Val turned up the gas, powering her motorcycle through city streets. Thomas clutched to the side seat, holding on for dear life. Behind them, Brittany struggled through the traffic to keep up, torn as to follow the dragon or to return to Sacred Grounds and see what is happening to Jane after her phone call cuts out. Ripley hangs her head out the window enjoying the wind in her face. Bobby hurriedly searches through his bag, searching for a special vial. He knows that the dragon is really a fetch, and fetches feed on fear. He finds a small tin, labeled “Chill Pill” and laughs to himself, knowing he has his secret weapon. Crow Sings also indulges in his “secret weapon,” taking a pull of whiskey. He looks at the bottle and mutters, “good shit” before he passes out. Craig and Sister Dark, still stuck under the glamour as ghouls, hop on Craig’s Indian Motorcycle and head towards the Como Park Conservatory to talk directly to the Winter Court in an attempt to cut to the heart of the matter. Craig and the nun agreed to meet with the rest at Sacred Grounds.
The dragon shaped fetch continues to fly above the city, heading closer to downtown Minneapolis. The pursuit quickly adds a new layer of intensity, Thomas, looking at Val’s rear view mirror, and Ripley, with her head out the window, notice Hel’s Angels bikers, led by Tiny and Lobo, in hot pursuit of Val and Thomas. The bikers begin to pass by Brittany’s car, unaware that that vehicle is aiding Val and Thomas in their hunt.
Thomas yells up to Val, “I think your friends are following us again!”
Val looks in the mirror and lets out a curse, “Use the shotgun in the holster!”
While Thomas draws out the shotgun, Ripley growls in frustration that none of the passengers in her vehicle know a civilized tongue. She turns glowing eyes at the bikers and lets out a fearsome howl that echoes through the air around the vehicle. The effects are profound. Tiny nearly loses control of his bike as his heart thunders with sudden fear. Brittany, sitting next to Ripley, screams in surprise and shock. Bobby and, unfortunately, Lobo and other bikers demonstrate little fear towards the soul shattering howl.
The werewolf bikers let out a chorus of howls and open fire with sub machineguns and pistols. Thomas feels a flurry of bullets ping off his armor as Val swerves the bike back and forth dodging the hail of shells. Thomas looks at her shotgun and realizes it is too small for his hand. He levers his weight and attempts to swing around behind Val to act as a shield from the gun fire. His weight pushes on the side car and snaps it, sending it hurling behind him. Most of the pursuing motorcyclists are able to dodge it, but Tiny, already off balance because of his fear, slams into it and crashes.
Ripley, sensing that her vehicle is now included in the werewolf pack’s hunt, leaps out the passenger side window and tackles one of the bikers, knocking him off his motorcycle. Brittany, shocked at the eerie howl of her dog and then to have her suddenly leap from the vehicle to maul a biker, loses control of the car while slamming on the breaks. It swerves sideways, blocking off the road. This catches the pursuing motorcycle gang causing them to slam into the vehicle, flipping over the car or sliding across the pavement. The bikers turn their fury from Val and Thomas to the passengers of Brittany’s car.
Bobby sees that Val and Thomas are continuing to speed off towards the dragon; he calmly unbuckles his seat belt and steps out of the car. “Ok, now, like guys, lets just talking this over like the civilized individuals we are. So, let’s like get our license and insurance information.”
Bobby realizes that none of the bikers are buying it. Lobo and the others howl and bark with rage, tearing their leathers and transform into monstrous wolves. Further down the road, Ripley lands atop the biker she mauled and smashes him into the pavement. She sees the growing confrontation and knows the pack wants to hunt and feed. While they are distracted, she charges down the road and mauls another biker from behind. She savages him viciously, slamming him side to side repeatedly into the pavement.
The other bikers, now challenged by a new alpha close in and charge Ripley. The pack attempts to circle in and hamstring her; however she spins rapidly snapping her maw at any challengers. Lobo sees an opening and crashes atop Ripley raking a deep furrow down her back. She howls in anger and pain. Bobby yells out, “The wolves man, they follow the alpha, take down the leader and you break the pack!”
