window and yells, “Tree Beard, man, like why did you punch my RV!?”

Tree Beard shakes his head and peers at the window, “Oh, hi, Bobby, sorry, scary Queen Lady says I have to stop you and stop you I shall.”

Bobby sighs and conversationally replies, “Yeah, but man, you owe me one.”

Tree Beard ponders for a moment, stuck between two obligations, and suddenly smiles, “Me no smash Bobby, I smash lady instead!” He then begins to pound on the doors of the cab, Brittany twisting and turning to avoid shards of glass and twisted metal.

Brittany surges out of the cab of the truck and head butts Tree Beard viciously, knocking him back. He flails at her uselessly and she snarls, “Keep this up and I will rip your arms off, you troll.”

The Summer Fae stumbles backward against her onslaught, bellowing, almost pleading, “Scary Queen says I have to stop you, can’t listen to her.”

Brittany whips out her ghost axe and slices some of the vines making up the troll’s body, “Well this Scary Lady is going to chop you into kindling if you don’t give up.”

Bobby yells out man, “Yeah, just like make her walk or something.”

Tree Beard backs away and looks at Brittany, “You no drive, you promise to walk to the Caves and Tree Beard can let you through.”

Brittany thinks about the time, ghost axe in hand, and goes, “Deal, I promise not to drive.”

Tree Beard nods and climbs back over the side of the bridge and away. Craig pulls himself together and Brittany sighs, before flipping the RV upright.

“Bobby, you drive,” Brittany says and grabs onto the back bumper, “I will be running behind you.”

Bobby takes off, as Brittany strides behind the RV, letting the motor pull her forward. Her shoes begin to burn and tatter against the friction of the black top road.

Wabasha Street Caves, St. Paul

Hunter flies into the entryway of the caves. He sees what appears to be several cultist lying dead on the floor, their throats cut by a slender blade. Hunter flies deeper down the cavern, he can see what appears to be an old style of wiring for demolitions that will blow the entrance to cave. He flies further down and comes to an old mine door. Peering through the barred window, he can see chanting Wyvern Cultists and behind them at a tall alter the robed figure of Magnus Jotunnson plunging a dagger into a human being. He quickly takes wing back to the cave entrance.

Wyvern Cultist

As Hunter flies deeper into the cavern, Thomas steps inside taking witness to the carnage at his feet. He takes a quick look around, but his inspection is interrupted by a lilting Irish accent, “Ahhh the Champion of Iron, I was hoping to speak to you.”

Thomas looks up and sees Erin Kirkpatrick in form fitting leathers, two slender blades sheathed at her waist. Thomas cocks and eyebrow, “and?”

Erin Kirkpatrick

“I abhor this killing of children, but, unfortunately I am compelled to impede you and your companions’ path.” Erin strides to the mouth of the cave, blocking Thomas’s ability to go deeper, “I have two options, one I like more than the other. Notwithstanding the shape changer flying back down the cavern, if you and your companions attempt to travel down the cave I possess the power, both through arcane arts or technological methods, to collapse the cave and prevent your rescue of the child. The alternative, which I prefer for I deem it more honorable, is for you to face me in single combat. Your companions may continue on, without your aid, where they will most likely fail their test of arms against the power of Magnus.”

Thomas thinks a moment and nods, “Deal, I will face you in single combat, does it begin now?”

Erin shakes her head, “No, you can wait for your companions, no reason to not be civil, but the duel begins when one of them continues down the pathway.”

When she finishes speaking, Hunter flies back and transforms into Human form as Alek enters the cave, tracing the footprints he found. Alek quickly realizes that the footprints he saw belonged to that of Erin; Hunter tells them both about the human sacrifices going on in the ritual chamber. Before Hunter and Alek can charge them back down, Thomas stops them both and relays to them Erin’s deal.

With nothing to do, but wait; Thomas sits down on a rock and sharpens his sword. Erin leans against the side of the tunnel wall, with one hand resting on the hilt of a sword blade, the other holding a leather bound book as she reads. Hunter and Alek confer, pacing about, seeing if they can disarm the bomb mechanism.

It isn’t long before they hear the sound of Bobby’s RV sputtering to a stop outside. Bobby, Brittany and Craig run inside, taking in the unusual sight. Thomas calmly explains the deal; with Brittany thinking for a moment to take his place, but discards the idea readily. Craig takes a moment outside of the caves and looks the clear night sky. He uses his arcane knowledge and invokes a ritual to empower himself with the light of the stars. Erin stands smiling and relaxed as everyone else gathers together and walks by her, both Thomas and Erin maintain eye contact as the last of Thomas’s companions continue deeper into the caves.

As soon as the final person passes, Erin leaps into action, being quicker than Thomas, and strikes true. Thomas feels pain and a sting in his side as he realizes Erin has coated her blades in an ichor that burns at the iron inside of him. He knows that his iron will cut through Erin’s defenses, but it appears she evened the playing field. They trade blows with Thomas stalwartly blocking and Erin twisting side to side.

Ritual Chamber, Wabasha Street Caves, St. Paul

Bobby reaches into his satchel and passes Brittany a small package that says “Eat Me” and a vial to Hunter that says “Drink Me”. Alek, now that he can see the explosive closer, notices that they could be tricky to disarm as they have a dead man’s switch. Luckily, he has seen this kind of rigging before and he takes a moment to disarm it. Bobby keeps a few items for himself.

Craig peers through the crack in the door. He can see a blue flame burning with the light directly from Jotunnheim. He knows it will burn cold instead of hot. He can also see several cultists and the ritual spell has been carved into the stone, illuminated by the blue flame. He takes a moment and can feel the ritual magic and realizes that the power being channeled here is fueled by the death of many people and that if it allowed to go out of control it could cause major destruction to innocent people living above; not to mention bringing the caverns down on top of them. Craig then senses that they are channeling immense energy into a series of wards deep below the Twin Cities, almost directly below Witch’s Hat Tower. Craig gains the sense that there are 6 immense wards and a complex veil. He realizes that one of the wards is failing and the ward being channeled here is to renew that ward. He knows that if someone put the life of the sun into this last ward they could restore it.

As Craig comes to this cold realization, Hunter sees an air shaft and transforms into a hawk. He takes the vial he got from Bobby in his talons and flies up the air shaft and into the ritual chamber. He now sees Alison Harper, suspended in chains against the wall, raised up above the floor. Unfortunately, Magnus sees Hunter and his chanting stops, curious to see an eagle, with a potion vial, flying in an underground cavern.

Alison Harper

Brittany wastes little time and kicks the door savagely with her foot slamming it into a chanting cultist, she charges in with ghost axe at the ready. Alek, Bobby, and Craig follow her in with Alek drawing his shotgun, pumping a shell in. Magnus looks on with arrogant annoyance at the intrusion. He steps from the blue flame, throwing his robe back, a giant maul in his fist.

“You know not what you meddle in fools,” Magnus ripples beneath his pale flesh and grows to immense size, dwarfing everyone else, “you’re interference could bring death to all you care about!”

Magnus

As Magnus roars, another cultist steps to the center to resume chanting; several of the others suddenly stab blades into their hearts. Their skin peals and suddenly emerging from their flesh with a moist and bloody explosion are wolves carved of ice, howling for blood.

Wabasha Street Caves, St. Paul.

Thomas felt the bite of Erin’s blades again as she ran up the side of the cave wall to dodge one of his powerful sword blows. She twists the blades, causing Thomas to wince. He reaches behind his back and grabs one of the boxes of nails he had. Erin darts in, expecting another of Thomas sword swings, but instead he slams the box of nails against the side of her face. Erin cartwheels to the side slamming against the wall. She regain her balance, but not before Thomas can set his defenses and hold his sword at the ready.

Ritual Chamber, Wabasha Street Caves, St. Paul.

Hunter takes flight above the struggle below, he flies towards Alison’s prone and restrained form. He lands on the chains next to her and uncorks the bottle. Realizing that this would be too awkward, he transforms to human shape and attempts to poor the fluid down her throat. Her unconscious and hanging form makes this difficult causing some of the “Drink Me” potion to pour out of her mouth.

Brittany shoulders aside to ice wolves and grabs the package marked “Eat Me” ripping it open. She pops the alchemical food into her mouth, swallowing it quickly. Brittany suddenly roars, feeling strength and energy coursing through her body as she suddenly grows to a size equal to that of Magnus, her clothes ripping to tatters about her. Brittany stands tall and naked, her hands clenching in fists as she prepares to assault Magnus.

Ice Wolves

Alek discharges his shotgun, dodging ice wolves as they lunge at him. The blast deafens Magnus. Bobby takes a gulp of Odin’s Breath and exhales alchemical energy dazing the wolves and Magnus. Craig looks to the stone ceiling hoping to find a weak spot, but is unable to see any faults in the craftsmanship. Unfortunately for Bobby, he gets assailed by wolves and they cut him deeply. Brittany gets hamstrung by some of the ice wolves, giving an opening in her defenses for Magnus to savagely slam his Maul against her ribs. She feels them cracking.

Magnus growls with the blow, “You fools, your interference will cause Fenrir, the father of monsters to awaken. He must be sealed below, he must be restrained!”

Wabasha Street Caves, St. Paul

Thomas realizes that overcoming Erin quickly will be a difficult proposition. He resolves to extend the conflict, so that he can prevent Erin from perhaps tipping the scales between his companions and that of Magnus. He grabs his other box of nails and whips it across the floor spreading iron nails about. Erin looks at him with aspiration, her eyes suddenly turn green as her long red hair suddenly billows out. A warm summer breeze blows through the door, filling the cave with the smell of spring. The winds whip the nails across the floor, clearing a path between her and Thomas.

Ritual Chamber, Wabasha Street Caves, St. Paul

Brittany and Magnus exchange blows with the ice wolves worrying at her flanks. She shoulders Magnus aside, crushing a wolf into shards and lets out a roar, shaking the constructs and intimidating them. They instead turn to other targets and move on the more vulnerable Bobby and Craig.

Hunter, seeing that Alison is beginning to slowly shrink and seeing the change in the tactics of the wolves, drops to the ground. He shifts to that of a giant wolf and lands on the stone floor. He charges a pair of wolves, tearing into them. His might jaws and claws pulverize one into a pile of ice.

Craig, realizes that sadly there is truth to Magnus’s words, the ward is failing. He turns and blasts a wolf with spirit, laced with star power, obliterating it. Bobby attempts to learn more about the wards, but is blocked by an immense veil that keep him from greater understanding. Alek times another shotgun shot, blasting at Magnus and dazing him with the glare.

Magnus staggers back from Brittany’s blows. His eye glow with a strong blue light, as cold as ice. He channels energy and summons a frigid gale, freezing his foes to the core. They are blasted back and coated in droplets of ice. He lets out a fierce roar that shakes the domed ritual chamber.

Wabasha Street Caves, St. Paul

Thomas and Erin both hear Magnus’s Earth shaking roar and feel the blast of cold air. Thomas fears for the safety of his companions and attempts to taunt Erin, drawing her to follow him down the cavern, bringing her closer. Erin at first follows through on Thomas’s attempt, their blades clashing together. Suddenly though, she sees through the ruse and wanting to keep Thomas out of the ritual chamber, she summons a wall of stone, with the power of Summer, behind him sealing off the cave.

Ritual Chamber, Wabasha Street Caves, St. Paul

Magnus and Brittany continue to exchange hammer blows and punches, the chamber groaning beneath their powerful strikes. Craig responds to the gale Magnus casted with his own blast of star light. He fills the chamber with spiritual energy and with the fury that built inside of him is able to take the power of the stars and burns away the wolves and cultists. Magnus roars in pain as his own flesh burns under the fierce assault. With the Cultists dead, Bobby quickly takes control of the ritual. Hunter hamstrings Magnus, knocking him off balance as Alek grabs a machete he bought at the Last Place on Earth and stabs Magnus in the side. Magnus gathers his will and using the power of the Outside is able to assert his will over the ritual circle and gain control of the ritual, preventing Bobby from dissipating the power.

