Dresden Files: Twin Cities

Bobby Gets High in the Sky

Helping Hand, Conclusion


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The Story

Downtown Minneapolis, Minneapolis

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

Spectres

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

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

Crow Sings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jacobs

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

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

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

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

Man in Embers

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

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

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

Helping Hands Shelter, St. Paul

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

Helping Hands

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

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

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

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

Sister Dark

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

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

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

Ghouls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aaron Douglas

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

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

Sanya

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

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

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

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

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

Det. Alek Erikson

Witch’s Hat Tower, Minneapolis

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

Witch’s Hat Tower

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

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

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

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

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

Evan St. Claire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Mara

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

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

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

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

Bethany Tempest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grace
Jane Doe

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

Donald Morgan
Martha Liberty

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

He walks towards them.

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

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

“Wizard Hale, follow me.”

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

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

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

Gleipnir

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

The World Chair

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

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

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

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

Conclusion of Helping Hand

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