Brittany shakes off the terror she felt and kicks open her door. She draws her ghost axe and throws herself at Lobo from behind. His rage distracts him and she cuts him deeply along the side. He howls in pain and terror. Ripley gets in under his throat and bites savagely. Lobo bounds away and then dashes off down a side street whimpering as he runs. The other wolves break turn and follow after him.
On the way to the Como Park Conservatory, St. Paul.
“How does this help us find Jacobs?” Sister Dark asks, astride the back of Craig’s motorcycle.
“If the Winter Court keeps interfering, it’s going to be too hard to get anything done! Besides, we have to get rid of this curse!”
As Craig revs the engine, Sister Dark taps Craig on the shoulder. “I got a message it looks to be from your assistant Bethany. She says that there are some odd homeless people assaulting the visitors, she says she closed the library, but things are getting weird and scary over there.”
Craig scowls and thinking about the information on Jacob’s map, decides that he needs to head to Witch’s Hat Tower instead to check on the library. Craig, with Sister Dark behind him, makes excellent time to the library. As he gets nearer, he notices people hurrying down the street from the area. Craig senses necromantic energy in the air. He feels a little uneasy when he sees his first homeless person walking listless down the road, staring intently at the Tower.
Craig drives closer and sees that the individual is a little translucent and realizes that he is dealing with spectres, ghosts twisted with necromantic energy. He sees more gathering about the base of the Tower, staring up at it. They appear docile and only interact with someone when they close, when that happens they turn on the person; showing all their rage, guilt and sorrow, driving the person away. This all changes as Craig and Sister Dark approach the Tower by motorcycle. When the spectres see Craig and Sister Dark, their docile nature changes into a more violent aspect. They suddenly roar with fury and charge at the two of them, their moans echoing with anger and despair.
Craig yells for Sister Dark to hold on tight and channels a blast of wind. He hurls the motorcycle through the air over the grasping hands of the spectres. Craig loses control of the motorcycle and crashes on its side, slamming it against the wall of the library. Sister Dark pulls herself free and draws a large submachine gun, watching the spectres begin their run towards the two of them. Craig heads to the library doors and yanks them open, hoping to find shelter inside. Instead, he finds an irate Bethany Tempest.
“Be gone foul creatures, your kind is not wanted here!” Bethany focuses her energy as she looks upon Craig and Sister Dark, rage in her eyes. She channels a blast of air. It whips out from in the library and through the open doors.
Craig remembers that the Glamour is still in effect and that Bethany is seeing them as ghouls and not as they are. He ducks behind the door, avoiding the blast of air. Sister Dark is not as lucky and turns towards the door. The gust of wind rips off some pieces of stone from the Library’s entry way and a rock strikes Sister Dark on the side of her face, leaving a giant bruise and knocking her off her feet.
Craig peers around the door and pulls out his dream journal, showing it to Bethany, yelling out, “It’s me Craig, let us in.”
Bethany’s rage filled eyes turn to sudden despair. Craig never really appreciated how much Bethany cared for him, and he can now see the loss on her face, he also realizes that she doesn’t see through the Glamour. Bethany’s voice echoes through the air, heavy with vengeance and pain, “You murdered him, you killed Craig!” Energy crackles and dark clouds gather above them, “I will DESTROY you!”
Thunder rolls as the sky fills with the power of Bethany’s love, of her pain, and her rage, lightning strikes, stabbing at the ground. Spectres crumble and turn to ash with each flash. Craig and Sister Dark get caught in the sudden storm. Craig focuses his energy and calls upon the charged air, creating rods of lightning to diffuse the energy. Bethany’s fury smashes through Craig’s desperation and lightning singes both he and Sister Dark, hurling them to the ground. Bethany escapes the brunt of her own onslaught by slamming the door shut.
Craig, Sister Dark and the Indian Motorcycle survive the storm, but all carry the injuries of Bethany’s vengeance. They can hear the continued moaning of spectres and Craig realizes that before he came to the tower they were docile. His presence is what is causing them to act out. He turns to Sister Dark and shouts, “Get on the motorcycle, we have to get out of here,” he glances back at the library, “and we have to get rid of these Glamours before they cause more trouble.”
