Dresden Files: Twin Cities

Lost Souls

Helping Hand, Part One


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The Story

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

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

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

Gleipnir

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

Bethany Tempest

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

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

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

Sister Dark

Sister Dark, Sister Joanne Dark”

“Ah yes, Sister Dark, please go on.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thomas’s Garage, Minneapolis

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

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

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

Val

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

“I am.”

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

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

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

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

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

Tiny

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

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

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

Lobo

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

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

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

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

“Fort Snelling’s National Cemetery.”

Indian Mounds Park, St. Paul

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

Indian Mounds Park

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

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

Crow Sings

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

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

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

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

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

Spectres

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lt Jacobs

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

Downtown Saint Paul near Sacred Grounds, St. Paul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ghoul

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

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

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

Grace

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

Fort Snelling’s National Cemetery, Minneapolis

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

National Cemetery

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

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

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

Sylivia

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fort Snelling’s National Cemetery, Minneapolis

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 Miles outside of Fallujah, Iraq

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT DO YOU WANT?

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

TO FEED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alleyway, Downtown Saint Paul, Saint Paul

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

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

Jane

Jane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jacobs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside a White Box, Most Likely the Nevernever

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Like, hello Ivory Tower.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where are you guys at?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arcadian Buzzkill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued

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