Craig sees that his Prophecy of Doom is coming true as a sword has cut Magnus’s flesh, Bobby’s potion has been fueling Brittany’s relentless assault, and Magnus is in the Wabasha Street Caves he channels a blast of spirit energy. He burns the energy of the stars from him to sear Magnus. Magnus burns, his skin melting off of him, his blood boils and his bone curdles. The skin peels from his skull as Brittany wraps her arms under Magnus and digs her fingers into his eyes, pulling him back.

Magnus roars with fury and defeat, struggling in Brittany’s titan grasp. Craig calls out to Magnus, drawing on Alison’s personal magnetism, “Magnus, your ritual will fail, surrender and we can find another way. You will not be harmed.”

Bobby, not wanting to be the target of a death curse, draws on the savage wounds Magnus sustained, “Yeah man, if your are going to end it this way, you’re going to wreck the city anyways.”

Magnus sags in Brittany’s arms and surrenders, howling in tears, “You don’t understand, this is the only way, what is the life of a girl compared to the city….to the world?”

As Magnus speaks, a shrunken Alison slides from her bounds. Hunter quickly turns to human and catches her as she falls, lowering her unconscious form to the floor. Bobby channels what energy is left in the ritual into the failing ward and realizes that this will only keep the ward sustained for a couple of weeks at best.

Wabasha Street Caves, St. Paul

The fierce battle between Erin and Thomas comes to a sudden halt as Erin leaps back with a small laugh.

“How interesting! Well fought Thomas, but it appears your companions were successful,” Erin makes a gesture with her hand, lowering the stone wall, “go to them, the purpose of our duel has been render moot, besides, I have some winnings to collect.”

Thomas lowers his sword allowing Erin to disengage. Erin laughs as she sheathes her blade, he takes note that she draws a marker from her belt pouch, a marker matching those at Blackthorn’s garden party. “I enjoyed our duel Thomas, you are a skilled swordsman. I fear our blades will cross again while Alison Harper continues to be claimed by the Winter Court. Fare you well.”

Erin turns and leaves the caves, as Thomas calls back, with a touch of respect, “Fare you well as well, I look forward to our next battle.”

He then turns and walks down the caves to join his companions.

To be continued…

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Look for a Star
Falling Star, Part 2


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The Story

Foshay Tower, Minneapolis, Midmorning

Bobby Chan stood on the plush carpeting with a trembling Rosalie shivering behind him. Susana stood gazing at him with a hungry look a cruel smile playing across his lips. Bobby knew he was in deep shit.

Foshay Tower

“Ahhh, guests,” Susana gazes at Rosalie first and then shifts her gaze towards Bobby, “and she brought lunch!”

Bobby looks around a bit, “Lunch, well, I’ll take a pastrami on rye with extra mayo.”

Susana lets out an amused chuckle, the bemused red haired vampire strolls around Bobby and Rosalie, “You are a funny cow, but I was thinking of dismembering you and feeding you to this poor child,” Susana gently grabs Rosalie by the hand, “She is starving!”

Susana

Rosalie shrinks back, Bobby fights the desire to shrink back with her. Before Rosalie can respond, a tall Hispanic man strides into the room. His loafers clicking on the floor and Carlos Ortega’s voice cuts through the room, “Susana, It’s not nice to play with your food, leave the cattle alone.”

Bobby finds his voice and responds, “Yeah, we will just be going on our way, so sorry-“ and Bobby suddenly finds himself smashed against the wall, a steel grip crushing at his windpipe. He never saw Ortega cross the intervening distance, but he could see the evil in his eyes. He easily held Bobby up against the wall.

Carlos Ortega

“Silence, Cow! I gave you no permission to speak.”

Everyone in the room gets quiet, until a small high pitched whine pierces the air and Richie Hernandez stumbles into the room from the Nevernever. Gore continues to pour from his face, which now looks like Wile E. Coyote after a mishap with TnT.

Richie Hernandez

“Thffe Thffee Ish! I’mthsh gunsha kilish shimsh!” screams a jawless Richie Hernandez.

Carlos sighs and without acknowledging Richie’s presence and speaks to Susana, with his eyes still on Bobby, “Susana, dear, will you please help Richie remember that he is a member of my court and will comport himself as such, Oh, and the cattle could help us with a little problem.” Carlos suddenly sets Bobby gently down and fixes the collar of his shirt, “I suggest you listen to Susana, we have a proposition for you.” He then turns and strides out of the room.

Susana suddenly rounds, snarling at Richie, “Stopping bleeding all over the carpet, it’s worth more than you will ever be. Go, get yourself cleaned up.” She turns to Bobby again, smiling with a savage grin, “Now, sir, I believe you are an Alchemist, Bobby Chan, technically our courts are at war, so, if you value your life, I suggest you accept our offer. We need a girl, Alison Harper, we know that a man by the name of Clinton is involved in the sale of her in the Bazaar, we need you to find her and track her location, then let us know. To help, motivate you, your young friend will wait here and if we do not have Alison in our possession by Sun up, I am going to have to treat this dear girl to a lovely breakfast and introduce her to a new way of life.”

Bobby hears Rosalie gasp and he turns to her, “It will be ok, alright man? Just keep cool and I will be back for you, ok man? And don’t like, eat anything, ok?”

Rosalie nods and begins to sob as Susana gestures for Bobby to follow her. Bobby walks behind her and into a small elevator at the back of the room. They are both joined by two large Mexican men who Bobby recognizes as Red Court Vampires. Susana looks to Bobby and hands him a phone. “These two are for your protection, they will take you to the mall. You can use the cellphone to call me and remember. You have until sundown.”

Downtown on the way to West Side, St. Paul

The unmarked squad crashes into the telephone pole, air bags deploying. Alek’s cell phone flies from his hand, but remains unharmed, protected by a sturdy case. Alek,Craig, and Bethany quickly look around, all deducing that the blown tire was from a gunshot. They can see a gruff perched on a low rooftop with a high powered rifle, loading another round. They also see a group of shadows moving through an alley way across the street.

Gruff
Bethany

Alek sees an entrance to the skyway and realizes that they can better protect themselves there. He grabs the shotgun from the holster between the seats. “Craig, there is an AR-15 in the trunk, get it and we can cover ourselves better in the skyway.” Alek then kicks out the window, slides out and takes position in the middle of the street to cover the other two. Craig, realizing that he is just as likely to shoot himself as something else, skips getting the gun and makes a dash across the street. Bethany, still a little dazed realizes that the wind is blowing strongly through the streets and gathers her will, channeling a blast of air that knocks the gruff off the roof of the building onto the ground below. The gruffs from the alleyway charge out armed with submachine guns and open fire on Alek. He is able to duck aside, but loses his footing sliding to his knees.

Alek takes a moment and aims the shotgun at the gruffs as they are loading new clips and opens fire, a solid blast turns the rampaging gruffs into red mist. Craig realizes that something odd is going on that no people have responded to the gunfire and takes a moment to extend his senses and realizes there is a glamour extended over the area causing them to stay away. At that moment, a slim red haired woman appears next to the car, and suddenly causes the moss and mold to rapidly grow entangling the crashed vehicle and trapping Bethany inside. She tries to pull herself free, but finds herself stuck.

Alek turns the shotgun on her reloading, both he and Craig recognize her as Erin Kirkpatrick and they both begin to beseech her to stand down. Before they can continue, she jams her hand through the thicket entangling Bethany and pulls out her backpack. Alek stands up and closes on Erin, as Craig waits for a moment to strike. Bethany channels a blast of air trying to flip the remains of the car atop Erin, Erin runs up the wall and jumps away, the shell of the vehicle missing her. Erin then begins to leap up the side of the building. Craig choses that moment to act and freezes the side of the building, drawing the moisture from the surrounding air and cement, causing a thin sheet of ice to make the wall slick. Erin continues to ignore Alek’s cries of surrender and surrounds herself in a veil, however; Alek, Bethany, and Craig can still see where she is as she struggles to climb up the wall.

Erin Kirkpatrick

Erin throws Bethany’s books to the ground, dropping the backpack. Bethany screams, “Not my books!”

She channels a blast of air pulling a clump of hair from Erin’s head to her hand. Erin jumps down, two swords suddenly drawn and a murderous intent in her eyes. Craig runs back towards the vehicle as Alek steps forward, interposing himself between Erin and Bethany, shotgun in hand. “The hair brush for your hair, even trade.”

Erin looks towards Alek, Craig and Bethany, “We swear on our True Names that this exchange is for true?” she asks in a lilting Irish accent.

Alek, thinking for a moment to try attempt a double cross, changes his mind at the subtle shake of Craig’s head, and says, “Deal.” He takes the strands from Bethany’s hand and gives it to Erin, whom in turn returns the brush. Erin then quickly dashes away, scampering back up the wall.

Morgan’s Mexican and Lebanese Foods, West Side, St. Paul

Thomas feels the pull of iron in his blood as he senses the presence of fairy magic nearby.

West Side

“We have to go!” He runs up the basement stairs and towards his vehicle with a startled Hunter and Brittany behind him. As they make their way to the vehicle, Hunter gets a call on his phone from Jack Vincent.

“Hunter, calling the NSA and going over my head like that, you are in deep shit. I need you to come back to headquarters now.”

Jack Vincent

Hunter decides that he is done with this bullshit and mimics that the call is breaking up, “I—ca-t—h—ea—ou,” then hang up the phone. He is not sure if Vincent buys it because as soon as he hangs up, Jack is calling him back.

Brittany calls for Thomas to slow down and Thomas yells back, “I can’t there are faeries nearby and they are fighting, somewhere in downtown Saint Paul, I have to go.”

Hunter, confused and irritated gets a call from his partner Alek, “John, where have you been? My car is trashed, we got ambushed by Summer faeries, but we got some leads on Alison.”

Hunter realizes that Thomas is sensing the Summer Fae who attacked Alek and gives Thomas the directions to meet up with the others. Thomas, Brittany and Hunter pile into the car and take off towards Downtown, Saint Paul.

As Thomas drives, he realizes that traffic is backing up with the bridge collapse and that it could take hours to get to the Mall of America and they don’t have that kind of time. They meet up with Alek, Bethany and Craig at their destroyed vehicle. After conferring quickly, they decided to head to the Bazaar and confront Clinton about the kidnapping. Alek grabs the removable light from the undercover squad and places it atop Thomas’s Oldsmobile to allow him to cut through the traffic faster.

Mall of America, Minneapolis, approximately 30 minutes before the sale of Alison Harper

Bobby realizes that money doesn’t only greases the wheels of commerce, it also helps to get through traffic. The expensive BMW he is riding in, piloted by one of the two Thuggish Red Court Vampires, is waved through and around snarled traffic. They arrive to the Mall of America and park in a private garage beneath the facility. Bobby gets out of the car and is flanked by both of goons, he turns them.

Mall of America

“Now guys, when we go in, I need you to like, stand back, you know, let me do like the talking. We need Madison’s help to get to the Bazaar and see this Clinton guy, ok?”

One of the goons grunts and the other says, “Our orders are not to let you out of our sight.”

“Well, great man, that’s really, like great.”

Bobby knows that to get safely into the Bazaar, Madison Jotunnson is the best way in. He heads into Mall followed by his two murderous shadows. He makes his way to the thumping sounds of the Abercrombie and Fitch Store. He steps inside and can see Madison folding some shirts in the back, he waves, but before he can get further, another store clerk steps in front of him.

“Sir,” she takes in Bobby disheveled appearance, “you are going to have to wait outside.”
“Whoa, lady, I am like here to by a shirt, I was going to talk to that lady over there,” Bobby gestures towards Madison.

“Sir,” the rude sale girl pushes Bobby out the store, “I will call security if you don’t leave!”

As Bobby stumbles back, one of his “helpful” goons grabs the sales girl by the arm and throws her to the ground. The sales girl begins to sob as the thug glares down at her, Madison steps out of the store; interposing herself between the sales girl and the Red Court Vampire in human guise.

Madison

“Hey, man, that is like NOT cool, totally not cool!” Bobby yells at his escort, “I need to talk to Maddy and smooth this over, because, like if we fuck this up, I don’t want to be the one to explain it to Susana, you know, man, so just go over there.” Bobby points to a railing away from him and the two sales girls.

Madison ushers the sales girl back into the store and turns on Bobby, “What is all this about? Are you trying to get me fired?”