He jumps onto the motorcycle with Sister Dark, and with a painful shudder of the motor he speeds off down the road towards the Como Park Conservatory.
Eat Street, Minneapolis
As Val continues charging after the dragon, Thomas slides the letter that has been sitting in his pocket all evening. He takes shelter from the wind as best he can and breaks open the seal, reading the letter addressed to him.
The Winter Court, angered by your interference regarding the Fallen Star, has marked you and some of your companions, the Viking Aleksander Erikson and the wizard Craig Hale, for death and destruction. A woman by the name of Val knows this and will use you to lure a creature from its slumber in an effort to destroy it. She is, in fact, after an object of power that this creature guards. I, and the Summer Court, provide you this warning as a gesture of thanks.
Thomas narrows his eyes for a moment at Val and slides the letter carefully back into his pocket. He then grabs his cell phone and makes a quick call to Sister Dark, in an effort to warn Craig. He unfortunately gets a disconnected signal. (Unbeknownst to Craig and Sister Dark, the nun’s cell phone burned out during their accident confrontation with Bethany.) Thomas then calls Bethany hoping that she might have a way to reach Craig. A very weepy voice answers the phone tentatively, “H..Hello? This is Bethany.”
“Bethany,” Thomas gruffly says, “I’m look for Hale, can you pass a message for me?”
Thomas jerks back from the phone at the sudden anguished wail, “Craig….Craig’s DEAD. He was eaten, by, by some Monster!”
Thomas thinks for a moment, “Hey, was it a ghoul? If it was, Craig’s been turned into a ghoul, I think, so it’s ok”
Bethany continues to cry uncontrollably and hangs up the phone. Thomas shrugs his shoulders; he was never good with the crying stuff anyways. He then makes a quick phone call to Alek giving him a warning that the Winter Court might be after him.
“Good thing I took my unpaid leave down in Florida,” Alek mutters, but then asks, “Hey, you’re friends with Brittany Winters?”
“Well, I have heard some gossip from guys on the force that someone blew up Sacred Grounds, is she ok? I mean, that place has some killer donuts.”
“Well, I haven’t heard anything about that, but when last I saw her she looked fine. I will let you know, but, I got some things to take care of right now.”
Thomas then disconnects from the phone as Val slows down the motorcycle heading towards Nicollet Avenue. She shouts at Thomas, “I want you to take guard in the center street and lure the beast out into the open. I will then be able to charge it and we will end this foul creature.”
Val pulls into a now abandoned street. Normally it would be trafficked with people going in and out the various restaurants; instead Thomas sees several flattened cars and hears the whining sound of a police squad car being crushed. Val leaves him in the middle of the road and then speeds down the broad avenue, rapidly building up distance.
Thomas looks about and can see a restaurant that normally would be bustling with business, now appears to be quiet. It looks like a section of its roof has been peeled back and he can hear the crunching of jaws from a nearby alleyway between two larger buildings. Thomas scans the other stores and sees a flower shop. An idea suddenly strikes him.
Thomas moves swiftly, clanking heavily towards the florist. He easily smashes through the front door and ignores the ring bell. He begins to grab handfuls of flowers and stuffing them in the open gaps of his iron suit. Thomas thinks to himself, “The Trappings of Summer” as he jams some roses in between his shoulder and forearm. Thomas’s actions have not gone unnoticed and the dragon roars with a sudden fury and punches a clawed hand through the glass wall attempting to crush Thomas in its grasp. Thomas dodges the clumsy blow and grabs a bag of seeds from the counter next to him. He then jams it into the dragon’s maw, causing it to choke on the bag.
Bobby, with an inebriated Crow Sings, speeds onto Nicollet with his borrowed Hel’s Angels motorcycle. Brittany and Ripley, in her mangled Solstice, follow behind. They come upon the Dragon tearing a florist shop apart. They can hear Thomas yelling taunts at it from inside. Ripley jumps out the window again and attempts to tear into the dragon’s tough hide. Unfortunately her teeth are unable to penetrate it. Brittany attempts to ram her car into the Dragon, thinking, hey it is a Solstice, but as it revs forward the engine coughs and shudders to a stop. Bobby reaches into his bag and pops a Chill Pill. He feels its calming effects quickly enough and goes to grab his headache potion, to traumatize the dragon. He then thinks, “Yeah man, in a minute, some of these flowers, are like, awesome” and literally stops to smell the roses.
The dragon narrows its eyes and lets out an earth shattering roar. Its bellow fills the air and people who were cowering in windows previously suddenly start screaming, overcome with fear. Thomas, Brittany, and Ripley feel the hair stand up on their neck as the unnatural terror winds its way through them. Brittany becomes the most affected as she wets herself, feeling shear terror. Bobby simply giggles a little bit and puts a flower in his hair.
Val’s motorcycle roars from down the road and the inflicted terror is only short lived. Ripley leaps up and tears at the dragon’s eyes, bounding up its body and building, blinding one of its eyes with a rake of claws. Brittany grabs the now immobile car and hurls it at the dragon, it crumples against his body. Bobby focuses his attention and whips a Sticky potion through the air, shattering it on the ground. The vial explodes, coating the ground in a sticky substance. Thomas grabs the exposed gas tank from Brittany’s car and hurls it at the dragon. The dragon roars in pain and slams its fist against Thomas, his claws denting his iron arm suit.
Val continues her charge, the long spear held at the ready. Ripley jumps back down and howls with fury at the dragon, seeking to protect Brittany. Brittany grabs a lighter from her pocket, only to realize, with no small amount of disgust, that it has been “ruined.” Bobby though is able to light the gas fumes about the dragon and it roars in fury as it is set ablaze. It grabs the ruined vehicle that Thomas is standing upon, knocking him to the ground and hurls it at Val. Its aim is true and it knocks the motorcycle out from under Val, sending her hurling through the air. Val loses her grip on the spear and soars into a brick wall, slamming into it roughly.
Luckily, the spear landed at Thomas’s feet. He struggles to pull it from the ground; it was caught in the sticky substance that Bobby had laid out. Val yells, “Thomas, use the spear to kill the beast,” she then makes a quick chant throwing some rocks with runes at Thomas’s feet.
The dragon thrashes, but Thomas feels energy flow through him and he pulls the spear free. He stabs swiftly upwards gutting the dragon deeply. The great beast shudders and starts to slough off pieces of its skin as it dissolves into ectoplasm. The fetch shudders and then vanishes back into the Nevernever leaving behind a gold phylactery that falls towards the ground. Ripley is the first to act and dives through the air, seeking the vial for herself. She is able to snap on it with her great jaws, catching it perfectly. The delicate vial is not able to withstand the crushing might of the wolfhound’s jaws and it shatters.
Como Park Conservatory, St. Paul
Craig’s motorcycle comes to a rattling halt in front of the closed gates. He slides gingerly off the bike. Sister Dark pulls out a small first aid kit and begins to dab at some of his burns. She now has an arm in a sling, bandaged from the burns she received from Bethany.
Sister Dark finishes and slides the first aid kit back into her habit, Craig sighs, “Alright, I am going in to talk with the Winter Court, we need to end this interference.”
“Fucking fairies,” the nun suddenly curses, then blushes slightly and makes the sign of the cross, “I trust none of them, I see a high point and I am going to cover you from there.” Sister Dark suddenly turns the white part of her habit around making it as dark as the rest of her frock. She then pulls out the pieces of a rifle and snaps them into place.
Craig steps back, a little startled, “Well, ok, just, don’t fire unless things get violent. I need to talk.”
Sister Dark nods and then dashes into the shadows, vanishing into the black night. Craig walks up to the gate which swings open untouched with a small grinding sound. He steps into the closed conservatory grounds and gets the feeling of eyes upon them. He thinks he can see the shapes of smaller pixies flitting in the trees. As he gets closer to the conservatory he feels a sudden drop in the temperature, his breath misting. He feels slightly comforted as he sees a red bead of light on the ground in front of him and he knows that he is under the militant nun’s watchful gaze.