“Maddy, Maddy,” Bobby raises his hands, “I need like, you to do this favor, I need to get to the Magic Bazaar, but first, I need you to open a doorway, to like the Prison Dimension, as I need to shuffle these two guys off.”

Madison arches a perfect eyebrow, “You know the cost Bobby, I need you to do me a favor in return.”

“Mmmaaaaaannnnn”

“Bobby!”

“Ok, Ok, Madison, I will do you a favor in return.” Bobby waves over the two goons, “Follow us, we are heading out.”

“Yes, just follow us this way,” Madison says and starts walking with a sashay that Bobby notices the goons suddenly find themselves quite interested in it, he can’t tell what distracts them more, the sway of her hips or her bared neck.

Madison takes them to the bowls of the Mall and into a bare concrete room. She concentrates for a moment and then reaches out, as if grasping an invisible door handle and turns a knob. She opens up a door shaped whole into the Nevernever.

Madison makes a smile that makes Bobby’s knees a little weak, “It would be best if your bodyguards go first, to make sure there is no danger.”

The two vampires gamely leap forward into the doorway, as Madison closes it behind them, trapping them somewhere in the unknown of the Nevernever.

“You owe me a big favor, Bobby, a BIG one.”

Madison takes him back up to the Abercrombie and Fitch and guides him into a dressing room. She sighs and closes the door behind them. She then again grasps the air in the changing booth and opens a door, revealing another doorway hole into the Nevernever. Bobby takes a deep breath and steps on through.

He finds himself suddenly in the middle of the Magic Bazaar. He can see Clinton’s tent in the distant and make out the voice of his assistant,Lucky Dan, yelling “ALL DAY” in the beer tent nearby. He doesn’t approach though as he also sees a small gathering of Wyvern Cultists in front of Clinton’s tent and he knows those dudes are someone he doesn’t want to tangle with.

Lucky Dan

Bobby, instead, finds a comfortable spot to wait and begins to prepare a tracking spell.

En route to Mall of America, Saint Paul

Thomas, under the protection of, Alek’s police siren weaves through the blocked city streets, making better time, at least, until he hit a police roadblock. Upon seeing a siren, the police officer directing traffic waves Thomas to the side, to which he quickly complies. Another officer runs up to the side of the car and taps on the window. He then immediately addresses Detectives Hunter and Alek.

“Sirs! Excellent, you caught the fugitive!”

He then gestures to two other officers, who bring fourth cuffs, opening the other side the car and appear to be getting ready to arrest Brittany Winters.

Alek quickly responds, “It’s alright officers she is in our custody we will see to her transportation.”

The police sergeant who stopped the vehicle shakes his head, “I’m sorry sir, orders from the top, Lt. Vincent ordered that Brittany Winters be detained in the custody of contracting Monoc Security personnel.”

As Alek continues his conversation and a surprised, now annoyed, Brittany readies herself to run. Hunter grabs his phone and calls Lt. Vincent.

“I see you have good reception now,” Vincent’s voice oozes with conceit through the receiver.

Hunter sighs, “You wanted this done quickly, we have a lead on the girl and Brittany is our way to do that. You take her into custody, we might not ever be able to find Alison. You want this case closed, you stay the fuck out of our way.”

Hunter can almost feel Vincent leaning back on his leather chair and smiling like the smug bastard he is as he replies, “My hands are tied, but listen, you have until 6:00 am tomorrow to find Alison and bring Brittany Winters into custody at our office. If you do not, I expect you, and your partner, to turn in your badge and your gun.”

With that Vincent hangs up the phone and Hunter tells Thomas to keep driving. Before the Sergeant can delay Thomas, he gets the call over the radio that the Fugitive Brittany Winters is to remain in Hunter and Alek’s custody.

Thomas makes relatively quick time to the Mall of America, but the delay at the roadblock cost them, they only have approximately 15 Minutes until the purchase of Alison Harper is completed. Brittany knows of a contact, Madison Jotunnson, who can get them to the Bazaar easily. Bethany, exhausted from her conversation with the Summer Fae, elects to stay with the vehicle; where she promptly passes out. Everyone else makes their way into the mall, heading towards the Abercrombie and Fitch.

Brittany gestures for the others to stay back as she flags Madison down and the two let out a girlish squeal.

“Maddy! I just need a quick favor. I and some of my friends have to pop over to the Bazaar real quick.”

“Oh, Brit, no problem!” Madison grabs Brittany by the arm, “but you know the Gatekeeper requires me to ask a favor…” Madison suddenly jumps up and down excitedly, speaking really fast, “oh, oh, I know, Steve has redone 1st Avenue and we have to have a girls’ night down there, you’ll come won’t you?”

Gatekeeper

“Deal, that sounds like fun, “Brittany smiles and waves over everyone else.

They follow Madison to one of the dressing room doors and pile in, like very scruffy clowns in a car. Madison, as she did about 20 minutes earlier, opens a door leading into the Bazaar.

Bazaar Camp Grounds, Nevernever

Bobby sees Alek, Brittany, Craig, Hunter and Thomas stumble out of the portal from the Mall of America and onto the hard packed dirt road of the Magic Bazaar. He wanders on over waving high and greats them hoping that they might be able to get him out of some of the trouble he currently is in with the Red Court. Bobby points out Clinton’s tent and the Wyvern Cultists gathered around.

Magic Bazaar

As Bobby and the others exchange notes, the Wyvern Cultists abruptly leave striding away from the tent and into the crowd. Craig’s heart stops for a moment as he recognizes the robed figures from his prophetic dream and mutters, “those are the bad guys” to which the others all give him a “no shit” kind of look. Hunter, instead of joining the conversation about Alison and Clinton, steps away from the group and says he is going to track the cultist. He abruptly turns into an eagle, flying high above the Bazaar.

Wyvern Cultists

“Ok, like, why don’t you guys, like wait out here for a moment, and I will go talk with Clinton by myself and see if I can, get him, to you know like open up.”

The others agree to wait a moment outside. It is only moments before Lucky Dan stumbles out of the beer tent and totters on over to Clinton’s tent, going inside. Bobby heads over to the tent and enters beneath the tarp. He enters a smokey haze that reminds him, refreshingly, of opium. The tent itself is packed full of shelves and chests loaded with an odd mix of mundane and magical knick knacks. Clinton leans back on his chair, looking quite high, and waves to Bobby.

“Hey man, so like, I need some, like, eye of newt, the tongue of a bear, some glass flasks, a teenage girl, and the heart of a dragon.”

Clinton

Clinton blinks blearily at Bobby, “So, a heart of a dragon, I have one of those, “he kicks open a trunk, “still beating or not.” And lifts out to large hearts one beating, the other not.

“Good man, I think the beating one, but what about the other stuff, eye of newt, tongue of a bear, a teenage girl….”

Clinton blows a cloud of smoke Bobby’s way, “Well I know of an island that grows teenage girls, so I guess they are literally island girls, I could send Dan to get some. Dan go to the girl island and pluck me a fresh girl.”

Bobby doesn’t know if is the opium or the red bliss from earlier, but he is starting to get a little confused, “No man, I mean, yeah, island girls sound cool.”

“They have big coconuts.”

“What, but, I mean a different girl. You know.”

“You mean you don’t like girls with big coconuts?”

Outside the tent, Craig gets tired of waiting and pushes the flap open, walking in with Alek, Brittany, and Thomas following. Clinton’s eyes suddenly get wide when he sees Craig and throws the Dragon Heart behind him.

“Only the most legal objects of magical value, with definitely no dragon hearts here, oh Wizard of the White Council.” Clinton blows a puff of smoke.

Craig waves it from his face, “Yes, yes, yes, I am sure everything is tip top, but we are here about a girl.”

“One with coconuts?”

“Coco what? No are you daft man, the kidnapped girl.” Craig snaps with irritation.

“The kidnapped girl? What, I thought we were talking about girls with coconuts on their…”Clinton pauses and cups his chest miming breasts.

“What are you babbling about?” Craig says with more irritation, feeling like he is just going around in circles.

Alek rolls his eyes at the con man, and takes a breath, ignoring the smoke filling the room. “Now, we came in here with a simple request, we are looking for a girl, Alison Harper, we know that you have her in your possession, or are trying to sell her.” Alek doesn’t wait for a response, but continues on companionably with the hint of a bluff, “Now my friend here from the White Council could come and look at your permits have the Wardens fall on you like a ton of bricks…….or maybe more like the blade of a guillotine, Warden being Wardens.”

Sweat beads for a brief moment on Clinton’s forehead, but he then blows out a puff of smoke, “I didn’t think the island girls were underage or anything like that and my permits are good,” Clinton pulls out a big book and hands it to Craig, “See everything is in order, right there!”

While the conversation was going on, Thomas began engaging Lucky Dan in a transaction and was looking at a wide assortment of iron swords to purchase. Brittany used this opportunity to fade into the shadows out of sight. She makes a careful search of the room and notices that Dan is standing on a small wooden box. She also makes note that the box has the crest of the Wyvern Cult on it. Brittany, noticed that Thomas has Dan distracted, reaches down and snatches the box; revealing herself to the room.

“What’s this?” She asks Clinton holding up the box.

“It’s a Box.” Clinton answers simply.

“I can see that,” Brittany snaps with more than a hint of threat in her voice, “what’s in it?”

“I don’t know,” Clinton replies, “it’s not time to open it.”

“When is it time to open it?”

Clinton looks at a time piece and says, “Oh, in about two minutes.”

“Maybe I should just open it now,” Brittany grasps the clasp.

Clinton leans back in his chair, gripping the arms, “I wouldn’t if I were you, that would be rude.” He blows out a puff of smoke and Brittany snaps the box open.

In the air above the Magic Bazaar, Nevernever

Hunter took wing above the Magic Bazaar and taking in the sights and sounds, he couldn’t help, but feel the place was an odd mash of Moss Eisely and the Renaissance Fair. It took little time for him to see the large group of robed figures weaving their way through the crowd. Hunter continued his observation, but became acutely aware that larger things than him were also flying about and decided to land in the crowd.

He shifted into his wolf form and took up the scent of the hooded cultists. He was easily able to trace their path to a clear area of the bazaar where he observed them grasp a large chest and heft it deeper into the fair. They gathered by a tent where suddenly they all looked up and then stepped into the real world, out of the Nevernever. Hunter alarmed by the sudden change of events, turns and heads back to Clinton’s Tent.

Interior of Clinton’s Tent, Magic Bazaar, Nevernever

When Brittany opens the box a cold mist fills the tent and a loud howl echoes from inside the box. Alek and Craig recognize the sound of Frost Wolves. While everyone is focused on the box, Clinton suddenly grabs a weird object from the shelf behind him and shatters it. A bright light fills the tent and suddenly when there was one Clinton there is now a multitude. There’s a Clinton laughing on his chair, one hawking wares, another sweeping the dirt floor, while another complains to even another one about the chill in the air.

Frost Wolf

Bobby has had dealings with Clinton before and is wary to his tricks, he uncorks a True sight Potion and takes a quick drink. He sees that the real Clinton is slipping his way towards the exit of the tent, pretending to sweep the floor. He subtly points this out to the others, and Brittany steps forward and grabs Clinton by the shirt, pinning him against a tent support. Thomas picks up the box and peers inside, seeing a pack of frost wolves running across the frozen tundra. He shuts the box and tucks it into his bag.

Clinton struggles against Brittany’s grasp, loudly lamenting that the collar of his shirt is ripping. Alek smiles, slightly grimly, “Well it could be your neck. I would just tell us about the girl, no more bullshit.”

Clinton sighs, pulls away from Brittany and straightens his hat, “Fine, I know nothing really about the girl, just, some dude, no idea who, gave me good money to use my EBay account and handle part of the transaction. That’s it.”

“What about the Wyvern Cult?” Craig asks.

“What about them? They gave me some money to get whoever followed in after them to open that box.” Clinton gestures towards the box that Thomas now holds.

“Can you tell us who placed the winning bid?” Alek queries.

“Sure, I just have to check my account on my computer.”

“Well get out of here and go do that.” Craig gestures for Clinton to get out of the way, with a mixture of ivory tower trust and an idea forming in his mind.

Clinton scampers away and grabs Lucky Dan, sliding out of the Nevernever and back into the mundane world. Bobby thinks Craig is a sucker and asks for some of the hair from the brush Craig has for the tracking spell he made. Craig, reluctantly, hands some to Bobby.