The glass of the conservatory suddenly whitens from condensation and the elfin figure of Sylivia appears. She leans upon her bow, her hand on a hip, with a quiver of arrows resting on her thighs. Her severe eyes blaze with a blue energy as her blonde white hair settles about her.
“I have warned you once before wizard,” she spits out the last word like a curse, “you will cease your meddling or you will die!”
Craig holds out his hands, now covered in bandages, plaintively, “I come in peace to bargain, I ask that you call off your fetch and end your glamour.”
Sylivia arches a pale, blonde eyebrow, “Oh and to what end? You interfered with our matters and you come to bargain as if we are on equal footing.” Sylivia wrinkles her delicate nose, “besides, you stink of Summer.”
“Listen, Sylivia, the fetch is involving others in a conflict that has nothing to do with them,” Craig reasons, “lets not get this all tangled with the Accords and just have this conflict between us.”
The snow elf smiles mischievously, “There is a ritual to bind it,” she draws a circle for Craig to see, “Simply place a drop of your blood in the center and call upon the power of Winter.” She looks at Craig directly, “And the beast will turn to stone and resume its rest.”
Craig listens to Sylivia’s words and looks at the circle, his gut tells him not to trust the fairy, but he can find no evidence that Sylivia is deceiving him. He looks to her again, “Now about the Glamour?”
Sylivia laughs harshly, “You come as a beggar who already has a great debt. What do you offer? What do you have that equals the power of a star, that equals the power that which you denied us?”
Craig begins to sweat, he can sense that the winter fae’s patience is beginning to wear thinly, “I have something that I can offer, the Way Nexus of Witch’s Hat Tower. I am a Wizard of the White Council and I can allow the Winter Court free passage for a year. In return you cease your interference with my activities.”
Sylivia laughs, but suddenly her eyes blaze with a colder blue light. Her hair swirls wildly about her as she gazes intently at Craig. Her voice, now heavy with power, intones, “You ask for indefinite interference and give only a definite exchange? No, Wizard, that will not do,” Sylivia laughs, rich and powerful, but cold and cruel, “However, we will remove the glamour from you and the other. We will say that on the matter of Alison Harper that our accounts are balanced.”
Craig thinks for a moment, realizing that he is probably not going to get better, calls out, “Deal!”
Sylivia smiles and he feels the frost that was coating him earlier fade away. Then the world crashes. Everything lurches and Craig visibly stumbles forward, losing his footing. He gains his balance in time to see the look on Sylivia’s face turn from one of satisfaction to abject terror. She vanishes and with her the presence of Winter. The air warms around him the park falls silent. Craig extends his arcane senses, trying to understand what happened. He senses that the fragile ward about Fenrir has just collapsed. Not only that, but he finds that he can hold in his mind the idea of Fenrir’s cage and realizes that with the ward collapsing, something also caused the Veil to shatter.
“I have to get to Sacred Grounds and meet up with the rest, there is something going on here that we are missing.”
Eat Street, Minneapolis
When the gold vial shattered in Ripley’s mouth a profound sense of emptiness had washed over the giant wolfhound. She becomes consumed by the feelings of the end of everything and overwhelmed by an unnatural feeling of terror from an unnatural creature. The entire world lurches and stops, then suddenly resumes. Ripley tumbles to the ground and everyone stumbles. A look of despair flits across Val’s face before being replaced by anger.
“Fah,” Val shouts, “you damnable beast, you have doomed us all. Thomas, my spear.” Val holds her hand out to Thomas. Thomas passes her the spear.
“Well you kept secrets, you should have been upfront with us,” Brittany screams back at Val.
“I have no time for you!” Val scowls at Brittany, looking her over, “I don’t even know who you are, with your wet pants, and mangy mongrel, but you destroyed the only thing that could have saved us, The Fear of a Fairy Queen. Bah, you are not worth my time.” Val turns her back to Brittney, a lost look on the biker’s face. She quickly smooths it over, but before she strides away, Thomas interrupts her.
Val snorts and tosses a bag of gold to Thomas’s feet and strides to her motorcycle. She quickly stands it back up, starts the engine and rides off. The huff from motor echoes her disgust. Bobby, on the other hand, concerned at the sudden lurching of world also begins to mull over the sudden event with his arcane lore. He realizes that the weakened ward to Fenrir’s imprisonment has suddenly failed. The next ward, the Veil, has also shattered.
Brittany sighs and pets Ripley who whimpers, “I’m going back to Sacred Grounds to check on the girl and meet up with Craig, who’s coming with us?
Thomas shrugs in his arms, walks towards Brittany and then suddenly states, “Oh, yeah Brittany, I spoke to a cop who mentioned that someone bombed Sacred Grounds. I thought you should know.”
Bobby, on the other hand, notices that Crow Sings is waking up and still feeling a little chill still says, “Yeah, me and Crow Sings will, be like right behind you, we might like, you know get something to drink or something. We’ll catch up with you later!”
Brittany, concerned about her store, hurries with Ripley towards the light rail. Thomas decides to follow her and they leave Bobby and Crow Sings behind. Bobby and Crow Sings stumble into a nearby bar, when Crow Sings, a little more sober, mumbles, “I hope we don’t meet that Jacobs’s guy, he is doing weird things with ghosts over at HCMC.”
Bobby notices that some spectres milling in the city street, walking towards an unknown destination. Curiosity and maybe the spark of heroism gets the better of him, “Hey Crow Sings, why don’t we go like talk some sense into him, so we don’t have these ghosts bugging us when we are, like trying to chill.”
Crow Sings slugs down a beer real quick and agrees, following Bobby out the door and towards HCMC.
Sacred Grounds, St. Paul
Craig and Sister Dark arrive first to Sacred Grounds and find it surround by emergency personnel. The windows are shattered with smoke pouring out of broken windows. Craig channels a brief wind of air to blow the smoke out of the way, so that he can see inside. (He also, for the unfortunate emergency responders, shorts out their radios.) Shortly after Brittany, Ripley and Thomas arrive on foot. They see Craig and Sister Dark and confirm that they are no longer on the influence of the Glamour.
“I need your help Craig; there was a girl that I saved from a pack of ghouls. I think she was taken by them, can you track her down?” Brittany asks Craig.
Craig nods, “I just need something of the girl’s. It should be no problem.”
Sister Dark sighs, “I….I need your help with my friend, but, if this girl is in the hands of ghouls, I can’t just abandoned her.”
Brittany approaches the crime scene, only to be stopped by law enforcement, concerned by her appearance. They direct her towards the paramedic.
“Can I go in and just get a change of clothes?”
The paramedic shakes his head, “I’m sorry Ma’am. It is just too dangerous in there. The structure isn’t sound.”
Thomas sees this argument and starts clanking towards the building, only to be stopped by a police officer. He gets into a brief argument and Brittany takes the moment to run into the building with Ripley. They look around as firemen shout at the two to leave the building, but Brittany finds some food that Jane was eating and snags the plate; while grabbing some other belongings. Eventually she is ushered back onto the street.
Brittany hands Craig the plate, “Will this work?” Craig nods and begins to channel energy about a ritual circle for a tracking spell.
Thomas bored at the ritual magic being cast and not really caring about what is going on, notices some odd people, most likely specters, not pausing to look at the destruction, but all wandering in the same direction. Curious he hefts his sword and walks off unnoticed by the rest to follow these ghostly figures.
Craig uses the journal they found at Jacobs and the plate at Sacred Grounds to get a sense where both of these people are. Jacobs, he finds is towards Minneapolis. Craig remembers the map he saw on Jacobs’s wall and thinks he is being directed to HCMC. The other, for the girl, he is being directed towards Downtown Saint Paul.
Brittany sees where Craig is pointing and says aloud, “ The Helping Hands Shelter. Let’s get going.”