“It’s not going to work.”

“Whatever Ivory tower, like, stand back.” Bobby channels some energy for a tracking spell to find Alison, but also learns that someone is using the power of t he Mississippi River to ward her location.

“Yeah, like, there is energy from the River, and it’s like-“ Craig cuts Bobby off when he has a sudden realization that the ward is most likely set to end after Alison’s sale and that they could try to track her then. He starts to explain this to Bobby when Hunter suddenly bursts into the tent.

“The Wyvern Cultists left the Bazaar with a large chest. I think Alison is inside it.” Hunter pants from the exertion of running across the camp grounds.

Craig and Bobby decide to try the tracking spell again, but both realize that if the Wyvern Cult is involved, so is Magnus Jotunnson and he is not a minor practioner. They both decide to put a little more power into this spell. As they prepare the ritual, a loud piercing set of howls occur outside the tent and a pair of Frost Wolves burst inside. Brittany, Thomas and Hunter, transforming into a giant Wolf, lunge forward and engage the Frost Wolves in combat before they can disrupt the ritual. Alek hangs back and realizes there are more wolves prowling about the tent, he knows that the Frost Wolves have an aversion to fire and sets grabs a torch from the interior and sets fire to tarp; the oil soaked tent going up in flames. The flaming barrier protects them from the wolves, but the obscure magic items that are in Clinton’s possession also begin to burn and the smoke has a poisonous tinge to it.

Magnus

Bobby and Craig concentrate on the ritual, as Alek sets his fires. Thomas, Brittany and Hunter crush the pair of Ice Wolves easily, rending them to bloody pieces of ice. The two casters complete the ritual and they can sense the direction of Alison. A brief debate ensues as the Frost Wolves continue to prowl outside the tent, but Craig realizes there is a Way out of here because they saw Clinton use it. He and Bobby open the way and lead the rest through. Before Craig leaves, he attempts to douse the flame by channeling some water, but the complex magic energies causes an explosion that blast him through the Way they just opened and back into the mundane world.

Last Place on Earth, Duluth

Hunter checks his phone, seeing a text message from Bethany that a man named Clinton called her and confirmed that Magnus Jotunnson was the purchaser. She also passed on a message that he is pissed about the state of his tent. As that happens, a smoking and smoldering Craig is hurled out of the portal and against the wall of the store. At first everyone is confused about their location, with only the subtle pull of Alison towards the south. Alek quickly gets their bearings and realizes they are in an obscure store located in Downtown Duluth, called The Last Place on Earth. A place where incense and other kind of rare, mostly drug related, paraphernalia are sold.

Last Place on Earth

Once Brittany realizes they are in Duluth, she places a call for Madison.

“Maddy, its Brit, I need another really small favor, can you, give us a lift from Duluth down to the Cities.”

“What did you guys do over there!? The Gatekeeper is like…pissed. I mean, I am stuck at work, I don’t know if I can get you anytime soon.”

Brittany pauses for a moment, “The first round of drinks at Girl’s night is on me.”

Madison cheers, “I’ll be there in twenty.”

With that, Thomas walks downtown and picks up a bunch of iron nails from a local hardware store. Craig realizes that Magnus is a person of considerable power and that they will need all the help they can get. He is able to use the Box as a link to Magnus as he recognizes that he is the only one who would have had the power to create something like this in the Wyvern Cult. He knows his Prophecy of Doom spell skirts the edges of the Laws of Magic, but he can get a small glimpse into certain possibilities of the future he can get an idea of they could defeat the Warlock. He convinces Bobby to help him with the ritual and Alek and Brittany to lend some blood to help empower the spell.

Craig enters into a trance and begins to calculate the various probabilities and after, what seems like an eternity, he suddenly convulses shouting aloud, “Magnus will meet his doom by the hands of Bobby Chan on the tip of a sword in the Wabasha Caves.”

To be continued…

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Twinkle Twinkle
Falling Star, Part 1


    Currently Airing: Local American Idol Kidnapped    I-94 Bridge Collapses in a Truck Explosion    Gunfire Erupts on Nicollet Mall    Gang Violence on the Streets of West Side – Minnesota Public Radio News    

Featured Players

The Story

Indian Mounds Park, St. Paul, The Evening Prior to Alison Harper’s Disappearance.

Bobby Chan was closing up shop for the night and locking down his RV when one of his most regular customers came ambling up the hill with a man whom Bobby only knew from his reputation.

Indian Mounds Park

“Bobby, wait up, I have someone who you might be interested in meeting! He has a job for you!” Crow Sings yells in his not quite real, but not quite faux Native American accent, “You’ve heard of Morgan, haven’t you? He is looking for a chemist of your ability.”

Crow Sings

Crow Sings gestures towards the scruffy Morgan, who introduces himself by revealing a roll of $100 bills and then tossing them at Bobby’s feet. While Bobby only knew Morgan by reputation, he definitely wanted to get to know Benjamin Franklin better. Morgan seeing the interested look in Bobby’s eyes states, “ The Latin Kings have need of a chemist of your skill, and we have a new ingredient coming in soon that we would like to add to our product. You help us, you get half now and half later.”

Morgan Hernandez

Bobby eyes the roll of bills, “I don’t know man, is there any chance I can try some of the product?”

Morgan grins slyly and hands Bobby a pill of Red Bliss; which Bobby eagerly pops in his mouth. Seeing the glassy look in Bobby’s eyes, Morgan states, “I’ll see you at 5am at my grocery in the West Side.”

  • Compel: Broke Ass Happa
Major Case Squad HQ, St. Paul, The Morning of Alison Harper’s Disappearance.

Hunter, Alek, get you’re sorry asses in my office NOW!” Detective Lieutenant Jack Vincent’s silvery tones echo through the corridors of the building. Alek rolls his eyes at Hunter and Hunter shrugs his shoulders as they stroll in to Jack’s office. The normally relaxed and confident Vincent looks anything but now, as he stares in disgust at the television.

Det. Jack Vincent

“This is fucking bullshit,” he snarls at the television, slamming the remote on the desk, “have you seen this god dam mess?” Vincent doesn’t wait for an answer, “Somebody up and kidnapped Alison Harper right out from her bedroom last night. Local sweet heart and former American Idol Contestant, the news media is crawling all over this like maggots on rotted meat.”

Alison Harper

Alek lets out a small whistle, Hunter, knowing that there is always an angle with Vincent, waits quietly, “I need you both to find her quickly and quietly, this shit is happening on the tail end of the Ripper case, you know the one that you didn’t quite close.”

Hunter gives Vincent a quiet glare, as Alek lets out a nervous laugh. “I’ll get the car and drive us there boss.” The three quickly leave the station, with Alek driving. Vincent sits in back and promptly engages in a terse cellphone conversation. Hunter isn’t able to catch much, except that it sounds like Vincent is getting reamed out. Vincent hangs up the phone angrily, muttering, “This is fucking bullshit,” before talking to Hunter and Alek. “When we get there, I’ll handle the news media, you two concentrate on the case and solve it quickly and quietly. No blow-ups, no screw-ups got it?”

Hunter and Alek both state their assent with Hunter giving his partner an annoyed look. They quickly arrive to the Harper’s home in prestigious Summit Hill. The block is already cordon off by the local police, Alek drives around the wall of news vans and stops the car. Vincent runs his hands through his hair and steps out of the vehicle to engage the news media. Hunter looks to Alek, “Alek, you talk to the family and check the inside of the house, I’m going to look around outside.”

Alek gives Hunter a jaunty smile and begins to stroll into the home. Hunter can feel the stillness in the air. He feels the beasts within begin to merge with his conscious mind. His smell sharpens, his eyes focus, his ears tune into the air about him. He is better than any crime scene technician. Hunter begins to prowl about the outside of the Harper’s home, moving like a hawk on the hunt, a wolf chasing down his prey.

He firsts notices a boot print in the flower bed at the foot of the window to Alison’s bedroom. He can smell the stench of cigarettes and follows that to a hedge lining the side alley. There he finds, hidden, but not well enough, a small pile of cigarettes. He then notices signs of a scuffle and what appears to be the tracks of two motorcycles. Lastly, from the corner of his eye, almost overlooked, he finds a torn off patch reading “ Hel’s Angels.” Jack pockets the patch, before he hears his partner, yelling from Alison’s bedroom, “My God Jack, get in here, you have to see this!”

  • Compel: Lone Ranger of the Midwest
Sacred Grounds, St. Paul

Brittany Winters had a long night making the rounds and she has even a longer day lined up of grinding the grounds. She strolls into the café to start her early morning shift, one of the other baristas has the TV on and is listening to Vincent speaking to a report, assuring the public that the Major Case Squad and Local Law enforcement has everything well in hand. Brittany sees her usual morning customer, Steve McCellan, sipping a cup of coffee to finish out his late night. At one of the other tables Brittany sees two financiers from downtown having a hushed conversation with each other.

Sacred Grounds

“Oh My Gawd, Brittany, have you seen the news!?” Brittany’s fellow Barista asks, not waiting for an answer, “That poor girl, from American Idol, Alison Harper, was kidnapped right out of her home! First the Roseville Ripper and now this. The cities usta be a good place to live.”

Brittany yawns in response and grabs a cup of Sacred Grounds finest for herself, when she notices the two businessman stand, one of them hanging up the phone, muttering something about a “package delivery” and head out the door. Her thoughts are interrupted by McCellan muttering, “Huh….that was interesting.”

Steve McCellan

Brittany looks at McCellan, with a mixture of wariness and wryness, “What was so interesting about that?” She already found it odd to see two bankers from DH Acquisitions starting work so early in the morning.

“Oh, just odd an all. A famous and unique girl has gone missing and suddenly employees of DH Acquisitions, a known hoarder of the unique have sudden business during illicit hours….well illicit hours for bankers. If I was the kind of person who was curious, which I’m not, I would wonder why. And if I was the kind of person who cared, which also coincidently I am not, I might be thinking of doing something about it.”

He smirks at Brittany over his cup who promptly hands the other barista her apron saying, “Some things come up, you’re going to have to cover for me.”

As Brittany leaves the coffee shop, she already hears the Barista complaining, “This is like the Ripper all OVER again.”

  • Compel: Into Every Generation a SUCKER is born.
Thomas Owen’s Garage, Minneapolis

Thomas awakens to the sound of incessant wrapping at his door. He throws on a shirt and quickly, with a not so slight irritation, yells, “I’m coming!” The knocking doesn’t care and continues.

Thomas hits the cement with his bare feet and strides to the door, yanking it with a loud metal rasp. On the other side he sees the stern, plain demeanor of the Man with the Horned Rimmed Glasses (HRG) holding two cups of Sacred Grounds coffee and a bag of their fresh donuts.

HRG

“I gather you haven’t heard the news, I have need of your services.” HRG states quietly as he hands Thomas a cup of coffee and the bag of pastries, “the same rates as the Ripper gig.”

“Well, I have part of a TV,” Thomas gestures at an old television partially reconstructed, and gobbles down a donut indicating his interest.

HRG hands Thomas a paper, “Alison Harper, star of American Idol has been kidnapped. I need you to find her and bring her to me. I need someone of your skills to help with this issue, as it involves….. fairies. Someone made a deal with the Winter or Summer Courts, so you can expect their direct interference. I don’t know who cut the deal, but I do know they want her and if one of them gets their hands on her it will upset the balance of this city.”

Thomas eats another donut, “Just me?”

HRG shakes his head, “I would have also brought your partner, Brittney along, but when I got to her place of business, she was already gone. Feel free to invite her in, the same rate applies. I need this done professionally and with minimum fuss Thomas. Here is a phone number that I can be reached at for the next three days.” HRG holds out a slip of paper.

Thomas looks HRG squarely in the eyes taking the slip of paper with the number on it, “Deal.”

  • Compel: Power has a Price
Creepy Caves, Somewhere not Very Nice.

Craig Hale was running out of time. He could feel his heart pounding, reminding him with each beat that he had to find the girl or she was going to die. The cave was cold and he could hear the ritualistic chants come from deeper in the cavern. Craig began to sprint towards them, knowing that they are rising to their crescendo and when they stopped, so did an innocent girl’s life.

Creepy Caves

He skirts through the shadows as he enters a wide cavern, illuminated, but some sort of shadowy mist keeps him from seeing the room and robed figures clearly. Two things catch his attention immediately, the first being the girl he had to find; the second, a large gleaming knife in the hands of a large figure in a cowl looming over her ritualistically chanting. Craig darts into the shadows, keeping his eyes on the girl chained to the alter, waiting for his moment.

The chanting begins to reach a fevered pitch and once it reaches its crescendo, Craig makes his move. He gathers up his strength and summons a shield of pure spirit with an eldritch chant, placing it between the knife wielder and the chained girl. The dark robed figure brings the knife down with supernatural force, shattering through the shield and stabbing the girl deep into her chest. Craig drops to his knees, his despair shattered suddenly by the words….

“WAKE UP!”

Bethany Tempest urgently shakes the slumbering Craig, who has slumped over an ancient text on Sumerian rituals. “He….an actual Warden is here! He wants to talk to you.”

Bethany Tempest

Craig blinks tries to blink the vision of death mixed with the sleep from his eyes as he blurrily stands. Bethany presses a cup of Sacred Grounds brew into his hand, urging him to move faster.

“Hale, better wizards than you are dieing while you drag your ass!” The gruff voice of Senior Warden Donald Morgan echoes from the entry way of the Witch’s Hat Tower’s Public Library, shattering the silence.

Wich’s Hat Tower

Craig groans, not in the mood to deal with any of this and slugs back a gulp of brew, stumbling into the entry way with Bethany following behind, “I….I had this horrible dream, a young girl slaughtered….”

Donald Morgan grunts, a sharp cut through Craig’s worlds, “Yeah a dream,” the callous insincerity dripping from Morgan’s words, “You refused your duty once to be a Warden Hale, well the Senior Council has need of you and they will not be denied. A young girl, Alison Harper, was taken from her home this morning. While the kidnapping of a child is a tragedy, the White Council is concerned because she is the ACTUAL personification of a “Fallen Star”.

Donald Morgan

Craig blinks and looks intently at Morgan, quickly processing the ramifications of that statement through his mind. He is an expert at ritual magic and knows that the death of a human can lend immense strength to empowering dark magic, the death of a star would lend incredible power to any ritual. Craig lets out a low whistle at the thought of what could be done with the power of the sun.

“Exactly,” Morgan rasps, “this is why the White Council needs you to find her quickly and return her to her parents, we think that she was noticed by the entire supernatural world after her brief stint and exposure on “American Idol”,” Morgan’s awkwardness at fully grasping the idea of the show is readily apparent, but he continues, “There are better wizards, but you are the only one not tangled up in the war. I know this is technically Dresden’s responsibility, but I don’t want him involved. He would likely level half the city and I will not have that level of recklessness or irresponsibility damage the balance here.”

Craig takes another sip of coffee and jumps slightly when Morgan suddenly yells “YOU!” pointing at Bethany, who squeaks and nearly drops her coffee, “go and show Craig a picture of the child.”

Bethany sprints towards her desk, her speed a combination of fear and giddiness at being somewhat involved. She boots up an archaic computer and prints out a picture of Alison handing it to Craig. Craig feels a deep fear as he looks at the picture of Alison and realizes that it was the girl who was sacrificed in his dream. With a grim determination he looks at Morgan, “She’s from my dream….I’ll do it.”

“Good Wizard, because you don’t have a choice,” Morgan turns and strides out of the library.

  • Compel: Low man on the Totem Pole
  • Compel by Craig: I need my books. Craig wastes a scene searching in his books for answers about his dream.
Morgan’s Mexican and Lebanese Grocery, West Side, St. Paul

Bobby Chan was awake earlier than he has ever been in his life and has decided that this is something that he never needs to experience again. He showed up at Morgan’s Grocery at 5am like instructed and was quickly hustled inside and down into the basement. There, he sees a well-stocked chemist and arcane lab which pleasantly surprises him. Morgan shows him the work space when the head of the Latin Kings stomps his way downstairs.

“Morgan, is this the chemist?” Richie Hernandez asks in a rough voice.

Richie Hernandez

“Yeah man, I heard he was the best,” Morgan replies.

Richie looks Bobby up and down, taking in his scruffy appearance. “We have a shipment of new,” he pause, thinking for a second, “ingredients that we would like you to mix in with our new batch of Bliss.”

“Yeah, no problem man, what are….?” Bobby never has a chance to finish asking his question Richie gets a cellphone call and raises his hand for Bobby to be silence. He steps out of the room and has a quick, terse conversation with someone on the phone.

“Morgan, come up stairs with me, there’s been a complication….see to the chemist first.”

Morgan looks at Bobby and hands him another roll of bills and says, “Oh for your troubles too, “ and hands Bobby two pills of Red Bliss.

“Hey, no problem man, you gotta do what you gotta do, you know.” Bobby then quickly takes both pills, feeling the effect course through his veins, Morgan smiles slightly and then heads back upstairs.

Now that Bobby is alone he begins to look about the basement lab. He looks past the computer screen with porn proudly being displayed and past the old television blaring news about some American Idol Chick who went missing. He takes immediate note of various narcotics and illicit drugs available for the construction of Red Bliss, pocketing some of it as he sifts through the rest of the chemicals. He finds a vial of human spit that he thinks is curious, but before he can examine it further he hears a noise from a nearby closet door.

Bobby gets quiet for a moment, only hearing the drone of the television where Detective Lieutenant Jack Vincent proudly proclaims that the Major Case Squad will find Alison Harper and see that she is returned to her parents. Just before he is about to resume his exploration of the lab, he hears a low whimper of a young woman from in the closet and can hear her scratching at the door.

“Oh man, Not good man, not good….”

  • Compel: Chasing the Dragon
The Harper’s House, Summit Hill, St. Paul

Hunter hustles into the house. He immediately notices how clean and orderly it is, he can see both of the Harpers sitting teary eyed in the tidy, white kitchen crying as an officer consoles them, providing them a cup of Sacred Grounds finest. The smell causes Hunter’s stomach to growl, reminding him he hasn’t had breakfast. Alek is at the foot of the stairs leading up to the bedrooms, his face is paler than normal.

“It’s bad Jack, like Ripper bad,” Alek gestures for Hunter to follow him upstairs; passing a lab tech puking into a plastic bag.

Hunter quickly follows and he already feels his hackle rise at an unnatural feeling from upstairs. As he and Alek close in on Alison’s bedroom door, Hunter’s nostrils fill with the stench of charred flesh and terror. Holding in his own repulsion he opens the young girl’s bedroom and steps into a room that feels as if it has been defiled to its core.

His eyes, seeing more detail that he ever would wish, immediately seeing the blood red circle drawn around the bed. His nose can tell that the blood is human, but not the girl’s. On five concentric points about the circle, he sees charred remains of burned animals that appeared to be used as candle holders. He doesn’t know how, but he is certain that these animals were burned alive.

“This is fucked Hunter, just fucked, “Alek mutters to himself, careful to not disturb the bloody circle.

Hunter takes a deep breath, a breath he wish he didn’t need to take, but amongst the pain and desecration he gets another scent, surprising almost refreshing, that of a cigarettes. They smelled identical to the ones he noticed by the hedges. Suppressing the urge to get on all fours, Hunter follows it to open window and looks out to the city. It’s almost as if someone tied a string to the purveyor of the scent, because Hunter realizes that he can follow it perfectly.

Hunter turns to his partner and says, “Alek, I need you to cover for me, I think I have a lead.”

Alek nods and steps back from Hunter as he suddenly transforms into a majestic hawk and takes flight from the bedroom window.

I-94 Eastbound, Crossing a bridge over the Mississippi River.

Thomas knows that for Fairies to be involved that someone made a deal with them and most likely culprit is the mother or the father. Thomas angles his old pick-up truck through morning traffic as he makes his way to Summit Hill. He isn’t sure what questions he is going to ask, but he knows he is going to expect….CRASH!

Thomas’s truck swerves, slamming into the guard rail as a meaty fist pulls back from his smashed driver’s side window. Thomas eyes widen with surprise then narrows with anger as a large, shaggy winter troll pulls itself completely from beneath the bridge. Vehicles on the busy freeway, swerve and crash into each other, not seeing through the troll’s glamour, but the sudden accident causing more behind Thomas.

Winter Troll

“You are meddling in affairs that are not yours mortal!” Bellows the troll as it raises its fits and brings it down atop Thomas’s car. Thomas feels the living iron course through his veins and attempts to block the blow, but just feels him blasted back into the passenger seat. He draws his iron blade from its sheath and jumps out his now shattered window, drawing a deep cut across the troll’s forearm. Instead of blood, small, almost troll doll sized, versions of the troll pour from the wound clambering across Thomas’s blade before falling to the pavement of the bridge.

Thomas squares off against the enraged troll, meeting blow for blow. The living iron in his veins pounding through him. The pavement cracks beneath them as they continue their brawl. Out of the corner of his eye Thomas catches an impending semi barreling down the freeway, unable to stop in time to avoid the combatants. (Well, to everyone else Thomas realizes, combatant, they can’t see the troll and he probably just looks like a crazy man waving a sword in the middle of the freeway.)

Thomas seizes the moment and pins the trolls foot to the concrete as he prepares himself for the oncoming semi. The troll bellows in pain and rage, trying to pull himself free, but is held fast as the semi slams into both of them. The troll is flung away to the west bound side of the bridge, Thomas’s blade still in his foot, its right arm ripped from its body; popping into hundreds of tiny trolls mid-air sailing over the Mississippi. Thomas braces his shoulder against the truck, allowing it to slam into an unmovable object because he knows it is not an unstable force. The Front of the semi flattens like an accordion in a crunch of metal, before the entire semi rolls over Thomas smashing against the concrete upside down.

Before Thomas can react, the troll grabs a stopped vehicle on the freeway and hurls it one handed at Thomas, knocking him off balanced. Thomas charges forward in silent fury and slams into the Troll attempting to push it off the bridge. He knows he has to end this conflict soon as he can already hear the approaching police sirens. The troll bellows with rage and the tiny trolls poor from his wounds biting at Thomas’s hands and arms with sharp teeth preventing him from getting a hold. Before either can react, the semi suddenly explodes, ripping the troll from Thomas’s hands throwing him from the bridge.

Thomas is unmoved by the explosion, the living iron in his blood merely heating at the contact; however the I-94 bridge is not as lucky and gives out dropping Thomas into the open air above the river.

  • Compel: Troll Bridge!
  • Invoke by Thomas: Busy Freeway bringing the Semi into the scene
  • Compel: Truck Explodes causing the bridge collapse
IDS Tower, Minneapolis

Brittany heads to the IDS Tower in Minneapolis and gets there just in time to see the car pull into the private parking garage nearby. She looks towards the main entrance and see two Nordic looking security goons, with a Monoc Securities logo on their blazer vest, wanding people as they enter the build along with checking a guest list.
Most people would be taken back, but Brittany takes this in stride as she steps forward with a bag of donuts and a couple of cups of Sacred Grounds finest.

IDS Tower

As she comes to the two security guards, she flashes them a smile and says in a chipper voice, “A delivery for…” she quickly remembers the first name that came up when she Googled the financial firm on her phone, “….Windsor Simon Pearce.”

One of the guards starts to check the list, but when the name “Windsor Simon Pearce” is uttered he looks to his companion and gets on the radio. Quickly a terse female voice orders the goons to let her through.

“Right this way miss,” one of them gestures and escorts Brittany to an elevator off to the side of the lobby. The doors quickly open and Brittany is ushered inside where she is greeted by a stern looking woman with piercing blue eyes, her blazer is embroidered with the Monoc Securities Logo, but on the other pocket is the name tag “Alice LaRue.”

Alice LaRue

The doors close behind Brittany with a whispering thud and begins it silent, swift ascent. The silence between the two women thicken with an unspoken menace, as they both subtly and slowly look the other up and down. LaRue’s eyes rest upon the bag of donuts and cups of coffee in Brittany’s hand.

“Coffee and Donuts for Windsor. Simon. Pearce.” There was no question in that statement, just flat disbelief.

Brittany shrugs her shoulders and smiles, “He has good taste.”

LaRue’s eyes turning a lighter shade of blue, almost that of ice, “I don’t think you understand the gravity of the situation. I am deciding if I should kill you before we reach the top floor and I think you should start talking to give me a reason not to.”

Brittany turns up the perky smile, “Hey, I am just a simple delivery girl,” her voice suddenly hardens, silk over steel, “and I’m here to deliver a message, I don’t like it when monsters kidnap girls in my city.”

Before LaRue can respond a deep voice fills the air in the elevator. “Send her up, I find her amusing, she is…..unique.” LaRue shrugs and leans against the side wall of the elevator, lighting a cigarette and blowing a plume of smoke towards Brittany’s face.

The elevator reaches the top floor of the IDS tower and opens into a long room with a single desk at the end. Brittany does not wait for LaRue’s direction before she moves across the plush carpet towards the empty chair before the large, mahogany desk. Windsor waits patiently, a cigar burning red as he blows out some smoke, it curly thickly about his mouth and face. His green eyes watching Brittany with almost an intense greed.

Windsor Simon Pearce

“Have a seat Ms. Winters, I offer you food and shelter and I shall treat you as a guest.” Windsor offers cordially, “Please have a seat.”

Brittany, not really understanding the significance of what he said, still does not trust him, but takes a seat, “Why did you take the girl? Why shouldn’t I take you apart?”

Windsor laughs, a deep laugh, his cigar burning brightly, “I had nothing to do with the girl’s disappearance. I want to find her, she is a person of great value to many people and my principle investor wishes to add her to his….portfolio and to protector her.”

“principal investor”

Brittany’s voice is chilly and restrained with anger, “You want to put her in a cage, make her your prisoner. To corrupt and twist her like you.”

Windsor’s eyes turn a deeper green, flashing with annoyance, “You barely comprehend what she is, what she represents. She has the power of a sun flowing through her veins and there are many who would be eager to open them. She would have all the protection that my principle investor could provide. She would be free to go to the best schools, to have the right connections, proper management. She, like you, is uniquely gifted….” Windsor pauses in thought for a moment, “…you could benefit from my patron’s guidance as well. He finds you….interesting…what could I do to gain your alliance. I could hire you on to find the girl, to protect her, to bring her to me.”

Brittany waves away a billow of heavy smoke, “you have nothing I want and all you can offer is a cage, I think we’re done here.”

Brittany stands and looks at Windsor’s piercing green eyes as he states, “This isn’t an opportunity to turn down lightly, my patron is not one to turn down lightly. He gets what he wants one way or another.”

Brittany turns promptly striding towards the elevator, “Well tell your patron he better no get in my way.”

  • Invoke by Brittany: Badass Battle Barista, to have coffee and donuts with her in a scene
  • Invoke by Brittany: Badass Battle Barista, to improve her ability to intimidate LaRue, which got Windsor’s attention.
Morgan’s Mexican and Lebanese Grocery, West Side, St. Paul

Bobby takes a deep breath to steel himself, hearing again the sound of the TV news blaring information about the bridge collapse on I-94, and opens the closet door. He looks down and finds a battered, young Hispanic woman huddled on the floor. He quickly kneels down and offers her aid, getting a better look at her face and recognizes Rosalie. He doesn’t know her well, but recognizes her as a young college student who took walks around the park he “lives” at.

West Side

“Please, please, don’t hurt me, please…” Rosalie pleads holding her hands up to block the sudden influx of light.

“I’m cool man, no worries,” Bobby gives her a quick glance making note of some suspicious bite marks. Bobby has seen these bite marks and knows what they mean and something, aside from rising panic, clicks in his mind. He pulls the tube of saliva out looking briefly from it to the bite marks and knows what he is dealing with, the Red Court and what looks to be like someone who is now a Red Court infected. “Oh man, this is not good.”

He turns away, pocketing the vial, looking about the room for an easy exit. He suddenly feels Rosalie press up behind him, shivering against him in what he assumes….no hopes…is fear. He feels her presence behind his neck as she plaintively whispers, “They….they hurt me, they took something from me, they did some horrible things,” and her voice deepens slightly, “and I am so very hungry.”

Bobby steps away, turning pushing her an arms length’s distance away, “Personal Boundaries Man, now you’re going to be like….really, really hungry and I’m going to need you to stand over there, cool, ok….and I am going to give you something to drink man, like I need you to drink it right now, cause you can’t eat right NOW, even though you are like really hungry, I need to do this for man, cool?”

Bobby swaps the vial of Red Court vampire saliva for a small elixir he has in his pocket which he gives to Rosalie to drink, hoping it will hold back her cravings. Rosalie takes a drink and appears to steady herself, when suddenly they both hear the loud clomping of boots upstairs. Bobby pushes Rosalie back into the closet, quickly following after.

  • Fate Point given to Bobby for just some really good roleplaying that my writing cannot fully capture. The table was in stitches.
In the Sky above the Twin Cities.

Hunter could still follow the scent even though it was beginning to fade in the morning breeze. He flew through the wind, enjoying the clean air and the freedom he always feels when he takes flight. Hunters gets his bearings realizing that he is heading towards West Side in Saint Paul. He takes notice on one of the roads of a pair of Hel’s Angels bikers with sack slung, a sack that could easily fit a human-sized person, over the shoulder of the larger one. The cigarette smell leads directly towards them and his sharp eyes notice quickly that the slender one is missing a patch, much like the one he has now.

He continues to follow them about the streets of West Side and sees them stopping in front of Morgan’s Mexican and Lebanese Foods. They park their bikes on the side of the building and stride in through the front door, carrying the sack with them. Hunter lands in a nearby alley, taking human form and strolls across the street into the store.

The tiny bell announces his presence as he takes in, what feels like an unusually tense, atmosphere of the corner store grocery. Over by the corner he sees the familiar face of Morgan Hernandez (any cop worth his salt knows the face of one the more notorious gang leaders and drug dealers in the city) along with the scrawnier Hel’s Angel suddenly stopping conversation. He walks towards the counter, the scrawny biker suddenly standing up and Morgan letting out a sigh.

“Hey man,” Morgan raises a hand, warding Hunter off, “We’re like closing soon, gotta do some construction for the health inspector, just get something and go.”

Hunter flicks his eyes towards Morgan, but like a wolf on the hunt, focuses in on the scrawnier biker, “Nice day for a ride.”

“What’s it to you?” the biker snaps back.

“Just an observation,” Hunter pats his shoulder, condescendingly, “Hey, it looks like your jacket is missing something.” Hunter tosses the patch he found at the Harper home on to the counter.

The Biker steps up to Hunter, his face inches from the cop’s, “So, why do you care?”

Hunter pulls out his badge and presses it into the biker’s face pushing him away roughly, “THIS is why I CARE!”

  • Hunter Compels: Hungry like a Wolf
IDS Tower, Minneapolis

Brittany finds herself being hustled out of another building, as the Monoc Security Goons escort her swiftly out of the building and onto Nicollet Mall. She sighs and takes a moment to gather her thoughts when she notices a Nordic looking couple who appear to be window shopping, what she notices is that they are really watching HER through the reflection of the store. She begins to casually walk down the street, watching the couple follow her. Brittany suddenly speeds up darting into the alleyway and diving behind a dumpster hiding the shadows, waiting for her chance.

The Nordic couple appear to not be far behind, as they both appear at the mouth of the alley, the man drawing a gun from inside his sweater vest, while the other one pulls a gun and a radio from her purse. The man, now armed, begins to walk slowly down the alleyway; while his partner holds her pistol to cover her partner and begins speaking on the radio with what sounds like German.

The Nordic man passes Brittney and that is when she makes her move. With inhuman speed and strength she kicks the dumpster at the woman with the pistol, watching it sail into her and smashing her violently onto Nicollet behind her. Brittney’s other foot comes down hard on the man’s crushing it and forcing him to drop the gun. The Nordic man roars in rage and pain and grabs Brittney in a bear hug, smashing her against the wall, causing spider webs to form in the concrete behind them. Brittney rears her head back and smashes it into the Nordic man’s face dropping him to the ground.

She lands lightly on her feet, hearing the squeal of tires and seeing two black vans pull up onto Nicollet, with mercenaries dressed all in black, armed with rifles; even more worrying she sees Alice LaRue step out of one of the vans; giving them directions in the same German sounding language she heard earlier. Brittany turns and begins to sprint down the alleyway, she twists mid run and kicks another dumpster down the alleyway, sending it spinning to block off pursuit.

From the corner of her eye, as she turns to run, she can see LaRue throw a couple of small stones into the air. LaRue’s eyes suddenly glow with a blue light and a blast of cold air hits the dumpster enclosing it in ice, before a second gust of wind slams into it shattering it into thousands of pieces. Brittany, moving with inhuman agility, begins to run faster down the alley. She is only able to feel the two tranquilizer darts fired by the mercenaries when they hit her back.

Brittany can feel her vision blurring and her steps wobbling slightly as she continues her run, she dashes out of the alleyway to only see two other mercenaries waiting to ambush her. Before they, and she, can react, the Man in the Horned Rimmed Glasses suddenly steps from the shadows and jabs a syringe into the neck of one mercenaries, knocking him out. The other mercenary turns his gun towards HRG and Brittney dives into him at full speed smashing him against the concrete wall and knocking him unconsciousness as she finally succumbs to the blackness.

  • Invoked: HRG invoked a yet to be revealed aspect
  • Compel: Brittany self-compelled the medium consequence of drowsy.
Witch’s Hat Tower Public Library, Minneapolis

“This is futile,” Craig slams a book shut, frustrated that he can find nothing more to help him get more information about his dream. He takes a sip of coffee and decides to take a new tact, thinking about Alison and the information he read about stars. Craig thinks he can make use of the energy a Fallen Star has and makes a mental note of that information.

Before he can turn back to his books, Bethany calls from the reception area, “Mr. Hale, you have a phone call, its, it’s the POLICE!”

Craig stands up, a little confused and wary and walks to the reception area, taking the archaic, rotary phone from Bethany. “Hello?”

“Ahhhh, Craig Hale?” a voice tinged with a strong Minnesotan accent asks, “This is Detective Aleksander Erickson, Major Case Squad, I got your number from my partner, Detective Jack Hunter’s, rolodex. I remember him stating you were a help to him on a certain case not too long ago.”

Craig remembers Jack, “Yes, yes, I did, how can I help you Detective Erickson, I have some urgent business to attend too.”

“Just Alek,” the police detective says companionably, “and I am sorry for interrupting, but I am sure you heard the news about the missing girl, Alison Harper?” Alek continues without pausing, “Jack’s case notes indicate that you are an expert in the occult and there is something here in the Harper home that I need your opinion on something I found here. I will pay your usual consulting fee.”

Craig quickly murmurs agreement, “What’s the add——“

“I am sorry for interrupting Mr. Hale, but I already have a squad on the way, it will be much faster.”

“Thanks Alek, and it’s just Craig.”

The wizard hangs up the phone and gathers his coat, only to be confronted by an eager Bethany Tempest with a satchel of supplies and books waiting. (He thinks he sees a large magnifying glass hanging from her back pack along with several arcane tomes poking out from the top.)

“Yes, Yes, you can come along,” Hale states, hoping that maybe he can teacher her from blowing herself up, “just follow my lead.”

“Bethany squeals and follows Craig out of the library and towards the squad car that just pulled up. Craig and Bethany greet the two police officers and take a seat, heading towards Summit Hill.

  • Craig creates a scene tag through a Lore Declaration that the Fallen Star has energy he can use
  • Compel: Bethany self-compels, I want to be a wizard, I do, I do, I do! To go with Craig to the crime scene
Somewhere in the Mississippi River

When Thomas hits the water he loses his sword and has a brief moment to watch it plummet to the depths of the Mississippi. He lets out a brief sigh, debris from the collapsing bridge still tumbling about him as he begins to swim towards the shore. It doesn’t take him long to start developing a chill and then he watches the water suddenly begin to freeze about him.

Before the ice can entrap him, he smashes it with his iron infused limbs, keeping it from ensnaring him. Atop the ice he sees the nefarious figure of Trick, a changeling and the Winter Court’s Hit man, standing with ease atop the ice, planting his feet firmly upon the shore.

Trick

“You really have a knack for turning up where you are not wanted Thomas don’t you?” Trick asks, amusement tinging his voice.

“I gotta job to do,” Thomas answers back, only to be greeted by the loud sounds of alien purrs from invisible creatures who are now prowling about him. They state in a small chorus, “His Blood is sooo warm, we can’t wait to feed and here him screen, oh yes we can’t.”

Thomas has heard these sounds before and Malks are as vicious as they are intelligent. He hoists himself out of the cold water and onto the ice, drawing an iron railroad spike from his belt. The Malk hiss in irritation, causing the hair to stand up on the back of Thomas’s neck.

Malk

“Now, now Thomas,” Trick holds out a warning hand, “I am giving you this one chance to turn back, to get out, before you get hurt.”

Thomas eyes Trick with hard eyes and begins to walk towards him and the shore behind him, “I made a promise, I have a job to do, I am just going to get out of the water. You should do what you have to do.”

Trick cocks his head in thought, the Malks whisper murderous intent. He appears to consider them and Thomas words for a moment, and his eyes flick upwards to the gathering sirens on the bridge.

“For now Thomas, you may pass, but next time there will be no forgiveness, there will be only pain.” With those words Trick’s flesh turns bone white and suddenly a column of ice lifts him off the ice and away from Thomas, the howls of the Malks follow.

Thomas trudges to the shore and sees the familiar shape of the Man in the Horned Rimmed Glasses, leaning against a sedan watching Thomas. He waves him over, saying, “I needed this done,” he looks at the fallen bridge, “cleanly, be more careful.”

Thomas shrugs his shoulders and looks in the back of the car, seeing a slumbering Brittany Winters. HRG hands Thomas the keys and then pulls his smart phone showing it to Thomas, “You better get moving, we’re on a timer now.”

  • Compel: Trick self-compels an unidentified aspect, accepting Thomas’s reasons for not having a physical contest at that moment.
The Basement of Morgan’s Mexican and Lebanese Foods, West Side, St. Paul.

Bobby quickly puts his hand over Rosalie’s mouth to stifle a small scream when they hear an angry voice upstairs yell, “THIS is why I CARE!”

“Shhh, be cool man, be cool, we are like…going to get out of here….you know all that stuff you thought were stories and, like Disney stuff?” Bobby ask Rosalie who nods, “Well, it’s like…all real, man and some of it, wants to eat your face.”

Rosalie’s lower lip quivers, “Like what those men did to me?"

“Like that man, so, I am going to take us somewhere, to get out of here, and you are going to need to, like, stay right with me.”

Rosalie nods again as Bobby summons the energy to make a portal into the Nevernever. He steps in with Rosalie following, closing the entrance behind him.

The Harper’s House, Summit Hill, St. Paul

The squad car takes Craig and Bethany through the alleyway behind the Harper Home, dodging the news vehicles out front. They are greeted by Alek upon their arrival.
“Come with me, I need to see what you make of this.” Alek gestures with one hand and guides them into the house, past the grieving parents. As they near Alison’s bedroom, Bethany shrinks back, clutching slightly at Craig’s arm. Craig gets the sense of perversion and desecration emanating from behind the bedroom door.

Alek opens the door and Craig’s sense of corruption only gets stronger. He steps in with Bethany, powered only by her eagerness, steps in with Hale. Hale sees the bloody circle, the tortured animals. He recognizes the ritual as a benign one, but that it’s been corrupted by a First Law violation, turning it much darker than it should have been. It’s a ritual that his master used on him when he was first learning magic, so Craig was quite familiar with it.

“Bethany,” Craig points to the markings with blood, his voice taking a slight lecturing tone, “you see these marks…this is a peaceful slumber circle. It is designed to make sure that the person in the center of the circle receives a gentle night’s sleep.”

Alek’s eye brow raises as he asks, “Is it normally drawn in blood?”

“No,” Craig shakes his head, “The way this was made tainted the spell. My guess is the person who is sleeping his having terrible nightmares and is being prevented from waking. This is probably how they snuck her out. Was anything wrong with the parents? What did they eat last night? Was it poisoned?”

“I will get the lab guys to double check,” Alek barks a couple of orders on his radio, then continues, “As for last night they ordered pizza, there were no reports of any oddities. The last person to visit the home was someone around 8 or 9pm, he claimed to be a representative from the Helping Hands Shelter looking for donations. We’ve contacted the shelter and have been unable to locate the volunteer.”

Craig nods again, “If they were drugged, then the practioner would have plenty of time to draw this circle.” He looks about the room, seeing the pictures, the laughing faces and smiling friends. He thinks to himself, “She’s a Fallen Star, it looks like she draws other to her, pulling them into her social orbit. Interesting.”

Alek looks imploringly at Craig as Bethany jots down some notes, Craig shakes himself for a moment, “I think I need to talk to the parents, is that possible?”

Alek nods his head and leads the way.

  • Craig created the scene tag through a Lore Declaration that Alison creates a Personal Orbit that draws the people she needs to her much like a star draws in planets.
The Main Floor of Morgan’s Mexican and Lebanese Foods, West Side, St. Paul

“You had to go do that, didn’t you Detective Hunter,” Morgan says with a menacing sigh, turning the sign to close.

“Yes, yes I did and I suggest that both of you tell me what you know about Alison Harper,” Hunter says with a savage growl, causing Morgan to step back.

“Fuck you, pig,” the biker responds and punches at Hunter who neatly dodges the attack.

“If you don’t back-off you’re going to get hurt,” Hunter warns.

“No Officer, you’re the one who’s going to get hurt,” Morgan shouts from behind the counter, drawing a shot gun his faces contorting to the demonic features of a Red Court Vampire.

The biker wastes little time and suddenly shreds his clothing turning into a large wolf. He lunges at Hunter, tearing at his arm as Morgan fires a blast from the shot gun bags of potatoes chips exploding into the air as Hunter dodges the blow.

Werewolf Biker

Hunter feels the savage fury rising inside of him and also transforms into a hulking wolf, lunging at Morgan, tearing away the flesh of his arm revealing the bat like creature underneath. The werewolf biker tears at Hunter’s flanks, as Morgan clubs at him from the front. Jack twists away from both blows and catches Morgan across the chest, raking him deeply. Morgan lets out an inhuman scream.

Suddenly, stepping from the back room steps the other, larger biker his beard bristling; next to him is an enraged Richie Hernandez.

“How dare you!” Richie roars at the transformed Jack and, like his uncle, takes on the horrific visage of a Red Court Vampire. Jack realizes he is dangerously out gunned but notices that the stores blinds are closed. He grabs them with his jaws and easily tears them from the windows, exposing the corner store to sunlight.

Morgan and Richie scream with pain fleeing into the backroom. Jack continues leaping away from the werewolf biker. The larger one lets out a roar of anger, his beard turning from blonde to white as his skin turns blue, his arms bulging, ripping his jacket at the seams. He charges at Hunter while continue to grow in size, scooping him up in a meaty hand and hurling him out of the window of the shop.

Frost Giant Biker

On the road in front of Morgan’s Mexican and Lebanese Foods, West Side, St. Paul

Thomas driving with a groggy Bethany winters down the road, suddenly sees a transformed Jack Hunter hurled from a store front, over their car and slamming into the brick road before landing with a whimper. Hunter is stunned from the blow and barely gets to his feet before the other werewolf bounds from the shattered window and tears into Hunter, ripping a deep furrow on his shoulder. The Frost Giant biker steps from the building, now almost two stories tall and hurls the cash register at Hunter, catching the werewolf police officer across his head. Hunter lets out a yelp as the register shatters, reigning change and bills about the street.

Thomas stomps on the breaks and rolls out of the car, lowering his shoulder and propels himself at the Frost Giant. The Frost Giants feet rip up slabs of pavement as he holds his grounds, sliding deep furrows as he is knocked back. Brittany, still groggy is slower to react, but no less effective. She steps from the vehicle and kicks the biker werewolf from Hunter, hurling him across the road.

The biker werewolf slams into the wall by his bikes and transforms to human, grabbing a pistol before darting back into the store. Hunter bounds after him, still in wolf form. Thomas jabs his rail road spike into the side of the Giant who roars in pain and pounds his fist atop Thomas; not hurting him but creating a crater in the pavement around him. Brittany runs toward the shop and dives in, knocking the gun out of the biker’s hands as Hunter slams a paw atop his head; pinning the now human biker to the ground.

Jack transform back to human in mid growl, “Give up and tell me who is in the bag or I will rip your throat…”

  • Compel: Jack compelled being dazed after getting thrown from the store and hitting into the wall, causing him to miss an exchange of combat.
  • Invoke: Thomas invoke the aspect of driving to be driving on the road that Jack is hurled across.
  • Compel: Brittany compelled the tranquilizer consequence to start at the bottom of the initiative order
The Harper’s House, Summit Hill, St. Paul

Craig follows Alek to the Kitchen who introduces Craig as a consultant with the police department to Allen and Elizabeth Harper. Craig gets them two cups of coffee as Alek begins to review the events from last night with the distraught Harpers. As Craig listens, he gets a sense that Allen is hiding something, he makes eye contact to Alek who also notices the same thing. Alek is able to ask Allen to come speak with him and Craig outside to give Elizabeth a break while they continue their conversation. Bethany stays behind consoling the distraught mother.

Allen Harper
Elizabeth Harper

On the way out Alek passes the lab tech, who informs him that it appears the pizza was drugged and that the lab will have the information on what chemicals were used in about an hour. Allen gasps with surprise and Alek continues to escort them gently outside. As they exit the home, Craig gets notice an odd scent of rotted meat and as he glances around he gets the sense that there are glamoured gruffs watching the backyard.

Gruff

“Alek, maybe we should talk inside the house, there are others listening,” Craig pauses, stumbling over a simple lie, “like the uh, news media.”

“Mr. Harper, he’s right, why don’t you go into the living room, we’ll be right there.” Alek says, as Allen leaves he turns to Hale, “Now what’s going on?”

Craig looks around, “There are Fairies here, Summer Court, Gruffs, look like man shaped goats.”

Alek is not as startled as Craig thought he would be, “That complicates things, what could they want?”

Craig shakes his head, unsure, “I don’t know, but for them to be involved somebody made a deal with one of the courts and my bet is on Allen. I just don’t know how to get it out of him.”

Alek signs and nods in agreement, “I think I can get the information, but can you make Alison’s room even MORE menacing than it is?

Craig thinks for a moment and feels that he has an easy ritual that will do the trick and agrees to Alek’s plan. They both head back into the house. Alek requests Allen follow him to his daughter’s room as they have more questions.

Craig arrives to the room first and quickly inscribes a small ritual circle and gives the shadows a menacing edge. He sees that it takes effect as Allen enters the bedroom, his breath quickening. Alek follows behind and suddenly looks a lot less companionable and more menacing himself. There is an edge to the detective that Hale has not noticed before.

“Allen, this is the time in your life when you need to come clean, if you don’t there is a good chance your daughter is dead….and well….you would be responsible.” Alek’s voice is tinged with resigned rage, Craig cases the shadows to close about him, lending more menace to his words.

“Wh….What do you mean?” stammers Allen.

“What I mean is I heard everything, even strange things. Mr. Hale here,“ Alek points a thumb at Craig, “is an expert, he can help whatever mess you have gotten yourself in…you’re Family in.”

Alek waits for what he is knows to follow and as Mr. Harper breaks into tears he steadies him with a kind hand. “My….my wife and I just wanted a child,” sobs Allen, “we couldn’t conceive and we tried adopting. This women, named Mab, Mav, or whatever, I don’t remember, offered us a child to raise. A perfect baby girl. Beth was so happy. God, I was so happy. I took the deal. There was a catch though, I was supposed to turn the child to back to them when she entered puberty. I didn’t think anything of it. I thought it was a joke. I took my family, I hid them. We had a good life. Alison, she’s…special….gifted, I should have seen what would have happened. Beth, she didn’t know better, she…she took Alison to those auditions and she got on Idol. I thought, we would be ok….but then I got the threats, in my dreams. That women is horrible and now my baby is gone.”

Allen breaks down in deep sobs, and Alek has a lab technician help him from the room. Craig sighs and shakes his head at Allen, “Alison got on Idol, and every supernatural player could find her, including….I gather the Winter Court,” Hale shivers at that, “and it became easy to track them down. Yet, the magic, its flavor here, it’s not Winter’s style. There is another party involved.”

Alek sighs, “Any other ideas, I don’t relish telling my boss that Fairies did it.”

Craig looks at Alek, “I have one, can you have an officer send Bethany up here please.”

Morgan’s Mexican and Lebanese Foods, West Side, St. Paul

“Listen man we surrender,” Werewolf biker says, yelling out to his companion, “We surrender.”

The titanic struggle ceases outside, as both Hunter and Brittany glare at the prone Hel’s Angel.

“For the last time, what do you know about the girl?” Hunter puts pressure on the biker’s head.

“N…N…Nothing, I s…..swear!” Hunter relaxes his grip, “She was gone when we showed up.”

“Go on.”

“Listen, we were hired by the Latin Kings to kidnap the girl and bring her here. We got there, she was already gone, and we came back here to let them know. Someone else got to her before we did.”

Hunter grunts, “I didn’t hear a sack in that story, do better.”

The Biker gulps, “W…w…we noticed some guy smoking cigarettes by a hedge, he looked like he was waiting for something, so we snatched him. Figured he could tell the Latin Kings what was going on and well, we might still get something for our time.”

“Where is he NOW?”

“In the backroom, I swear, we didn’t do anything to him!”

Hunter stands, picking up the prostrate biker, Brittany follows after him. In the backroom they find a mess. The sack has been torn open and it appears someone tore into the poor man draining him of all his blood. Brittany pushes at the corpse with her foot, both she and Hunter notice that he has the uniform of a volunteer from the Helping Hands Shelter.

Hunter then notices the basement, “What’s down there?”

“I…I don’t know.”

“Well, you first then.” Hunter pushes the biker towards the stairwell.

“Fuck no!” the biker stammers and before the conversation can continue the now human sized frost giant and Thomas step into the back room. The frost giant rumbles, “Don’t worry, I’ll do it.”

The frost giant goes downstairs with the rest following. Down here they find what looks like to be some kind of lab that was ransacked, an opened closet door, a TV blaring news about an assault on Nicollet Mall and multiple open browser windows on a computer in the corner.

Jack sighs and looks at the two bikers, “Get out of here, don’t let me see you again….Oh, and tell Val no hard feelings."

The frost giant shoots Jack a glare as he picks his friend up and starts to take him upstairs, “Val only has hard feelings.”

Hunter shakes his head and thinks, “another problem for another day,” and takes a look at the web browser, closing some of the windows displaying various porn. He sees an odd sight of what it appears to be an E-Bay bid window about a hunk of fallen meteorite being auctioned by Collector 666. The highest bid is for 2 million dollars by a FrostWolf67. Hunter mutters out loud to Thomas and Brittany, “and only about two hours left.”

Thomas looks over Hunter’s shoulder and says, “I don’t get any of this stuff, but a contact of mine told me that whoever has the girl is auctioning her over E-bay.”

Hunter reads through the posting quickly and sees pick-up instructions for the Mall of America. He then grabs his cellphone and calls a contact he has at the NSA, requesting a trace on two web screen names. He quickly gets confirmation that the identity of FrostWolf67 is registered to a John Doe and not much other information. The other is to “Clinton” a resident of Minneapolis with an address that matches the Mall of America.

Clinton

Both Brittany and Thomas start at the mention of Clinton’s name. They both know him as a man who runs a seedy magic book shop and buys parts of monsters they have slain for more exotic ingredients. Brittany looks at Hunter, “The pick-up is going to be in the Magic Bazaar.”

Hunter then attempts to place a bid in using Richie’s account, but finds that it has auto-timed out and that he would need the password. Realizing that time is literally ticking down, he calls another number on his cellphone.

Somewhere that is, like, really, bad man, Nevernever

Bobby and Rosalie tumble into a hallway carved in ice. Bloodied corpses hang from meat hooks hammer into the frozen walls, the blood has stained the ice a deep red. Bobby shivers and not from the cold, catching a sudden hungry look from Rosalie.

“Like remember, don’t eat a thing, ok man.”

Rosalie takes a moment and steals herself, Bobby’s potion giving her strength. Bobby guides them both down the hallway. As they reach the mouth of the cave, they see a flash of light and a bloody Morgan, looking like a Red Court Vampire, slam into the wall, with terror in his eyes. Shortly behind him comes a vampirized Richie Hernandez. Bobby urges Rosalie onto greater speed.

They come to a wide open frozen tundra covered in perpetual twilight. They can see shadowy figures in the distance. Bobby’s extensive understanding of mystic lore is not needed to sense hostility from them. He looks around and a distance away he thinks he can see a Way into lands controlled by the Winter Fairy.

“It has to better there than here at least,” Bobby thinks to himself and grabs Rosalie, urging her to run. Behind him a very angry Richie Hernandez emerges from the tunnel, yelling, “Oh Chemist, you have a job to do, get back here!”

Bobby tries to outrun Richie, but with surprising speed and power Richie catches him, grabbing Bobby by the shoulders spinning him around. “How dare you take something that’s mine Chemist!” Richie howls looking at Rosalie.

“S…S…sorry man, here it is,” Bobby holds up the wad of bills that Richie swipes with a clawed hand, shredding them.

“I am going to enjoy devouring you and feeding bits of you to her.” Richie growls, his teeth glistening in the dim light.

“Whoa, whoa who, man, just like, a minute, I mean, I’m a pretty good chemist, you have to try this,” Bobby pulls a small vial from his jacket and hands it to Richie. Richie, against his better judgment, takes the vial and looks at it before popping the top of it off. A blast of pure sunlight blasts from the vial, searing the flesh mask from Richie’s face, searing the horrific bestial visage of the bat like creature from within.

“You’re dead chemist, I’m going to fucking kill you!” Richie screams in pain.

Bobby looks to the Way and realizes it is too far. He grabs Rosalie and opens a portal back to the mortal world. They both step through it and end up in the middle of a board room meeting in a plush room atop a large sky scraper. Bobby looks around for a moment and gets his bearings, he sees the opulence and knows exactly where he is; atop Foshay Tower and in the middle of Carlos Ortega, Duke of the Red Court’s, lair.

Foshay Tower

A voluptuous red haired woman stands from the table and approaches Bobby, “My, my, uninvited guests, how interesting.”

Susana Valencia

  • Invoke: Bobby invoked two of his aspects to get Richie to open the bottle. I forgot which aspects, sorry!
The Harper’s House, Summit Hill, St. Paul

“Bethany can you get me like a hairbrush or something, I need something to help me link with her.” Craig asks.

Bethany jumps and finds a hair brush from the vanity and hands Craig a strand of hair from it.

“Bethany, we should keep the brush, we might need it later,” as Bethany bags the brush in a zip lock bag, neatly labeling it, Craig continues, “with this I can do a short ritual to find where she is, we can use it to track her.”

Alek gestures for Craig to continue, “Don’t let me stop you.”

Craig draws a small circle on the floor of the bedroom, placing the golden lock of hair in the middle. He channels mystical energy and quickly feels the flow of his tracking spell pulling him. Suddenly the ritual circle breaks and the spell’s energy dissipates, the strength and watery flow of the Mississippi suddenly washes away all trace of Alison.

“Damn,” Craig mutters to himself, “I knew that would be too easy,” he turns to Alek, “someone is using the strength of the Mississippi River to hide Alison’s presence magically.”

Alek nods, “My partner, Jack Hunter left this morning to get a lead, I just tried to give him a call and left him a message. I have no idea where he is. If we can meet up with him, perhaps we can start putting some of this mess together.”

Craig thinks for a moment, “If you have something of your partner’s I could do the same thing.”

Alek thinks for a moment and hands Craig a picture of Jack from their time on the force. Craig quickly draws another circle and completes the ritual, feeling its power pulling him towards West Side.

“It worked, I can guide you to him, Alek.”

Craig, Alek and Bethany leave the house getting into Alek’s unmarked squad car. He begins to take directions from Craig, taking odd turns and driving through obscure parts of the city as Craig’s directions appear to have a more dream iconography with them. Despite this, Alek seems quite adept at following Craig’s instructions.

Alek pauses Craig’s directions as he gets a call, “Jack, where, Morgan’s, yeah I know where that is, hey you will never believe what I just found out…”

As Alek talks to Hunter over the phone, Craig notices again a strong smell of rotten meat. Bethany wrinkles her nose, “Mr. Hale do you smell that?”

Craig turns to interrupt Alek when the tire suddenly explodes on the car, causing the detective to suddenly lose control of the vehicle crashing into side of the road.

  • Compel: A House Divided was compelled, preventing Craig’s tracking spell from working.
To be continued…

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Losing the Pack
A Jack Hunter Story

Featured Players

The Story

Bobby met Jack‘s parents when Jack was a boy, first undergoing the changes to become a shapeshifter. Jack’s parents didn’t know what was going on with their boy, only that he wasn’t himself. Bobby prepared a potion to suppress his symptoms, which is why Jack wasn’t able to access his powers until severe psychic trauma broke through the block Bobby had put in place. By happenstance, he encounters Jack again 25 years later during the hunt for the Roseville Ripper, when Jack is helping Brittany and Thomas.

Jack then enlisted Craig‘s aid in interpreting his dreams. Craig didn’t have any answers immediately, but realized Jack’s hidden potential just in time to allow him to fight off the Skinwalker, the monster to come.

Jack stopped at the floral shop and picked up three roses, one for every year. The plan was go out over the weekend but celebrate at home tonight with his wife. As Jack pulled up to the house in his cruiser, he whistled a tunelessly to himself. As he approached the door Jack noted candles lit in the dining room. He opened the door, and dropped the roses. The sickly sweet smell was overwhelming. Drawing his gun, Jack entered the house, treading on the roses. There is blood everywhere and something in the room! Jack Shoots wildly, calling for Katrinka! The thing snarled at Jack and turned towards him. Suddenly Jack lunges knocking the table over and the world shifts. Jack’s mouth closes around the creatures ankle. The taste, like that of ashes and death, makes Jack gag and the creature strikes, pummeling him across the room The creature says several words in Dakota and then is gone.

Wounded Jack flees the scene just as his house goes up in flame. Jack cannot remember ever running so fast, he seemed to fly and the smell recedes. And then Jack realises he is flying! If it were not such a traumatic evening Jack might have enjoyed the feeling. Jack hunts throughout the night finding nothing except that he can now change into a wolf (the biggest damn wolf!) and an eagle (which is small and agile). This would almost be fun if he weren’t chasing a murderer.

Seeking answers Jack is pointed to the Public library at Witch’s Hat Tower. Where he meets Bethany Tempest and through her Donald Morgan. He has asked Bethany for information on Native American Spirits and a translation of what the creature said. She is working on both. In the mean time Donald has referred Jack to see Brittany Winters for assistance with the spirit and general training.

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Unusual Suspects
A Brittany Winters Story

Featured Players

The Story

While working to hunt down a creature the news papers had dubbed “ The Roseville Ripper”, Brittany wrongfully suspected and began tracking Thomas Owens, thinking him behind the grisly murders. Despite having crossed paths with him before the The Ripper’s rise, she insisted he was the culprit, as all evidence pointed to him, until while stalking Thomas – the two of them happened onto the real Ripper. Seeing that she was wrong, she wasted no time in helping Thomas rid the world of a less than savory creature of the night.

Brittney needs a potion of true seeing to help her see the Roseville Ripper’s true form. She knows somebody who leads her to Bobby. Bobby reluctantly makes the potion for her, but he warns Brittany not to engage the skinwalker, as the collateral damage from such a fight could be immense.

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Night Terrors
A Craig Hale Story

Featured Players

The Story

Attuned to the visions that come to him at night, Craig found himself living through the death-dreams of strangers. When he realized that the victims were real, he found himself in a confrontation with a Mara on a killing spree. He’s more afraid of sleep than most other things to this day.

To keep the Night Terrors at bay, Craig Hale, insomniac Wizard stumbles into Brittany’s coffee shop “Sacred Grounds”… after relaying to Brittany why he looks so sleep-deprived she devours his hard luck story and offers to refuel him with coffee whenever he needs it.

Thomas was hired by Craig to help him hunt a Mara that was wreaking havoc throughout the cities.

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